Saturday, November 9, 2013
Thursday, September 19, 2013
Saturday, August 10, 2013
Friday, July 12, 2013
Monday, May 27, 2013
Thursday, January 31, 2013
Sunday, December 30, 2012
Tuesday, December 25, 2012
Thursday, June 14, 2012
Zack Hemsey - "Waiting Between Worlds" OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO from Scott Gold on Vimeo.
Sunday, March 25, 2012
Debates about illegal file-sharing have been going on for quite some time now, and while there are many interesting perspectives on the issue, the one thing that continues to surprise me is that very few people seem to actually understand what the central matter being debated is. Time and again, arguments are made that miss the point, facts or statistics are presented that have no relevance, and ultimately discussions digress into personal opinions about artists, major labels, the industry, etc. I'd like to clear up much of this foolishness, so that moving forward we can all focus on the relevant issue at hand. Note that for the sake of simplicity, the following will focus on music piracy and artists, but obviously the points raised are equally applicable to movies, authors, etc.
Lets begin with the myth that piracy was born of a noble idea that everything should be free and accessible to everyone...this notion is not what drives piracy. On the contrary, piracy is primarily motivated by greed - it's a business, and apparently a very good one. Without getting into the specifics of how money is earned through advertising, subscription fees, encouraging additional piracy through revenue kickbacks, etc, the short of it all is that pirates are making money. There's nothing wrong with someone making money, but if they are making money by commandeering and exploiting my work, and not even sharing any of those earnings with me to boot, then it shouldn't be controversial to suggest their actions are less than admirable.
There also needs to be a distinction between those who facilitate piracy, and the general users that benefit from it. The latter is not the issue. There are individuals who illegally download music in virtue of simply having access to it, without any concrete conceptualization or clear understanding of the practice they are undertaking. There are also people with low incomes that sincerely cannot afford to purchase or acquire content in other manners, for whom file-sharing is a blessing. There are even those who utilize piracy as a means to preview a large breadth of content before subsequently legally purchasing the content they like. But all of those who benefit from piracy in these ways are irrelevant to the "piracy industry" itself, which only exists because assholes are making a living from it.
Just to clarify, for the purposes of this article, "asshole" refers to persons that distribute content that they do not own, for the express purpose of profiting from that distribution. If you buy a book and share or give that book to a friend, you are not an asshole. Same with a physical CD or digital download. To be clear, a violation of intellectual property rights is still occurring in such cases, however, it's an extremely weak violation (much like J-walking), and does not have a significant impact on anything. Sharing on a person-to-person level is more or less inconsequential to the livelihood of content owners. In contrast, it's the massive enterprise of sharing through file-sharing networks on a national and global scale that is at issue, and which does affect the livelihood of content owners.
Now, lets address 8 common arguments in favor of piracy that succeed in skirting the real issue:
1) "Piracy only effects millionaires and billionaires who are already filthy rich, and there is nothing morally objectionable about preventing these overly wealthy individuals and companies from continuing to profit from my hard-earned money." This is fascinating logic, but not very compelling. For one, I'm a little uncomfortable with the populace collectively deciding that Katy Perry has made enough money - at the end of the day, she made a product - if you want that product, buy it; if not, don't. If her content is so appealing that it turns her into a billionaire, good for Katy. Is this really so objectionable? Moreover, it's not just the content of established and successful artists that are being pirated - it's also up-and-coming artists and independent artists. Yes, the content of established artists is pirated the most from a quantitative standpoint, but this has no bearing on the fact that independent artists who don't have large streams of income are substantially affected by the pirating of their content.
2) "Artists are getting screwed by their labels anyway, so what does it matter if their music is pirated?" Well that's very nice that you have decided to stand up for artist exploitation at the hands of their respective labels by choosing to steal their content. I'd like to point out that this has no relevance to artists that are not affiliated with labels, nor does it have any bearing on the many major / indie label artists with very good deal structures in place. But even in cases where labels are screwing over their artists, if an artist chose to enter into a bad deal, that's their prerogative - why are you so concerned with their business decisions? And furthermore, do you realize that even if we suppose 100% of all major label artists have "bad deals", you're enabling of the piracy industry isn't combatting that - it's simply changing which group of assholes are making money (and at least in the former case, artists are making something from their work, even if scant).
3) "Piracy is the best thing that could ever happen to independent or up-and-coming artists….now their work is being exposed to way more people than it would otherwise have been." Maybe yes, maybe no. But shouldn't that decision rest with the artists and rights owners of the music? If they see the merit in your perspective, and choose to distribute their catalogue for free, so be it. However, if they disagree with your position, why should they be unable to manage their catalogue as they see fit? Moreover, plenty of artists' music is readily available through online streaming sites - my entire discography for example can be listened to in it's entirety through my website and YouTube channel - so the issue is not about having free access to music, it's about having music illegally distributed in an exploitative capacity without artists' consent.
4) "Music and movies are grossly overpriced, and pirating such content amounts to an objection of those inflated prices." There are certainly cases where content is overpriced, and such cases are definitely irritating to all consumers. However, it is unfair to characterize the entire entertainment industry, or even a significant part of it, as being "grossly overpriced." $10 for a music album is not overpriced. Those who suggest otherwise either don't have an understanding of what goes into the making of this content, or simply don't appreciate what they're getting for their money. Either way, such ignorance is beyond my ability to remedy, but while such a deluded perspective can understandably lead to person-to-person file-sharing, it does not legitimize the global money-making business of the piracy industry. I hope we can agree on at least that much.
5) "Artists have an easy life - you can barely call what they do work. They are living the dream, and they shouldn't be entitled to such obscene income and a life of luxury. So who cares if their content is being pirated." I'll be sure to ask for your permission the next time I have to take a shit. But let me just point out to you that while there do exist individuals in every industry who have had some remarkable opportunities just fall into their lap, the majority of successful professionals, including artists and entertainers, have all worked extremely hard to get to where they are. It seems to me that the real source of your ire is the cultural / political / societal system that we are all born into…I sympathize with you…but don't take it out on artists, especially when it's art that stands the best chance of taking the edge off the absurdity of all that angers you, and the best chance of inspiring the change that your miserable soul yearns for.
6) "Piracy is not actually theft - it's an infringement of copyright, which is not the same thing." Yes, technically speaking, you are correct. But regardless of the legal nuance involved, I think we can all agree some form of theft is at work. Should the illegal file-sharing of music be treated equivalent to the stealing of a car? No. But that doesn't mean it's somehow acceptable to steal intellectual content. In the same way that we treat the physical theft of objects differently based on the value of the object in question - a DVD vs a Mercedes - so should we treat the theft of objects differently according to the nature of the object - physical vs digital vs intellectual property. But make no mistake…all occurrences of theft should be addressed in some manner.
7) "We're in a new modern age where unrestricted access to digital content is now a basic reality that the entertainment industry needs to accept and find a way to adapt to." Interesting…so taken to it's logical conclusion, I suppose the "theft" of all the digital money in your bank account is something you'll just have to get over and accept as a reality of modernity, right? After all, it's not physical money - just a bunch of zeros and ones on a computer screen, so perhaps we shouldn't even consider it "theft" in the first place. Right, I hear you - the theft of "digital" money is different from digital music, because digital money isn't copied…it's stolen, in the real and legal sense of that term. Uh huh - well when 50 thousand people "copy" Lady Gaga's record, who otherwise would have bought it, is that not an actual measurable and legitimate loss of income? Does that not qualify as theft in your expert opinion? We can debate how many individuals that illegally download music would otherwise buy it if left no other choice - but while it's impossible to know the answer, I think we can agree that some amount of individuals would legally purchase music if a free alternative did not exist…and when you consider the millions of people throughout the world downloading thousands of music and movie files, even if that number were as low as 10% it would amount to a significant loss of income to content owners.
8) "Copyright law is ridiculous in and of itself with terms lasting author's life + 70 years…there's no reason for ownership to last that long, and it's only purpose is to ensure labels keep profiting for years and years. It should last somewhere between 5 and 20 years max. So as far as I'm concerned, piracy is rectifying this obscenity." Ugh…where to begin. Start by reading points 1 and 2 above. Then explain to me why it is you feel I should be forced to relinquish ownership of something that I created with my own two hands. Then let me know what time you'll be home so I can stop by to take that Mercedes from you - I think you've owned it for long enough, don't you?
With all of that out of the way, what we are left with is that assholes are exploiting other people's work without their consent, and profiting from that exploitation.
Now, I cannot prevent you from being an asshole. Only you can do that. So if you choose to be an asshole, it is what it is. We can get into why one would make such a choice, and speculate as to the psychological and emotional underpinnings that lead to such a choice, and even look to other industries where assholes have succeeded in astounding the world with their assholiness (white collar criminals and those Wall Street fuckers come to mind)…in the end though, it doesn't matter. Just accept that there are assholes in the world.
So, given pirates' decisions to be assholes, what can I do? I can perhaps try to persuade them that their decision has consequences that effect other human beings, and hope that they're able to see beyond their own selfish perspective. But I'm not going to waste my time trying to converse with assholes, as it doesn't make for very enlightening conversation.
It seems to me the logical thing to do is to remove the ability of assholes to steal without impunity in the first place - not to remove their desire to do so - just the ability. Consider this: if one person comes into a bank and steals handfuls of cash, it is easy to stop that individual. But if hordes of assholes are storming banks across the country, stealing everyone's money, then it's not practical to stop them all, nor efficient to discuss their actions on an intellectual and philosophical level…but it is practical and efficient for banks to start securing their money within vaults, and in so doing, remove the ability of said assholes to steal it. It's not rocket science…we just need to apply the same principle to piracy.
Obviously, the literal concept of a bank vault is not applicable to illegal file-sharing. However, just like in the bank analogy, we can diagnose what allows pirates to do what they do, and then seek to undermine that. In the case of banks, allowing piles of cash to be publicly accessible leads to massive theft of that cash. In the case of piracy, the enterprise functions as a result of a simple distortion: the notion that file-sharing websites facilitate the transfer of digital content between other people, without directly participating in the content being transferred, and that as such, they have no control over if their users choose to upload and share content illegally, and are thus not responsible for any copyright infringement that occurs - all they can do is have such content removed once uploaded, provided the content owners inform them of such violations. This laughable perspective is what has allowed the piracy industry to flourish, for it is not feasible for content owners to scour through thousands of file-sharing websites to discover if their content is being illegally distributed, only to then have to submit claims to each website for each specific instance of copyright infringement…only to then have to repeat the process again and again week after week.
This is where new legislation comes into play. We need properly written legislation that enforces intellectual property rights without curtailing 1st amendment freedoms, and which holds piracy facilitators accountable instead of users. This should not be that difficult to put together folks…people simply have to agree on it's necessity. Of course, if you happen to be an asshole, then you will want to oppose such measures.
I leave a detailed exploration of solutions for another time, but suffice it to say that if file-sharing companies / websites were simply responsible for policing the content whose distribution they facilitate (instead of the burden falling on the content owners - an impossible task), and there were effective consequences in place for the failure of such companies / websites to perform said responsibilities, then the entire piracy industry would go away pretty fucking quick. This is not to say that file-sharing would stop in total - just that the national and global business of file-sharing would.
Or maybe I don't know what I'm talking about. Feel free to enlighten me with your comments.
Thursday, December 8, 2011
So here's the situation. You've got a 160 pound package being delivered containing a 12" subwoofer inside of it….and you're on a remote island. Okay, you're home, but you might as well be on a remote island because you're alone and isolated from all who know and love you (or feel otherwise). What's more, you're going to be by yourself for the entire day. So you've got a choice on your hands: wait 12 to 24 hours until you can get a friend or family member to assist you in unloading the subwoofer, or attempt to do it by yourself. If you're like me, you've concluded that waiting is not an option - time waits for no man, and fortune favors the bold.
This is the situation I found myself in this past week. Knowing that others may some day be faced with the same circumstances, I decided to document my efforts so that my fellow man might benefit and learn from my experience.
Now, before I begin, some may be saying to themselves, "why not have the delivery guy simply bring it into the house and assist you"? Well how nice of you to volunteer his services, but he's got a truck full of other packages that need to get to where they're going, and I think we should let the man get through his day so that he can get home to his family at a decent time. And besides, the delivery guy is paid to deliver it to the house, not inside the house. Yes, I could certainly ask him to go above the call of duty and assist me further, but then I would feel obligated to tip him and quite frankly, this Genelec subwoofer was expensive enough as it is.
So…lets start this tutorial. When the FedEx truck arrived, I met it outside with a handtruck and had them offload the package from the truck directly onto it, providing easy transport to the point of entry into the house (in this case, the garage). Note: unless you're training for the upcoming Strong Man Competition, you're going to want this handtruck, so make sure to pick one up in advance of the delivery if you don't currently have one.
Now the sub is on the handtruck inside the garage, and I'm thinking I'll just wheel this fucker right through the door into the house and into the studio. Guess again. Turns out the dimensions of the box versus the dimensions of the hallway are such that there's not enough clearance to make the 90 degree turn required after getting through the door. So I wheel the sub back into the garage.
I decide my best bet is to open it up in the garage, so as to separate the actual subwoofer from it's packaging, thereby lightening the load and reducing the dimensions. A good plan. Now how do I open this box that looks like it was discovered in an ancient tomb by Indiana Jones?
I carefully studied the hieroglyphics for clues. It seemed to indicate the secret to opening it involved a wine glass, umbrella, and rain water. Unable (or unwilling) to figure out the riddle, I utilized a crowbar and forced each metal latch into an upright position, and removed the top of the box. Boom.
Time to take this baby to greener pastures. Not just yet hombre - this bitch still clocks in over 100 pounds on it's own, and while you may be tempted to grab the sub by its plastic covering in the absence of discernible handles, I'm not willing to risk the plastic giving way and my new sub crashing to the floor. And to make matters more complicated, the remaining crate is seriously hindering my ability to get proper leverage - I'm a pretty fit individual, but at a whopping 5 ft 7 inches I don't have the height of a giraffe, so my strength is nullified by the positioning of the situation (I bet there's a jiu jitsu lesson in here somewhere). If I really gave it my all, it's possible I would succeed, but I'm not interested in throwing my back out to prove how strong I am. So unless there's a crane somewhere inside my garage, it's back to the drawing board.
Got it. Position the crate against the base of the doorway / Position the handtruck opposite the doorway inside the house / Tilt the open end of the crate through the doorway, landing with its side on the handtruck / Slide the crate out backwards, leaving the sub perfectly positioned on the handtruck / Boom.
Nice try asshole. Still not enough clearance to make the necessary 90 degree turn. But at this point, the sub has been freed from it's confines, and two silver handles have become visible through the plastic. So I take life by the horns and move this bad boy into the hallway by hand.
Hmmm. You know what, it's heavy, but not torturously so. Let me carry it the rest of the way into the studio. Boom.
For those who might have another 100+ feet to go once inside the house, you might want to bring the handtruck back into the mix. For those that are wondering, "why didn't you just open the crate in the garage, tilt it on it's side to slide the sub out, and walk it into the house to begin with", all I have to say is hindsight is 20/20. But thanks to my noble efforts above, when faced with the same situation, other people now know not to do a single thing that I've suggested.
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
You know how after paying for groceries, you routinely receive various coupons and/or advertisements? Well, a few weeks ago I received the following….uh, statement….from Ben & Jerry's:
Now, it took me a minute to understand what was going on, but eventually I realized that I had in fact purchased a 14 oz container of chocolate ice cream from Haagen Dazs. Apparently, Ben & Jerry's was so disturbed by my decision, that they were going out of their way to inform me that I had bought a substandard portion of ice cream, as compared to their 16 oz containers.
My jaw fell open…there were so many questions racing through my mind - could this be true? Have I been losing out on 2 oz of ice cream per container every time I bought a non-Ben&Jerry's variety? How many containers has that been over the years? If you added up all the lost servings from consumers across the world, how big would the resulting pile of ice cream be? It was horrifying to think of the lost seas of ice cream, never to be salvaged. And how could I have been so misguided and hoodwinked, as to be blind to this truth for so long?
The severity of the situation was overwhelming. I vowed to get to the bottom of this, even if it meant sacrificing more ice cream for the sake of the cause. No matter how long it took, no matter how far…I would find answers.
Thus began the furious task of researching this issue. My inquiry took me to distant lands, atop ancient glaciers, to the heartlands of ice cream nations across the globe. I consulted with psychologists, experts in the medical community, and even spoke with a lama. When all the data was in hand, and the dust finally settled….5 minutes later….I had my answer:
The grocery store didn't carry chocolate Ben & Jerry's ice cream. (Gasp)
In fact, none of the stores in my area carried a Ben & Jerry's chocolate-only flavor. But how could that be? Nothing was making sense. Surely Ben & Jerry's would make it a point to have stores carry such a basic flavor, wouldn't they? Why would they issue their press release amidst my batch of coupons, if they couldn't offer to match my choice in flavor? Was this just a coincidence, or was it evidence of something far more nefarious? More questions began flooding my brain - too many to ignore. No, this had to be investigated and there was only one man for the job. Rest assured, I will get to the bottom of it….right after I finish this 14 oz container of Haagen Dasz ice cream.
Monday, July 4, 2011
Since the release of Transformers: Dark Of The Moon, I've been getting inundated with emails from people telling me, "Steve Jablonsky stole your music" and that, "the new Transformers score totally ripped off Mind Heist!" So in an effort to lay the matter to rest, I'm going to break this down once and only once. For those who are unfamiliar with "Mind Heist" or the cue "It's Our Fight" from the Transformers 3 score, listen to the links below to hear what we're talking about (they are already cued up to the relevant sections - a couple of minutes of listening should suffice).
Now, let me start by saying that no one owns a genre or style of composition. Equally, Danny Elfman doesn't have a copyright in pizzicato playing techniques, and Hans Zimmer doesn't own the rights to specific chord progressions or pulsing staccato strings. In the same way, I don't possess the exclusive right to incorporate massive low stabs. So, a piece of music that contains deep low stabs does not constitute copyright infringement of "Mind Heist" (there were deep low stabs before "Mind Heist" and there will be deep low stabs afterwards). But make no mistake, "It's Our Fight" would appear to be a rip-off of "Mind Heist" (at least, much of the 6-minute track would seem to be). Technically speaking, I suppose it's possible that this is a coincidence. I can't factually state that Jablonsky knowingly imitated my song, but when I listen to the above selections, the similarities are certainly extreme.
This much should be obvious to anyone with ears. But for those who don't hear it, don't panic - just stop reading and we thank you for playing. To the rest of you, the following is the sequence of reactions I had to this:
1. Flattery - What an honor to have a major feature film composer be inspired by my work. I've been unknown for the majority of my career, and Steve Jablonsky "borrowing" from me is a testament to the caliber of music I create.
2. Pride - Even with a Hollywood film music budget, live orchestra elements, what I assume was a typical production team (assistants, orchestrators, engineers, etc), and a gifted composer's best attempt at writing my song sideways, the result is a blatant effort that falls short of "Mind Heist". Add to that the fact that I don't have any assistants at all (let alone the army that is customary on a feature film score), nor the privilege of working with a live orchestra…and still, "Mind Heist" beats this rip-off to death like a psychotic serial killer convinced the murder being committed is going to save the planet.
3. Outrage - Someone is selling a "Mind Heist" impostor on iTunes as part of the contents of the Transformers 3 score…a film whose composer received a sizable fee to deliver original music, and a film with major studio backing and PR (which ultimately drives soundtrack sales), and whose eventual physical CD release will have label distribution. What is wrong with this picture? I'm an independent artist, with no record label or studio backing. My albums don't go platinum, and I don't make anywhere near the money of a successful feature film composer. Now to be fair, I'm not interested in selling my soul to make a dollar, and being independent has been a conscious decision on my part, one which I have never regretted for a second. But being an independent artist is not a license to be taken advantage of and exploited…and guess what Steve, I don't work for you - if you need my help composing a score, give me a call and ask for it. But how dare you steal from me and then profit from it.
4. Pity - Ripping off temp music is an unfortunate reality found in many aspects of the music business. Equally unfortunate is that so many composers and artists lack both originality and the integrity necessary to refuse to become leeches. In the case of Transformers 3, I have no idea if a directive to rip off "Mind Heist" was issued by someone. Maybe my song was temped in by the director or producers and forcibly shoved on Jablonsky, and maybe Jablonsky even protested the instruction to rip it off…or maybe Jablonsky just thought "hey, Mind Heist would sound really good here, lets just copy that and change a couple of notes". Either way, Steve - I feel sorry for you.
At the end of the day, there is nothing wrong with being influenced by another artist or composer, and in truth, such influence is unavoidable. When it comes to any creative endeavor, one's environment and the extent of their exposure to other creative works influences their own creativity. But there is a line between influence and plagiarism, and as to whether "It's Our Fight" crossed it, I pose the question to Jablonsky - what says you Steve?
All I can say is, if stealing someone else's music becomes necessary to make a paycheck, then making music is no longer for me. And if my evolution as an artist should get to a point where I am incapable of thinking for myself, and becoming a parasite is the only means through which I can create worthwhile music, then my existence as an artist will have come to an end. I'm not interested in being anyone other than me. But Steve, you should check out my new album "The Way" - it might prove useful in your future scores!
Friday, April 8, 2011
So a while back, I get an email from Michael Coleman, founder and producer of SoundWorks Collection. He asks me if I would be open to the idea of a video story about my work.
I'm thinking to myself: "that's kind of cool that this guy wants to interview me on camera…he probably runs some sort of local cable access show…I hope the production value isn't too painful." Then I went to soundworkscollection.com and saw sound profiles for films like The Fighter and Black Swan, and interviews with accredited composers, sound designers and mixers, directors, etc.
Now I'm thinking: "maybe Michael's email was intended for a different artist, but somehow the email address got screwed up…?"
Hmmm. I better go back and re-read that email. Let me see here…he's saying, "Ever since purchasing your "Empty Room" CD I have been amazed by your unique approach to music composing."
Nope, he meant to send this email to me. Wow.
"Hi Michael…I'm honored you would even be inclined to include me among the roster of the SoundWorks series…obviously I haven't scored a feature film, television series, or video game…but if you're interested in interviewing an artist who hasn't sold millions of albums, exists in somewhat obscurity, occasionally writes music that gets used in film trailers but exists on the outside of that industry, then I'm totally down for it."
A few weeks later, the SoundWorks team arrived in Lake Carmel. Three guys appeared with cameras and lights - Michael Coleman, the man, the myth, the legend; Brandon Vedder, the cool DP with a mysterious past and the wisdom of ancients; and Logan Grime, a man so dangerous with a camera he travels under a pseudonym in LA.
The team entered my studio. Once their eyes adjusted to the blinding light shining off my immaculately polished formica desk, they got right to work. Cameras, lights, action. We spoke that day like men that haven't spoken in ages. This is to say, we spoke like strangers. But the more we spoke, the closer we became…and by the time they left, we were a family torn apart.
That is the story of how this interview came to be. For those who missed it, check it out below. And for those in need of a production company to make their studios look cooler than they actually are, and edit their conversation in a way that makes them sound like they might actually know what they're talking about, get in touch with Michael Coleman. But don't be upset if you can't get a hold of him - he's most likely working his magic elsewhere at the moment.