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At the Crossroads by Bill Curtis

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Bill Curtis 2012
Bill Curtis founder of The Fatback Band

Where are we now? From what I see we are at the cross roads. Which path do you want to take? Like more of us, you have tried them all and none of them really worked as a real benefit for created artist especially for the musicians. They have created all of these platforms, claiming that they are helping us, but in the meantime their pockets are getting so fat. Oh yes we have more control, we are on an equal playing field…On a field where they have devastated our music to the extent that we can’t make a living in the playing field. We are seeing now a 360’degree turn around and how it all started.

You see, once upon time, we controlled all of our music. When I say we, I mean black music. We managed and booked our own right from Harlem…the Rhythm club (Google it). If anyone wanted black music or entertainers they had to come uptown to Harlem to hire them or you had to call the club. They booked all over and they had the control.

Joe Glaser saw a great opportunity to introduce black entertainment to the “white world” and also to control it. He persuaded a few at first to come with him downtown , but Jimmy Lunceford and few more thought it would be end of their control and also felt like it wasn’t a good idea. They talked against going downtown. Joe ended up pulling everyone downtown with him. He had most all top black Entertainers at that time. That was the beginning of the end of our control and the beginning of the middleman.

Black Entertainers built Associated Booking Corporation (A.B.C.), the agency that Joe Glaser owned. Joe did a lot great things to bring Black entertainment to forefront and to the world…even long after some of their careers were over, Joe still looked out for them.

Now that we are back in control, somewhat, so what are we going to do? We got all these things at our finger tips and none of them

Social Network
Facebook, MySpace

really work to generate any real income for us. The social media (facebook, myspace) is not what you think. That’s created just for gossip and not about music. Maybe one day it will be more music friendly and youtube is your best bet right now. The old fashion way is still the best way to get your music out there and heard…radio, sending files and word of mouth, is still king. Radio is losing it power but it could be more effective if it could get out of the past. I am not saying forget about the past but you got to make radio more exciting One thing they should do is lets stations create their own format for there own community, put it back in jocks hand. Why should I have to paid, to get good radio? Radio should be the place to discover new music.

Right now the only place you can hear new music is online (internet) radio. It’s our life line to world and it’s free. I feel like one day this will be the media for music. As long as they keep the music and the people frist.

Whatever path you choose you can’t do it alone, you got to have a team. In the old days, you had a record company, an agent and very few, sometimes had managers. In the new music industry, you need a specialist, legal advisor, an agency or promoter and a manager. That’s if you have gotten yourself in that position. You have to build your community up to where you have about 30,000 or more. That’s why I said you can’t be just good; you got to be great! I know you’re saying to yourself… if I have that many supporters, why do I need anyone? Now you have bargaining power, you didn’t come to the table empty handed. The record company has that infrastructure that the internet doesn’t have, yet now you have the power to demand what you want or you can walk.

Now the question is when do I get this team? You will know when you have something that is different and your community is telling everyone about you and they can’t wait until your next release. When you play, they bring other people and pack the house. When they purchase all CD’s you brought with you and your merchandise. Now you’re ready for the next level. You are not a star, but you know where you going.

Hey, Spotify never said they were Artist friendly. In 2008, when they were founded, it was to combat piracy. They have paid the labels over $250 million for licensing of our music when they know damn well the artist ain’t gonna see any of that. Like I said, they never stated they’re making a platform for the artist. It was designed to stop piracy.

Whenever I have this discussion about Spotify… there’s no different than radio here and juke box man. So they feel like whatever they are giving…you take it and shut up. The other two are not right either. No I wouldn’t want anyone to steal my records and not get paid! I wouldn’t want anyone to openly steal either and try to make me think they helped me. Yes piracy has hurt the industry (but we were doing fairly well before the internet) and it also helped too, but not for the new up and coming artists. I know I’m going to get a lot of feedback from this ,but this is the way I see it and that’s from the bottom looking up.

Re-posted by permission from Bill Curtis, May 2012

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To know when and how to ask the meaningful questions of a life, to take the pause, to create space, to fill it, to breathe, to phrase your words just so, just enough to touch, to procure the truth, to connect: these are the tools of an artist, a musician, a singer. How appropriate that these are also the tools DJ “Souly” Soulswede uses in every interview to reveal the heart of those who share his creative sensibilities. He can because he knows something about them. Knows a bit about how it’s done, good artists usually do....Read more on DJ Soulswede's own page.