Monday, November 10, 2014

Then and Now - The battle of the Artist, Piracy and Spotify

The last few days of comments and discussion I have had about the music industry has been amazing. Granted it started with the news(if you wanna call it that) of Taylor Swift pulling her music from Spotify and other streaming services. Now, I said before - it was a clever ploy by the record company, not her, to make that happen and even make it news. It's paid off for them.

But it got me thinking.

I should make sure I state that I love CD's. Better yet, a physical record (whether C.D or even vinyl) you can hold, look at, read, and refer to. My love for that will never go away. I was fortunate to be born in the last generation that had such a thing. It was common. Whether it was a CD, cassette tape, record, or even an 8-track. Yes, I had an 8 track and yes I'm only 31. #truestory

My generation and all those before me loved it.

I spent my early years going to the library picking up all the music I could, because at a young age I knew music was my life. As I got older, the little money I had..And I do mean little,  was spent on buying CD's. Remember Nick? My collection of records is evident. The ABC's of Jazz all the way to the Z's. Adderley, Bird, Coltrane and even Zawinul. I lived and still breath this music daily.

There was an art to collecting those records. At a point, I could tell you when it was recorded, the personnel, I could even tell you about the liner notes. That was then, and just like life, the only constant is change.

I realize Piracy is one of the biggest issues independent artist face. I'm not talking about the major labels, I'm talking about the little guys. And for the record, I do agree streaming services like Spotify are horrendous as far as paying musicians what is owed. I'll be the first to tell you there is no difference from a major label making hand over fist monetarily on your art, to something like spotify doing the same. In 2012 Spotify saw an increase of 5 million users for it's "Paid" services while the payment of .0007 hasn't increased.

Do I think all these online free services should step up and pay what it should for the use of our music. Absolutely and without a doubt. Will it? Not in a million years.

As an artist who creates music, records it with the hopes of creating sales and income from it, I can only see these outlets as a promotional tool. Sure, tons of you won't agree but there is a part of me regardless of how I feel about the overall situation that needs to be a realist.

Let me explain.

Spotify is not going anywhere. Youtube is not going anywhere. Rhapsody is not going anywhere. You know what is going somewhere? CD's or any other physical items that can be replaced by a digital format.

I know it's a hard pill to swallow for some, and for others reading this the echoing sound of "no shit Sherlock" resonates. You can't deny facts. Just like the death of physical books has happened at an alarming rate thanks to the digital age, physical music media has plummeted even faster. Believe me when I say even that phone that you are holding so dear in your hands in time, will be a memory. I'm getting a little off topic, but let's look at some numbers.

In 2014 from the span of January - June, according to the amount of physical album sales for any artist, including soundtracks, and even mixed CD's (think "Now this is what I call music") the top physical album to sale was the Frozen Soundtrack. And you know how many sold in those 6 months....

1,649,000 units sold.

Most of those were from parents for the children who watched the movie. Think about that for a second. Even Beyonces' surprise album, in those same 6 months sold 355,000. That number is worth being 4th on the top 10 list of actual units sold. Why do you think major artist are forced to sign 360 deals?

This will only continue to decline. Let's continue to look at the trends. Ask a 20 year old if he or she listens to CD's and you may get a few that would say yes, but many will give you a look of confusion. Now, ask a 10 year old if he or she knows what a CD is...And that's where we are at.

Companies know this and have transitioned. Let's look at the computer industry. It is becoming increasing difficult to find a laptop with an optical drive (aka C.D or DVD drive)
Want the newest Apple computer? Or the latest Samsung laptop... Getting it with a drive is not even an option.

But with that being the case, I am suppose to believe that streaming services for both music and movies are not here to stay? I don't have the answer to this. Will I continue to make CD's and sale them at live performances. Of course. For as long as I can. Will I push a downloadable format such as iTunes? Even more so.

The way I see it, we live in a world of greed, all while living in a world of consistent abundance. The mind set of "right here, right now". The world where an 8 year old kid can get around the internet better then most adults.Why would that same 8 year old transition to an adult and go backwards in history to listen to the same music when since he can remember....anything he or she wanted is a click away.

Are physical albums dead?

Not quite. But it's on life support. And the people who can fix it, pulled the plug years ago with no intention to work it out. The few sales that people do muster up specifically at live shows remind people of the yesteryear. And yeah it was a great past.. But what is up with this future.

It's up to us to figure out how to use these"services" to our advantages one day at a time.

These thoughts are my own - Albert Rivera

Monday, March 17, 2014

Are you living?

Are you living?

Or better yet, have you started to live? I mean, I realize you’re sitting somewhere in this world, on a computer and you’re reading this. I get that in the definition of the word “living” could be taken as “the pursuit of a lifestyle of the specified type” at least that’s what Webster would suggest. But i’m asking, are you really LIVING. Living in a way where the novel of your life, if ever to be written would be a worldwide best seller with each page of progression being better then the last. That each chapter was so full of love it covers up the undeniable sadness that life tends to strikes us from time to time. Where you, the main character is a person where we can all say “that was a life”

You can’t teach anyone to live.
You can’t force anyone to live.
But when you’re living…You just know it.

So I ask again… Have you started to live.

Life is finite. When you can understand, comprehend or even accept that as an absolute. “Living”  brings on an updated version of it’s very own definition.

I’ve learned that it is your own actions day to day, which makes one live. The past, the present and the future all have a say in how you live, but your mind of the now allows you to live.

Life is precious.

I can’t begin to explain how amazing every single one of you truly are. Be thankful for another day in this world. If you can see the beauty of living, share a smile to the world, a hug to a friend, a helping hand to a stranger. Give because you can, embrace the sunrise, and hope for a sunset.

As poet Mary Oliver once wrote “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” So I ask…
Have you started to live?

Monday, February 10, 2014

Study with me this summer and some of my Grammy Award winning friends! (Litchfield Jazz Camp)

Want to study with some of the best jazz musicians in the world who happen to be some of my best friends? Read below for more info or visit for more info! Feel free to share!

Post by Litchfield Jazz Camp.