August 2003 

 Volume 15

August 1, 2003

Kids Today

My little god-brother is staying with us this week and it has become a real comedy and the house has become Nickelodeon central (which he won't admit he watches). He took over the living room, which I don't mind cause I'm working in the studio. He brought his video games and DVDs and set it up quickly like it was a pit stop at NASCAR. 

He then played a football video game where they allow you to choose which teams you want from the NFL. The score was quite ironic as the Dolphins were trouncing the Buccaneers. When I said that, my god-brother replied, "yea say that in public here." Then I said, "Uh, I'm not stupid." This coming from a kid who wore a Colts shirt to a Dolphins home game and cheered for the Colts as well. Yes, he is brave, as when he started cheering for the Colts a Dolphin's fan jokingly yelled, "hey, what are you doing!" I'm convinced the only reason they let him get away with this stuff is because he is a kid (see April 29th's diary for more info).

Later, I took a break when he was on the computer and decided to watch some TV. I went to put a tape in the VCR and it was plugged out. I guess he doesn't like extension cords. He probably just didn't want to look for one. Then I couldn't find the remote and I couldn't bother to get up and change the channel manually, so I ended up watching...Nickelodeon (did I mention that my god brother doesn't watch Nickelodeon). 

Then he used the main computer in the studio. Like my little sister when she is here, they only want to use AIM. I use regular AOL instant messenger. So now every time I log on, AIM starts up as well and when I try to IM someone using my regular AOL IM service, the AIM software is fighting it and sending IM's at the same time.

I've been making all the meals and with kids you can't cook anything that remotely seems or looks gourmet. My mom wanted me to make salmon (pan seared), much to my god-brother's dismay. So, I ended up making tacos for dinner and he was as happy as can be. Then there is the issue of me allegedly using too many big words when I speak and confusing him. For example, all I said was "not particularly" when he asked me something and he jokingly said "just use big words why don't you." Well, he is 13 years old.

A funny joke for you about when he and his teammates went to the movies. They like to think they are tough...so tough that they didn't check the newspaper or movie phone to see what films were playing and at what time. When they got to the theatre, everything they wanted to watch was midway through, but there was one film that was just starting. They ended up watching the film...(drum roll) Lizzie McGuire - which is a film whose target audience is girls, so they were a little upset. They think they are tough basketball players - well they are, they play like a junior version of the Knicks. That's another thing, are 13 year olds supposed to be blatantly drawing fouls.

Anyway, to them Lizzie McGuire is a chick flick that they probably will not acknowledge publicly that they viewed. My god-brother almost got away with it until I heard him jokingly sing a line from a song and I asked, "What song is that?" (because he doesn't usually sing lyrics like that). Then he said, "Oh, it was in the movie Lizzie McGuire" Ooops! Then I laughed and said, "you saw Lizzie McGuire?" That's a bit out of character for you guys.

Of course, I made jokes about that and probably will again. I make jokes about him all the time, like when he keeps asking me what gift I'm gonna get him for his birthday or Christmas, I annoy him by deliberately saying something like "a Power Puff Girls lunch box".

In closing, being a parent is a big responsibility. Ever notice how happy parents get when they drop their kids off at the babysitter and go out for the evening - they do cartwheels and act like they've just won a contest. Anytime his mom drops him off here, she acts much the same way and will joke to him over the phone about how she got away from him for a few days and how much fun she is having or when she calls he will pretend like he's forgotten who she is (yes, they are like that and should seek therapy). I'm just kidding about that last part, she is a good mom and he is a good kid. 


August 5, 2003

Gay Marriages

I read an article on CNN about the Catholic Church officially opposing gay marriages and seeking to repeal laws that have been passed that permit them in certain cities. God intended marriage to be between a man and a woman, therefore He only honors marriages that are between a man and a woman. Regardless of any laws that are implemented to the contrary, God will not honor it, as it is an offense to Him and will only bring His chastisement.  

It is in vain. It brings to mind the Bible verse "Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain." A marriage is something whose foundation is God. He created it and considers it pure. Any tampering with or defiling of the sanctity of marriage through homosexual unions will not be a blessing, but rather the opposite, as it is making a mockery of what He created to bless a man and woman.   

The Bible says it is a sin and notably a sin that God considers particularly grievous. Genesis 18 verse 20 states "Then the LORD said, 'The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous.' " Then in Genesis 20, God sent two angels to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah because of homosexuality.  

There are other Bible verses that state homosexuality is a sin (From a Biblicalstudies.com article Published by Word of Life Baptist Church copyright © 1992, Fred G. Zaspel): 

In Leviticus 18:22 and 24 homosexuality is described as an "abomination" and "defiling."

In Leviticus 20:13 it is again described as an "abomination."

An incident similar to that of Sodom and Gomorrah is seen again in Judges 19. Again the sin of homosexuality is described as "wickedness."

The prohibition in Deuteronomy 22:5 of women wearing men's clothing appears to be a specific condemnation of transvestism.

In Romans 1:18-32 the apostle Paul condemns the practice in the severest terms. Homosexuality is "unclean," "impure," "dishonoring to the body," "vile," "degrading / disgraceful," "contrary to nature," "unseemly/ obscene," "improper activity of a depraved mind," "unrighteous," "wicked," etc. Of particular importance to the apostle in this passage is the fact that homosexuality is "unnatural"--contrary to nature.

In 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 the apostle Paul speaks of homosexuals as "effeminate" and "abusers of themselves with mankind" who "shall not inherit the kingdom of God." The terms he uses here seem to be specific references to both active and the passive participants in a homosexual relationship. Such people are "unrighteous," he says, and if they remain in that practice they will be condemned.

Also: Deuteronomy 23:17 and 1 Kings 14, 15, and 22. 

The Bible clearly states homosexuality is a sin. It is expressed in several verses. God does offer forgiveness, but requires repentance from sin, meaning to stop committing that sin.

When people state that they do not agree with homosexuality, gay rights organizations label them hateful and intolerant. I do not hate gay people, I do not hate anyone, but I don't agree with homosexuality. I've heard many people say "God is love," but He is also the God of judgment. Upon reading the Bible, that becomes very evident. The Bible use of the word judgment refers to vindication, avenging wrongs, chastisement and or punishment. If He said do not do something, there will be consequences if people do.      

People sometimes have the habit of trying to mold God, but we cannot make God what we want Him to be. God does not change, people do. People sometimes refer to Him based on how they think He is, which is sometimes Biblical inaccurate. However, the Bible paints a very clear picture of who He is.

People often struggle for acceptance, but not everyone in the world is gonna agree with you. That goes for straight and gay people. Many gay rights groups promote a message of tolerance, but there's a big difference between tolerance and acceptance. When someone accepts you, it usually indicates love, when someone tolerates you it usually implies patronizing and putting up with someone. In general, people can't force or condition people to accept them, if what is in their hearts says otherwise.

The definition of tolerance can often be interchanged with the definitions of patronizing and or ingratiation in certain cases. If someone tells you they approve of you, then behind your back to others they are making cruel gay jokes and referring to you as fa**ot, that is not acceptance. That's not even tolerance.

Ironically in Hollywood, to appease certain executives and entertainers other executives and entertainers pretend to approve of homosexuality when their words and behavior in other circumstances clearly show they do not. They only say it to be politically correct. 

There has been a concerted effort by gay people in Hollywood to make homosexuality more acceptable to the public via films, television and theatre. At the same time, if one does not support that movement, they are labeled intolerant, hateful, narrow minded, homophobic and in some cases penalized for those views. 

In Hollywood, voting for certain awards are biased and several studios with gay executives shun films that do not portray homosexuality in the best possible light. But let a film that mocks Christianity, which says homosexuality is a sin, pass across their desk - it will be green lighted (lit) with quickness, enthusiasm and a generous budget.

What if Christian directors started doing the same thing by putting out films that mocked homosexuality. Many gay people in Hollywood would cry foul and say they are being persecuted. Yet, it is okay to do that to Christians? Some gay people in Hollywood accuse others of the behavior that they often exhibit. Not being able to accept that others will have different views or not esteem the things you do.  

I read on Sky News that the current Jennifer Lopez film, which was severely bashed by critics, angered gay rights organizations, as the character she played was a lesbian who is converted and becomes heterosexual.  

I understand (though I don't agree with the message) that gay rights organizations want to promote their message, but at what price? As a black person, I'm personally offended when gay rights groups try to align slavery/civil rights with gay rights. That's just thoughtless and inaccurate. It is nowhere near the same thing and it is an insult to attempt to even draw comparisons of the two.

Others have expressed the same views as well due to the fact that gay people have nowhere near suffered anything remotely similar to what so many black people were subjected to during slavery and during the civil rights movement. Black people were ripped from their homeland, forced to work for free, deprived of property rights, beaten, whipped, lynched, tortured and women raped. Those weren't isolated incidents- those were common occurrences. You cannot equate that level of suffering with gay rights. 

Regardless of what some would have you believe, the public is not openly embracing homosexuality. Hollywood would like to paint that picture, but it is not an accurate one. A few years ago I went to see the film Big Daddy, which was about a young boy and widely viewed as a family film. Surprisingly, there was a scene that came out of nowhere, where two gay men kissed each other on the mouth. The packed audience of adults and children in the movie theatre expressed their collective disapproval with loud sounds of repulsion - words like "eww" and "yuck" accompanied by many people turning their faces away from the screen. The reaction was undeniable. In a natural, unrehearsed moment, that was the reaction. Why? Because it went against their God given nature.

God did not make anyone gay. People aren't born gay as some have purported - it is a choice you make. The Bible clearly says homosexuality is a sin, therefore God would not will a person to be gay. He gives everyone free will and that is the choice some make, even though the Bible clearly expresses that it is not His will for anyone.

On AOL there was a poll asking people to vote on whether or not homosexuality is a sin. Once again, the media trying to redefine lines that were already set by God. The word sin, usually has to do with religion. The Bible says homosexuality is a sin, yet they are asking for votes on whether or not it is.  

AOL polls usually have a feature that prevents users from voting more than once… this one did not, as I tested it and it allowed me to vote 3 times - yet they are reporting a surge in votes in favor of homosexuality over the last month. However, it's not up for debate with God. Regardless of anyone's opinion, the Bible says it is a sin.

I once worked at a place where I later found out the manager was gay. The other people there knew, but I didn't. I don't look at people and try to guess their sexual orientation. Even after I found out he was gay, I didn't act differently towards him. I loved him as a human being. 

I have no hatred or contempt in my heart towards gay people or anyone for that matter. I've never called anyone a fa**ot. I think that’s cruel and unkind. God says we are to love each other as people. However, He never told us to compromise and tell people the things He said are wrong are acceptable. My faith in God is the thing I hold most dear and I will not compromise that.

God created marriage for a man and a woman. There's no getting around that. That cannot be changed in His sight. He is not going to accept homosexuality, regardless of who does and what He says is what will count in the end.

Many of you have heard the phrase God loves the sinner, but hates the sin. God loves you and it is not His wish for you to engage in a homosexual lifestyle. If you already have God can forgive you. With God there is repentance (changing your ways) and forgiveness. There is no bargaining and compromising what He said is right and wrong in order to continue committing that or any sin. If you do, you do so at your own risk. He is loving, but He also addresses sin.

There are people who were once gay, but are now straight. Many of them now in Christian ministries and in heterosexual marriages, so it is possible to change. 

Currently, the Episcopalian Church is split on a decision to appoint an openly gay bishop. God will not reside in any church that so flagrantly goes against the Bible. You do your church a disservice, as verses in the Bible attest that God removed His presence and blessing from any group of people or church called by His name when they flagrantly advertised their sin to Him.  


August 9, 2003

The Kobe Bryant Case

I saw a segment on Sport Center about the possible effect the trial and negative publicity will have on Kobe Bryant's many endorsements, one of which has been dissolved. A morality clause allows a endorsee (sponsor) to drop an endorser (celebrity) for inappropriate conduct.

Morality clauses are also very common in entertainment industry contracts. What are these morality clauses. Are they really there to encourage and promote moral behavior or to safeguard the endorsed company's investment and name and act as an escape clause when a situation is not favorable due to bad publicity. Well, it's more the latter.

Recently, a soft drink company dropped a rapper due to a television interviewer reviewing his explicit lyrics on his show and urging the company to remove him from the ad campaign, which they promptly did. Ironically, they didn't remove a family known for its explicit, sometimes demonic language from their ads even though their language was far worse than the rapper's. Why? Because their show had high ratings and the outcry against the endorsement wasn't strong enough. Some logically argued that if the rapper was dropped, the family should have been dropped as well.

Years ago an attention-seeking singer was dropped from a soda company endorsement for burning crosses in her music video. Never mind I'm still trying to figure out what a non-Anglo-Saxon was doing burning crosses in a video like the KKK - was it irony, idiocy or both. I know sometimes singers copy other singers, but a non-Anglo-Saxon singer copying the KKK in burning crosses is the height of stupidity.    

There have also been a few difficulties with endorsements. A soda company signed a singer to a 100 million contract to be paid over a few years, then shortly after said singer was photographed twice in one month drinking their main rival's soda. Maybe if their rival had signed her for a 100 million contract, maybe then she would have drunk their soda instead and they would have gotten the endorsement for free, rather than being the ones who paid her to unwittingly endorse their competition twice in one month. I'm kidding, but it did happen.

However, there are some shrewd singers and athletes who give the company's they endorse their money's worth. Recently, I was was watching an interview for a singer who casually managed to mention his sponsor's product during an interview that reached millions (no, the free plug wasn't obvious at all haha).   

One of the athletes web sites that I visit wears a variety of clothes by his sponsor, even when he is not working (I hope they're paying you extra for that). In looking at the site I noticed that there's a common thread in most of the pics...him and a certain logo that's comprised of the company's name and a swoosh (yea, now that I've written "a certain logo that's comprised of the company's name and a swoosh," you'll never guess which company that is, right). I hope they give him a raise for wearing their whole product line haha. Seriously, he has gotten them good publicity and article mentions for the clothes he wears that they make.  

Others mysteriously wear their sponsor's clothing line or clothing emblazoned with their endorsers logo to television interviews, photo and video shoots. Well, that was until certain networks caught on and started blurring out logos. It worked for a while, though.  

If you have endorsements, it's wise to protect them. Yea, a lot of industry people such as other singers and athletes may not talk about the behavior you engage in that would displease sponsors, but other people might. Some people might even deliberately set you up for whatever reason, it's happened to quite a few people. While, you can't control everything, you can be careful not to get into certain situations and genuinely try to stay out of trouble. That is a good way to protect your health, well being, name and future earnings.    

Therefore, it really isn't a matter of morality as many see it in terms of integrity and good conduct. It's just what the sponsor deems the wrong type of publicity they don't want for their brand. If the wrong person complains, sponsors sometimes take action so as not to attract anymore of the wrong type of attention. After all, there are musicians an athletes that sleep with groupies and or cheat on their spouses, neither of which is considered moral, but they aren't dropped from their endorsements under the "morality clause," as it is not in the papers garnering bad press. Just so, there may be someone who doesn't engage in any inappropriate behavior, but if they are outspoken on issues that generate controversial publicity, they could be dropped as well.

They should rename "the morality clause"... "the bad publicity clause," as that would be more accurate. It's just that "morality clause" sounds much more friendly, inconspicuous and non-threatening (though it is a legal threat of being dropped if behavior becomes unseemly and or controversial). Still, these companies have a right to protect their best interests under those circumstances.        

In closing, sometimes people endorse things that they do not use, though they claim they do. If you endorse something, basically you are making a recommendation to people, so try to make sure that it's something of quality that won't cause your audience any harm i.e. stuff that you know is morally wrong and or unapproved. 


August 13, 2003

Joke of the week

My 13-year-old godbrother wants to go to the University of Florida in Gainesville. He told me he wants to get a scholarship. He does get good grades. If he doesn't, his mom will basically make his life miserable, and knowing her, she would - and with that kind of incentive, anyone would get good grades.    

I said, "Yea, that would be great if you got a scholarship, you could even go to Harvard." My godbrother, putting academics first responded '"yea, but their football team sucks. They're so bad; they're not even on TV." Actually, that wasn't the funniest thing I've heard all week, it was the funniest thing I've heard all month (even though it's just the 13th of the month). His mother then jokingly said, "Harvard, he can't even spell Harvard!" (Hmm wonder where he gets that from). Then I suggested Yale and he drew a blank and said huh. I need to send him (and his mother) some much-needed books. 

Spain

My little sister is very taken with Spain right now. She wants to go there and asked me if there is any Spanish in our family. I said on my side of the family there is Spanish from my grandma, who was half Brazilian (never mind my little sister speaks better Spanish than I do, though I'm the one with the Latin heritage). She loves speaking to me in Spanish, as she knows the only Spanish I speak is "Pele" (kidding). Thanks to my dad, my childhood is a blur of music, Pele soccer matches, Clive Lloyd cricket matches (his friend) and John McEnroe tennis matches. 

Yes, I watched a variety of matches by other tennis players as well when I was a child and still do, but my theory is watching McEnroe flip his lid on the court traumatized me as a kid, which is why I remember McEnroe the most (you know, a good lawyer would find a lawsuit in that somewhere).

I'm getting another traumatizing flashback right now of an umpire, McEnroe, a racket flying and the sound of television beeps (make it stop, make the beeps stop). 

Tennis

Speaking of tennis, watching a match recently I began to wonder why a certain tennis player doesn't incorporate more aces into his game, he has the strength and quickness to hit good aces, as he is very fast on the court and has a good serve. 

Yea, aces are like cheap shots (get the joke?...never mind). That's what I would do (yea, like I'm actually ranked). The whole game would be aces. That's my idea of a good match, others not being able to even touch the ball, sort of like Kobe when he plays basketball (I'm kidding). In the post match interview my opponent would be whining and saying "I never got a chance to hit the ball! I couldn't return any of them. She gets on my nerves!" (I'm just kidding). 

An observation...a certain commentator says the word "masters" as though it is pronounced "monsters," due to his accent. When he said "the masters" I thought he said "the monsters," then I thought "what monsters?" (yes, I'm teasing him - hey, he jokes about the athletes). Another observation...doesn't Justin Gimelstob look like Joey Fatone from the boyband NSYNC (hmm -Aisha wondering if the neighborhoods where Justin and Joey grew up had the same mailman-...I'm just kidding). 


August 16, 2003

Girl Groups

Why do so many girl groups have conflicts within the group. There are a few Christian girl groups that have been together for a long time (well done to you guys) but there are so many secular ones that don't (with the exception of a few).  

Apart of the problem is some people just shouldn’t be in groups. That's not to say they are necessarily more talented - some people just have attitudes and too much ambition and are better off starting off as solo artists.  

There was a girl group a few decades ago that were well known. The label's CEO oversaw their careers. He started dating one of the members as well and that was where the problems arose, as he started to show her preferential treatment. The other two members were then relegated to background singers. 

One member didn't handle it well, complained and was allegedly dismissed for her drinking problems (which many say was due to the situation in the group). That member then drank herself to death. The member that was shown preferential treatment went to her funeral and was booed by the crowds outside who were fans of the group. What's also regrettable and ironic is that in the years after that occurred, that lead singer also started drinking heavily. For a while I wondered if she was going to go down the same path as her former band mate, which ended in her death. I pray that she does not go down the same path her former band mate did.  

The things the entertainment industry does to people. But that's just it. While it is a person's livelihood, for many, it becomes their life.

 A couple decades later there was another girl group who achieved a lot of success, but split up because the lead singer was promoted more than the other members of the group. The band started fighting and broke up because of that. The lead singer went solo, but the album wasn't the huge hit the label wanted.

The fact of the matter is it is rare for a female singer to leave a group and become as successful or more successful than the band, which is why some people use groups as a launching pad. That I don't agree with.

A decade later there was another girl group who were put together by a famous singer. She managed their careers and they became very famous. She was very instrumental in their success. When the money started rolling in, they felt they should have gotten a bigger cut, though they signed what was a standard industry contract. 

This group accused their manager of not informing them of all the deals that came to her office on their behalf, however, some mentioned that legally she was hired to find them the best deals and didn't have to disclose everything that was presented to them. Many managers don't pay attention to deals that they deem a waste of time. However, to be on the safe side, managers should inform their artists of every deal even if they think it's something the artist wouldn't be interested in. They used this as the reason to fire her.

Once they fired her, they hired another manager and fired them and hired another. During that time, a storm was brewing. Different sides of that story have been told, however from an industry perspective, there were obvious problems that help to run up the budget, thereby depleting the group's profits, which lead to them making less money even though the album sold a lot of units. The public was told oh they sold 10 million albums, barely made any money and were robbed.

The fact is whenever a band makes an album or films a music video, the costs are charged against their future royalties. So in essence, it's a loan (but a loan you don't have to pay back with your own money if the album doesn't sell enough to cover the costs).

They filmed three videos for the first single from their sophomore album because they didn't like how they first two turned out. Videos are seldom cheap. They are usually in the six figures. Those videos cost money and one was filmed by a known fashion photographer, which costs more than the average video director.  

They then filmed an expensive video for their second single. The video had known actors, a known director, CGI and multiple locations. Videos like that are not cheap. Some estimated it at 2 million dollars. Yes, the video won a lot of awards, but it also put a serious dent in the budget and drove up the amount of money they owed the record company in addition to the other videos that were scrapped at their behest. You rarely hear that mentioned when that story is told, but it is an instrumental factor in them taking away less money than they felt they should have. 

Escalating costs ran up the budget. Their contract was also up for renegotiation at the time, which was also standard. All these factors made the situation worse and people were blamed that should not have been. It destroyed their manager's marriage, reputation and almost ruined her life. 

They also had issues with their manager allegedly having too much control. I don't know what happened in that respect, but managers are usually very vocal, highly organized people who are used to taking the initiative. It's their job to go out there and get work for their act and fight for the best deals. Some may see that as overbearing and controlling. 

Now, some managers really do go too far, but they are the exception, not the rule. Sometimes it's the act resenting the manager being too instrumental to their career. Hey, you didn't mind when you wanted to be famous.     

Though they argued about control issues, to this day their work has been largely written, produced and orchestrated by other people. Why did they complain about control issues, when other people are still doing the majority of the work for them in terms of decision making, writing and producing.

They insult her every chance they get, but let's face it had it not been for her they would not have achieved the success they have. In as much as they have their differences with her, if she hadn't put them together, got them a deal and used her connections to help them by getting them well known producers with strong material, they would not have had the opportunities or success they did.

Prior to that, members of the group held down jobs working as a waitress and shampoo girl at a hair salon. I'm not insulting those jobs, but my point is, to go from where they were to being on stage took a lot of work by a lot of people. They didn't get there on their own. They didn't have the songs, the financing or the deal. 

Then several years later there was another girl group that achieved success through the help of many people. They were signed and their album was written and produced by several well-known people. The album did well, but with success came problems. Two members of the band were kicked out of the group. A man whose daughter is one of the members manages the band. The two former members felt money was being misappropriated and that they were not being treated fairly, in favor of the manager's daughter who was made the lead singer.

I don’t know what happened regarding funds or royalties being misappropriated, but it was very unwise to so blatantly promote his child over the other members in what was supposed to be a partnership. If one person gets to write, the other should as well and don't tell me they can't write. If one person gets to sing, the others should as well and don't tell me they can't sing. Today with all the help available in the studio via writers, producers and engineers, just about anybody can write and sing.

I heard an interview by the two girls that were kicked out of the group and it was very sad. They said their dreams were taken away from them. They dared to question the fairness of the situation, which they had a right to under the circumstances, and were replaced without notice. I thought about how devastating that must have been for them, not being told they were kicked out of the group after all their years of hard work, only to find out by seeing someone mime their vocal parts on television in a new music video. That couldn't be easy for anyone. It's like someone taking what was yours that you earned.

It takes a strong band to endure that kind of blatant favoritism. I've never agreed with labels or managers doing that. I feel everyone should be promoted equally and given the same applicable opportunities.

You know what's funny, when I think about it, if my dad managed a group and I did the stuff that lead singer is accused of; my dad would have kicked me out of the group.

Just a few years ago, there was another girl group who had problems, which lead to one member quitting. She said she was mistreated, urged to date men that would help advance the group's career and the group was under aged.   

Fame makes some people do strange things. As new artists you should hope you never get to that point where you are willing to destroy others so you can be famous. Some are willing to do whatever it takes and that's usually not a good thing.  

The saddest thing is that none of these artists' albums were what God would have wanted for them, as they go against the Bible. The songs and videos revolved around themes that God would not author.

I'm really sorry these people weren't able to work out their differences, as it hurt so many people and changed other people's lives for the worse.

You can't show favoritism. No one would feel good about that. If you were the one being treated unfairly, you would not appreciate it. People want to be treated fairly and that's not an unreasonable request.

Sadly, stories like these also make me very reluctant in signing girl groups. I've seen the trouble that spring from these groups. I've seen them destroy lives, marriages, companies and reputations. Yea, there are great girl groups out there who don't have those problems, but for some, it's difficult to tell when you sign them. To be fair, male groups have problems too, but not like girl groups.

Too often women just cannot get along with other women. The egos, self-comparison and self-promotion surface if the members are not grounded.   

Sometimes it's the group that is causing the problems and sometimes it's the management or label. There are some executives and artists who get along, but there are cases where it's one or both parties who are at fault. Sometimes executives are unscrupulous and sometimes some artists are just down right intolerable little nightmares due to their success, might I add, their fleeting success. Most artists careers don't last that long anyway.

People need to start treating other people like human beings and that goes for record executives and artists. People need to think about how their actions will affect others. Many of these cases lead to serious, negative changes in people's lives. The things many people inflict on others they would be furious and hurt if they were made to suffer that themselves. But that's just it; in life people reap what they sow. The Bible says, "the work of a man's hands will come back to him" (Proverbs 12:14). Whether it be good or bad, what goes around comes around. In general, you ought to think about that before that next unethical business decision, before you step on that next person, before you use that next person. 


August 20, 2003

Singer's Pregnancy Causes Friction With Label

On Monday I saw a television show about the difficulties a singer was having with her label recently due to the fact that she was pregnant. She alleged that her label was unsupportive and did not promote her album, which lead to lower record sales. 

We are in a time where the main focus in the music industry is not music, as labels now more than ever believe sex sells. They are more concerned with image than music. There are many labels who will not be enthusiastic about promoting a record by a pregnant female artist (ok, I didn't need to get that specific, as there wouldn't be a pregnant male artist). 

While I feel pregnancy should be celebrated and encouraged among married women I do not believe an artist should have a heavy promotional schedule during certain points of pregnancy. I was concerned for a new female artist the other day, as she was taking transatlantic flights during the latter part of her pregnancy to promote her album, which can be dangerous. Thank God her pregnancy went well and she gave birth to her baby last month.   

I remember a legal journal I read when I was 15 years old that contained a section about pregnancy clauses that were included in some female artists contracts. It may seem very odd to find out that such a clause exists, but it does. Labels want to secure their investments and seek to find ways to do so. They feel a certain image is better and in general don't like promoting pregnant artists.     

I think female artists should plan their albums around their families and not the other way around. I've read about cases where singers aborted their unborn children because they became pregnant at a so called inconvenient time in their career. I hope that's a practice that will stop. It is not right to abort your child to save your career. It's not right to abort your child under any circumstances. 

I think female artists should enjoy their families. There are things in your career that you will regret, but you won't regret having a family. The awards and plaques are of little consolation after a while. Getting married and having a family is far better.  

Age Discrimination In The Entertainment Industry

Age is a factor in the music industry now more than ever, as it has become very youth oriented in the last decade. 

Label execs prefer signing singers in their 20's, as they feel they will reach a wider audience. This can be discouraging to singers who are not in their 20's as many A&R reps will overlook them.

Recently, I spoke to a female singer who is not in her 20's and is discouraged about getting a record deal. It is understandable that she is discouraged because most labels do not want to sign a female singer who isn't in her 20's unless she is well-known and looking for a new record deal, but there are some labels who will. I tried to encourage her to still pursue her dreams.

However, it should be noted that there is currently a singer who has done well and is in her 30's. I don't agree with her music or the fact that her career is based on looks, but she has gone against the current trend. However, though she is 33, she looks 23. She looks younger than a lot of female artists who are in their 20's and this has helped her career. She was signed was she was 28 and has released several hit albums since.

A lot of my favorite artists who had been recording for years could not get new record deals anymore because of their age. Most of my favorite singers are in their late 30's and older. I don't like a lot of the music by artists in my age group especially in the mainstream, but they think they're great. You can't tell them otherwise. I would like to say that they have contributed something great to music, but many of them really haven't. 

A lot of the lyrics now are garbage and the videos are even worse. Many artists in my age group have compromised a lot for fame and quick sales, while in the process helping to destroy music and greatly reducing their chances of having a good career that isn't based on trashy music that will fade soon after it is released. 

Some performers don't seem to realize that it is better for your career when you go on stage and sing, rather than relying on being raunchy and wearing little clothing. Some are taking the shortcut that does not produce lasting results. When you are known for wearing little clothes and being raunchy, especially female artists, this will be expected of you all the time and after a while audiences are desensitized to it. It's unwise to become known for that, as opposed to being known as a singer. Not to mention looks will start to fade due to aging and you will not have a foundation for your career after a while because of what you've based it on.

If you build a name as a real singer, people will grow to expect a singer, not a stripper. If you go the other route, you'll be a novelty. Being raunchy is entertaining to certain audiences at first, but it wears off and doesn't last. Artists and records in that genre are considered novelty after a while. 

Also, in general, I don't understand why most singers don't realize that after a while they won't be as famous anymore, very few artists have achieved that level of success - only singers like Aretha Franklin have, but she was never a novelty.

This is off topic, but tennis player Jarkko Nieminen's name reminds me of a rapper's name (yes, it's getting late now and I don't really want to write anything else for the article, so I decided to close it by going off topic).  


August 26, 2003

Teenager Accuses Producers Of Stealing Beats, Copyright Infringement

I read an article about a well-known production team that has allegedly been stealing beats from a teenager who posted a link to his music on their message board. I wrote about how risky that is in the March 31, 2003 Sound Off article. It is not wise for unknown musicians to post their web site links, lyrics, beats and or songs on famous entertainers message boards. Fame deceives some celebrities, producers and writers into thinking that they can steal material from aspiring musicians or producers.

I read an article about them last year where one of the producers spoke about how they got started and how much they wanted to be producers when they were teenagers. They just became famous a few years ago, so they should remember what it's like to be a new producer/musician and what it's like to spend a lot of time on your work, yet that didn't stop them from ripping off that teenager who has proof of what happened. What if an established producer had ripped off their hits before they became famous and took credit for them - the songs that became hits for them would now be credited to someone else. They would have been furious if someone did that to them, yet they did that to a teenager who is in the same situation they were in a few years ago. 

The 18 year old who is accusing them did an interview for a rap magazine/web site regarding the matter. He said they contacted him and said that they liked his beats that they heard after going to his web site link he posted on their web site. He said they lied to him for months telling him they wanted to make him a partner in their production company, promised him that they would would allow him to work with famous entertainers, but instead ripped off his beats incorporating them into their work, taking all the credit and profits as well. 

They flew to where he lives to meet with him and promised to give him money to buy new equipment. They flew him out to their studio in New York, where to his surprise he heard one of his beats being played, but then with a rapper's vocals over it. He says they also gave him VIP tickets to one of their shows where he gave them more of his beats to listen to as they requested. Months passed, he heard nothing from them, then he began to notice his work in their songs, but they did not give him writer's credit him or pay him. 

I read an article a few months ago about that same rapper the teenager mentioned paying that production team $250,000 for one of their beats for another song. When he started talking about what happened publicly, he said he received threatening phone calls from those producers telling him to shut up. He says that he doesn't care about the story getting out, as he was robbed of credit for a style of music that he helped to create. That's awful when you think about it, as these producers have made quite a name for themselves in the music industry for their style. He also mentioned that the fans on their message board saw the whole thing happen, which would be true as he posted on their message board.  

I've heard of that happening to another aspiring musician as well. A famous producer brought him to their studio requesting that he bring his beats for them to listen to, then they stole it and it ended up on a hit album. He ended up suing them.  

The reason I wrote about it not being wise to post certain information on message boards in the article I wrote a few months ago is because there's a famous singer I know of who makes a regular habit of quoting things I used to write on his message board when I was talking to few friends on line that would post on his web site as well. 

We would talk about a variety of topics on that singer's message board, but at first we didn't realize he was reading it. However, what gave him away was that he kept quoting things in his interviews after I would write them on his message board. It became the running joke about him among a few of my friends who posted on that message board. One even told me as a joke to write something really silly on there and see if he'd repeat it (I didn't), as they realized what he was doing because it was so blatant.  

However, I didn't take it as a compliment. I thought it showed a gross lack of character on his part. There he was repeating original statements and jokes that I wrote on there to friends about a number of topics, but saying them in his interviews as though he said it in an attempt to make himself look intelligent and witty. However on a few occasions he incorrectly repeated things I wrote or repeated it out of context and made himself look bad in interviews - once even offending one of the most known singers in music because he repeated something I wrote, but added a few unkind statements to it as well about the singer I'd written about. The statement wound up in a few newspapers and got him some unwelcome press for his arrogance. I found and saved the topic from the message board's archive where I had originally said it weeks before he did in that interview.  

He wouldn't go on his message board and talk to his fans who begged him to for well over a year (I was not one of them), some of them who met him would even tell him about the people on there who had become friends and wanted to speak to him, but he refused...until the day his sophomore single/album was released and started flopping. He went on his message board that same day, spoke to the people on there and asked them to go buy the song - oh he was willing to go chat with them then, which in my opinion was patronizing. It was sad to witness, because there were some nice people on there who were fans of his that really wanted to speak to him on that message board and it would have meant so much more to them had he done that prior, rather than when he needed them to buy his record. 

No one's ever that busy that they can't write a few simple messages on their own web site. Others have done that. I read a message board for a famous New Zealand born singer and he'd posted over 70 messages to the people on there in the space of a few months. I read a web site for a known British group and they were posting messages to their audience as well. There's also a group who personally answers some of their fan mail.  

I stopped posting on that singer's message board once I realized what that singer was doing, but he had already started using my web site link to visit this site and started quoting things I'd written on this site as well, but in his interviews and once again like he was the one that was coming up with it. His webmaster/management even decided to get in on the act as well poaching items from this site. On one occasion even foolishly copying and pasting my web site's interact page to his message board as a new feature, using the same original sentences I'd written as the introduction to my interact page, only changing my name to his. 

He and his management really lacked integrity to do those things and a few other things they did as well that I won't mention right now, but will later. To this day he's still doing this, he even did that last week quoting something in an interview that I had written about on this site a week before, not realizing he is leaving a paper trail, which legally speaking, proves access in cases. I have quite a few of his published articles and message board topics that I've downloaded from the net that prove what I'm saying and each one occurred after I wrote it. I'll write more about that later and let you know who I'm referring to. 

I read an article recently where an attorney called a well-known producer a "serial plagiarizer," who "hears something he likes and takes it." In a documentary a former co-worker said that producer wasn't doing much work in the studio anymore and other new producers were writing the beats and he would get credit for them. That's not being a writer or producer. 

As you know if you've been reading this page, there is a well-known singer who ripped of my song Contemporary Girl for her single, which damaged her career. Recently, I spoke to a lawyer who is familiar with her behavior to get more background for the case and he said he wasn't surprised that she ripped off my song. He gave me information regarding unscrupulous things of the same nature that she has done to others. There's one incident in particular that he told me about regarding her that I thought quite despicable and desperate. 

None of these things are ever what music was about. Things like that are reminders to me of why many people in the music industry are among the most miserable, unhappy and tormented people out there. If you go through music history, you will find many stories about the severe anxiety and unhappiness many people in the industry have grappled with, much more than people who aren't in the industry. 

I've read so many musicians bios where they've complained of struggling with those problems, but if you are out there setting a bad example for others to follow and being ruthless in maintaining your career behind the scenes, God will not grant you peace and lack of peace is a terrible thing. These things affect the soul. It turns some into insomniacs dependent upon sleeping pills, while it leaves others with such emptiness that there's a nagging feeling in their soul that leaves them constantly disquieted, for which several people turn to drugs to numb that pain. I've heard and read where several musicians have complained about that. I thought to myself if they'd stop being so ruthless, they wouldn't be so miserable with their conscience distressing them all the time because of the bad things they keep doing. You can't do that stuff and expect it not to affect you. 

There is a scripture in the Bible that reads, "There is no peace (said my God) for the wicked" (Isaiah 57:21) and another which states "The merciful man does good for his own soul, but he who is cruel troubles his own flesh" (Proverbs 11:17) meaning when you are kind and merciful to others, that kindness and mercy will return to you, but when you are ruthless, that ruthlessness and mercilessness will return to you as well. Regardless of what people tell you, nice guys don't finish last. 

God does offer forgiveness though if a person asks and requires that people change their evil ways for the better. That's the only thing that will grant a person true peace, which is priceless. People still have to deal with the consequences of their actions, but at least they will have the peace of God in their life and His forgiveness.  


August 27, 2003

Copyright Infringement PT 2

I got a call yesterday morning from a lawyer that works at the firm that represents the singer who ripped off Contemporary Girl. What fortuitous timing considering I wrote about it on the Sound Off page just a few hours before. The telephone conversation was basically a veiled legal threat intended to scare me. However, the only thing I find scary is their client's singing and acting. 

Yesterday I wrote about a teenager whose music was ripped off by a well-known production team - who he says started making threatening phone calls to him telling him to shut up about what happened. I think the call I received from her attorney yesterday was their way of trying to intimidate me in that he told me of the possible legal defense they would use, which was really quite ridiculous. 

I didn't think they'd be unwise enough to contemplate trying that, but then again, considering that said artist is a woman who callously and selfishly used the war as a promotional tool for her album via a music video, I can't really say I'm surprised.  

If anything like that happens again, I'm going to write a song about the whole incident and include it on my album - you know the album that they would like to put an injunction on once it's released. They are in no position to make such a request for a song that I own and copyrighted years ago. I've never heard of such a ridiculous legal maneuver, it reeks of desperation, much like their client's thoughtless, self-serving music video about the war. 

When I said to him a judge would not grant that, he told me not to be cocky. Me? cocky? That's something I've never been called. Cocky is plagiarizing someone's song, attributing excerpts from their articles on their web site to yourself in interviews, then as a legal ploy saying you would contemplate obtaining an injunction, which comes across as a way to try to, with emphasis on try to, intimidate the person you stole from. What if I requested that the copies of her infringing album and DVDs be recalled from stores and destroyed - that is a legal remedy provided in such cases.     

The reason I told him that I don't think a judge would grant such an injunction under the circumstances is because in all the cases I've read about even innocent parties with proof were not able to obtain injunctions, and she is by no means the innocent party. Then he told me that the judge might be swayed by her label's clout and that they do have the assets to fight it. Well, I give our legal system more credit than that. 

Any lawyer that attempts to file such a contorted injunction once my album has been released has my word that I will sue he or she and petition/file a complaint for he or she to be barred from practicing law for doing something that is clearly questionable under the circumstances. I will call that individual's ethics/law license into question. In addition, I will sue anyone else that tries to interfere with the release of my album, seeking the highest penalties available under the law.

In the June 6th, 2003 Sound Off article I wrote about a landmark case brought by TVT records against Def Jam records, whose CEO was charged with copyright infringement, fraud and breach of contract. The Def Jam Records CEO sought to block the release of an album by indie label TVT Records that would have competed with one of his releases.   

TVT sued them for 30 million dollars and the jury awarded them 132 million. Def Jam plans to appeal the verdict. The CEO of Def Jam will have to pay half of that sum if verdict is upheld. Regardless of the outcome of the appeal, I felt it was a victory against major labels who feel they can strong-arm and take advantage of indie labels. Fox News noted that the publicity from the trail did a lot of damage. In ways that is true, as nature of the documents disclosed during the trial did a significant amount of damage, more than the actual damages that were awarded. 

Some people in the industry are scared to talk about the things that happen (though I'm not one of them). Therefore, that landmark case was good in that it brought it out into the open, disclosing a lot of questionable business dealings that certain labels did not want made public and provided a legal map for such cases. 

Most people don't know what the music industry is really like. It needs to be properly regulated. If you knew what many so called successes, number one records and platinum albums were based on, you would lose all respect for the industry, much like I have. There are people out there who love music and go into the business for that reason, while there are others who go into the industry for money and these are the ones who have helped to turn it into the mess it currently is. 

Why do you think so many professional criminals such as drug dealers are attracted to the music industry - it's just a legal way for them to continue behaving like degenerates (because they notice that so much questionable behavior exists within it), become famous and gain what they view as respect, which is really just condescension, as many of the real industry executives only deal with them and tolerate them because they feel they can make money off of them.   

I'm not impressed by anyone in the music industry; frankly I don't even like the music industry. I think most of its practices are reprehensible and situations like these only attest to that. The people who deliberately plagiarized my work need to learn how to read people more accurately and gain better judgment. Even looking at this web site, especially the Sound Off page, one should be able to deduce that I'm not afraid of people and not afraid to speak my mind, so that phone call didn't serve its intended purpose.

I am a Christian, yes, but Christian is not a synonym for the word sucker. While, I don't embrace the industry, as I really think much of it is now based on foolishness, I'm certainly not afraid of it, nor am I afraid of legally and vigorously protecting what belongs to me. I don't make music because I'm attracted to the idea of becoming famous, I don't covet it, as it doesn't mean anything to me. I make music because God gave me a talent for it and I love Him and those talents - talents that I will use to their full potential as God permits, regardless of any singer or label who doesn't like it.

   

 

 


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