Unprecedented

Where do I begin? Unprecedented times call for unprecedented strength and compassion. I wish I could say that I’ve seen our current GOP demonstrate the necessary level of either, because I have loved ones who support Trump who in my heart I know are good people… but I can’t. Though I am not a Trump supporter, when I talk to Trump supporters we do agree on some basics. We all basically hate the government. We all want to protect our loved ones. We all think our state level taxes are insanely high (we live in California). We all see the government place importance on corporations over people…

But what we disagree on are the many details our opposing governing bodies have circulated through the media for decades. Now while I myself see both the Democratic and Republican parties as bought or “in bed” with companies who have monopolies over certain industries, I tend to lean Democratic when I’m pushed to side with one of our 2 party system.

Which makes me ask, why after decades of division, and a widening gap between Dems and Republicans, why do we essentially allow our government to restrict our freedoms to this level? The GOP would like us to believe we are free and have choices, but the way I was raised, 2 corrupt choices doesn’t really feel like freedom. It feels like I’m being forced to vote bad, or worse. This is why I regularly voice the call for voting reform.

Scientist have shown us with statistical proof, that the planet is on an unlivable trajectory. Believe me, I know it’s scary, but we are in fact, scientifically accurately in the middle of the planet’s 6th mass extinction. We absolutely need help to survive our life time. Why do I believe this? Because since being born in 1986 I’ve personally seen the ice caps that help maintain our fragile eco system melt ENTIRELY. The bad news is that we know they’re not coming back within our lifetime. Our planet is renewing it’s. We can now see the holes we’re burning into the atmosphere. Ozone depletion over the Arctic this year was so severe that most of the ozone at an altitude of around 11 miles has been depleted. Completely…

Trump doesn’t believe in climate change. Maybe you don’t either. But is it your right to vote against a reality you don’t believe when the effects of that belief are harmful to the rest of human kind? As of March of this year there were 7,800,000,000 people on Earth. Does that sound… normal? Manageable? March of 1986, ther year I was born, there were 4,960,567,912 people on Earth. That means the planet’s population and waste output has doubled.

I’m fading off for the night, but we are looking at adaptation. Nothing else is available, and there’s no one out there ready to jump in and save us. There’s no back up planet migration and you can bet if there ever was, it’s not gonna be financially available to likes of you and me.

Stay sane out there. If you can.

Hard Lessons from the Music Industry

As some of you know, I’ve been at this thing for a while. I often get texts from colleagues asking for business advice, and I always end up thinking dang, I really wish someone had stopped to tell me that when I was first starting out.

On the phone with my lawyer the other day I realized I have a platform I can use to educate fellow song writers, so why don’t I?  You can’t imagine how many in’s and out’s there are to the music industry.

So let’s start at the beginning.  Are you a song writer? Are you in a band? Wanna make sure you don’t get screwed out of royalties or residuals? Get yourself registered with BMI or ASCAP today as both a song writer AND a publisher. Use your full legal name for both. Why? It makes recouping your back end MUCH easier! When you’re asked to perform on a session, yes even for a friend, ask about a session fee. If you get asked to come up with a few lyrics or a bit of melody, ask to be credited as a writer before you commit to contributing material. Always have your BMI/ASCAP information handy to share with anyone who invites or contracts you to play. If you’re asked to tour, inquire the same kinds of questions. Will I be paid for the shows? Will I be paid for rehearsals? Will any of the shows be recorded by the venues? Etc. If there’s little to no cash involved consider you DO have the option to say “no thanks”.

Why is this stuff important? When I was 21 a musical group called Sleepy Sun asked me to join as a full time member. Over the course of a year and half I recorded vocals on 2 albums, 2 singles, rehearsed (often for much much longer than the time it takes to play a show) and played hundreds of shows. Each album’s recording session lasted an entire month and took place in another country. Each tour was approximately 4 to 5 weeks long with approximately 1 to 2 weeks off in between. And guess what? I wasn’t paid for any of it.

I liked to sing and I was excited to be in a cool band.  It had never occurred to me that one thing would lead to another and I would suddenly be 3 tours deep with no break in sight  and no money to show for it. It had never occurred to me that the band would continue to withhold paying me for as long as they could. And while my impulse today is to judge my younger self harshly, I have to remember that at the time, I was only 21, hadn’t gone to college and had zero business smarts. I trusted these guys and thought eventually we’d be making enough money to where we could all get paid right?

 

In addition to recording and touring for free, I was also left off the publishing and writing contracts for both albums and singles as the band stated that they did not see my contributions were worthy of pay of any sort beyond my food allowance. During the first album’s tour cycle the only payment I received was a $10 or $15 daily per dium for food (only received during the tours on show days).

 

When I finally found out I was the only member of the group not being contracted or paid in any professional capacity I did finally demand a fee which the band begrudgingly stated would be $60 a show…

As their co lead singer for nearly 2 years I had gone into $15,000 of debt trying to pay my bills between tours and let’s be honest, on food. After the band began paying me, which was roughly around the release of our 2nd album, their kindness towards me shifted. My pleas for time off to stabilize my life were met with hostility and shaming. In the middle of touring Fever I was given a final ultimatum, my mental health or the band, so I did what I needed to do and I left. We released Fever in June of 2010 and I flew home that October.

 

The moral of my story, it is 100% ok to look out for yourself! Always ask for what you need upfront and if there isn’t money there to at least pay a bill, I recommend not contributing. Obviously if you don’t need the money and you love the people, hey go for it. Just don’t let people guilt you away from taking care of your basic needs you know? Don’t  assume your friends are looking out for you or even know the proper way to conduct themselves.

And while I’m finally airing this chapter out a little I also want to state for the record that I was never romantically involved with anyone in the band. I see comments from time to time that just miss. I left to recover myself and my only regret was not knowing better sooner. Any claims that state otherwise are false and defamatory.

 

Live long and prosper,

Rachel Fannan