music

Punk rock is still politically dead

Back in November, Mark Judge wrote an interesting piece at Acculturated entitled, “Punk Rock’s Moment,” that explained how the punk rock genre and cultural has an opportunity to “become relevant once again” after President Barack Obama’s re-election.

“Punk is often considered an anarchic or at least liberal art form, but politically it has been all over the map. Most famously there was Johnny Ramone, the right-wing guitarist for the Ramones,” noted Judge. “And while the famous Washington, D.C., harDCore scene, once lead by Fugazi, was–is?–full of left-wing activism, the ‘straight edge’ philosophy of some of the band–no booze no drugs–could almost be considered monastic. The Replacements was always more about parties and poetry than elections.”

Judge explained that the Dead Kennedy was one of the “great satirical punk bands of all time,” pointing to the band’s ability to question their own beliefs, which is something he says is sorely missing in today’s punk scene. Instead, he explains, punk bands of today are “afraid to touch [their] messiah,” President Obama.

“Satirical art has collapsed under Obama. The left is afraid to touch its messiah, and the right is reduced to silly gestures like doing ‘freedom raps’ and other ham-fisted foolishness,” wrote Judge. “When I was coming up in the 1980s, punk groups like Fugazi, Husker Du, the Replacements and the Dead Kennedys meant energy, passion, and, sometimes, political activism. But they also meant self-reflection and aiming the lance at even your own sacred cows.”

SEA Change - Music publishers attempt to break the music industry

After record breaking year of royalty payments, ASCAP and BMI demand more… Just because!

Last year, ASCAP and BMI collected more than $2 BILLION, a record-setting amount of royalty payments for songwriters and composers. This is great news for anyone involved in the music industry and those of us who love many different types of music. It should cause us all to be happy knowing that those who write the words and music we love are receiving bigger pay checks as the overall amount of revenue within the music industry increases.

Or are they?

In the face of this unprecedented level of royalties, why are ASCAP and BMI pushing legislation designed to break the very system which has caused this surge in royalty payments?

The Songwriter’s Equity Act (SEA Act) is the creation of ASCAP and BMI with some help by their favored Members of Congress. But there are legitimate questions whether this legislation truly seeks an increase in royalties for composers and songwriters or whether it is simply to compensate for ASCAP and BMI’s own bloated and antiquated systems. Is the goal of this crony legislation to continue to support the bloated bureaucracy which the PROs have built on the backs of the artists they claim to represent?

Music is now accessed via a wider array devices then ever before. Songs are embedded in the background of video games accessed around the globe, playing in the background of every business patrons enter and streaming during practically every online ad. Many of the dedicated streaming music application have been forced into a commercially impractical contract similar to that of indentured servitude.

Korn Takes on Obama, the NSA, and the MSM in New Music Video

Jonathan Davis

Full disclosure: This author is a fan of the metal genre in general and has been a Korn fan since their first self-titled album released in 1994 featuring their hit songs “Blind” and “Shoots and Ladders.”

Its nothing new or surprising that most entertainers, to the extent they weigh in on political issues at all, usually come down in favor of the Left. In the world of rock music (of all varieties including metal, punk, classical, 80’s hair bands, etc.), most acts promote anti-establishment or anarchistic themes.

But even these rebels, with or without a cause, all too often favor the Left or at the very least, save their harshest criticisms for the Right. Its easy to be critical of a politician and political party the MSM already hates (often assuming the public and the MSM have the same values). Being critical of President George W. Bush at the height of the unpopularity of the undeclared wars in  Iraq and Afghanistan, the USA PATRIOT Act, the signing statements, torture, Gitmo, takes very little courage. But being critical of a President Barack Obama, who the MSM loves, even as he continues and expands upon many of the same policies of Bush? To me that takes more courage*.

While these concerns may still be present among these artists, it seems that their criticism of these policies is much more muted since Obama became president. With the raising concerns about how President Obama has abused power, it seems that at least a few bands like Megadeth** and now Korn are telling the music world that it’s okay to attack Obama through their art.

Punk rock icon: Democrats are fascists

Glenn Danzig

Glenn Danzig, a punk rock icon, took a shots at Democrats and President Barack Obama during a recent interview with Minneapolis-based newspaper City Pages.

Danzig has been playing music for over 35 years, beginning in 1977 with the horror punk band the Misfits. After the breakup of the Misfits, he formed Samhain which eventually changed names to Danzig.

The comments came as when Danzig was asked about the Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC), which was founded in 1985 with the help of Al and Tipper Gore. The PMRC was notorious for pushing for congressional hearings that dragged musicians —including Dee Snider of Twisted Sister and Frank Zappa — to testify about the contents of their songs. The push for censorship eventually led to record labels putting “parental advisory” stickers on controversial albums.

“Yeah, you know, Al Gore wanted to tell people what they could listen to and what they couldn’t, what they could record. It was basically coming down to the idea that he wouldn’t let anybody record any music that he didn’t think you should be doing,” Danzig told City Pages.

“There was going to be an organization that would tell you what you could and couldn’t record,” he continued. “And certainly if you couldn’t record it, you couldn’t put it out. It was really fascist.”

Danzig didn’t stop there. He called Democrats “fascists” and slammed President Obama’s drones policy.

More Wasteful Spending: Feds Subsidize Independent Music

We’re heard time and time again that the federal government is having to make tough decisions to avoid the sequester, which are simply cuts to the rate of spending increases. However, Washington is still spending taxpayer dollars on completely wasteful endeavors that the simply should not be subsidizing.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the International Trade Administration, part of the Department of Commerce, spent $300,000 last year to help independent record labels promote their artists and products overseas:

For the first time, the U.S. government’s trade arm is stepping in to help the music business, funding trade missions to Brazil and Asia in recent months for the heads of a dozen independent music labels, which make up one-third of the U.S. music market.

It is a departure for the International Trade Administration, which has been spending $2 million annually to boost exports for the past two decades under its Market Development Cooperator Program but has never before given one of its $300,000 grants to the music industry, instead favoring sectors like machinery, technology and engineering services.

“We need to find new revenue streams,” said Rich Bengloff, president of the American Association of Independent Music, whose idea it was to apply for the grant. He led the trips and arranged meetings with local distributors, mobile-phone carriers, booking agents and ad agencies. “We now need to adjust to a smaller monetization at home.”

Our differences are what makes us unique

On the train ride in to work this morning, I did what I always do: read the paper of the person next to me. (I try hard not to, honest!) What I spied today was a story about a new vice president at Motown, Ne-Yo, who had a quote called out in the text: “I want to get back to a place where everybody’s listening to the same thing.”

How boringly collectivist.

There’s are a couple of factors to consider here in analyzing Mr. Ne-Yo’s statement. First, he’s the VP of a private company, not a director at a government agency; and second, he’s really talking about how black Americans and white Americans are listening to two sets of music, which has its own problems. (We don’t want the United States divided on racial lines.) But I think Ne-Yo’s statement is a prime example of the silliness which has gripped much of the public.

Let’s start off with the idea that people listening to different things is bad. I mean, I can’t even grasp that. Is there some sort of social disorder that will arise if I listen to Disturbed and another person on the subway listens to Lil’ Wayne? Are we somehow going to conflict? Sure, if you got into a really heated argument—which happens more online than in meatspace—it’s possible, but really unlikely. More likely is that we simply ignore each other and vow never to invite the other to our parties.

Tennessee Reps propose regulatory relief for Gibson

Remember the Gibson Guitar raid, a prime example of how absurd regulations and harrassment by government are hurting businesses? Members of the Tennessee delegation are working to ensure that the portions of the Lacey Act that lead to the raid are amended to avoid this problem in the future:

Members of the House from Tennessee introduced legislation on Thursday aimed at easing a controversial ban on the use of illegally traded wood for musicians and music retailers, several weeks after the federal government raided Gibson Guitar over allegations the company was violating that ban.

The bill, from Reps. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), would make several changes to the Lacey Act aimed at mitigating the penalties imposed on violators. But while the bill is a reaction to the raids on Gibson’s facilities in Memphis and Nashville — two cities with storied music histories — the lawmakers stressed that it would not affect any ongoing cases under Lacey.

The bill, H.R. 3210, is titled the Retailers and Entertainers Lacey Implementation and Enforcement Fairness (RELIEF) Act.

“In theory, anybody who travels outside the country or even across the state line with an old guitar right now would be in legal jeopardy,” Cooper said. “The RELIEF Act protects guitar pickers and small businesses, and it treats them fairly.”

Blackburn added that the bill fits in with the Republican effort to ease federal regulations, which the GOP says is hurting U.S. job creation.

Gibson raid is about more than guitars

As Jason pointed out yesterday, legendary Gibson Guitars was raided last week by armed federal agents.  What was their crime?  Was Gibson being used as a front for the Mexican cartels?  Was it in league with terrorists who want to destroy our way of life?  Oh no.  They may have been using exotic woods that were harvested in a way not entirely kosher.  At least that’s the speculation since Gibson is already under investigation for that.  The Feds have been rather tight lipped about the reasons for the raid, though it wouldn’t be out of the realm of reality to think that it’s more of the same.

My libertarian streak ends when it comes to endangered species of just about anything.  I just can’t do it a lot of the time.  However, it’s also important that the laws make sense.  The regulation Gibson has allegedly run afoul of seems to be a different matter entirely.  For example:

Take a step towards the ridiculous

Unlike some libertarians, I actually believe in intellectual property laws.  In order to have art, literature, film and television that’s actually worth a damn, there has to be some incentive to create.  That means there needs to be profit motive, and intellectual property laws help protect that motive since my works can’t be sold by someone else without me getting a cut.  However, there’s a point where it gets beyond stupid.

Earlier this week, I came across this story:

Brian McCarthy ran a website, channelsurfing.net, that linked to various sites where you could watch online streams of TV shows and sports networks.

From Demand Progress:

A couple months ago, the government seized his domain name and on Friday they arrested him and charged him with criminal copyright infringement — punishable by five years in prison.

If this is true, then it has crossed into the ridiculous.  Brian McCarthy didn’t do anything but direct people to other web pages where television shows were being shown.  If anyone was guilty of copyright infringement, it was the people he linked to.  Nothing more, nothing less.  The onus was on them to ensure they had permission to post those television shows, and they didn’t.

Unfortunately, this is really just an extension of a trend that started long ago.  For example, if a trespasser is making meth on your property, your land can be seized by the government even though you knew nothing about it.  You can be arrested because a passenger in your car is carrying drugs, despite the fact that you have nothing in your pockets and you may not even know the drugs are there.

Aimee Allen’s “Unofficial” Silence Is Violence Video

See Video

While not the same version we use to introduce the United Liberty Podcast, this is an “unofficial” video for that song.  Personally, I am a fan of Aimee Allen, and it seems that the editor of this video compilation is a fan of ours.  After enjoying the entire song, stick around for a “shout out” to us in the credits.

If you are interested, she told me she will be performing in Louisville, KY on January 30th as part of Dr. Rand Paul’s event there.


The views and opinions expressed by individual authors are not necessarily those of other authors, advertisers, developers or editors at United Liberty.