**January 2013**

January 2013 Newsletter

Dear Family and Friends,

What if Beethoven had to take a job working as a plumber? He probably would never have written his symphonies. The famous opening motive of the 5th symphony and the memorable “Ode to Joy” melody from his 9th, both of which have become a part of the fabric of our culture and everyday lives, would never have been written. The music that we all have come to know and love so well would not exist all because Ludwig would have been forced to earn a livelihood in something other than music.

Maybe you never have given this situation any thought. Fortunate for us, Beethoven lived in a time and a society in which music was not only valued for its worth, but was fairly compensated. Unfortunately, we no longer live in such a time or place.

Talented musicians are no longer able to earn their livings through their Art and are forced to take jobs and professions elsewhere in order to support themselves and their families. Society does not value or compensate musicians for their time or talent. Instead, music is perceived as a free commodity. I am sorry that I have to veer from my usual upbeat, positive and inspiring newsletter to break the news about how brutal the situation has become for others and myself to attempt to earn a living through our musical talents. However, it is a New Year and I am determined to do whatever I can, in my own way, to help change this situation. My writing this letter is the first step.

As some of you may know, one of instrumental compositions was used in an episode of the “Chelsea Lately” show in Canada a few years ago. The only way that I knew of this was that an extra dollar and fifty cents appeared on my royalty check from my performing rights organization, which usually only contains my annual distribution for my ASCAP Plus award. One dollar and fifty cents was all that I was compensated for my music to appear in a major network television show. Last week, my office manager, Jocelyn, researched our recent record and digital sales on CD Baby only to shockingly discover that although over a hundred customers had “bought” my CD’s and songs, no one since April had paid more than 4 cents for an album or single song with the exception for one UK iTunes sale for 93 cents. Many had acquired the albums for no charge at all.

Someone who wanted to date me a few months back told me that he thought I was “loaded”. I guess that many people have this assumption that Recording Artists are filthy rich because when you see a “star” like Rihanna or Taylor Swift on television, they are riding around in limousines and walking down red carpets. Yes- I am loaded with talent, ambition and determination. Yet, if myself and thousands of multi-talented independent Recording Artists want to have a chance of earning a living as a musician in today’s world, then something has to change and it has to change NOW. The reality is that most of us Indies have put in thousands and thousands of our own (or borrowed or otherwise inherited) money in order to put out an album of music that others can enjoy. To not fairly compensate another for a product-be it music, clothes or medical services- is simply put, steeling.

How you can all help the situation-not only for myself but for all independent musicians- is to buy and download music from legal sites that fairly compensates its Artists. If everyone on my mailing list and social media networks bought just one song a month from iTunes for 99 cents, $59,400.00 would be generated for independent musicians in just one year. Perhaps you are now beginning to see how much potential income is being lost from consumers who rely on Spotify and sites that do not compensate its Artists. Next time you enjoy a piece of music-whether it is on your television, radio or over the Internet, please take a moment to reflect and how it got there. Think about the amount of work that the Artist (or Artists) took to create that music and if you think that they have been fairly compensated. If musicians cannot earn their living doing not only what they enjoy and are gifted to do while benefiting others, soon there may be an excess of plumbers and buss boys. One music industry professional once said to a congressperson in negotiating musicians’ rights, “And you don’t want Ozzy as your plumber.”

As always, thank you for taking the time to read this newsletter. I greatly appreciate you taking the time to reflect about what I have written and the willingness to make a change.

May we all have a prosperous New Year ahead filled with joy and spent with people we love and doing the things that we love to do best.

With gratitude and best wishes,

 

Margaret Bernstein

 

 

Inspirational Person of January 2013 

Margaret’s friend Scott Hohl is the inspirational person for the month of January. Having first met while members of the same small jazz ensemble at Arizona State University, the two are still friends and New Yorkers years later! Scott is not only a musician and a music-lover, but his main focus is building furniture. An Architecture major at ASU, Scott is the founder and sole designer behind his company, Scott Hohl Designs, which features original practical furniture in the modern tradition.

In addition to his artistic pursuits and talents (which includes mastering several languages including Spanish, Portuguese and Japanese), Scott has a great talent for being an extraordinary friend. He is always there when you need a friend the most. His sense of humor, good nature and equilibrium has helped raise Margaret’s sprits many a day.

Over the years, the two have enjoyed outings to dance and music concerts, Thai and Chinese restaurants, cable car hopping, art galleries and the Bronx Zoo among other adventures.

To learn more about Scott and how to purchase his unique furniture, please visit http://www.scotthohl.com/

 

 

Inspiration Place of January 2013

The Partridge Run Wildlife Management Area in Southern Albany County, New York, is January’s place of inspiration. Nestled in the southwest corner of Albany County in the foothills of the Catskill Mountains is Partridge Run. Partridge Run includes miles of scenic trails accessible to the public for hiking, mountain bicycling and horse back riding. It is also Margaret’s very favorite place for cross-country skiing. Margaret’s many hours of hiking through the pristine wilderness with her dog, Timba, was the inspiration behind the song, “Partridge Run”, which was featured on Margaret’s “Distant Thunder” CD.

To learn more about this special place, please visit: www.albanyhilltowns.com/mediawiki/index.php?title=Partridge_Run