Category Archives: life

It would be great if everything could be free but this just isn't reality.

I recently read this article on Tune Core about a blog post called “Filesharing Will Go Down in History As the Greatest Thing Ever to Happen to Music” and watched a video rebuttal to that post created by Mike Lombardo.

After reading and watching these I got to thinking about how the latest trends and technologies are affecting the music industry. Most of the advances in technology that have altered the music industry are to an artist’s advantage but some are controversial. I do not want to go through all of the ridiculous and offensive beliefs in the post about file sharing so I am grateful that Mike Lombardo has already done it. This video is very entertaining and definitely rings true. Mike has done a great job explaining things from the musicians side that can not be refuted.

If you just watched the video above (which I hope you did) much of this might seem redundant or repetitive but I am writing it anyways as to further demonstrate the arguments. I would like to start by sharing with you some of my experiences.

  1. Over the years I have had people come up to me and say something like “I love your work. My friend Jane burned me a copy of your CD”. The first time I heard something like this I was offended by what was meant to be a compliment. As I thought it over I realized that, while yes it was “piracy”, Jane was doing me a favor by not only telling a friend but also by sharing the disk and as a result this person supported my music by attending a show.
  2. I have also found my music on popular file sharing websites where anyone can download my tunes for free. At first I was offended, but again I tried to think positive; maybe whoever posted my music was doing me a favor. Well for most artists this definitely would cost them some money. But for me, the unknown guitar player from Detroit, the chances that my songs would even get downloaded on these sites are slim but in the event that they do it is most likely by someone who has stumbled across me by accident or by someone who would have never purchased a CD to begin with. Maybe it is going too far to call it a “favor” but I try to stay optimistic and hope that some day this person will attend a show, purchase the next disk and/or will tell a friend about my music.
  3. I myself have been guilty of swapping CD’s with friends and students, illegally downloading music or back in the day dubbing a cassette tape. Am I proud of this? Absolutely not. However I can say that I have discovered a great many of artist this way that I have then in turn spent thousands of dollars attending concerts and purchasing merchandise including additional recordings. Does this make it right? Of course not but in the end most of the artists made money they would not have if these technologies had not existed.

The above are all examples of copyright violations, however, in these situations the artist is eventually compensated for their work. Yes, I think that sharing music is good! It is a great compliment to the artist when a person is so excited about a song, CD, artist, etc., they cannot wait to share it with FRIENDS (not for free with the whole world). Am I telling you all to go make copies of my CDs and hand it out to five friends…sure if you think they will like it and it is the only way you can get them to give it a listen. I want to share my music. However, I am also asking that you tell them the next time I have a show and ask them to attend – or tell them when my next CD is coming out and where they can purchase it. Without fan support I will not be able to continue to share my music.

Today there are so many great devices and applications that allow you to stream music via satellite radio, internet radio, podcasts, YouTube, etc. There are plenty of ways to find and listen to new music, many of them free and on demand, without violating an artists copyrights or ability to profit from their work. Almost all of these ways allow the user to share this experience with their friends with the click of a “like” button, tweet, email link, etc. Also many artists and creators in many fields choose to give away a good portion and sometimes all of their work for free. This is the artists/creators choice, often based on ability, and that choice should be protected.

There have also been great technological advances that have made it not only possible but also easier and less expensive for a musician to create and share their music. I currently have a small recording studio in my basement that would have been unattainable for someone in my situation 10-20 years ago. The internet allows me to distribute and advertise in ways that are affordable to independent artists like me. It has given the independent artists a louder voice and a more level playing field – a better shot at getting heard – and maybe even famous. It has also in some ways saturated the world with mediocre products.

Music is my life, I could never quit playing guitar, it is who I am. But the bottom line is that creating music is not free. Just because an electronic form of it can be duplicated with little cost (still requires the right equipment, software, internet, etc.) does not mean that the original was free to create.

Most musicians start out small, with a “Real Job” (or parent) that funds their love for playing and creating music that often grows into the desire to share it with others. After a while if they work really hard hopefully they will start to make money from sharing their art with others that they will likely reinvest into improving their music/recordings/performances. As time goes on this processes if repeated and hopefully a musician is making enough consistent money and can quit his/her day job enabling them to focus just on the music which will also improve the music/recordings/performances. Maybe someday they will even get one of those elusive label contracts that will handle most of the business side of music, further cultivating the creative process.

And to those that rant about the overpaid “rockstar” I ask: Why would anyone strive to be better at their job or skill if there were no reward (this includes doctors, scientists, engineers, etc.). This is not just about monetary compensation, I am talking about the reward of having more people enjoy or benefit from your work (which, in a fair world, usually leads to increased monetary compensation). Further more, the “rockstar” did not become a “rockstar” on his/her own and the “rockstar” does not get paid just because he/she exists, they get paid for providing a service or product. Like every other product on the market, there is a long list of people who made it possible and deserve to be compensated. And like every other product on the market, the price a consumer pays for the end product is determined by demand and is divided among all those that made it possible.

While money is, was and never will be my goal I hope to someday be able to focus all of my time and energy into creating great music that will bring joy to many. Unfortunately for that to happen I need to make money to pay for the tools to create it and the general cost of living.

So I guess the point of this post is to ask that if you like an artist’s work – please be respectful of the cost of creating it. It would be great if everything could be free but this just isn’t reality.

It would be great if everything could be free but this just isn’t reality.

I recently read this article on Tune Core about a blog post called “Filesharing Will Go Down in History As the Greatest Thing Ever to Happen to Music” and watched a video rebuttal to that post created by Mike Lombardo.

After reading and watching these I got to thinking about how the latest trends and technologies are affecting the music industry. Most of the advances in technology that have altered the music industry are to an artist’s advantage but some are controversial. I do not want to go through all of the ridiculous and offensive beliefs in the post about file sharing so I am grateful that Mike Lombardo has already done it. This video is very entertaining and definitely rings true. Mike has done a great job explaining things from the musicians side that can not be refuted.

If you just watched the video above (which I hope you did) much of this might seem redundant or repetitive but I am writing it anyways as to further demonstrate the arguments. I would like to start by sharing with you some of my experiences.

  1. Over the years I have had people come up to me and say something like “I love your work. My friend Jane burned me a copy of your CD”. The first time I heard something like this I was offended by what was meant to be a compliment. As I thought it over I realized that, while yes it was “piracy”, Jane was doing me a favor by not only telling a friend but also by sharing the disk and as a result this person supported my music by attending a show.
  2. I have also found my music on popular file sharing websites where anyone can download my tunes for free. At first I was offended, but again I tried to think positive; maybe whoever posted my music was doing me a favor. Well for most artists this definitely would cost them some money. But for me, the unknown guitar player from Detroit, the chances that my songs would even get downloaded on these sites are slim but in the event that they do it is most likely by someone who has stumbled across me by accident or by someone who would have never purchased a CD to begin with. Maybe it is going too far to call it a “favor” but I try to stay optimistic and hope that some day this person will attend a show, purchase the next disk and/or will tell a friend about my music.
  3. I myself have been guilty of swapping CD’s with friends and students, illegally downloading music or back in the day dubbing a cassette tape. Am I proud of this? Absolutely not. However I can say that I have discovered a great many of artist this way that I have then in turn spent thousands of dollars attending concerts and purchasing merchandise including additional recordings. Does this make it right? Of course not but in the end most of the artists made money they would not have if these technologies had not existed.

The above are all examples of copyright violations, however, in these situations the artist is eventually compensated for their work. Yes, I think that sharing music is good! It is a great compliment to the artist when a person is so excited about a song, CD, artist, etc., they cannot wait to share it with FRIENDS (not for free with the whole world). Am I telling you all to go make copies of my CDs and hand it out to five friends…sure if you think they will like it and it is the only way you can get them to give it a listen. I want to share my music. However, I am also asking that you tell them the next time I have a show and ask them to attend – or tell them when my next CD is coming out and where they can purchase it. Without fan support I will not be able to continue to share my music.

Today there are so many great devices and applications that allow you to stream music via satellite radio, internet radio, podcasts, YouTube, etc. There are plenty of ways to find and listen to new music, many of them free and on demand, without violating an artists copyrights or ability to profit from their work. Almost all of these ways allow the user to share this experience with their friends with the click of a “like” button, tweet, email link, etc. Also many artists and creators in many fields choose to give away a good portion and sometimes all of their work for free. This is the artists/creators choice, often based on ability, and that choice should be protected.

There have also been great technological advances that have made it not only possible but also easier and less expensive for a musician to create and share their music. I currently have a small recording studio in my basement that would have been unattainable for someone in my situation 10-20 years ago. The internet allows me to distribute and advertise in ways that are affordable to independent artists like me. It has given the independent artists a louder voice and a more level playing field – a better shot at getting heard – and maybe even famous. It has also in some ways saturated the world with mediocre products.

Music is my life, I could never quit playing guitar, it is who I am. But the bottom line is that creating music is not free. Just because an electronic form of it can be duplicated with little cost (still requires the right equipment, software, internet, etc.) does not mean that the original was free to create.

Most musicians start out small, with a “Real Job” (or parent) that funds their love for playing and creating music that often grows into the desire to share it with others. After a while if they work really hard hopefully they will start to make money from sharing their art with others that they will likely reinvest into improving their music/recordings/performances. As time goes on this processes if repeated and hopefully a musician is making enough consistent money and can quit his/her day job enabling them to focus just on the music which will also improve the music/recordings/performances. Maybe someday they will even get one of those elusive label contracts that will handle most of the business side of music, further cultivating the creative process.

And to those that rant about the overpaid “rockstar” I ask: Why would anyone strive to be better at their job or skill if there were no reward (this includes doctors, scientists, engineers, etc.). This is not just about monetary compensation, I am talking about the reward of having more people enjoy or benefit from your work (which, in a fair world, usually leads to increased monetary compensation). Further more, the “rockstar” did not become a “rockstar” on his/her own and the “rockstar” does not get paid just because he/she exists, they get paid for providing a service or product. Like every other product on the market, there is a long list of people who made it possible and deserve to be compensated. And like every other product on the market, the price a consumer pays for the end product is determined by demand and is divided among all those that made it possible.

While money is, was and never will be my goal I hope to someday be able to focus all of my time and energy into creating great music that will bring joy to many. Unfortunately for that to happen I need to make money to pay for the tools to create it and the general cost of living.

So I guess the point of this post is to ask that if you like an artist’s work – please be respectful of the cost of creating it. It would be great if everything could be free but this just isn’t reality.

Alpena, MI. The pivotal years of my life.

I am excited to be going back home to Alpena, MI again next weekend for a couple more performances and family events.

Friday, July 30th, 45th Parallel will be performing for the Friday Nights Downtown Festival where there will be entertainment, food, kids games, family fun and of course live music. The event takes place every Friday through out the summer from 5:30PM to 9PM. Location: Second Avenue, DownTown Alpena, MI. Contact Information: DDA Phone: 989.356.6422.  If you are in the Down Town Area please stop by and say hello to my mom, Tina Montgomery, owner of My Glass Wings, a stained glass studio and gift shop, located at 106 N. 2nd Ave. (right in the heart of the action).

Saturday, July 31, 7MJ will be performing for Melissa Behring’s (our lead singer), family reunion. (If you would like to book 7MJ for a function, wedding or private party please call Jake Tobias, 248-586-9693)

A little bit about me: Alpena, Michigan is where I spent the most pivotal years of my life. My dad was in the Air Force so I moved a lot during my child hood including San Bernadino, Ca (where I was born), Colorado Springs, CO (where I started school), and Warner Robins, GA (where I bought my first Fender American Standard Stratocaster with the money I made from working 3 jobs over the summers).  In 1990, when my dad retired from the Air Force, we moved up to Alpena, Michigan, my mom’s home town. My high school years were spent at Alpena High, home of the Wild Cats. This is where I met Maggie Lamb and Greg Adamus 2 of the earliest influences on my music career. Maggie Lamb took me to my first Jazz concert, The Bird of Paradise Orchestra at the The Bird of Paradise Club (more recently known as the Fire Fly Club in Ann Arbor, MI). Maggie Lamb is to this day a great advocate for bringing live music , art, and culture to the Alpena Area. Greg Adamus, then vice principle at Alpena High, taught me many things about Jazz  and performance, but also guided me toward Wayne State and helped me prepare for guitar at the college level (and the audition that not only got me  admitted but also a full scholarship).  Alpena is where I made some of my greatest friends and had some of my best memories. It is always a joy to travel back there and sad to leave.

Out with the old and broken

Taylor guitar
Taylor Guitar beaten and broken

This instrument was definitely one of my favorites. Definitely the one I had the most fun playing. So much so that it has been to see the repair doctor 3 time for major cracks. Seems I like to play my instruments a little hard. However, it was not my playing that put it past repair. No, it was the price of convenience. At the time of its death I was using a gator soft gig bag to tote the instrument around it. While in transit an amp and some other equipment shifted in the car and fell on it. I didn’t even realized it happened till I opened it up a couple days later (and a couple days before the next gig I need it for). To say I was heart broken was an understatement. I was also very frustrated because it was the only instrument that I had customized for the percussive acoustic style of guitar that I love to play. With just a few days before the next gig and such extensive damage it was time to say good bye. Of course I didn’t have the funds to go out and replace it so I bought an inexpensive used acoustic which I moved the additional pic ups into and have been playing that for almost a year now I think. Of course this was always a temporary thing since it never sounded very good and played even worse.

In with the New, shiny and all-graphite acoustic guitar.

My new Rainsong Guitar
My new Rainsong Guitar in its hard shell case.

I have been considering RainSong Guitars for a long time, since the first time I pulled out the Taylor and found a big crack in the body and realized that either I need to play nicer or get a tougher guitar. I tried playing softer… But now it is time for something tougher. So yesterday I took a ride over to Huber and Breese Music Store, the only place in the metro Detroit area that carries them, and bought my first RainSong, the h-ws1000n2 (came with a custom hard shell case which I like even if it is as tough as they say it is). Today I have taken in to Mark Weninger Guitar Works to have some work done on it. I am having a hole drilled into the body so that I can install the 2 extra pickups that I use to get that big boomy percusive sound. Mark has been working on my guitars for years and always does a stellar job. I can’t wait to get it back! I will be writing more about the RainSong as I use it but so far it is great. Has a truly unique carbon sound and a loud bass sound.

So lesson learned? All convenience comes at a price. The gator soft gig bags are great but my Taylor was worth more than the convenience of the light easy to carry case with back straps.

So this blog about my life begins….

The last six months to a year has been crazy busy and music for a while took a little of a back seat to other things in life. I got married, bought a house, and am working on my master’s degree in secondary ed. Musically I have gotten back into playing bass and keys in a rock band and have been getting a good a** kickin on my vocals. (never was that much of a singer).

I am in the process of writing new material. For some reason it is happening slowly…..really slow. The recent performances have taken me back to songs that I have not played for quite some time..so long that I had to pull out my own CD to relearn….absolutley rediculous!