I wanted to take a moment to let you know that for the first time, you can purchase Skafish Holiday Collectibles from my newly redesigned holiday website.
If you’d like a personally autographed “Tidings of Comfort and Joy – A Jazz Piano Trio Christmas” CD, I will be happy to sign the front panel to you or someone you want to gift the album to. I’ll also sign the rear panel of the Digipack as well. Each autographed CD is brand new and I remove the shrink wrap before signing it for you.
If you’re a poster collector, I can personally autograph a limited edition, never-before-sold promotional mini poster for the “Tidings” album. To make sure you get your poster intact, they are rolled and shipped in a secure, heavy craft paper tube.
If you’re looking for the album without the autograph, new, shrink wrapped “Tidings” CD’s are also available.
Because everyone loves a bargain, I’m happy to offer you a 10% discount for multiple purchases of the same item in your order from my holiday website. When you buy from me, you’re directly supporting both me and my work. And I truly appreciate the support!
Selling directly to my fans is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time and now that it is a reality, you can expect to see more of this coming up. That includes my current albums, new releases as well as my back catalogue.
Hey, I wanted to take a minute to let you know about some exciting new things I’ve planned for this holiday season.
I’ve Got A New Website:
First, Glinda and I gutted the old website and created something completely fresh. The new website is a responsive design, so it looks great anywhere. Visit SkafishHoliday.com and see for yourself. While you’re there, subscribe to the mailing list and you’ll get all Skafish Holiday news first, such as when my new holiday jazz album will be released, performance dates, giveaways, and more. Let me know what you think of the new site!
Visit Our Ebay Store:
Since everyone loves collectibles, we are going to offer some very cool items at our Ebay store this season. You can get personally autographed CDs of “Tidings of Comfort and Joy – a Jazz Piano Trio Christmas.” I can do the autograph for you or anyone else you want to give it to as a gift. I’ll also have limited edition posters, press kits and more. It’s looking like I’ll have these items for sale by mid November.
Fun Skafish NPR Interview:
Last year, I did a post here on my blog to let you know about a radio interview I was doing with my friend, Tom Lounges. On that show, we talked mostly about my background in jazz, and the process of creating and recording the “Tidings” album. However, the real treat was when fans called in from all over the country to receive autographed “Tidings” CDs. Talking with all the callers really made my night, and it gave me something joyous to cherish through the holiday season. Now, we converted the interview into a video and put it on the La Befana Records You Tube channel. Check out the Skafish Interview on NPR’s Lakeshore Public Radio with Tom Lounges from December 3, 2013.
Archival Jingle Bells Video: In the spirit of saving the best for last, I am elated that everybody can finally see the archival video to the recording of Jingle Bells. As many of you already know, the “Tidings” album was recorded as a jazz trio playing in the studio. We didn’t use any fancy technology, but basically just went into the studio and played. What’s so exciting about the Jingle Bells video is that it puts you right there with us. No gimmicks or trickery – just real simple: three musicians playing the last track of the album. With this video footage, you can experience the actual unmixed performance right as it happened. It is ironic that we hardly ever see actual musicians playing together in a room anymore. But now you can. Watch Jingle Bells here.
If this is an album you enjoy and you’re really a fan, please spread the word – it is greatly appreciated. Also, I am going to have some holiday giveaways this season, so stay tuned. I hope all is going well for you —
Many of you already know that I have quite a large back catalog of both unreleased and previously released material that is currently unavailable. With some of it, like What’s This? 1976 – 1979 and Bootleg 21-35, I’ve been able to successfully get it out there. At the same time, there are still many other compositions and recordings I’m in the process of trying to release, including my first and second album.
From time to time, I go into the archives and check out how something hits me again. Earlier this spring, I decided to listen to several unreleased tracks I recorded back in 2003-2004. I wanted to see how they hit me and if they might be worth getting out there. These are tracks which I recorded at home, where I did all the singing, instruments, production, recording, arranging, and most of the engineering.
One of them really caught my attention more strongly this time. It’s a cover of the Monkees classic, [I’m Not Your] Steppin’ Stone. Recorded by everyone from Paul Revere and the Raiders to the Sex Pistols, it’s a song that I feel has a lot of edge and still holds up well today. It also takes me back to my childhood when the Monkees television show captured such a free-spirited, idyllically cool and fun vibe. When I used to watch the show, I thought to myself, “I’m too weird to be in a band like this, but wouldn’t it be fun?”
So I started the wheels turning in my mind. I thought that it could be a great idea to get the track mastered, do a video, and release it as a single – just for fun. Doing a video, even if that was just a simple performance clip, was crucial. But I knew that I had to have a video, so people could check the song out online, especially on You Tube. If not, how would anyone hear it? Recent studies show that 91% of all people listen to a song on You Tube before buying it, and discover their music there.
So I started researching who owns the copyright to the song and how to get in touch with them, so I could request a video sync license. You may already know this, but everyone is supposed to get a video sync license, in writing, to be able to put up a video when doing a cover of someone else’s song.
I discovered that the publishing is owned by EMI, who is actually owned by Sony/ATV, one of the largest publishers in the world. In mid-June, 2014, I put in a call. I was surprised that my call was returned within an hour by a helpful and nice lady. In that conversation, I explained my situation and told her that I am an independent artist, without financial backing from any outside entity (such as a record label), who wanted to post a low-budget promotional video to my cover version of “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone.” After a lengthy conversation, she told me how to contact their license request hotline, and that they would be able to direct me on how to complete the process. She indicated that they always like to grant licenses, and even added that I might be able to get it for free!
Once I filled out the request form online, I was contacted via email by someone named Ryan Saylor who was supposed to assist me in this process. We started an email exchange, where I explained my situation again. What was odd, though, was that Ryan’s emails kept asking the same questions I had just answered. “Where will the video be shown?” was one of his responses to an email where I had just answered that very question. Like I had just written to him, I wanted to post the video online on my You Tube channels, Vimeo, Daily Motion, Skafish.com, my blog, my Facebook pages, and on my social media accounts. After several emails, he told me it would cost me $1250.00 per year, EVERY YEAR, to post the video online. Keep in mind that I wanted a license in perpetuity, not just for one or two years. So, at ten years, that’s $12, 500.00. At thirty years, it adds up to $37, 500.00. That’s just to post the video online, not sell it in a DVD package or make money from it directly.
I wrote back and told him I didn’t have that kind of budget for this. I asked if we could negotiate, and that I heard in some cases the license could be had for free. He didn’t write back. I waited for weeks, and then I put in a call to him and left a message. I even told him to just please let me know, yes or no, either way, so I could either proceed with this project or move on to something else. Still, no response….
At this point, we’re going on almost two months and I decided to call the lady I originally spoke with again. She got in touch with Ryan and he told her several times that he was going to call me – but he didn’t. Days later when I spoke with her again, she told me what Ryan Saylor said the terms would be, which was quite startling.
I was told that I can post the video to You Tube for free, but only on You Tube. That term is based on a deal that Sony/ATV and You Tube struck. It supposedly allows anyone to post a video of a cover song from the Sony/ATV catalog on You Tube. However, it was made clear to me that they don’t really like people knowing about this “deal.”
So, to recap these “terms,” I can only post a video on You Tube. I would not be able to post anywhere else, such as Vimeo, or even my own website. It wasn’t clear whether I could embed the video from You Tube on other sites. I also have no idea whether I could run ads on the clip, or if Sony/ATV would puts ads on my video.
However, here’s the real shocker: They refused to put it in writing. No contract, not even an email stating that I could post it for free on You Tube. HUH? Are you kidding me? That leaves me completely vulnerable to copyright infringement lawsuits, trouble with You Tube (all they would have to do is ask me to show them proof that I have the rights to post the video), and the idea that at any point, Sony/ATV might have a spat with You Tube and force my video (along with any others done this way) to be yanked. I would have zero recourse.
Keep in mind that Sony/ATV is one of the biggest publishers in the world. They explicitylty know that contracts are a necessary part of doing business. Everyone at that level in the music industry knows that there needs to be a written agreement for this type of thing. When I put up my video on You Tube to “Disgracing the Family Name,” which I own entirely, You Tube made me prove to them, in writing, that I was the copyright owner.
So I was left with the reality that the agents of Sony/ATV won’t, can’t, or aren’t willing to put it in writing. After over two months of phone calls, emails, waiting, and several unsuccessful attempts to have one conversation with Ryan Saylor, I had no choice but to give up the project. There was no way I was going to put up a video of my version of someone else’s song without a written agreement, especially because of You Tube’s rules.
I would love to let you hear the song, but unfortunately, I would have to buy a license from Sony/ATV for that, too.
Of course, it’s disappointing, but there is a bigger issue at play here. As many of you may know, there is a compulsory license law that allows someone to do a cover song. Meaning, if a song has been already released, even just once, anyone can do a cover of the song, as long as they get the license and pay for it. So even if I got a free license to post a promotional video to “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone,” Sony/ATV would have made money from every copy of the song I sold.
I believe that we need the exact same thing for video. If there could be a compulsory license with a uniform fee, everyone would have the chance to put a video out there, the artistic community would be more enriched, and the copyright owners would get paid — it’s a win-win for everyone.
Well, until then, I am working on my next project – and of course, I’ll keep you posted.
Check out the new article written by Kyle Long and just posted on how I was the first performer in Indiana and Chicago to challenge sexuality and gender norms — and the negative reactions it caused. Hope you enjoy the piece — Skafish