Monday, May 9, 2016

Chuck Norris vs Communism or The Bigs vs Songwriters

Chuck Norris vs Communism is a fascinating documentary set during the time of the evil reign of Romanian Communist Nicolae Ceausescu. You see, Nic was determined to control every aspect of Romanians lives. They would conform…or else. Nic’s or else was brutal.

When hard-line Stalinists say you’re brutal, then you’re a bad dude. Even by Soviet standards, Nico was over-the-top violent, savage, and massively repressive. Romania and her citizens suffered for years; many died for horrible crimes against the State, such as being Jewish, or creative and smart. But in this documentary lies a modern-day tale of the music business.

Ceausescu knew that many of his loyal and elite staff, including his own son, were watching American films. Let them have their little fun, he thought, those American films can’t hurt me. After all, America is decadent and weak, and we are moral and strong.

So convinced Ceausescu was of their loyalty, it never dawned on him that these films were bootlegged. Which meant that others besides his staff were watching them. But the citizens of the country were watching…and their children…and they were learning valuable lessons. So, when Ceausescu went from horrible to worse, the citizens rose up as one, and took to the streets.
They did that because– and this is what Romanian citizens say in the documentary — the films showed them what strong people did against evil. Those films became the direct reason for Ceausescu’s rapid — just about overnight — downfall.
These are the very same lessons being learned by songwriters, DIY/Indie artists, and small publishers and labels, as well as others who are reinventing the business on the technology side and which will lead to the downfall of the music business as we know it — and its successful reemergence.
The Bigs are: Digital aggregators who are playing fast and loose with copyright and interfering with distribution of rightfully earned royalties, the major music publishers and major labels who must still be mobbed up, the streamers in whatever form they take from day to day and who make backroom deals with the publishers and labels, and online retail outlets who — in their wisdom, of course — are destroying rightfully owned property and replacing it with their own.

The willing staff are: Performing rights organizations who have forgotten who their real customer is, retail sales reporting portals which determine charting positions and make it nigh on impossible to report, and other tracking agencies too numerous to name but who also only have tracking solution available to deep pockets.
Here are the lessons that Chuck Norris, Sylvester Stallone, Jean-Claude Van Damme, and even Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze taught Romanian citizens and, by extension today, the creator-in-the-street.
One: A dictator will rule only as long as the people allow.
One: The Bigs will last only as long as the songwriter and DIY/Indie artist allows.

Two: When a dictator loads that last piece of straw on their backs, the people will cut him off and no amount of force can stop them from kicking him to the curb.
Two: When The Bigs load that last piece of straw on their backs, the songwriter and DIY/Indie will cut The Bigs off from their business model, and no amount of force can stop them from kicking The Bigs to the curb. 

Three: True friends are willing to fight — even die — to protect friends when a dictator is gunning for them.
Three: True collaborators with a business mindset are willing to fight — even die in the court of popular opinion — to protect and defend the rights inherent in their intellectual property even when The Bigs are gunning for them.

Four: During a dictator’s rule, there are those who are actively working to support and protect fellow citizens while bringing them goods and services that feed their minds and bodies.
Four: During The Bigs’ rule, there are those who are actively working to support and protect fellow songwriters and DIY/Indie artists while bringing them goods and services that support their businesses and their right to collect money due them. 

Five: During a dictator’s rule is when the seeds are planted for a better way of ruling.
Five: During The Bigs’ rule is when the seeds are planted for a better way of doing business with fans while protecting and defending their rights to use, license, and distribute their music as they see fit. 

Six: During a dictator’s rule is when the citizens stop asking for permission to live.
Six: During The Bigs’ rule is when songwriters and DIY/Indie artists stop asking for permission to be creative and profitable.

If you read the links embedded above in the article, you will already have seen how all these lessons apply to the music business today. If you are a songwriter or a DIY/Indie artist, I would love to hear your thoughts on this as well. Please email me at

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