Want to know why my job flat out rules sometimes? Well, I do enjoy the fact that can I work from home and adjust my schedule to my liking, listen to any music I want at any volume at any time, plus have the luxury of a pants-optional work policy... All that stuff is great, but every now and then, a few perks come along that hit home the reality that being a professional writer is, in fact, pretty awesome. I'll just get to the point this weekend, Ultimate-Guitar is sending me down to the 2012 NAMM Show
in Anaheim to cover the event!
That's right, I'll be there to report the entire convention for you guys! I'll get to check out the latest guitar and bass gear, amps, effects, music software, cool new music gadgets plus, I'll be hanging out amongst some seriously talented and legendary guitarists, such as Alex Skolnick
, Eric Johnson
, and Chris Broderick
. I'm getting antsy just thinking about it. I can see it now: I'm having a beer with Eric Johnson, talking shop, he asks me if I'd like to permanently join his band... Ok, there's no way that will happen, but still, this is going to be sick!
Although this won't be my first NAMM experience (I went last year and just about shat myself when I met Guthrie Govan
), this will be my first time working the event, taking photos, interviewing artists and company reps the whole professional reporting thing. And based on the overall massive size of NAMM, I'm anticipating a constant pump of adrenaline and the loss of 5 lbs from walking amongst a disorienting amount of shiny new guitars. A.D.D.-like attention spans and a lost voice are likely, and of course, there will probably be the subsequent mental and physical crash afterward. Basically, this might be the coolest music experience second to what I'd imagine joining Megadeth
onstage to perform the "Tornado Of Souls
" solo would be like.
Am I gloating? Meh... Yeah, I am, kind of. Okay, I apologize. I'm just a tad excited if you couldn't tell.
Honestly though, I'd love to hear from you guys and get your input! After all, you, the UG community, are exactly the people we're writing for. So as you read this blog on Friday or Saturday, I'll be at the convention; however, I'll be checking the comments section from my phone. If there's anything in particular you'd like to see in my upcoming NAMM feature articles, let me know and I'll do my best to cover it any artist you'd like to see interviewed, guitars and effects you want me to check out... That kind of stuff.
And if any readers out there are going to be at NAMM, let me know and we'll meet up at the show! Hit me up on Twitter
, we'll hang out, maybe try to harass Gene Simmons
by chucking guitar picks at him. Sound good?
But this week, before the insanity of NAMM firmly inches its foot into my ass, we're going to talk about something that rarely gets mentioned in this blog series: politics. That's right POLITICS. I'm going to spew my political beliefs like an army of Bill O'Reilys
, and rest assured, if you don't agree with my political stance, you will be called pinhead and my acid tongue will burn! So let's stir up some controversy and get political up in this joint.
Oh, if only I was like that. I'm not that antagonizing, as you know. But yes, this week's stories are on the political side, which is a subject I rarely address, mainly because I don't really take the time to develop strong opinions on matters that don't directly apply to me.
But this week, regarding the anti-piracy bills, SOPA and PIPA, these political issues actually do apply to the music community. So I'll try to stay as neutral as possible (I say try) on the political O'Pino Factor, presented by Faux News.
Stop SOPA and PIPA!
Ok check it: imagine a world where you're having a debate with your friend over the year the Crash Test Dummies
song, "MMM MMM MMM MMM
" came out. You say 93 but your friend foolishly thinks it came out in 89. Retarded, right? So you consult your favorite source of easy-to-find information, Wikipedia
. But wait, something is wrong. The site is gone! Wikipedia has apparently been suspected of being involved with copyright infringement and has been shut down! Dammit! No more one-stop source for quickly searchable information! What will you do??? Go to a library? That's entirely way too inconvenient.
As you probably saw, this week, websites like Wikipedia
, and Reddit
staged a "blackout
", which attempted to illustrate what it might be like if the House of Representatives and Senate pass the Stop Online Piracy Act
) and Protect Intellectual Property Act
) bills, respectively. If such bills are passed, corporations could have the ability to shut down any website that links to ("facilitates") sites that engage in copyright infringement, which effectively makes it possible to stifle and regulate the way we get online information.
The scary thing about these bills is the control the entertainment industry could potentially have over the Internet and flow of information. I don't think anyone could argue that this is a good thing, and I bet we can all agree that we don't want to move in the direction of an Orwellian
" information-controlled society. But before we get all up in arms and p-ssy about how much the government sucks, let's take a look at the intentions and realities surrounding SOPA and PIPA.
Here, to the best of my understanding, is what SOPA entails: Say an overseas website is using a piece of copyrighted material your band's new album, let's say. This is in violation U.S. law. As is, the owner of the copyright of your album and the U.S. government can't do anything about it because the infringement is occurring overseas, out of the jurisdiction of said U.S. law. With SOPA, the intent is to grant certain legal abilities to stop the foreign site from infringing on the copyright. Nice, right? Termination of piracy and the material's owner you, record company no longer has to endure the financial burden of having your artistic creation pirated.
The problem lies with how the bill is constructed and the power it gives corporations in the entertainment industries. The bill itself is more of a precautionary tool, aimed to not necessarily eliminate the piracy itself, rather block Internet users from being able to access the infringed material. Websites (even in the U.S.) that are in someway affiliated or linked to websites in copyright violation are caught in the middle. Legal action could be taken against any site that links to the offending website. This means anything from payment websites (PayPal
) that exchange money with the copyright violators, search engines (Google
) that link to them, advertising networks that bring revenue for them - SOPA aims to sever the ties between those sites and the "guilty" ones.
The potential for a widespread Internet thumb squish is too high with SOPA. If, say, a commenter on YouTube
posts a comment that links to a foreign website that has the new Mastodon
album available to download for free, under SOPA, YouTube, not just the commenter, is in violation and the entire site could be shut down because it technically supports a website that is "dedicated to the theft of U.S. property
So while in theory, these bills are intended to stop copyright infringement, which has had considerable financial effects on the entertainment industries (the music industry especially), the potential for complete control over how we're able to access information is seemingly endless and worrisome. (For more detailed, thorough, and authoritative explanations of SOPA and PIPA, check out Lifehacker
and Khan Academy
As someone who makes most of his living off the Internet, I don't want to have to worry about extra regulation over the Internet. Obviously, pro-Internet users and websites themselves have responded with petitions and the aforementioned blackout, and it looks that this week, many politicians who originally supported the bills have switched sides and are now in opposition of the bills.
Even the Obama Administration opposes SOPA and it's now 'shelved"; however, the similar PIPA is still getting voted on.
All in all though, I don't really think these bills will get passed. I believe their intent was decent (of course piracy is bad for the entertainment industries; it should be stopped), but the proposed methods outlined in the bill were way off target. Let's just call it a swing and a miss for now in the fight against piracy.
What Musicians Have To Say And Why I Have Faith In Them
Now, you might think that musicians would be in favor of a law that would protect their copyrighted material; after all, they are among the many who are financially hurt by online piracy. Yet, it's clear that the musician community is pretty much unanimously opposed to SOPA and PIPA because of its potential to limit free speech and expression. Artists like Randy Blythe
and Matt Heafy make compelling arguments
against what the bills stand for ultimately suggesting that even though they, as musicians, would benefit from SOPA and PIPA, they are fundamentally against the stifling of free speech and information, making it completely not worth it to become a little richer in the face of censorship.
I admire this sentiment and wholeheartedly share it. It makes it apparent that musicians, at their core, aren't playing music for a living because of the money. They are artists who want to express themselves as freely as possible, and the ability to do so, although it may mean less money, is more valuable than dollar amounts. I think Randy Blythe hit the nail on the head when he summed up, "Would I like to live comfortably in a nice house as an indentured servant or would I like to live in the ghetto as a free man? I'll take the ghetto any day.
Ok, that's enough politics. Enough SOPA. Time for NAMM! Again, hit me up if you're going to be at NAMM. We'll grab a drink. And now I'm getting excited. I feel like Butt-Head right now. "Heh Heh. Whoa! This is gonna be cool.
On The Next It's The End Of The Week As We Know It:
Elated after a fun commercial shoot for WalMart
crawls further and further away from being metal by becoming the permanent band for the FreeCreditReport.com commercials.
Promising to be the heaviest album ever recorded, the deluxe edition of Meshuggah
's new record
", will come with earplugs, a bib, and a fresh pair of tightie whities.
, clearly losing it, continues to criticize Van Halen
's new single, "Tattoo
", this time exclaiming, "Wolfgang Van Halen is no Michael Anthony and Eddie Van Halen is no Alex Van Halen.......Cabo WABO!!!
By Zach Pino