Monday, September 21, 2009


"A salon is a gathering of intellectual, social, political, and cultural elites under the roof of an inspiring hostess or host, partly to amuse one another and partly to refine their taste and increase their knowledge through conversation.

These gatherings often consciously follow Horace's definition of the aims of poetry, "either to please or to educate" ("aut delectare aut prodesse est"). The salons, commonly associated with French literary and philosophical salons of the 17th century and 18th century, were carried on until quite recently in urban settings among like-minded people of a 'set': many 20th-century salons could be instanced."

- Wikipedia

I will be speaking soon at one.

Inaugural Salon
Thursday, October 8, 2009
7:00pm - 10:00pm
2nd Floor Salon at The Great Hall
1087 Queen Street West (@ Dovercourt)
Toronto, ON

I have written so many speeches. I have read so many speeches.

Speeches to lead a nation, speeches to lead a religion, speeches to lead a protest, speeches to change a world.

I have spoken in front of crowds. People drunk in a pub - who somehow needed to hear me speak about the brave new world of television.

People with money, cynical from 1000 other speakers and 100 other failures...people who only know how to hear 1-2-3. Speeches to win a music fan, speeches to raise money, speeches to lead a company.

I have written speeches. For politicians who won and a woman who would be ranked among Top 50 most powerful in a city. For civil rights, to change even my friends.

I have read speeches - a keen admirer of the Kennedys, a few basketball coaches, and notable people in history who borrowed many an ear.

I have even transcribed a lost speech posthumously, by the late Pulitzer Prize winning author Carol Shields. It was the best speech I had ever heard in Canada. I named it Tempus Fugit (Time Flies). Now i reference it in blogs, a symbol. This speech spoke of how to partner with time while you are alive. It was haunting to publish it after she died, when she had no time left.

I have read books about speeches - how humans can only retain one topic every six minutes. After that you will lose them. How humans can only remember three key messages - more than this they may forget every message you say.

I have pitched to people who have heard every story in the book, and every song she wrote.

This is the first speech i am writing in public.

I will update it before it is said. I will be in New York City before i speak - which could change everything. Everything.

I have done this before for a speech. A game changing experience. Something you do not expect before it is written.

Public comments - before it is said - may even change it.

I once gave speeches monthly - sometimes weekly - to strangers. That was during some campaign. In 2008, i only spoke once. It resulted in $250,000 being raised. In 2009, i only spoke publicly once. It resulted in a man approaching me needing $35 million. I never spoke again since. Times had changed in terms of what people needed, or wanted...what they could see.


Arts Patronage 1.0

Before you arrived - you paid $10. Or $5 - if you paid in advance. You paid a prix fixe.

Was it worth it? Was it worth more? Was it worth less? Does it matter to you...

* * *
A play i saw one night asked me to pay what I wanted. The idea was to give access to starving students (and artists for that matter). The average donation was $20. This equaled their fixed price gate on other nights.

The bar, however, had a record night in sales, giving the play a record night in profits.

* * *

Radiohead launched an album called In Rainbows and told music lovers to download it after paying what they wanted.

It reportedly sold 1.2 million copies with the average donation equal to the album price. People who could fill Giants Stadium pre-ordered the box set release.

This showed me that without restrictions on pricing - it was possible to have greater revenue elasticity. You could sell more than $0.99, and you could offer something additional like first rights to concert tickets.

For 99 cents, you can buy a download at iTunes. You might have a tough time finding longer compositions of jazz and classical. You might have a tough time putting this song from one machine to another. You might lose this song when your computer dies.

It's no secret Apple uses this to sell iPods. In the distribution of online music wealth, Apple makes the most money. Then it's music labels and business partners. I confess, i was once of them - watching download sales to the millions. Never once did we think of an Artist beyond the preview sample, the download, the metadata and the album art. An Artist was lucky to even be found. The Top 10 sometimes sold 80% of the revenues.

No one has really looked out for the Artist deal. An Artist gets leftovers from negotiations by other stakeholders. The Artist is lowest on the food chain of this digital revolution. It's no surprise the Artist earns the least.

I have seen royalty cheques of many independent artists who are considered above average in selling online. You will be lucky to earn $100 after a few months, whenever it comes.

This is the digital revolution not televised.

* * *

MySpace, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Flickr, Blogger and other free online services are the biggest scams in the world. As you post your content - for free - you are helping to give Rupert Murdoch $1 billion from advertising. What does he give you? Not a penny.

Okay, let's not pick on Rupert. You're also helping to give Steve Jobs billions as you earn $100.

We often clamour about how music labels exploit Artists. But this deal from Rupert Murdoch is signing you to a five-song deal, he owns the rights, he makes a billion and he pays you nothing.

i had better fact check. Sometimes these deals online change.

* * *

I see Artists who give their music for free - as if it has no value. It pegs the value as zero.

Even then, many Artists experience resistance in giving away their work. Sometimes i've seen people keep CDs given for free - out of sympathy - and consider using them for coasters.

* * *

So what's valuable?

95% of the things I see online is junk to me. I would be happy if one in 10 things interested me. This is not to say it's all bad. It's just that everyone's got different tastes and the science of taste-serving has yet to be mastered online. This is where the Old World does a better job.

What i do know is that if something does inspires me, i am willing to donate to the Artist to keep it up.

* * *
At 32 Jones, there's a music cafe - one of New York's last. Woody Allen shot a movie here. Bob Dylan used to live by it. There's no cover charge.

3000 Artists email monthly to try and perform there.

On a good night, the owner says, people don't have a problem paying $35 in a donation - and buy a CD.

* * *
I believe in a New World for art.

It's in fact a revision of an Old World.

A world of patronage that made Italy beautiful.

An online tip jar for someone who inspires you.

In this model, we push the Radiohead model further. You can prepay for art by an Artist who has previously inspired you. This Artist has yet to spend a dime and earned your patronage.

An Artist just has to pitch a vision that inspires you and you donate. You become part of making the dream, of making something beautiful. You are recognized for doing this. Charities already do this.

Alternatively, you can commission inspiring work. I would like to pay $10 for an inspiring photo from this night - illustrating the ambience of a Salon. I might even pay more if it's spectacular. Very French in ambience preferably.

* * *

At 32 Jones...most people pay in cash. I think the music world is very much like this. Growing up, i dont remember ever using anything but cash. I think the first time i used a credit card was for Ticketmaster, and not at first.

Online, the convenience of an impulse cash purchase has not been accommodated. You either have to use a credit card, or go to some store to get a prepayment card.

I believe in a pledging system to enable an Artist to know that someone in some location is willing to offer cash for your work. This is no different than Craig's List. In this way, you capture the impulse buy in cash. Imagine a day, when you find out you have an offer in Germany - a place to stay, food and a buyer of your next CD waiting.

Thank you.
* * *

This is my unedited first draft - written in less than an hour during a break. It no doubt will be cut for spoken word. The spoken word - narration - is quite different than the written word - narrative. I have yet to time it for 15 mins...but it looks way over. Will need to cut, cut, cut. The internet allows access into my thoughts, for now.

Status Report: I am hungry now and have to eat.

No comments: