To Taylor, Love Shelly

It’s all good. It’s divine actually: your letter to Apple challenging the first 3 months of free. Thank you. We, the songwriting community—well, most of us—want you to know we appreciate your efforts. 

Sure, I can hear the haters. They say you’re more interested in popularity and record sales. Ignore them, Taylor. Haters gonna hate. Personally, I choose to believe you are legitimate in your concerns. Some people will never agree. Like songs, for every one we write, someone’s gonna love it and someone’s gonna have an issue with the bridge. If you believe in what you’re doing you have to continue to walk your walk. With blinders on if necessary. Who am I to tell you this? I know you know all about it. 

We are a complicated species—human beings. Heck nobody is 100% pure. No politician, best friend, or publisher. Celebs and common-folk alike….we all do things for many reasons: adulation, adoration, commerce, art, self-esteem, self-expression, glamour, P.R. So What!

We must align with the planet who shares our orbit.

And what if you do want to sell records too? Who wouldn’t? Sell away. At least they’re good records. There are so many other recording artists who could be influential and persuasive. Where are they? 

So in the spirit of the precarious state of the business of writing songs we nominate you, Taylor Swift, as our official spokesperson—our poster child in chief—to continue leading the way. Who else is as passionate, outspoken, articulate—even if there are handlers involved (what public figure doesn’t have those?) And besides, there’s just no one else as camera friendly. 

But the thing is, Taylor, while everything you’ve done so far is invaluable (the pulling of your songs from Spotify, your letter to Apple), there’s a lot more work to do. Like online piracy management and the enforcement of copyright law, (so that Tech companies can not profit from selling advertising on sites that use our content without consent or compensation).

All that said, we realize you are only one girl. Of course we’d like to clone you. But we can’t. So for now we have to take it one step at a time. How about we simply try to raise streaming rates? And get rid of a consent decree that was enacted over 70 years ago—before the word “digital” met the word “streaming”?

Here’s what I propose (in case you're still actually reading): get your good girl faith in that tight little skirt and come to Washington. With me. Put your mouth where your money is. 

Why us?  

Some say the change-makers on Capitol Hill are only human and are enamored by the presence of someone who wrote and sang a song they love—a celebrity who is a role model to their teenage daughter. Enter YOU. 

Others say there is more empathy for the career songwriter who does not own a private jet, stock in a record label or have a song on the radio every week. Enter ME. While I’ve had my hits, I am not a household name. My royalty statements are shriveling and I’m about to embark on putting a child through college. 

I’d be a perfect travel companion. In fact, I’ll buy your ticket.I can’t fly us first class but I’ll cough up some frequent flyer miles and upgrade us to business. I’ll call 24 hours in advance and order you a meal of your choice. 

I won’t even suggest that we come up with some song ideas while en route. Although if you insisted, I wouldn’t argue. But if you’d rather chill, we could just do some sudoku. Or watch movies. Or not even talk. Whatever you want. 

We can consider a third companion: an aspiring songwriter. Someone who is eager, struggling, dreaming, renting, moonlighting as a janitor…someone who can make a case for the dubious future of his or her earning trajectory. Someone who can say, 

“There is revenue out there, but it’s been hijacked. And if tech companies and streaming services and record labels are making a killing with my content, why shouldn’t I be too?” 

Think about it Taylor. I can arrange for some real live human face time with Chairman Bob Goodlatte of the House Judiciary committee. Plus, I'm a lot of fun.  

 It's not just about limiting our catalogue on streaming services. 

I’m serious. Let’s go. 

We don’t have to change the world. But perhaps we can shift the Universe in some way.  Open minds. Garner support. Be heard. 

Wuddya say?

United or American? 

Write back. 

Love, Shelly

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