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Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome.
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Joe Biden is Down w/ The RIAA
Friday, September 05, 2008

Why couldn’t Joe Biden have just been down with OPP like Gary Hart was? Alas, Barack Obama’s pick as his running mate, is, and has been, in bed with the RIAA instead. There are plenty of other issues with Biden, including the fact that he’s listed as one of the biggest plagiarists of all time and that he endorses government spying on P2P networks, but since I write about music, and since I care about the independent artists out there, let’s focus on how Biden being the RIAA’s part time lover affects our community.

A recent article on CNET gives some solid background info on the situation, noting:

Last year, Biden sponsored an RIAA-backed bill called the Perform Act aimed at restricting Americans' ability to record and play back individual songs from satellite and Internet radio services. (The RIAA sued XM Satellite Radio over precisely this point.)

All of which meant that nobody in Washington was surprised when Biden was one of only four U.S. senators invited to a champagne reception in celebration of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act hosted by the MPAA's Jack Valenti, the RIAA, and the Business Software Alliance.

Basically, the whole reason the RIAA has the power to make it nearly impossible for sites like Pandora and Muxtape to operate, and the whole reason why it’s harder and harder for new artists who don’t have major label deals, and who don’t have $20 G’s to give to a DJ, to get their music heard, is this very bill that Biden sponsored.

From the start I have wanted to support Obama, but he just keeps making boneheaded moves. First there was his distancing of himself from Ludacris after Luda’s anti-everyone else song, and now his pick of Biden as a running mate makes it even harder to get on board with him. He smiles nicely, and he has nice broad ranging ideas of “Hope” and “Change,” but what have his actions been saying? Many of us in the Hip-Hop community have been backing Obama, but at what point do we stand up and say “hey, who are you really for?”

Personally, Obama had my vote a month ago, but now he doesn’t. Now I’m back looking at third party candidates I know don’t stand a chance at winning. For all those who say it’s throwing my vote away, I respectfully disagree. Voting third party is showing the system you don’t believe in it. Being a sheep to a system you don’t believe in, and voting for someone you feel isn’t really qualified… that is throwing your vote away because all it leads to is more of the same.

Obviously I am not a recording artist, I simply write about recording artists. That being said, I know I have a large readership of recording artists, many of whom have told me in the past that they support Obama. To all those people I have one question - what are your thoughts on him now; have they changed at all in the past month? This is a very real question I’m posing because I’d honestly like to know.

posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:47 AM  
  • At 11:10 AM, Blogger Levi and Heather said…

    I completely agree.
    I'm not a hip-hop artist, but ANY independent artist (or, hell, just anyone in any industry) should be aware of how their vote affects their livelihood, and in this case, I can't see how any independent musician would still be able to fully endorse any ticket with Joe Biden on it.
    Yeah, there are certainly more important issues at stake than us independents, but for me, this is a deal-breaker.

  • At 2:12 PM, Blogger Whitemist said…

    Sadly, there are very few in congress who are not in bed with the RIAA, that includes McCain. We fight an uohill battle for freedom of creativity. The funny thing to me is the the current Bush was nieve enough not to be and freely used Napster when it existed. (his only good point)

  • At 4:41 PM, Blogger kats said…

    There's lots of FREE music out there, and lots of ways to get FREE music. This does not strike me as a voting issue. I don'tknow if you watched any of the RNC, but if you did (or if you've lived in this country in this lifetime) you should be pretty scared of these dudes...voting for third party candidates is nice and idealistic, but the truth is, as we adults all know, other than you saying you did, this accomplishes nothing. I know...5%...major funding...whatever...no third party will ever be viable in this country...we're in America baby! And the only reason third party candidates can consistently talk the most "honest", coolest shit, is because they know this reality. Lots of things are at stake...saying that this is the "deal breaker" is pretty wild, in my humble opinion.

    Vote for Kats in 2009!

  • At 3:56 PM, Blogger Thirtyseven said…

    Forgive me some black humor chortling, but what choice do We The People have?

    The worst concievable thing the RIAA could do is a flea bite in comparison to the larger fact that our entire economy is collapsing no matter who wins in 2008. I see the "choice" before us either trying to reduce the impact under an Obama administration, or charging headfirst under McCain.

    Biden being in bed with RIAA doesn't bother me nearly as much as Palin being in bed with Assembly of God and the Christian Dominionist movement.

  • At 2:44 PM, Blogger Adam Bernard said…

    I love the note that Bush used Napster. I didn't know that, but it's hilarious.

    And ThirtySeven, the economy is one of the reasons I feel like I have to vote third party (Kats in '08 sounds OK!). The economy sucked under Bush so everyone voted in a Democratic congress... now the economy is EVEN WORSE.

    Of course, they're all still on the five week vacation they voted to give themselves.

    But I'm getting off topic here. The fact is the arts will suffer if Biden is in higher office and all my B-Listers will have an even rougher time getting heard than they already do now.

  • At 5:17 PM, Blogger Thirtyseven said…

    Right, but the office of the President has nothing to do with that. The current head of the US Treasury, Henry Paulson, is a former Goldman Sachs CEO. That kind of revolving door between private and public power is where the real decisions get made, regardless of who the elected figurehead will be.

    A third party candidate will not have any power to make changes if elected. They'll arrive in Washington DC and find out that there's a power structure that's been running the show for over a century now, and they couldn't care less about populism, democracy or reform.

    And in terms of livelihood, again, I'd be WAY MORE CONCERNED about the arch-conservative Catholic/Dominionist tag team. We know EXACTLY how these people feel about hip hop -- it's angry noise to them, hateful and frightening. We know EXACTLY how John McCain feels about the lower class, and we know EXACTLY where he stood in the aftermath of Katrina.

    You're worried about the RIAA, I'm worried about not even being able to sell music with explicit lyrics.

    In terms of scale, simply compare the music business to the military budget, and you'll get a sense of how much our livelihood matters in the scheme of human affairs.

  • At 8:50 PM, Blogger Adam Bernard said…

    It sounds like the moral of the story is, "nobody cares about us at all."

  • At 6:04 PM, Blogger Red said…

    ThirtySeven, are you trying to say that Congress is planning to put the ax on the Parental Advisory sticker (meaning, automatic censorship)?

  • At 6:23 PM, Blogger Thirtyseven said…

    I have absolutely zero inside information on future legislation plans -- I'm just saying that Christian Dominionists like Palin's Assembly of God are engaged in a cultural war -- their words, not mine. They believe we're living in the end times (not an irrational assumption, by the way) and they're working to establish Christ's kingdom in the United States.

    Raise your hand if you think that Kingdom will involve Immortal Technique or Eazy-E.

  • At 1:41 PM, Blogger Red said…

    Whatever I just read, I'm going to assume it's bad. Now I don't know if I want to throw my vote away or go for McCain. Either way, a person who supports or works with the RIAA is an immediate nemesis. I can't wait to tackle the media when I become a rapper.

  • At 2:13 PM, Blogger Dr. Quandary said…

    "Now I don't know if I want to throw my vote away or go for McCain."

    Personally, as much beef as I may have with the RIAA, I think there are more pressing issues at hand in this election, and those are the ones that will ultimately determine my vote.

    Even if, by some miraculous turn of events, McCain and the GOP renounced the RIAA, would you be willing to make all of the sacrifices their administration would demand? Do you really think it would make things easier for you as an independent artist when they raised taxes and continued to devalue the dollar by running up war debts?

    I'm with Thirtyseven on this one. Biden may be in bed with the RIAA, but McCain/Palin is the ticket that's maliciously out to fuck you.

  • At 4:15 PM, Blogger The Bay Bridg said…

    voting based on the idea of music is selfish when you think of the other causes that these running mates stand for. if you say voting for a 3rd party is messing with the system, your still feeding into a system

    in a fucked up world like this,
    i will pick the greater of the two evils

  • At 4:18 PM, Blogger Adam Bernard said…

    The GREATER of two evils!?!?!

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