The Internet and Us:

"Transcending Experience"

Essay by Grammy Award Winner Richard Spencer

A Unique Perspective of Independent Artist & Music Producer

Stan Ivory

There is gigantic possibility for young, creative, and talented individuals in the audio or visual arts to be totally independent of the giant media/entertainment conglomerates. This gigantic "possibility" is called the Internet. This new technology which, by its nature as a communication device, opens up the world to and for the distribution of ideas, could not have appeared at a better time in our history. Those in the music business who have prayed for control of their works most certainly will be pleased.

The music business, as is a business in general, is changing. No longer will the recording industry, for example, be confined to giant stained glass skyscrapers in the major cities; technology allows an artist to record top-quality products in comfort of your own living room. Just as the "simplification" of technology allows expensive automobiles and other heretofore complicated-to-produce consumer goods, to be produced in Third World countries, where the literacy rate is very, very low, so too can those of us on the outside, avail our talents to the new advances in musical recording technology. We, as independent artists, with the help of technology can become independent producers and record company executives. The Internet contributes significantly to the new found ability of artists to be separate from his/her oppressors--The main stream companies.

The Internet with its ability to allow your music to be seen and heard by millions instantaneously creates all of the needed opportunities for a company to sell its product. Since all of the major record labels in the world have web-sites the problem of exposure of product to suitable markets becomes in my opinon, a moot one. The Internet allows the independent artist/producer to become concept driven. This means that he or she can concentrate solely on developing new ideas, rather than developing standards to deal with the guys in the record industry boardrooms. The new control of your art brings a "power" to bare which had historically eluded many.

The power of inclusion, or the power to include, is one of the more important features of the Internet. We are all aware of the historical reality of exclusion experienced by blacks, women, and other minorities. All these groups, despite their being the creators of a great chunk of modern music, reaped very few rewards for their efforts. I believe that by the very nature of the Internet's existence as a media/communication device, that there will be few opportunities for the powers-that-be exclude and exploit non-white people. The Internet could very well redefine the most common approaches to relations between "message" and "sender" of message.

The Internet would, for example, have served the slaves of the "Old South" quite well. The creation of the Blues, the compassionate emergence of Gospel music, the ironic intercourses that became Jazz, and let's not forget the intelligent expressions in comedic drama and music, which was, called the "Minstrel" show. All of this aspirated human spirit and secular achievement could have actually belonged to Them, The Creators. Of course their political and technological irrelevance prevailed.

The Black people, who Al Jolson imitated, along with the wit that created Amos & Andy, and Porgy & Bess, could not own or control this beautiful art. The politics of race along with the technological power of that era rendered a degrading rape of these gifted souls. It also created fears in these Blacks and others that they were unimportant and delusional. In modern day terms and reality, this fascinating new communication tool allows balance between competition and cooperation. Small independent record or movie companies can take charge of their own destinies, as far as control of their intellectual properties are concerned.

Historically, technological systems, along with the prevailing socio-political realities assume that our society should propagate itself through the dialectics of ideas. Truth, as well as growth, becomes the residue of a negotiated interplay between opposites. In other words, under ideal conditions, the best man, woman, or idea prevails; we though, as compassionate individuals, know that, slavery, racial apartheid, genderism, homophobia, sexism, along with non-white male-ism, have created a playing field which assures a "guaranteed" result. Scott Jolpin and Ragtime then becomes merely cute rumors. The "creators" of the art became the "outsider".

The individuary and non-restrictive, arbitrary access to the new global community of computers and telephones, provided by the technology called the Internet, will provide the "outsiders" with the most advanced techniques of modern advertising and sales. The economic explosion that becomes possible, now extends aristocratic habits to the masses. Mass sales, mass distribution, and mass promotion surely attacks unpopular attempts to delay gratification to the masses. Such is the destiny of wealth. Such is the theory of a technology which is capable of not only convincing people to buy goods but also release the resources of deflated egos.

No initiated into the truth of technological revolutionary implications are truth without a great credible story which addresses some of the core concepts actualized by this magical, mythical media. These concepts include for the rational and the emotional the follow: economic freedom; competitiveness; autonomy; spontaneity; and social obligation.

The Internet allows us small, independents to venture into an uncertain economic climate. We can, though, look ahead with a new confidence which we will have acquired from a new freedom of self. We, through a firm sense of history, can develop business strategies as well as work purely as a "producer". The technology of the mass illusions allows us limitless and uninterrupted prestige.

According to Donald Barthelme "There is a man known as the "Marivaudian being" who is a pastless, futureless man born anew at every instant". These instants are, according to Barthelme, "points which organize themselves into a line, but what has in a sense no history. Nothing follows from what has gone before. He is constantly surprised. He cannot predict his own reaction to events. He is constantly being overtaken by events. A condition of breathlessness and dazzlement surround him." It is within the context of this truth that I offer this history.

During the late fifties through the early seventies (1959-1971), I had a prevailing passion to write, perform, and own music. I was a member of the Civil Rights radicalism of well being who embraced the notion that an intense exciting and brilliant instrumentalist (saxophonist) and composer could be significant. I had forgotten the plight of those who had gone before me. I had surrendered the histories of Chuck Berry, Lil Richard, and Baby Washington. I had actually believed that my strong individualness would be powerful enough to assume that my tenuous quality of artistic self-hood would not submerge itself. I, as a small town (Wadesboro, N.C.) saxophonist, was doomed to social crisis.

After playing the horn (tenor saxophone) up and down the East coast with everyone from Otis Redding, to Curtis Mayfield and The Impressions, I stretched out as a composer and a singer in 1969 with a group called "The Winstons." I wrote and was the lead singer of a song called Color Him Father. I received a Grammy Award for my efforts, and anxiety, depression, and various discontents which accompanies technological ignorance. The Internet would have I believe, allowed me a liberated humanity and personal well-being, which is only available to the self-esteem, that comes from the therapeutic sensibility of self-satisfaction and non-dependence. Presently I know of an individual, who as a young modern "music man," has a web page.

His name is Stan Ivory. He, unlike me and "Marivaudian" man has not forgotten. The purpose of this introduction to my good friend is to show the tremendous change that has transpired which allowed the Internet to come forth. Stan, whom I've known for 25 years, exemplifies all of the prevailing passionate concepts which originates with "access" to technology. Stan has control of his music.

In the age of diminishing expectations, Stan transforms normal expectations of self-preservation. In a violently competitive, and unpredictable business climate, Stan has been able to survive and proper with increasing self-made manness. By writing, producing, and distributing his music, as well as managing other artists, he personifies the opposite of Barthelme's Marivaudian being. He is not constantly overtaken by events because he does have a sense of history. He understands.

Stan talks about lying in his bed as a youngster in Austin, Texas on 1907 East 17th Street, listening to music coming through his bedroom window from the Joints on 12th Street. He heard the Blues being played and sung by B. B. King as well as Bobby Blue Bland. He remembers he experienced through his grandfather Stan Ivory, himself a Blues singer, who sat him on his knee and sang and played the guitar to him, that these men were owned by others. His recollections serve him well. He markets his products over his own Cyberspace site. (http://www.totalcontrolrecords.com)

Stan personifies all of the opposites of "crude" experience I have tried to bring forth in this piece: He understands history; and he understands the relation between technological power and wealth. Most importantly, he pursues economic and political prestige by combining all of this creativity and instantaneously blasting it into Cyberspace. As a final attribute, Stan reaches, with the Internet, to influence collective behavior as a pure correlation of "his" art. In a perfect world, God would intervene and he and others could wipe out poverty and gluttony. Stan agrees that under those unique and complicated type of experiences, creativity as a "pure" process would cease to exist.

The Internet allows Stan's to write, produce, and perform his music. He has his own record label ,"Total Control," he manages such acts as :"Face To Face," "Dazzlin D", "Hollywood", and "Faith's Destiny." He has produced music videos and is currently contemplating producing his first full lenght movie.

Stan's new musical product appears as a CD and is entitled New York Rush. This musical presentation of Pop, Jazz, and the unique combination of African and Blues/Hip Hop textures fused into this exciting composition and performance, speaks clearly of his creative energy. The appearance of this musical offering on his initial web page precedes a much fuller page offering "Total Control's" full product line.

The unique combinations of various music forms such as presented above would be impossible to sell to a major label. The majors would insist, according to Stan, that his music follow a well-worn format which they themselves would designate. Stan proclaims that freedom of artistic expression and therefore, integrity is impossible when there exists splintered authority in the decision making process concerning; how and why his ideas should be presented. He credits historical perspective as well as technological competence, on his watch, with his decision to be free strategically.

A fine example of this strategic freedom is his decision to include "House" music on the same CD as African and Blues fused with Jazz and Pop. The majors in the recording arena would question such a bold and risky undertaking. Stan believes that the freedom to make that type of business/musical decision predates oppression and dependence. The Internet allows him a sacred area reserved only for free expression. Of course the success of his musical autonomy predates even the Internet. Stan prior to this technological arrival, was making inroads into Canadian, European, as well as the Japanese music markets. He becomes, because of this fact, in my view, the proper evidence for the reliability of "will' and "technology." He personifies and transcends experience and still can bring us to the Internet.

We have tried in this writing to define and examine what makes the Internet as an expectation, true. We have also tried to share a historical and present-time argument about "knowledge" and access to "knowledge." We have throughout this writing assumed that there are uniformities and logic which we believe becomes clearer with modern day technology. I offer the internet as the logical resolution to the problems of artistic dependence. I have no doubt that this offering is sufficient to overcome all practical restraints to economic liberation for small business. The name and category of the independent group may vary, but I believe firmly, that the Internet, as a proposition of knowledge, will deliver us from our present day experiences.

In finality, Stan's grandfather was right. Although he died in a horrible fire aboard a Greyhound bus on his way to a "chitlin' circuit" gig his truths remain as true as ever; wealth is analogous to freedom and justice, and economic and political prestige as reality is hard to come by. He would be proud of his grandson for actualizing his dreams.

I think his grandfather would be very, very proud! I am.

Copyright Letise Music Publishing (BMI) 1997

TOTAL CONTROL RECORDS
a Division of PRD Enterprises