10) MUSIC NOTES, by Wally Brooker


Waters joins Palestinian musicians


British rock star, Roger Waters, long an advocate for BDS and Palestinian rights, is now collaborating with Palestinian musicians. Earlier this year, after President Trump decided to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, Waters recorded a song in protest with Palestinian group Le Trio Joubran. The result was “Supremacy”, which features Waters reciting verses from Palestinian national poet Mahmoud Darwish's “Penultimate Speech of the 'Red Indian' to the White Man”, accompanied by a stark video of Waters' disembodied face. Darwish's poem, says Waters, “is relevant to victims of settler colonialism everywhere.” Last month, the Joubran brothers – Samir, Wissam, and Adnan – released their sixth studio album, The Long March. It contains a second collaboration with Waters. “Carry the Earth” (words and music by Waters) is dedicated to the four children from the Bakr family – Mohammad Ramiz, Ahed Atef, Zakariya Ahed, and Ismail Mahmoud – who were murdered by Israeli forces on a beach in Gaza during Israel's assault on the enclave in 2014. The Joubran brothers are virtuoso oud players who come from a long line of Palestinian musicians and stringed-instrument makers. Their brilliant playing and determined commitment has made them a symbol of Palestinian identity and resistance. For info: https://letriojoubran.com/


National Ballet visits Russia


At a time when diplomatic relations between Canada and Russia are at their lowest point in decades, it's encouraging to see one of this country's elite cultural institutions accept a invitation from its artistic peers in the land that gave us The Nutcracker Suite and Swan Lake. The National Ballet of Canada was in Moscow and St. Petersburg October 15-19 at the invitation of Russia's pre-eminent ballerina Diana Vishneva. The company was invited to participate in Context, an international festival of modern dance, directed and curated by Vishneva. The Canadians prepared three new works for  their sold-out performances at the Stanislavsky Theatre in Moscow and the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg. Two were by Canadians: Being and Nothingness by Quebec-born principal dancer Guillaume Côté, and Emergence by Crystal Pite. Artistic director Karen Kain was, for decades, Canada's most acclaimed ballerina. She first visited Russia in the seventies and has returned many times. Kain believes that politics aren't relevant to the National Ballet's tour. “I think art transcends politics,” she says. “We share this art form that we all love.”


Artists fight for streaming royalties


Streaming now accounts for 75% of music industry revenue, far outstripping revenue from CD sales, digital downloads, and broadcasting, but artists are increasingly getting shortchanged. A report from the International Confederation of Authors and Composers (CISAC) shows that while digital royalty revenues have nearly tripled in the last five years, they are still only 13% of total industry royalty revenues, far below collections from older platforms. One might reasonably expect the digital share of total artist royalty revenues to be 75%. But today's musicians are pitted against the likes of Google's YouTube, Apple Music, and Spotify, all of whom make super-profits by shortchanging artists. Change is coming, but slowly. In September 2018, the European Parliament supported a new EU Copyright Directive on the digital market. In response, CISAC president Jean-Michel Jarre declared: “Europe has now recognized that it is time for change. It is not acceptable for the law to shield large tech monopolies and sustain a systemic injustice for creators.” Paris-based CISAC is a non-profit international collective management organization with 239 affiliated artist societies and unions, which represent more than 4 million cultural workers in 123 countries.


Rihanna takes on Trump


Superstar pop singer Robyn Fenty, better known as Rihanna, is taking steps to ensure that President Donald Trump will no longer be able to play her music at his MAGA  rallies. After learning on November 5 that her song “Don't Stop the Music” was blasting on the PA at a Trump rally in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Rihanna had her lawyers send a cease and desist letter to Trump's White House counsel. She quickly followed that up with another legal action. On November 12 her publishing rights company, Broadcast Music Incorporated (BMI), announced that it had sent its own letter revoking Trump's licensing agreement to play Rihanna's music at his rallies. Trump's campaign had previously paid a blanket licensing fee to BMI for use of all of its catalogue. BMI has now removed Rihanna's works from the list of artists included in that deal. The 30-year-old native of Barbados, who has dominated pop charts for much of the past 12 years, is not the first artist to take action against Trump for the appropriation of their music at his rallies. Grammy-winning rapper Pharrell Williams, hard rock singer Steven Tyler (Aerosmith) and the Prince estate have all filed cease and desist letters.


(The above article article is from the December 1-31, 2018, issue of People's Voice, Canada's leading socialist newspaper. Articles can be reprinted free if the source is credited. Subscription rates in Canada: $30/year, or $15 low income rate; for U.S. readers - $45 US per year; other overseas readers - $45 US or $50 CDN per year. Send to People's Voice, c/o PV Business Manager, 706 Clark Drive, Vancouver, BC, V5L 3J1.)