The ClaraTone Records team is excited and honored to bring to you the thoughts and expertise of the experienced Blake Morgan, part of the #IRespectMusic initiative. One of our interns, Erin Johnson asked him a couple of questions and he responded with valuable insight that you would be missing out in if you did not take a minute to read.
1) When did you realize you wanted to pursue music as a career?
There never was a realization so to speak--I wanted to be a music maker for as long as I can remember anything. I’ve been studying and playing music since I was 5 years old, and there are days now where I seriously think I’m starting to get the hang of it. ;)
2) Who is/are your biggest influence?...
...Well, Tom Waits says that what one absorbs as an artist one is likely then, to secrete. So, I’ve absorbed a lot of music to be sure, but the Rosetta Stone for me is––and always will be–– The Beatles. That catalog of music has meant the most to me, influenced and informed me the most, and probably has affected what I, in turn, secrete as an artist myself.
3) What was/is important to you about starting ECR Music Group?
It was a move I honestly made not out of inspiration, but out of desperation. After I'd had to fight to get out of my seven-album record deal with Phil Ramone's N2K/Sony label (even though he and I remained friends for the rest of his life), I initially took standard industry advice. I did label showcases in order to try to get a different, yet similar sort of deal. Something about this never sat right with me, but I did it anyway. Finally at one of these, I looked at myself in the mirror right before I went on and said "What are you doing? You're asking permission from other people to make the music you want to make. Why?" The showcase actually went great, and I did get the offers we'd supposedly been looking for. But the turning point came a couple of weeks later, walking down the street with my mother on the way to a movie. I said, almost to myself, "You know, if I had any guts I'd just start my own label. I'd go to each of the bands who's demos I'm producing and I'd tell them it isn't a demo anymore, it's a record. And we're going to put it out––even if we sell 100 copies of it at first––that's what we're going to do." She smiled and looked at me and said, "Yeah, if you had any guts you would do that." I laughed, and then almost immediately started to cry. Because I knew I had to do it, and what it would take. That's where ECR started, on the street, on the way to a movie.
4) What inspired I Respect Music and why is it important?
The #IRespectMusic campaign was born from an Op-ed I wrote for The Huffington Post (found here) at the end of 2013. A month later, I launched what has become a historic petition to Congress, urging the members to support artists’ pay for radio airplay. Bizarrely, the US is the only democratic country in the world where artists don’t get paid when their work is played on the radio. And what’s more, the short list of countries that share this policy with the US include North Korea, Rwanda, China and Iran. It’s really shocking. Definitely not a list we want to be on, in any way. I’m happy to say this is on the verge of changing now, with the introduction of the Fair Play Fair Pay Act of 2015.
5) Why is music important?
I write this while smiling, but seriously––if you can find anyone, anywhere who thinks it isn’t––please let me know, okay?
6) What is one piece of advice you would give to up and coming artists?
I'd tell them that every profession has daunting risks. And yet I've never heard of anyone who's been successful in any of them who went for it half way. I'd tell them to keep in mind the battles they've already fought, and won. I'd tell them there's no such thing as "too smart." I'd tell them, "Don't be scared. You can do it. I believe in you."
7) How can people get involved with I Respect Music?
You can go to IRespectMusic.org and join us by signing the petition to Congress, you can join the thousands upon thousands who have posted selfies with the #IRespectMusic hashtag, you can join the conversation and win the argument when you find yourself in the midst of it: artists should be paid for their work, just like everybody else!
8) Who should they contact if they have questions about I Respect Music?
You can go directly to the #IRespectMusic hashtag on Twitter and join that conversation. Feel free to find me there, or on Facebook too, or any of the numerous #IRespectMusic chapters that have started to spring up all across the country. Take action! Speak up! Make history with us…!