5 Ways Your Broke Ass Can Support Local Musicians.

As a musician and also as a fan of music I’ve always asked myself, “Self, how can I enjoy live and recorded music from my favorite less popular and local artists as much as possible while still not being an asshole and pirating music from them? If I keep buying five dollar cds I’ll have the dopest music collection at the homeless shelter!”
Well self, that’s an oddly specific question given the video title, but as it so happens I have a YouTube algorithm approved list of Five ways you can support your favorite artists and help them get paid when you’re too broke to buy stuff or go to shows. I’ve been in that same situation where I was pirating music left and right because frankly I didn’t have the money myself to buy CDs or downloads at the same rate. There’s also the “I know where the money from this purchase is really going to” argument, but that’s gonna be a different video. So let’s get your “We are the ninety-nine percent” ass started!

Spotify
1. Stream
Spotify, Apple Music, Soundcloud, Youtube, Bandcamp, if you’re broke, you don’t have much money to buy your favorite artist’s music, shirts, or even go to their shows. Good news! Your favorite local band is probably broke too. But you can make them a little less broke (but still pretty broke though) by streaming their stuff on Spotify or other streaming services. Each time you stream a song, that artist gets a tiny bit of income on that play. Now 1 play on Spotify is like a fraction of penny, but the more streams an artist gets, the more it adds up for them, both monetarily and mentally. Knowing that people are listening to our music both humbles us and drives us to make even better music because we know there are people out there that wanna hear it.

Playlists yall
2. Playlists
This could possibly be considered 1a, but specifically with Spotify, playlists, whether public or private, is a fantastic way to support your favorite artist and music. Put your favorite band’s music on your own playlist, suggest putting that music on your friend’s playlists, sneak onto your friend’s computers and add your favorite music for them if they refuse, find collaborative playlists on Spotify that you love and contribute your favorite band to that. The more playlists an artist is found on, the better chance followers of certain playlists will put that track on the OWN playlist, and also the more likely they’ll get suggested to be put on even bigger playlists, and sometimes even playlists that the good people at Spotify curate themselves!

Follow this fam
3. Follow
This Should go without saying, but if you dig a band or artist, ESPECIALLY if it’s a local or small region artist, follow their socials! Like em on facebook, follow on the instas and twitters, give em that social currency because artists that do care about having some sort of career in music have all of that stuff and play the game with it to some degree, and although artists mostly care about making great music and art first (I know that’s priority number one for us), having that social capital helps them leverage with promoters and booking types for gigs and promotion and whatnot. Most bands won’t spam up your timeline like I do on our band’s twitter where I retweet stupid shit like a picture of an ostrich, so don’t worry about going on a follow spree.

This is you now.
4. Lend a hand
If you don’t have a ticket to your favorite band’s show because you spent all of your money on steam sales and hentai, you can always offer to buy your way in using good ol’ fashioned manual labor. If you see your favorite small or local artist playing in your area, reach out to them and ask if you can help out with load in, help with merch, or be that 1 person street team for that show posting up flyers around and whatnot in exchange for a show ticket. Merch people always get in free, and you can always just casually hang out and not leave once you put a piece of gear in the venue.

SMASH THE MUTHA EFFIN LIKE BUTTON FAM
5. Share
All of the four previous things mentioned something related to this one: Share the artist with others! Share your love for the music and the group. If you’re on Spotify, other people you’re friends with on there can see what you’re listening to, and can check it out if they’re so inclined. Make that playlist with your favorite band on it and share it with your friends. Follow your favorite band’s socials and engage with them. Share their posts, retweet their stuff, like their pictures on insta, like their videos on the Youtube channel and subscribe to it if they have one (HINT. HINT.) Get the word out about that gig they have coming up whether it’s posting flyers or inviting people to that gig’s event page. If a fan of ours invites a hundred people to a Better Homes gig, and two out of those hundred people show up when they weren’t going to previously, that’s a success to us.

Welp, there you have it: Five actionable and Youtube algorithm approved ways you can support favorite bands of yours that are mostly do it yourself operations and are at the smaller local and regional levels. Many fans that don’t play or work with bands much are unaware of just how much their engaged support means to us. Bands are ALWAYS looking for an extra hand they don’t have to put on a payroll. It’s not because they want to exploit people for free labor, but because they physically can’t afford to, and most bands especially at the local level are investing their own time and money into pursuing their art and building a modest career around that art. If you do these five things, you can make your favorite band’s struggle for their definition of success a little bit easier.

Hope you enjoyed, like and subscribe/follow and all that, and I’ll see ya soon.

P.S. Because I practice what I preach, here’s a link to all of my band, Better Homes’s social media stuff and Spotify link so y’all have a place to start with these 5 things (hint. hint..)

Facebook
Bandcamp
Twitter
Instagram
Spotify
Youtube

Why do you care about who a 25 year old white male wants you to vote for? #staywoke

I have a confession to make: I won’t be voting on Super Tuesday tomorrow. I could tell a long winded story as to why, but I’ll just chalk it up to distance, unawareness, and laziness. I am a bad American, and I am sorry. But what I can do is tell all three people that will read this who to vote for and thus how to live their lives. Because I obviously know all and therefore know what’s best.

My fellow Virginians: please vote for Bernie Sanders tomorrow.

This guy. Right here. This (let’s face it, adorable) Jewish geriatric is the one person in this Presidential field of slime, puppetry, and bigotry that actually seems to have a conscience. Each debate this cycle Sanders not only skillfully articulates concrete statistics relating to each question, but theoretically proposes solutions that are both specific enough to possess realistic merit and vague enough to be easily related and sold to the American public without leading them into the weeds. He’s not a master orator however, he’s a policy wonk. But his passion for solving our nation’s problems through policy makes up any shortcoming. His plans are sometimes divisive, left leaning, and ambitious. His rhetoric sounds a cross between a retiree yelling at a raccoon and an underclassman who just finished his Communications 101 class.

But here’s the kicker: I believe him.

I sometimes question not the intelligence with which his plans and positions are fashioned, but the ability to effectively and truly execute these actions without compromise with opposing (and sometimes hostile) parties. I truly believe that these ideas and decisions that make up his platform come from him and no one but. In a Sanders administration, policy won’t be dictated by special interests, political machines, and corporations. He fights for righteousness, reason, and to give Americans the resources to have a fair shake as success.

He’s fought for civil rights, veterans, and lower income families throughout his career that predates my own birth. And in these examples in particular, the fight was not for career advancement, personal enrichment, to ensure his place on the right side of history, but because it was either morally right, a responsibility in the aftermath of conflict, or enriched the community of which he was entrusted to govern.

Those achievements are commendable, but there are two root causes to our currently broken political system whose solutions are an existential imperative to our republic: campaign finance and income inequality.

Both perversions of campaign finance and income disparity are symbiotic. The wealthy few, made up of the selfish and the selfless, the greedy and the charitable, ensure that the treasures held by the wealthiest nation in human history are only enjoyed by those they see fit. Day after day the rich get richer and the poor get poorer when in these modern times we should be working towards lessening the physical and financial load of all. The few are enjoying the abundance, while the many are making due with the few.

I’m not a fan of the “Us vs. Them” mentality. And that last paragraph reeked of that, didn’t it? The good news is that Bernie isn’t as vitriolic. He’s not advocating for the guillotine or the gulag. A Sanders presidency would simply mean that the wealthiest Americans, American corporations, and banks fair their fair share in taxation; nothing more and definitely nothing less.

At the end of the day, I believe that Bernie Sanders seeks the presidency for policy, not position. He sees the office as a tool to enrich our nation and its communities, and not as a tool for expanding his power base or net worth. To him it’s a job he wants to faithfully execute, not an exclamation point on a selfish legacy. That is why he deserves the support of anyone that will listen.

So my fellow Virginians: please vote for Bernie March 1st in the Democratic primary. And please check out berniesanders.com and feelthebern.org for more information. There is true realistic policy to back up these pseudo-inspirational musings.

Thank you for your time.

The Day Marriage Equality Came to The United States (Kinda Sorta)

To provide a bit of context, take a minute to allow Peter Cook to enlighten you on what the Supreme Court’s decision yesterday was about:

 

That’s right, marriage brought the Supreme Court June 26, or rather striking down the defense of it. In two landmark decisions, the highest court both struck down part of the Defense of Marriage Act enacted in 1996, and preserved a California lower court’s decision overturning Proposition 8, which was enacted in 2008. Both decisions were monumental victories for equality in the United States and the Gay community. Proposition 8 only relates to California, as it was state law that only validated marriages between a man and a woman in that state.

The most crucial victory nationwide was taking the venom out of DOMA.  This venom came in the form of denying rights to gay couples legally married by a state; rights that are usually allowed to opposite gender married couples. These rights can range from taxation to shared health insurance to being able to visit a sick spouse on the hospital. With this decision, the Federal Government can now never overstep a state government that does provide those rights.

With that last point, this decision should be seen as a victory for proponents of state’s rights as well. In an article by the Associated Press, Justice Anthony Kennedy was quoted that the law “a stigma upon all who enter into same-sex marriages made lawful by the unquestioned authority of the states.” The definition of marriage has been left to the states, and DOMA served only to overrule any state that did legally recognize married gay couples, and gave them rights and benefits accordingly.

What this does not mean is that gay marriage is now legal across the entire nation. This decision actually could set the precedent that marriage can never be defined at the federal level, and must be defined state by state. A few states have already made it legal, and California can now be counted among them thanks to the Prop 8 decision. Some states are deciding it in the near future, but without DOMA basically making equality at the state level a wash, every state will probably address the issue in the near future, even if that state has never been a significant location in the fight for equal rights.

The hurdles of a state-by-state struggle for equality are fairly arduous. Those aforementioned low-key states usually are the ones where the equality clause is met with fierce opposition legally and culturally. Also, because every state will be able to decide on this issue for themselves, some will probably choose to define marriage as a man and woman. It would truly reveal the bigotry present in some state legislatures and populations, but the decision would have to be respected, and the LGBTQ communities would have to adapt accordingly.

I hope that scenario never comes to pass.  The Supreme Court has now given states the opportunity to lead the charge for progress and equality, and I hope they all jump at the chance. The longer this civil rights struggle wears on the longer this nation placates bigotry and ignorance, and forgoes important issues of the future.

Read the actual decision on Proposition 8 here.

Validating a Moral Belief

Morality is the most subjective concept in existence. Bar none. It epitomizes “Different Strokes,” both the folksy saying and the theme song (what might be right for you, may not be right for some) and it is something I believe every human, religious or otherwise, possesses a sense of or defines in some way. That subjective morality influences and sometimes even forces an individual’s actions, and shapes how he or she perceives the world and how the world perceives him or her.

Cut to this woman Margaret Doughty of Texas:

According to this article from the Huffington Post, the 64-year-old Doughty has been a permanent U.S. Resident for over 30 years with no problems, and she has recently applied to gain citizenship. Great! I’m glad she made that choice to be a citizen of a place that has been her home for three decades. She’s also an Atheist. That’s also fine, as the country whose citizenship she’s applying for protects an individual’s religious beliefs (or lack thereof.)

However, Doughty’s application was denied. This rejection comes not initially from a religious base, but the devil is in the details. She was denied because she wanted to be listed as a conscientious objector, a person who refuses to take up arms, even to defend one’s country, on moral or religious grounds. Though this refusal may have been a bigger issue in the past, today the United States would have to be in military dire straits to enlist a 64-year-old regardless of gender, much less someone whose personal moral code compels them to refuse service.

People in the U.S. are allowed to do this, however it is only allowed if the religious organization they are affiliated with has a position of pacifism. Doughty being an atheist is not affiliated with any religious organization. According to this article by dividedundergod.com, when Doughty applied to be a conscientious objector,  the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Sevices (USCIS) told her

“Please submit a letter on official church stationery, attesting to the fact that you are a member in good standing and the church’s official position on the bearing of arms.”

I find it sad and appalling that our government, which neither bans nor officially recognizes any religion, requires a membership of a church (the excerpt quoted specifically said church instead of a vaguer “religious organization”) to moral refuse military service. What is even sadder is that from what I can gather, the USCIS is legally in the right, and can lawfully deny this. This policy is not in the spirit of the First Amendment. Hopefully because of the attention surrounding this case this misconstruction can be rectified.

As I close these thoughts, I’ll leave you with Doughty’s own words on the question of taking up arms for one’s country, as taken from this letter from the American Humanist Legal Center to the USCIS:

I am sure the law would never require a 64 year-old woman like myself to bear arms, but if I am required to answer this question, I cannot lie. I must be honest. The truth is that I would not be willing to bear arms. Since my youth I have had a firm, fixed and sincere objection to participation in war in any form or in the bearing of arms. I deeply and sincerely believe that it is not moral or ethical to take another person’s life, and my lifelong spiritual/religious beliefs impose on me a duty of conscience not to contribute to warfare by taking up arms . . . my beliefs are as strong and deeply held as those who possess traditional religious beliefs and who believe in God . . . I want to make clear, however, that I am willing to perform work of national importance under civilian direction or to perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States if and when required by the law to do so.

Welcome

Welcome. I have started this blog to kick-start my project of building my own website, which I hope to complete soon while I still reside in recent graduate/unemployment land. Here I will provide informed thoughts, commentary, reviews, and opinions on various stories in different fields. These fields may range from entertainment, politics, gaming, technology (including green technology), entrepreneurship, and even a bit of sports. From an old lady being denied citizenship due to her (lack of) religion, to the pros and cons of the next generation of gaming consoles and what that means for non-gaming audiences, to the rise of e-sports in the United States, to the status of a four-song covers EP that I’m recording in my bedroom (answer: it’s going ok…), this location will serve as headquarters for all things Nick Sloane until I gather the rest of the building blocks I need for my personal website. Basically I take the stories that I’m reading about on the internet, try to gather as much information on it as I can, and provide easily digestible commentary and opinion that tries to be as open and objective as possible.

So without further ado:

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