I'm not feeling too great at the moment, but I want to make a quick post with an important message. First, I'm writing this open letter to Universal Music Group (UMG), because this music corporation actually attempted to have my Satie and Schumann records removed from iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, etc. by illegally claiming ownership of my sound recordings and falsely attributing them to various artists on their label.
Even with my Registration IDs in the Library of Congress, my UPC codes and the ISRC codes for each track, UMG insisted that they owned my material and didn't back off until I threatened litigation against them and gave them my attorney's information to prove I wasn't joking. Apparently, many music corporations have been doing this, falsely claiming ownership of public domain classical music that isn't theirs, or even fully original tracks, and they have been doing it since December of 2018.
Fuck you, Universal Music Group. I think I speak for all artists when I say you can take a molten fire poker and forcibly insert it into your anus.
During the past decade of running this website, and having only added the blog portion in late 2014, I feel as though too many of my posts can come off as impersonal or stuffy in the least (especially those regarding music and art education). I’d like to change that and offer my fans, followers and colleagues a more personal side to myself so that you can get to know the real, goofy, nerdy me without coming off as some sort of digital holier-than-though asshat. So, I’ve decided to share 50 facts about myself that only a few friends and relatives might know, or that might be a complete surprise to everyone! Let the soul bearing commence!
Well, I hope this makes me more relatable and I hope that I didn’t come off like a dork or anything. I should have added that almost everything makes me a nervous wreck nowadays…
Years ago, I ran a humour blog called Krowness Chronicles. The character of Krowness was a creation of mine dating back to 1999. He began as a fish out of water geek, the son of corporate pirates (literal pirates that drove a land ship and raided skyscrapers for paper booty) who would go on various misadventures in short stories I’d share with classmates well into high school.
By 2007, I was taking a course in writing for the web and part of the class required that I keep a blog and update it daily. The content would be of our own choosing, with a few required writings sprinkled in. I had the idea to make my own comedy platform where I’d rant about tiny nuisances in everyday life, or review strange school scare films and bizarro music. However, I had no idea what to call the blog and just tossed on Krowness as a placeholder. I never got around to changing it, and my musings were gaining popularity (and I was getting a ton of both fan and hate mail, mostly about a one-off article where I whined about my lack of interest in American football), so it stuck.
I ended up rebranding Krowness as a great Space Viking, born of Odin, sent to Earth to defeat stupidity. He was killed in battle on 9 November, 2016 when the powers of idiocy triumphed in a wave of neurological failure emanating from the United States, ushering in Ragnarok. His spirit was briefly sent to Valhalla before he joined his brothers and sisters in the final battle on the fields of Vigrid.
One of the staples of Krowness Chronicles was a jumble of bullshit under the title of “Here Comes [Year]” where I would make unrealistic predictions of the coming 52 weeks. 2012 was a favourite of mine as every other line was “The world will end on 21 December.” Remember that nonsense? I also repeatedly projected/begged that American Idol would be cancelled, it was (eventually) so this legally makes me a psychic.
Now that all my work is under one roof, I feel it is necessary to restart this annual tradition, so here’s what we can expect in 2019!
I'm just going to start by saying that I hate myself. I'll explain this in more detail as this piece goes on, but it is a critical part of my personality that keeps me writing anecdotes, articles and more over utilizing video.
Currently, the denizens of the internet are happier with a video first experience over reading. With the massive growth and popularity of YouTube it is not surprising to see websites originally created in the late 1990s and early 2000s gradually shifting to such methods for the distribution of content. There's nothing wrong with this; it is honestly more engaging and provides people with a way to experience content while multitasking (how often do you play a video just for the sound while you are browsing a different website?), but it's just not for me.
I might be old fashioned, but I simply prefer reading an article or book to watching or listening to one, and it has nothing to do with a certain American leader who may be illiterate or some misguided, narcissistic sense of pseudo-intellectualism on my part. As a result, I also prefer to express myself in writing over producing vlogs or podcasts but there are other issues that I have with myself that are responsible for this approach to communication.
I have a lot of body image issues that prevent me from making video content. When I was a kid in middle school, my weight fluctuated a lot due to the asthma treatments that I was undertaking. In one grade I'd be the tallest and thinnest kid in my class, the next I'd be a pudgy butterball that still managed to tower over my peers. Yes, even the girls. This was due to the overprescribing of prednisone by my pediatrician which is notorious for adding pounds when used frequently. And I was taking a daily regiment for over a year at a time. Yes, this is horrible for your health but they didn't really know any better in the late '80s and early '90s and my pediatrician was awful (she nearly killed me twice with a misdiagnosis of pneumonia and again with the wrong dose of allergy vaccines that sent me into anaphylaxis).
I was given every foul name in the book starting in the first grade and up until high school. By then, I had developed anorexia and was over 18 kg underweight. I was 190 cm and weighed only 65 kg. By my junior year in college, I had gained over 20 kgs after my medication and diet changed. I was just over 95 kg, and this was at the same time I started to make myself more visible online. My YouTube videos were filled with comments where I earned such flattering nicknames as "Tits Boy," "The Rack," and "Shitty Titty."
Today, I am 79 kg and still 190 cm, but I still feel like a bloated, ugly puss bag. The idea of showing myself on camera brings back all those YouTube comments (this was 2008, I was in my 20s and didn't know any better) and the heckling of children on the playground. I get so anxious at the idea of being seen in motion pictures that the only times I allowed it as of late was in Deliverance Chips where part of my face is visible for only a few frames, and for a brief instance when I appear in a Slender Man costume as a gag. Irony.
Adding to my body image issues, my hairline has thinned quite a bit over the past several years. This has been mostly due to exceptional anxiety (see the previous posts about my experience as a stalking victim to understand why) and, again, misuse of my asthma medicine. For most of my life I only took albuterol, and was taking my rescue inhaler and a nebulizer several times a day (14 to 25 for the inhaler, twice a day for the nebulizer). My blood pressure was high, my heart racing and my stress became worse as they fed into one another. As a consequence, I have a thinner spot of hair in the back, and down the middle.
This makes me unbearable uncomfortable. I know it's stupid and vain, but I feel like I'm opening myself up to further attacks based on these sorts of petty things. My hair has been growing back since changing my asthma medication and relaxing more, but it's a slow process. For an example of this, my headshot on this site is from late 2012, and in any recent shoot I've done I always wear my Irish knit hat or a Red Sox cap. There, I've admitted it.
You might think "Well, there's a lot of people out there who don't use actual videos and just speak over images or stream a podcast, try that if you're too picky about your body image!" I hate to break it to you, but of all the things I hate about myself, I hate my voice the most.
I have this odd vocal range. I can sing baritone without any difficulty, but my speaking voice is noticeably that of a tenor. And not just any tenor, but the sort of tenor that has some shrill articulations that make many telemarketers think I'm a woman when I clumsily answer the phone to their hijacked numbers. (And I am all woman and all man. Two spirits!) Every time I hear my voice in a recording, I intentionally use effects in Ableton Live or with the iZotope Nectar plugin to lower its pitch. It's that embarrassing to me!
In addition, I have a speech impediment. I stutter like Bill in Stephen King's It when I get nervous, and when I'm recording video or audio of myself, oh boy am I at the mercy of Pennywise! I often hold over vowels or consonants like "s" while repeating any sounds with a "p," "t," or "b" in them.
However, I don't have to worry about any of this when I'm writing. I have no obligations to try to capture my disgusting figure before the camcorder, and there is no possibility of me stammering. This reduces the need for excessive jump cuts, transitions and other forms of video editing just to share a short anecdote or tutorial. Never mind that it's much easier to just sit down and write over setting up camera equipment, plugging the microphones into the camcorder, adjusting the lighting, iris, and sound to be presentable for the shoot, and then all the editing. This includes colour correction, audio mixing and mastering and much more beyond jump cuts and any wacky filters to emulate whatever gaming channel is popular on YouTube at the moment.
In writing, I am in control. I am confident and I am free to express myself without excessive work in postproduction, or my personal hatred of my horrible body. I have honestly considered a podcast, but am currently missing additional people to collaborate with. That would make recording my voice so much easier if working with friends or colleagues and provide more entertainment while discussing various topics. While there are solo podcasts out there, it's just not something I can mentally or physically do right now. I mean, look at this, I just wrote an entire essay on why I hate myself!
I shouldn't do that. I should end this on a high note like, "I feel awesome no matter what random people say!" But, we all know that's not going to happen. Let it end like this.
Oh boy, here we are again. After last year’s insanity of posting my music to YouTube where I was hit by copyright strikes (not claims, but full-fledged strikes) for having the nerve to post my own copyrighted audio recordings of public domain music, the roles have now been reversed.
For the past few years, my published albums have been available on YouTube Music courtesy of CD Baby’s digital distribution partnership. However, upon finding my “Topic” page that was created by YouTube automatically when the audio was submitted, I was dismayed to see that the page was showcasing a stoned, fake blonde dude with a slacked jaw staring into space as the profile image, desperately trying to become the next sensation on the site.
The music was fine and that’s what mattered, but this bozo’s mug created a lot of confusion amongst my fans who assumed either that this dude was a plagiarist profiting off of my work, or that I was and that he was the original creator. And while I don’t admit I’m good looking and hate everything about my body and appearance, I at least know I’m better looking than that!
Last year, in order to stop this image confusion, I contacted CD Baby and they told me I needed to file an artist separation request because the image was chosen by YouTube from their algorithms merging the wrong channel information to create the topic page for my music. I did just that and about two months later, the profile image was the same as the cover art for my debut album. Then came a few weeks ago.
I linked to the page to help spread the streaming services I’m listed on such as Spotify and Google Music, and noticed that the YouTube Music page was now displaying a cement mixer as the profile picture. I filed for another artist separation, and it was changed back to the fake blonde bozo. Frustrating, but still not the end of the world. I filed again and linked once more to my actual YouTube account to correct it, but this time YouTube fought back.
My album of Schumann’s Scenes from Childhood had been completely destroyed just for writing to report that YouTube was once again using the wrong profile image. What was once my album and artwork, with my name in the credits, was now generic artwork listing the tracks as “hip-hop and rap,” “techno” and “country” all while giving credit to artists such as “Piano – Topic” and “Café Lounge – Topic” on the same page specifically made for me. Upon listening, these were in fact my recordings of Schumann, but they were now being credited to generic relaxation topic pages, who were in turn collecting the revenue instead of me.
I promptly filed DMCA takedowns on all 13 offending tracks and am awaiting a resolution from YouTube. But because I have battled this for years, and because YouTube continues to create issues for me by linking my music to unrelated pages with different headshots, adding video folders to the topic page that include content such as violent bar fights, illegal gun modification tutorials, and racist rants, and has defamed my name and put my reputation at risk as a result of this dissociation, I have asked that CD Baby end my relationship with YouTube Music as soon as possible.
My tracks will remain for sale and for streaming on all major storefronts and services, with the exception of YouTube. It will take about 30 days for the topic page to be deleted and I have no plans on picking it up on my own through my channel as I can’t stand using that site and only use it to watch. I prefer to use Vimeo to upload and share my films due to a more creative friendly environment over "video games and privileged white boys doing dumb things" as found in abundance on the 'Tube. The reason for this is explained the last time I wrote about YouTube and copyright issues and I have no interest in going down that route again.
Oh, and screw YouTube Music once more for good measure.