Fading Ways grew out of a simple concept: I was a musical artist amongst a group of friends that, at the time, didn't have a clue what we were getting into. There was Devin Stoneham, Sameer aka Skutch Shimoda from Passion'd Flower, Dan Cohen (aka Dan Dutnoff), the Henry Farm with Vince Strnad, now Vaslav, Dead Face West and Deus Ex Nihilo with Derek Schraner and then later there were The Conscience Pilate, Sharpkid and many others... all people that somehow felt they had something to say, something to share... something creative. Something inherently and emotionally good.

As we grew up some of us drifted apart and I find myself, years later, running this label based upon the belief that artists should own and profit from their own work first and foremost, before other professionals or companies that may wish to assist them in their careers. (Present company included!) The current Fading Ways roster includes some of the best writers and performers in the Canadian music scene. We love them all, and respect their work very much.

"Fading Ways": An ideology of love, understanding and respect that is hard to live by these days. What we learn consciously, what we are taught in school and by most parents is largely based on other external ideals, such as success, power, and financial wealth. From a very young age - shortly after birth, depending on our immediate family members - we in the western world become victims of "Fading Ways": the forces that make us forget the important natural human emotional drive for love, passion, caring, and true, life-long friendships.

I used to think it was an isolated concept that needed detailing to most people, because it touches on a wide variety of topics: everything from basic human nature, philosophy, existentialism, politics, art, sexuality, greed, the mistreatment of women by (most) men, war(s), to the boredom of an everyday post- modern capitalist existence... some of these may sound like clichés, I realize... but read on before you tune out.

A couple years ago I read two books by Swiss psychologist Arno Gruen and realized I wasn't alone in these concepts and approach towards life. If you can try to find it in English (only in print for 6 months, then disappeared, taken off the shelves throughout North America, while shit like "The Celestine Prophecy" sold by the truck-loads), or if you are fluent in German, French, or Portuguese, read Gruen's "The betrayal of the self" ("Der Verrat am Selbst"). I strongly recommend it, as it scientifically exposes what we want to say with the concept of "Fading Ways". This is what music is for us: a spontaneous overflow of emotion that combats the effect of Fading Ways and the withering of the human spirit. My friend Miguel Moita coined a Portuguese equivalent of the term: "desvanecimento", which translates loosely as "the withering of the human spirit". It is comforting to know that even though the world seems so doomed at times, there are several people out there who still believe in these basic humanistic ideals. I hope that the music put forth by Fading Ways, through the work of these varied songwriters, will help spread these very important notions... or at least, move some people towards genuine feeling again. Depression is not abnormal! It is better to feel sad than to feel numb, or to feel nothing at all. It is better to feel angry than to feel nothing at all. It isn't human to be on auto-pilot from 9 to 5 and beyond, feeling nothing at all.

A final word: I believe, and some around me agree, that the world is ready for a new era - a post-modernist, post-rock n roll, post-everything new era that will introduce a new humanistic, sustainable approach to life and art on this planet. An age that will do away with the self-serving misappropriations of terms like "democracy" and "freedom", so frequently mis-used in our times...

Oh. And another thing. "Music Publishing", as a concept, is wrong. No one creates songs out of thin air. CopyLeft.

- Neil Leyton, November 2003.

-- Fading Ways and the concept of CopyLeft

Below are some informative links that illustrate some of the problems with the music industry today. Fading Ways plans to proceed with several copyLeft releases in 2004, and in order to be able to accomplish this it is imperative that we all learn as much as we can about the battles ahead - be as strong and knowledgeable about the legalities of these issues as the major labels and the hordes of lawyers in their pockets. Otherwise, along with the continuing exploitation of hapless, uninformed "artists", the RIAA will continue suing 12 year-old girls (along with hundreds and hundreds of other file-sharers), effectively ensuring that the public pays through the nose for the musical mediocrity their bosses pump out year after year. That is NOT the music business WE are in. So!

Pending each artist's individual agreement, here is how Fading Ways proposes to protect their rights on our 2004 releases:

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

It will appear on each record as follows: CopyLeft 2004 Fading Ways Music. This work is licensed and sold under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/1.0/ or send a letter to Creative Commons, 559 Nathan Abbott Way, Stanford, California 94305, USA, or visit www.fadingwaysmusic.com for further details.

Furthermore, Fading Ways will also provide an optional PayPal donations system for fans to contribute funds directly to their favourite artist(s) should they be uploading or copying their music - our goal here is two-fold: 1) to counter the RIAA-induced notion that downloading is somehow prejudicial; and 2) provide the fans with a voluntary system by which they can congratulate and genuinely reward the artists' work.

-- What it means to our artists

Put simply, the above CopyLeft notice means that if a fan copies a CD to give to a friend, they are not breaking the law. Even if they upload an MP3 and share it with other web users they are not breaking the law as long as they are not making any money out of distributing the artists' work. Contrary to what the RIAA and the majors are claiming, home taping in the 70s and the CD burning of today is not what's hurting music - what's hurting music is the fact that ClearChannel-style corporations are broadcasting crap music to such a high percentage of the population that people are giving up on buying music, because they are NOT HEARING ANYTHING THEY LIKE on the airwaves of today. If I burn a Luke Haines CDR of my fave Luke Haines songs and give them to a couple of friends, they are that much more likely to go and buy his next album or to go seek out some of his back catalogue - if they like his music enough.

-- Related Links


My recent reply to Michael Geist's article in The Toronto Star about compulsory P2P.


Great site on Open Source, CopyLeft, and other related topics, based out of Ottawa, Canada.


Music activism.


Statement of Don Henley on behalf of the Recording Artists' Coalition before the Committee of the Judiciary United States Senate
April 3, 2001


Several music industry and CopyLeft links.


Homepage of the book "CopyLeft: creativity, technology and freedom?" by Miriam Rainsford.


Creative Commons offers several alternatives to traditional copyright, so that artists can protect their work in a more meaningful way this century.


Great article by Robert Boynton on the above issues and the Creative Commons movement. (In the NY Times no less!) Thanks to Ioana for e-mailing me the link.


Just because.

-- Hearts vs. The Court
A music industry reality-check.
By Neil Leyton, Fading Ways Music, with the assistance of Russell McOrmond, flora.ca.

Present Problems

From our perspective as an independent label, the measures of "success" that the music industry adopted during the booming economy of the 1980's have revealed themselves to be a non-sustainable business model, mid-way through the 90s and in the new millennium. Due to over-inflated recording cost, promotional costs and the salaries of their large staff and grossly overpaid directors, the major-label business model increasingly depends on the public to buy records by the millions, placing the emphasis on the sales figures of the week of release - much like the film studios' focus on "opening weekend" gross. As a result, the major labels tend to focus on the "next big thing" rather than sustaining and developing career artists. It would be almost inconceivable for a major to sign a singer/songwriter like Elvis Costello in today's business environment, and as a result incredible talent falls by the wayside.

With the changed economy, and even with major marketing campaigns, the major label releases often don't live up to their sales projections these days. So, instead of acknowledging that their business model requires certain ideological modifications, the industry has now chosen to point the finger at the consumers, aiming to blame them for not buying a million records in the week-of-release the way they used to in the 80s. Comparatively, in the 70s, when Pink Floyd put out a record, 50,000 sales in the first week of release was considered a success. The recording industry refuses to accept that times have changed, and with the arrival of the internet as a new technology for down-loading they have found the perfect scapegoat as to why their business model isn't doing as well as it used to.

But before we discuss the downloading issue, another related matter also needs a brief commentary: Songs. Singles. The North American music industry, unlike European labels, did away with the CD-single format long ago, at a time when the album format seemed more profitable to their accounting. However, many of these industry decision-makers may not have realized that most of their records only contain one or two "good" tracks - the radio singles. Why should consumers spend $20 on a record when all they want to hear is that song that ClearChannel radio stations keep playing twenty times a day? Just buy the single. This may explain the recent resurgence of the CD-single - which may ultimately prove too late. Consumers have already learned that if they can no longer purchase CD-singles there are other ways to go about acquiring the individual songs they want: iTunes is an option - but that too may have come too late, because consumers learned a better way - free: downloading via file-sharing / P2P. The North-American recording industry, via the actions of the RIAA and CRIA, have now decided that this must stop.

The Fading Ways Business Model

While other labels are endorsing law-suits against up/down-loaders, Fading Ways believes that home-taping, even up/down-loading, has always been a healthy, interactive promotional tool that remains largely unexplored by the industry - reviled because it is so misunderstood.

Firstly, there is absolutely no way to ascertain whether the people that are downloading music were ever going to purchase those records - downloading may hurt sales projections, but whether or not it hurts sales is a debatable and ultimately unprovable argument. Many times you'll tape or burn something for a friend and he/she will go out and buy that record - if they like the music enough! So, rather than focus on its negative aspects, should there indeed be any, Fading Ways has chosen to focus on the positive:

The internet, and digital audio technology in general, provide great promotional tools - relatively cheaply. People themselves can be turned into great promoters, if they like what they hear. We intend on putting the internet, and all its potential new listeners, to good use by no longer using the old copyright logo on our new release, opting instead for a Creative Commons license that is loosely based on the concept of CopyLeft, which the software industry became familiar with years ago.

What this means to our artists is that their fans, and the fading ways street teams, will be able to promote and distribute their songs without breaking the law. "SHARE" is the working motto for the Fading Ways street teams for 2004. We plan to hit concert line-ups and street shoppers (from Queen St. West to London's Camden Market to Amsterdam) with free Fading Ways samplers to get the music heard, to get it out there, while allowing the fans the option to participate in its spread by giving them the legal right to share it, distribute it, and support it. We are confident this will lead, by year's end, to a dramatic increase in international sales of our new releases as opposed to our prior Copyright titles.

The essence of this thinking, which I think many people in larger labels are unwilling to accept, is that music in the digital age is a commodity that will increasingly become a collector's purchase. Disposable pop music will not endure without thousands and thousands of dollars to push it onto consumers. What will endure in the long-run are career artists whose fans (even if they download certain tracks for free) will always go out and buy their favourite artist's new record because they want it in their collection, complete with packaging.

In a nutshell, Creative Commons licensing makes perfect commercial sense for a growing indie label whose prime necessity is to get its artists and music heard. Downloading is free advertising for a new artist. From personal experience as well as fans' comments on the issue, I am confident that we have in our roster the kind of career artists that would benefit 100% from this approach, and rather than lose sales, this tactic will create new fans and actually improve world-wide sales of Fading Ways' music titles.

The issue of "royalties"

One common misconception about Creative Commons licenses is that they eliminate royalty payments to artists. This is not so. Radio play remains a commercial activity (they're in the business of selling advertising) that, under the CC license, still has to pay royalties for playing a Creative Commons song. Similarly, mechanical licensing would still apply with the obvious exception of the Canadian Private Copying levy. TV usage, commercial film usage, and all other such uses remain unaffected by a CC license. CC complements and clarifies Copyright. It does not take it away.

It may be useful in this analysis to separate the concepts of Creative Commons "no-Derivs" and Creative Commons "ShareAlike" licenses. In the no-Derivatives option you are focusing on the nature of free distribution of your work, allowing P2P and other fan-based sharing and advertising to become legal again - it should never have become illegal if it wasn't for the DMA Act of 1998 - a gross misappropriation of the concept of Copyright - cultural terrorism!

When you chose the "ShareAlike" license, you are not only allowing your work to be distributed by fans, but you are allowing fellow musicians and DJ's to build upon your work. This is a far larger step away from traditional Big Label music than simple Creative Commons. Fading Ways plans to release its 2004 CDs under either CC license, depending on the individual artists' choice.

Many major-label industry players refuse to understand the essence of these CC licenses. Many are so entrenched and hell-bent on safe-guarding their present business model, that they have become blind to more positive alternatives. Maybe they are simply watching out for their jobs, in the fear of getting fired - maybe they fear the end of life as they know it. Regardless, Creative Commons is not the enemy of the music industry.

Quite the opposite. Creative Commons is its salvation.


Mission Cont'd (on to page 2)

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