Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Call for Interest in E.I.: Expose the Industry Tour

Dear Artists & Hip-Hop Community:

Grassroots Artists MovEment (G.A.ME) is partnering with the Hip-Hop Community towards completing an emergency E.I.: Expose the Industry 7-state tour in the second quarter. We are embarking on this tour as agents of the artistic labor force to engage labor movement supporters in the northeast and high profile states facing labor attacks. There is no better time to begin challenging the unfair business practices in the music industry and particularly within Hip-Hop. Our tour target states are Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington, D.C, and Wisconsin. The dates are between April 23rd and May 8th.

G.A.ME is leveraging the local and national support from Hip-Hop organizations and unions to make this tour a huge impact on the labor discussion. The tour will convene at several venues along the east coast, hosting forums and performances that speak to the unfair conditions facing artists in the music industry. The forum will include approximately five speakers and the performance part will feature five artists from the Hip-Hop industry who are concerned about the conditions in the music industry. Attendees will have an opportunity to ask questions and pose solutions to these national conditions.

Our objective with the E.I. tour is tri-fold. G.A.ME intends to create awareness about the horrible artist conditions in the recording and performing arts business, especially as it relates to the Hip-Hop community. G.A.ME will address radio and video airplay, recording contracts, and performance gigs. Our goal is to present a basis for Hip-Hop artists and independent workers to unionize. Secondly, G.A.ME is showing solidarity for the state unionized workers in Wisconsin, Indiana and Ohio and other unionized workers under-siege throughout the U.S. These workers are currently shouldering the front-line of the attack on the entire labor movement. Lastly, the labor movement needs to be proactive. We need to sum up the growing conditions in other areas and gain momentum with supporters before the issue is placed in legislation in other states.

Hip-Hop has consistently been a powerful speaker box for the people whenever the issue is justice. Contrary to marketing tactics seen and heard on television and radio, most Hip-Hop artists in the music industry are not financially well-off. Many struggling Hip-Hop artists are trying to make a difference and a living. There is probably no music genre more misunderstood and unorganized than Hip-Hop. Hip-Hop is said by many artists to be a genre limited by corporations to record and perform almost exclusively about women exploits, street violence and lavish spending. Hip-Hop artists who record and perform songs about important issues confronting society such as wars in the Middle East, police harassment, and corporate greed are not well promoted or at all for traditional marketing schemes. The latter type of artist is unheard of in Hip-Hop, but they are innumerable and uncompromising. Other artist issues include little to no healthcare and poor locked-in contracts administered by members of the RIAA who own 90% of all music played on radio and even more on your television videos. These artists especially need the E.I. tour.

The working class community is looking courageous and healthy at the center of the fight between the workers and corporate and government institutions. This can very well be understood as a struggle between hard work and greed. Both the heavily Republican governments and corporations are justifying their attacks on collective bargaining rights as a way to help America carry the weight of the economic recession. Ironically, it was those on Wall Street that worsened the unstable economic conditions and managed to benefit from their mismanagement and the government’s ill-advised maneuver to bail them out. This next installment of the bailout comes disguised as a way to balance the burden squarely on the backs of workers. And not just your average worker, their sights are set on those with the most seniority, who make more than those just starting their careers. However, it’s important for Americans to understand that the labor fight in Wisconsin, Ohio and Indiana will affect everyone in the nation.

In 2010, NY Governor Andrew Cuomo said prior to taking office that unions would have to bear some of the brunt in this economic downturn. His recent budget proposal illustrated that he had made good on his promises by slashing funding to many government agencies and to vital non-profits that provide programs for needy New Yorkers. The effect of the governor’s $1bn cut from the NYS Board of Education Dept. provided NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg with the ammunition to release on February 28th his list of over 4500 teachers who were in line to be laid off from the NYC Dept. of Education. This has been part of the Mayor’s long-term strategy towards breaking teacher seniority rights which is part and parcel to dismantling collective bargaining altogether.

Collective bargaining is essentially what creates fairness in the labor market. It pulls workers together and forces management to the negotiation table. It increases wages from barely living to a living wage for every worker in the nation, regardless of his/her union status. What’s happening before us in the United States is a systemic regression of the labor movement’s magnificent achievements. If there isn’t some unified outcry nationally, we could face more of the same in Wisconsin. It could set precedence for every state in the nation regardless of region.

G.A.ME is utilizing its nearly 10 years of art activism and development of events to share the burden of organizing something meaningful on behalf of the labor movement. We are a not-for-profit membership of artists and activists on the path to developing a strong Hip-Hop union with collective bargaining rights to be respected nationally and internationally. If you wish to express interest in taking part in the E.I.: Expose the Industry tour please contact me at your earliest convenience.



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