Derrick N Ashong and Soulfège

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Love Rain Down - A Short Film "Love Rain Down" is a 2012 Official Entry in the Palm Beach International Film Festival

An animated film based on the song "Love Rain Down" from the album "AFropolitan" by Derrick N. Ashong (aka DNA) & Soulfège. The movie follows the tale of a little boy named "Johnny" who makes a trip to the legendary "Crossroads" of Robert Johnson fame, and stands down the Devil armed only with a song...


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The FAM Manifesto

Written and Produced by: Derrick N. Ashong

Mixed & Mastered by: Derrick N. Ashong & David Brunton


September 28, 2004





The Music Industry is in a state of crisis. Business models that once supported a growing $40 billion industry are now obsolete. Sales of recorded music are plummeting, while sales of recordable media make consistent gains. Artists are in revolt, demanding that they be compensated fairly for their work, or at the very least, have recourse to leave exploitative recording contracts.At the same time young people, once the lifeblood of both the talent and consumerist frenzy that fed the ever-growing, behemoth major labels, have taken their seemingly insatiable desire for content to the Internet, where music flows almost as freely as manna.

To observe the music business today is to see the sad image of an aged warlord, wounded in battle, still defending himself with eyes gleaming, sweat desperately clothing fevered skin, teeth bared in a grimace worthy of the dragons of yore…and guns blazing. He will fight to the end. Too bad he doesn’t realize he’s already dead.

In the throes of ignominious demise the Recording Industry Association of America has identified the root of The Industry’s woes. It is not over-priced product and inefficient business practices, the result of years of price-fixing and limited competition. Neither is it fewer annual releases and low-quality product. No. The problems of the record business have, in fact, nothing to do with the biz itself. The blame can be and has been squarely laid at the feet of those who ravage the high and turbulent seas of technology and sound: Pirates!

We first envisioned FAM back in 2001, after recognizing the hopeless state of the Recording Industry, a business that has now resorted to suing children for doing what technology has made natural. At the time our first company, ASAFO Productions was but a feisty little startup, determined not to go “pop” along with the rest of the Internet bubble. We wanted to make music that meant something to people – music that meant something to us. We wanted to empower other artists to not only make a living making music they believed in, but also to do so outside of the exploitative arrangements typical of most record deals. We started out “conducting the business of music for independent music professionals.” We wanted that music to be heard and we wanted to make it big.

But we were broke. We couldn’t afford to pay ourselves salaries, much less invest in developing talent. We spent every drop of our savings in surviving the 2000 market crash that saw so many Internet dreams go up in a blaze of imagined glory (and money). Our potential investors went out of business, our friends hightailed it back to school and Corporate America, and our parents couldn’t afford to lend us any more loot.

Yet for some reason we simply would not give up. Call it tenacity, courage, or plain stupidity; we just couldn’t call it quits. “We? The radical ASAFO warriors who were destined to fundamentally alter our world and make it a safer place for music? Give up?” Hell no.

Did I mention that we were broke? And since we were effectively bootstrapping our way into the world of business, we quickly learned to save every penny we could. There were lots of ways to do this. Rather than renting office space, we converted part of our house into an office. Rather than each of us paying separate rents, we all moved back under the same roof and business truly became personal.

And as opposed to spending a wad of cash we didn’t have on installations of Microsoft network software, we ran GNU/Linux. Red Hat was selling it for a fraction of what Windows cost and although we could have downloaded and configured it ourselves, we splurged and spent the $60 for the convenience of a couple of shrinkwrapped CDs.

It was thus that ASAFO came into being: a business born of a tenacious dream for a better world for musicians and cradled early in the arms of the Free Software Movement. From these revolutionary roots sprang FAM.

Before we explore FAM and the form of the revolution it represents, lets discuss human consumption of music. The Music Industry as it currently exists is based largely upon an artificial experience. In a “natural” state, you or I could go hear (and hopefully enjoy) a musical performance, but once the show was over, it was over. If either of us had the particular faculty, we might have been able to reproduce the performance on our own from memory or perhaps with the aid of a decent system of notation. The fact remains that at the end of the show, the performance would only continue to exist in the hearts & minds of listeners. You simply could not take it with you.

Technology has made it possible for a person to play a facsimile of a musical performance outside the immediate context of that performance. And as the technology has improved, we have been able to refine this portable performance phenomenon so much that many artists today sound better on wax than they do live.

We should acknowledge that it is wholly unnatural to go home with a musical performance. Technology has made this anomaly the norm. It is around this “technologically-facilitated-anomalous-phenomenon” of recorded music that today’s business of music is based.

Technology has continued to advance, but the modes and structures of business that it has given rise to have remained largely the same for the greater part of the 20th Century.

With each innovation in music-related technologies we have seen consistent resistance to change from the recording industry. Radio was to be the death of the record biz; and the audio cassette was to labels what VHS was to the movie studios: more death.

Yet people still buy and listen to music, just as they buy and watch films, and the major labels are just as dependent upon radio airplay as the studios are upon video sales and rentals. Advances in technology have forced the Entertainment Industry to adapt, but since the advent of recording, there has been no technology that has required a fundamental shift in our understanding of what music is and how human beings consume it.

Until now.

Technology has radically expanded our artificial world of music consumption. Now not only can we listen to a particular musical performance over and over again at will, but any of us can readily copy and share it with friends and strangers over small or vast distances without so much as rising from our seats. It is now possible to replicate that performance without noticeable loss of fidelity from the original recording, and to access oceans of musical works with a few clicks of a mouse.

Innovation has fundamentally altered the nature of the recording business. It is a business born of the development of recording technology, and one predicated upon control over access to this technology, control over distribution of the products of this technology, and control over the pricing and promotion of said products. Today’s technology has evolved to a point that has removed this control from the Record Industry. And just as the old Industry was born of the inevitable advance of technology, so must a new World of Music be brought forth. It is in answer to the call of innovation then, that we present FAM: a system of licensing music that does not seek to turn back the clock on technological advance, but to embrace it. The concept is radical in its simplicity and revolutionary in its implications for the production, marketing and consumption of music.

This book is an introduction to a new music industry. It was not written for the RIAA, nor was it written for Sony BMG, “Warner-Bronfman”, Bronfman’s Warner, Dreamworks-Universal or whatever reconfigured conglomerate hopes to “ride out” the wave of terror that has struck to the core of the Music Industry. This book is neither for the A&R men nor the accountants. It’s not a book for those who walk the corporate halls that have claimed what once was music as their wholly owned right and product. Neither is it for those artists who wish the Internet would behave so they could go back to the old-fashioned way of making money: piecemeal and at the whim of a company to which they owe their lives, livelihood and more. This book was not written for any of these people, though some progressive minds among them will likely cop a copy, read and re-read and think: “hey…this makes sense…we can make money from this” only to be shut down or ignored by a higher-up too invested in the world as it was to imagine it as it could be.

This book was not written for “them.” “They” will eventually come around of necessity or they won’t, and they’ll be out of the game. This book was written for the so-called “pirates.” For the college kids who want more and better access to more and better music. For the DJs who routinely throw every license known to woman and man to the winds in search of that right mix to keep the party movin’. This book is for the hustlers, who keep two fingers on the pulse of public opinion and move music to the masses on the real street no matter what may be said on Wall Street. It is for the “bootleggers” of the developing world who make money in ways and places Tower Records & HMV couldn’t stand to do business. This is for the geeks who saw a different vision of “free” and who knew that a GNU world was in the making. It’s for the teenagers who will break every code ever created to “protect” the vibration of airwaves, and who thus put lie to the myth of DRM.

Finally this book was written by and for the Artists; those impassioned souls who make music not for the sake of fame or fortune, but because it means something. It was written because we ultimately believe they deserve to be able to make a living making good music.

In the recent film “Pirates of the Caribbean,” the evil captain of the dread pirate ship the Black Pearl delivers an interesting line when he reveals the true nature of the infernal crew he commands. He tells their captive that “there be monsters here.” The Record Industry has equated the sharing of music between music lovers with the murderous actions of brigands on the high seas. But unlike the film, if you look at today’s so-called “pirates” closely, you will soon realize that most resemble neither thieves, nor murderers, but the future. They look like you and me. In the film we realize that one man’s pirate ship, is another’s freedom.

This is the statement of those who would set music free:

We who stand for Freedom, for Access, for beautiful, funky, creative, intimate and radical Music, present this statement to the world: That music should be readily accessible to all who would enjoy ts spiritual and material fruits. That artists should be respected and fairly compensated for their work. That more than a select and elite few should be able to make a living, making, mixing and moving music.

This is the FAM Declaration. We are the Future.


Download the Full Manifesto as a PDF