In June of 2016, while I was in St. Helena for two private solo performances, I had lunch with an old friend. He kept telling me I should be more active on social media and offered to take me to the offices of Google or Facebook. I told him I wanted nothing to do with either company. At least open an account on Instagram then, he suggested, it’s perfect for your images. I promised to think about it, aware that Facebook owned Instagram.

Later that year I opened an Instagram account and started posting lots of images and a few videos. The number of followers grew and included many people from countries in the Middle East. I enjoyed the interaction with people following me. I also soon began to notice how much time Instagram was taking up. I set myself a time limit of 30 minutes a day, but noticed that I ignored the limit several times a week.

After I announced that I might stop posting on Instagram I read this comment:

Keep in mind that some of your overseas fans may not get access to western sites due to the country’s regulations/restrictions, one would be Iran. The government of Iran sadly doesn’t make it easy for music lovers to follow their inspirational artist online. They haven’t touched social-media yet. So people do have access to follow their favorites. And as far as I see these people literally kiss your musical ground! They love you mad!

That was interesting and also very flattering and prompted me to think about my feelings regarding Instagram.

It was undeniable that the ease with which I could post photos to Instagram from my phone was amazing. By comparison I have to use a browser to post to this Diary because if I use the WordPress app my website gets attacked by about a hundred bots per minute… And it was nice that people all over the world were able to follow my Instagram account.

After mulling this over for several weeks I realized that several points soured me on Instagram. The first was that I realized the reason some (many?) governments allow their people to access Facebook and Instagram, but not individual websites, is that Facebook and Instagram may very well share information about their users with those governments. It’s a great way to keep track of people. It also feels like a carrot… you can’t access most of the internet, but we let you have Facebook and Instagram. So it’s not as if governments simply hadn’t gotten around to closing access to social media yet, as the commentor suggested, social media was purposefully kept available.

The second point was that I do not want to create content or user data for ginormous corporations for free. I believe in the old Internet of the mid Nineties. You want to have something to share – create it. You want to share something… create a website. Like a perfect storm the internet came along at the same time that music and art education was dropped from the curriculum of many schools. Perhaps posting about other people’s work and sharing their files filled the void that the lack of art education created.

The third point was this article by The Verge: Hate speech is finding a home on Instagram. All kinds of people communicate on social media. Even though they may not know anyone like themselves in their immediate physical community, they can find others in the state, the country, even the world. This is a great resource for people who have an illness, or feel isolated or different, …but it also means that pedophiles, conspiracy theorists, and racists can easily find each other. Suddenly everything becomes amplified. While one can ignore a lone racist in one’s midst, a huge group, albeit only connected via the internet, is a problem of a very different magnitude.

The fourth point was that I disliked that the Instagram timeline became “curated” and an algorithm figured out which posts I would see first.

I decided that I would delete most of the 1,100 photos and videos I had posted on Instagram, keeping less than seventy. I did not delete my Instagram account, but deleted the Instagram app from my phone. Out of sight, out of mind…


In some way this is a post about Köln, the city in Germany where I was born…

Never Look Away (IMDB) is a new movie by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, who also wrote and directed The Lives of Others (IMDB), the brilliant movie about 1984 East Berlin that won an Oscar in 2007.

Never Look Away is loosely based on German artist Gerhard Richter’s life – who is named Kurt Barnert in the movie. His art professor in the movie is Professor Antonius van Verten, who is modeled after Joseph Beuys. The story isn’t a documentary by any stretch. For example, Gerhard Richter studied at the art school where Joseph Beuys taught, but Beuys wasn’t his teacher. In fact Gerhard Richter has let it be known that the film is a gross distortion of his biography. Does it matter? I think not, because the story is moving and inspiring, the film beautiful. The movie is over three hours long, but *feels* much shorter. I watched it at the Tampa Theater, where I have performed numerous times since the mid-Nineties, and where this guy was the opening act for the movie:

And how does all of this relate to Köln? Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck was born in Cologne, and Gerhard Richter has lived in Cologne for more than two decades.

Saturday Review

On March 15th the trio played two sets at the Soiled Dove in Denver. The audiences were great, and we really enjoyed playing. On the 16th Jon and I drove to Rifle, Colorado, for the first of three duo gigs.

That’s a photo taken duing our duo performance in Rifle, Colorado, a week ago, captured by Twitter user @BarbiegirlToki. Jon and I also performed in Fort Collins on March 18th an 19th. These duets are very enjoyable and we are planning on doing a few more. Having worked togather for thirty years, we are very comfortable on stage and a lot of improvisation naturally happens. After joining with Chris to perform as a trio in Portland and Seattle next month, Jon and I will play more duets in May. May 9th through 11th we will be at The Iridium in Manhattan, and on May 12th we will perform at the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago.

Dick Dale, the Surf Guitar Legend, died this week – more here. His real name was Richard Anthony Monsour and his father was Lebanese.

His high-energy interpretation of an old song from Asia Minor, “Misirlou” (Egyptian Girl), became the most famous song of surf rock: He had learned the tune from his Lebanese uncles, who played it on the oud.

What’s more American than surf rock? That’s as American as baseball, apple pie, the electric guitar, and the personal computer – and Steve Jobs’s father was also Middle Eastern, from Syria.

Short and Clear

@theblakemorgan on Twitter
It takes 380,000 streams a month on @Spotify for a music maker to earn minimum wage.
The average @Spotify employee makes $14,000 a month.
@Spotify’s NYC offices cost $600 million.
But they won’t pay the people who make their only product.

Spotify & Amazon against royalty rise

Spotify and Amazon ‘sue songwriters’ with appeal against 44% royalty rise in the United States – Music Business Worldwide
On January 27, 2018 MBW reported on the CRB’s landmark decision, which stated that royalty rates paid to songwriters in the US from on-demand subscription streaming would rise by 44% over the next five years. That decision was ratified last month (February 5), when the CRB published the final rates and terms for songwriters.

Streaming companies were given 30 days to lodge official opposition to the ruling if they wished. The likes of Apple Music declined to do so – but it’s a different case for Spotify and Amazon, which have now both filed a notice of appeal. Pandora and Google have also asked the CRB to review its decision.

Thank you Apple, and shame on you Spotify, Amazon, Pandora and Google.