Even in a year of big crisis, small acts inspire calm and creativity

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Photograph by Gabriel Jimenez via Unsplash

While growing up in Europe in the fragile aftermath of World War II, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi noticed that many people couldn’t find the strength to put their lives back together. He dedicated his life to discovering what makes life worth living. And Csikszentmihalyi believes he has found it.

His seminal research on the elusive “flow state” transformed the trajectory of positivity research. “Flow,” a mental state characterized by active, blissful immersion, has now been recognized as an ideal of the human experience. Surprisingly, Csikszentmihalyi contends that humans are actually most at peace when they are most inspired, challenged, and engaged. …


Is the new face of livestreaming a way forward for live music?

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Reprinted with Permission, Image by Dennizn via Shutterstock, Montreal, Canada (2017)

Twenty years ago, Metallica famously filed suit against Napster after it leaked Metallica’s hush-hush track, “I Disappear,” which was slated to appear on the Mission Impossible:2 soundtrack. In advocating Metallica’s position, drummer Lars Ulrich testified to Congress that: “Napster hijacked our music without asking. They never sought our permission.” Metallica won. Few were surprised by the win in what seemed like a clear-cut (if unprecedented) case of copyright infringement, but its divisive aftershocks rattled the music industry. Metallica, a heavy metal band, somehow found its motives conflated with…


What’s in a name? Everything.

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Photograph by Joel Muniz via Unsplash

Under standard music industry parlance, Stormzy, a British grime artist, Kanye West, an American rapper, and Sade, a British-Nigerian R&B singer, would all be considered “urban” artists. The catch-all term has long condensed the diverse contributions of black artists into one amorphous category. Apart from being unapologetically devoid of nuance, “urban” is a loaded word. It bears the weight of discriminatory practices, societal bias, and cultural misappropriation. And as with most relics more suited to bygone eras, it’s about to be cast aside.

Following the suffocation of George Floyd, a black man, by a Minneapolis police officer — and the…


Artists raise awareness to an epidemic of violence during the pandemic.

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Olivia Wilde and Teri Hatcher in the “Fighting for Life: Domestic Violence is as Pandemic as Coronavirus” series, 2020 (courtesy of AleXsandro Palombo)

The coronavirus has been called the “great equalizer.” New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has said: “Everyone is subject to this virus . . . . I don’t care how smart, how rich, how powerful you think you are, I don’t care how young, how old.” While the coronavirus spreads with the indifference of any lethal pathogen, its reign of terror has exposed entrenched societal, political, and economic inequities.

With each mandated shut-down, the differences intrinsic to society are further exposed. Unequal educational resources. Unequal access to healthcare. Unequal financial…


We need to turn up the volume in quarantine.

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Reprinted with Permission, Illustration by Poignina Elena

Nelson Mandela spent 18 of his 27 years in prison in solitary confinement. At Robben Island, Mandela found his world reduced to a 7-by-9-foot room. His toilet was a lidded metal bucket. His view was obstructed by stone towers. A single lightbulb overhead burned constantly. In Long Walk to Freedom, Mandela recounted that “I could walk the length of my cell in three paces. When I lay down, I could feel the wall with my feet and my head grazed the concrete at the other side.” …


And if the Directive breaks the internet, will the UK become the new haven for Big Tech?

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Photograph by Frederick Tubiermont via Unsplash

If you’re a European artist, everyone claims to have your back these days. The Directive on Copyright in the Single Market was formally adopted by the European Union on June 7, 2019. And in advocating for and against the Directive, all stakeholders have expressed grave concern for content-creators. One of the most inflammatory components of the Directive, Article 17 (formally known as Article 13), requires platforms to be accountable for copyrighted material on their sites. Depending on your perspective, the Directive represents either…


What Amy Winehouse, Mac Miller, and Chris Cornell can teach us about unfinished work

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Photo by bantersnaps on Unsplash

As in life, so in death — and not many people approach their death with the grace and dignity of Leonard Cohen. In an interview with the Washington Post preceding his death, Cohen said: “The big change is the proximity to death. I am a tidy kind of guy. I like to tie up the strings if I can. If I can’t, also, that’s okay. But my natural thrust is to finish things that I’ve begun.” Cohen suffered from leukemia; compression fractures of the spine required…


Should artists try to protect their fans’ data from suspect platforms?

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Reprinted with Permission, Photograph by XanderSt; Kazan, Russia; May 28, 2019

This week, Justin Bieber dropped the much-anticipated first single, “Yummy”, from his upcoming fifth album. He hasn’t released a full-length album since 2015’s Purpose. Predictably, the unapologetically saccharine video — with Bieber sporting bubblegum pink hair, mingling with the octogenarian set, noshing and nibbling at a table before dancing on it — trended at once. The lyrics are sexy. The melody is upbeat, yet with an insistent drumbeat and Bieber barely singing above a whisper, Yummy is a surefire club staple for the cold winter. The sensuous sound is still pliable enough that a deft DJ can mold it and…


Amidst calls for antitrust reform, the tech titan raises its stature in the music industry.

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Photograph by Piotr Cichosz via Unsplash

In theorizing the internet distribution platform that would become Amazon, Jeff Bezos (Amazon’s Founder/CEO) was reportedly torn between selling books or CDs. A video from 1997 reveals his reasoning as he weighed these options: “Books were great . . .because books are incredibly unusual in one respect, that is that there are more items in the book category than there are items in any other category by far. Music is number two, there are about 200,000 active music CDs at any given time.” …


With an unforgettable acronym, the AM-FM Act would be a massive win for musicians.

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Photograph by Alberto Bobbera via Unsplash

After Johnny Cash made it big, he talked about how the zenith of his young dream was to be heard on the radio: “That was the big thing when I was growing up, singing on the radio. The extent of my dream was to sing on the radio station in Memphis. Even when I got out of the Air Force in 1954, I came right back to Memphis and started knocking on doors at the radio station.” Cash’s statement encapsulates the mythic quality of the radio…

Elizabeth Webster

I’m an attorney, a writer, and a boy mom. Powered by coffee and bullet points. My Twitter is @es_webster.

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