Open Letter to Neil Portnow


Dear Neil,

Yesterday you said that in order to win more Grammys, "women who have the creativity in their hearts and souls, who want to be musicians, who want to be engineers, producers, and want to be part of the industry on the executive level" need to "step up" professionally.

I am so relieved you cleared this up. I thought if I just felt creative, I'd automatically have a career.

Oh wait - I did start my own label and have released four albums and a documentary film through its imprint. I joined NARAS as soon as I was qualified. Is that what you mean by stepping up?

And then today you apologized, talking again about outreach to women who "dream of careers" in the industry.

Look, Neil, I'm not sure what planet you're living on, but you've got an industry already full of women who have careers, who are fighting for respect and professional acknowledgement. Those women have now been told by the head of their professional organization - to which they pay their hard earned dues - that he doesn't really even understand they are there.

Since you "don’t have personal experience of those kinds of brick walls," let me help by putting up one of my own. I hereby rescind my membership in NARAS and am encouraging my fellow female members to do so too. I'm not interested in investing in an organization that is so deeply clueless about the reasons women struggle for parity in their industry.


Rain Perry




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After the Fire

Precipitous Records headquarters, before and after:




It's really incredible to me that the post I put up before this one was called "Crossroads." I just reread it, and it really couldn't be a better prologue to a post about the fire.

(and heads up: for whatever reason, the formatting in this piece is just weird - and that's appropriate, I guess.)



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Sometimes -- like for the past couple days -- I find myself obsessively refreshing Twitter and Facebook. I know I'm doing it for no good reason. I spent the time and resources to attend a half dozen music conferences this year and have a ton of followup work to do, but I have to fight myself to get it done.

By now I also know this means something's up that I haven't yet figured out.

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I'm in Iowa City at FARM-Folk, the Folk Alliance Region Midwest music conference, to screen The Shopkeeper and do some showcases, and I thought to write a post about the music I'm hearing and the nice people I'm meeting and the drive from Kansas City yesterday through the cornfields of Missouri and Iowa. But the thing I've been thinking about the most - and posting on social media about the most - is "#MeToo." So that's what I'm going to write about today, but it's going to work its way back to music at the end of the post.

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The Future of Music



I just got back from Texas, where I showed The Shopkeeper three times and had about twenty hours of conversations about the future of music. And in the midst of all the frustration I came away with an unanticipated feeling of hope.

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Music 5.0 Manifesto



Well, which is it? Is it the best of times, or the worst of times? I am on a million email lists and I have google alerts for "Spotify" and "streaming," so - every day now - I get a heads up whenever another breathless article comes out praising streaming as finally "saving the industry."

For example, here's one. And here's another. And here's one more.

And in nearly every single article, after the chart of rising revenues, down at about the second-to-last paragraph, is The Caveat. For example:

"Sure, there are problems–artist payouts suck and need to be addressed." Or: "Cue the ongoing debates about whether music publishers are getting their fair share of the streaming boom, as well as individual artists and songwriters." Or: "There’s also the small matter of how much of these major label streaming revenues go back out of the door – especially to independent label partners." Or: "More of the streaming money goes to the label side of the business, and under traditional record deals the label keeps the majority of that income."

From the start, Spotify and the other streaming services have promised that as soon as the proper scale has been reached, the whole model will work for musicians - and that it will finally be profitable for the companies. Are we there? This is now being called the "golden age" of streaming, and yet payments to the people creating the products are still not equitable. So is this an unsustainable model, built on the backs of starry-eyed creatives, destined to implode?

On the artist side, far smarter people than I have weighed in, and you can learn a lot from reading what they've had to say. I've been particularly moved by David Byrne and Zoe Keating, and The Trichordist has a ton of great and snarky information all the time.

I want to look at this from a slightly different angle.

I've had an idea brewing, and I'm going to lay it out here in its embryonic form, and I would love for you to weigh in. As some of you know, I made a movie about the state of the music business, and I've developed a survey about music creation and consumption and have been gathering feedback there. I haven't come to any big conclusions just yet, but I've got some thoughts.

So, ladies and gentlemen...

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Back to School


It's that time of year again, in case you aren't on social media at all, and in Musicianland too: Sara Hickman has been posting exuberant adorable photos of all her daughter Io's teachers; friend Carmen (whom I met at a music conference) proudly displayed a letter from the board of education authorizing her to homeschool her kid, and Matt, as you can see above, is way more stoked than his kids are about the whole thing. School started here in Ojai a couple weeks ago, and my daughter Stella - still home for the summer - kept commenting on the adorableness of the tiny freshmen in their new clothes.

Then, on Sunday, I put her on a plane to go back to Boston for her junior year. And I sobbed the whole way home, same as I did when we dropped her off the first time and same as I did when her sister told me she had decided to move to Colorado. Of course I was happy for both of them and supportive, but aaaaaahhhhh! This phase of back-to-school parenting is HARD. You spend their whole childhood praying that nothing and no one will take them from you, and then, all of a sudden, they take themselves away.

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Self promotion in a dangerous time

I’m sitting here gearing up for the DVD/VOD release of The Shopkeeper, the film I made, and every day it’s one horror after another in the news. I can't shake this feeling: how can I presume to release a movie about the travails of musicians when its their livelihood and not their lives that is on the line? It feels increasingly frivolous.

But then I think: Music is not optional.

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Welcome to the new website


Well, hello there! It's high time for a new site. I'm still working on it, so bear with me, but I'm very excited at all the new options since the last time I did this!

Coming soon: new improved online store and archived posts from the years of my old website.

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