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Recording Drum Groups and Dancers for Profit

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  • Recording Drum Groups and Dancers for Profit

    A LOT of people record audio and/or video at powwows; perhaps mostly for personal use, but we really don't know in all cases where each video is going or if it may appear for sale somewhere. There are some recorders are very obviously commercial; they bought huge $2500 high resolution video cameras and sell DVD's of recent powwows on the web and at their own traveling vendor stands. I put up a simple website for a friend who does this, and I am also on a major powwow committee this year (the links to his website and our powwow's website are in my signature line).

    My friend has been accused of recording drum groups without their permission. If he has actually done this (and for all I know he very well could have), then he has made a big mistake and I told him this. Or has he? This thread is not here to defend or justify his business specifically, but to try to address the conflicts that are cropping up due to businesses like his and his competitors.

    We shouldn't just say, "There is no problem; let's just live with it until we all start taking each other to court." There IS a problem. Certain drum groups are having to ask specific recorders never to record them under any circumstances; some recorders believe they are under the umbrella of their paid vendor fee to carry on their businesses. I am attempting to present sensible arguments blaming either the recorders for their own actions or the committees for failing to include recording policies (or prohibitions) in their rules, in order to get people thinking about these situations and how they should be addressed.

    Drums (or in some cases, a publisher on their behalf) own their songs and invested their own creativity, time and effort into developing and practicing the songs for public presentation. It is tradition to at least shake hands and offer tobacco to ask permission to record someone's performance; money negotiations may follow. Recorders who sell homemade video's or DVD's are stealing from the drum groups and dancers. The answer is obvious: recorders alone are responsible for wrongdoing, since it is their own direct action.

    A recorder operates a business as a powwow vendor. Paying their vendor fee and being accepted as an authorized vendor can grant them the right to operate their business and perform all activities not specifically prohibited by the powwow committee's vendor policies; this can include recording live music and dance for resale. The powwow committee pays the drum groups to perform, and also either pays the dancers to perform or offers them the opportunity to compete for pay; this buys the powwow committee the right to set its own policies for drums and dancers and require them to grant permission for committee-authorized recordings. The answer is reasonably obvious through examining the business relationships between committee, drums, dancer, and vendors: powwow committees are at fault whenever they fail to (1) provide for, or (2) explicitly prohibit, commercial recording of drums and dancers. BTW this scenario does NOT account for people who do NOT pay any fees OR even ask permission from the powwow committee OR the performers.

    So now I turn to all of you, my friends and rivals alike in the community, asking you to carefully consider both of these scenarios and others of your own. Should recording be banned outright, or can it be accommodated as a legimate fees-paid powwow vending business? I personally believe the powwow committees themselves are fully capable of dealing with this situation, since they have final authority to set conditions for vendors, drums and dancers who wish to participate in the a given powwow.

    My own idea:

    Since different kinds of vendors often pay different fees (food vendors sometimes pay more than arts and crafts vendors for example), what if vendors who record drums and dances for profit pay a "recording business" vendor fee in exchange for specific royalty-paid agreements with participating performers (lump sum by the powwow committee as part of drum pay)? I understand some powwows are already doing this, and I think it could work out very well.

    Last edited by Wakalapi; 06-19-2006, 11:28 PM.
    "Friends don't let friends drink decaf..."
    Wakalapi's $49 unlimited phone service

  • #2
    I think; that you, your drum, your whatever becomes fair game at all publicly held events, ESPECIALLY contest powwows. We live in a white world. If you want to protect your songs, your image or anything else, get it copyrighted, OR don't show yourself in public:)

    Yes, it would be nice if all photographers, or sound people would ask permission and have a lot more respect; but it is just not going to happen. Not every person is going to have that view.
    I had some photos taken of me and my family at the powwow here; the very next day the pro-photographer from the local newspaper, came over and gave me prints of all he had taken. I thought it was very nice, and gave him some sage as a thankyou. I really appreciated them, because I don't get much free time to catch photos of my family, we are just too darned busy helping to put the powwow on, and my vending beadwork.


    • #3
      It was great that that photographer did that for you, but most of the time it is people who have no idea about NDN culture and are just viewing a powwow as an attraction. And they have become attractions. Powwows are different things to NDNs and outsiders.

      As for recorders, I often wondered that. I have done my fair share of recording in the past but it was for personal use and learning, never sold any of it. I have seen the people with the $2000 digital recorders and often wondered, "Do powwow dancers and singers make THAT much money?" SHEEEET.

      But, everyone is out for themselves now. I guess it comes down to copywright infringement in the new millenium.
      There are 2 types of people in the world...
      Really stupid people who think they are smart
      Really smart people who think they are smart.


      • #4
        RE: Recording Drum Groups and Dancers for Profit...

        For myself as a recorder, I DO NOT sell my video tapes at all. I am not gonna lie, I will break down and buy some dvd's and/or video tapes from time to time, but I have seen how video recording has changed around the Pow-Wow trail in Indian Country. There has been a few times where the singers from drum groups have traded me there own CDs for whatever footage I have of them singing. I see it as there happy, I'm happy, and everyone wins. As for making profit, I don't think anyone would make millions of this as a business. But I bet one could make there money back in order to keep buying blank tapes or misc. for there camcorder.

        I'm out. Laterz.


        • #5
          Originally posted by wookie_lodge
          For myself as a recorder, I DO NOT sell my video tapes at all. I am not gonna lie, I will break down and buy some dvd's and/or video tapes from time to time, but I have seen how video recording has changed around the Pow-Wow trail in Indian Country. There has been a few times where the singers from drum groups have traded me there own CDs for whatever footage I have of them singing. I see it as there happy, I'm happy, and everyone wins. As for making profit, I don't think anyone would make millions of this as a business. But I bet one could make there money back in order to keep buying blank tapes or misc. for there camcorder.

          I'm out. Laterz.
          roflmao!!! there really is a wookie lodge! I heard your drum group and thought i heard what they called you!!!

          that's so cool. A tipi full of wookies.


          • #6

            Good topic. This does need to be discussed in an open forum because we do live in a technological era.

            Recently at Julyamsh, representatives of the Smithsonian National Powwow, purchased an unauthorized tape of their powwow from a vendor from your area. This vendor also was giving away magnets with the logo on them of the Smithsonian powwow that were appearently taken from the powwow.

            There is legal discussion going on right now about what to do with this bootlegged tape that is copywrited by the Smithsonian without a legal release.
            Powwows will continue to evolve in many directions. It is inevitable.


            • #7
              Recording at PW

              I really think that as Ndns we have to spend the Dime and protect what we create, or we don't have any recourse. My son-law writes music for Sony and a lot of well know artist. But he never, ever plays it, even for Demo before sending in his paper work.

              Paying a Vendor fee doesn't entitle one to record/video performers/dancers no more than paying for a concert or movie ticket then selling those dvds/cds. Hollywood has already set the precedent with the Copywrite Infringment and Piracy Laws. We as a people have to start doing what we need to do to protect our creativity then take these suckers to court.

              Some of these people con themselves and us into thinking they are doing it as a service and out of 'love for you people', but we all know if it wasn't profitable they wouldn't be there. They are no better than grave robbers. As for those pricey recorders, they are probably leasing them, then writing it off as a business expense.

              Last year a lady at UCLA took pics of my 5yr old granddaughter, later I saw them on the web for sale. A wanna be back East posted the pic saying my baby was her little sister! After a pic of Shane Zotigh appeared in a Long Beach paper, some Japanese guy started selling pics of him in his regalia all over the world. Can you imagine how hurtful this was to his family, especially after the circumstances of his death. The Japanese man made a lot of money from this, but of course 'he loves Ndn people' so it's okay.

              A friend had a guy from San Francisco visit her family for 'Research on Southwestern Silver making' well he wrote a book instead. Her family never signed a release, but the book is full of pics of her parents and to this day, they haven't received a dime. He set up a Southwestern curio shop and has many items her parents made.

              Some one said we live in a White world, well when it come to our heritage, we have to deal with them on Their White terms. Don't hate, litigate baby, litigate. There are Lawyers who will take a case on a contingency basis, this is what I advised my Dine friend. We could join together and do a class action against those recorders who are at every major powwow with big name drum groups.

              Piracy is Piracy it doesn't matter if its a dancer, a drum, art/craft work. We just need to start 'Handling OUR business and stop BEING others business'.

              Civilzation has been thrust upon me..and it has not added one whit to my love for truth, honesty, and generosity Chief Luther Standing Bear


              • #8
                the bottom line is money. if people stop buying recordings then there would be no market for them. eventually the recordings would get alot more enticeing so people would buy them or they would go away.

                on the other hand were just talking in generalizations because there are no numbers to back up what anybodys saying. in the powwow world most everybody i know has a least a recording or two, so the percentage would be pretty high. but to the public in general its pretty low. *i think* i guess from there i could dream up all kind of scenerios where a demand has been created. for instance a city ndn who wants a taste of back home stuff, a white person with some strange fetish - haha, to powwow people who missed a certain powwow or individuals who like a certain drum group.. man the list go on for days.

                i kinda dont want recorders to go away. the everyday powwow folks who record just to listen to something while traveling home or whatever. im okay with them because im one of them. but if we need to swing the pendelum to the other side and get all legal.. so be it.

                some folks justs hate recorders. MC's get irratating on mics, committees try and shussh away or put up barrierrs, i know from personal stuff that these recorders probably own all the cds these groups sell anyway. *like mee* kind of a dilemma there, because ill travel to a nice powwow with good drums. and yeah ill record some here and there. i dont sell any of it. i havent made one copy of anything. im pretty respectful, so, so ummm,, leave me alone... *L*

                if you or somebody you know has to have a knee jerk reaction and get all vocal.. thats differnt from getting legal. go ahead and get on these people making a profit. jump on ole fashioned rez folks like mee and youll hurt your own bottom line.
                thanks dad for showing me the way, teaching me the language, and not leaving my mother...*L*

                *RoUg3 MoD sTaTuS*


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