Stand Up, Speak Up for Domestic Abuse Victims

The below was originally published in The Commercial Appeal, Dec 4th, 2018.

You see her walk in. You say hello to her, and as you do she immediately averts her eyes while saying a muffled “hello” in response.

As she tries to breeze past you as quickly as possible, you can’t help but notice the bruises on her arms, or the slight discoloration around her eye.

Concerned, you take her aside and ask if she is OK. She replies that she is, that it was just her nephew who accidentally hit her with a toy, or that she tripped and fell, or any number of other plausible explanations.

The problem, however, is that you are acutely aware that she is covering up the fact that someone close to her – an adult, usually a spouse or significant other – has abused her. Such abuse is extremely common.

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, domestic violence is one of the most chronically under-reported crimes. Only 25% of all physical assaults, 20% of rapes, and 50% of stalking cases perpetrated against females by their partners are reported to the police.

Victims who actually do report do so after they have been assaulted by her partner (or ex-partner) an average of 35 times. Thirty-five times. Think about that.

The reasons for not reporting are wide and varied. It could be because the victims are embarrassed, or they could be deathly afraid of retaliation, or perhaps because of economic dependency.

No matter the reason, this must change and society must embrace the fact that a lot more of this goes on than we may want to admit, and it cannot be swept under the rug.

As the owner of two music venues and restaurants in Memphis, I have known numerous people who have been victims of this type of abuse. It is always a cycle.

The ones who will open up and talk to you about it about it tend to go back to the same abusive person, because in part there isn’t enough support around them to enable them to break the cycle.

Unfortunately, over the past five years, I’ve come to know customers and employees both who have been victims of abuse.  Some of them tragically lost their lives, and it is heartbreaking.

Recently I found out about an important organization in Memphis called the Family Safety Center of Memphis and Shelby County (familysafetycenter.org). Its mission is to provide assistance to the victims of domestic abuse by helping them find and access the many civil, criminal, health and social services for victims of violence.

It’s a mission we all should support.

We cannot sit back and ignore this problem and pretend it does not exist. We have to let victims know there are people who truly care about them and want to help, and there are resources available to help protect them and provide services they need.

And remember, if you need help now, please call the FSC 24-hour Crisis Line at 901-249-7611.

The first “Rockin’ for Hope” was held Dec. 8 at RockHouse Live Memphis, 5709 Raleigh LaGrange. Proceeds from ticket sales will go directly to the Family Safety Center of Memphis and Shelby County. For more information visit  rockhouselive.com.

Zach Bair is owner of both RockHouse Live locations in Memphis, and the CEO & Chairman of VNUE, Inc., a music technology company based in New York.

Nothing is Easy. Part II

Hey folks.  It has been a while since I have posted anything, but I thought compelled to revisit a subject I have written about before, namely, work ethic.  Or, lack thereof.  People never cease to amaze me.

As part of my various ventures involving my love of music, I own a couple of venues which also happen to be restaurants and bars.  I opened the first one about five years ago; the second, four years ago.  I did so not because I truly love music and enjoy making people happy.  Either through food – which I am indeed a foodie – or through entertainment; or simply an environment where people can call home.  I did not open these places thinking I was going to get rich (far from the case).   I did so because I wanted to provide a place where musicians could put their talent on stage, and where people with smiles would hopefully come see said musicians.

What I have learned in the course of five years is that there is a sense of entitlement like I have never seen before when it comes to service industry employees, and least around here.  I don’t know if it is the industry, the location, or the generation(s).  But in all honesty, I have never seen such a consistent lack of motivation; a lazy, complacent attitude, and people needing consistent needling (i.e. “staying on their ass”) just to do the very basic aspects of their jobs.  And I mean these are easy jobs.  Don’t get me wrong.  They are not all like that.  But there are a lot who are.  Many, many.  Let’s not forget thieving, dishonest people too.  There are a lot of those as well.

Let me provide a few examples.  I have had employees ask for a raise after showing up late every single day for months on end.  I’ve had them ask for a raise, simply because they actually showed up to begin with.  I have had folks simply not show up at all, then show up the next day expecting to still have a job.  Then there are the ones that you give chance after chance, and try and coach them into performing their jobs better – who then quit without notice, and publicly spew on social media about how it was not their fault and that their boss is an ogre.

I’ve had people change their electronic times sheets (thinking they are smarter than me – a computer geek) – just to straight-faced deny it when they are called to the carpet and then (again) publicly bash the business that they were screwing.  I’ve had other people who have decided that the alcohol that I pay for is their property to do as they please.  Give it away, drink it, not ring it up and pocket the money, and on and on.  Food too.  Oh yes, lets not forget that.  I mean – it is utterly dumbfounding.  And they will still claim innocence when caught red-handed by the video cameras that record non-stop.  Say wha?

What I cannot fathom for the life of me is why people work so incredibly hard at being dishonest and lazy and bad, when, in actuality, if they worked hard and focused on their actual jobs, then they world would be their oyster, as they say.

And not only that, a job – a chance that someone has extended to them – is not important to them and they move from job to job on a whim, rationalizing that it was the “big bad boss’ fault”, and that they did nothing wrong in the first place.  They move on, incorrectly assuming that it won’t catch up with them.  They are wrong.  Remember what “assuming” does.

Maybe it is just me, but I have always believed if you work really hard and you are ethical, then you will get ahead.  I will never, ever believe anything different either.  Unfortunately, there are those people who are constantly trying to take advantage of people who want to take the high road. Trying to take the short cut.  To cheat.  That’s life, and that is the way it is.  However, I do believe in “do unto others,” and I think that if people stay focused on the good, eventually, the good will come back to them.  Karma.

I’ve said it before.  There are NO short cuts in life.

None.  Zip.  Nada.

Those folks who continually look for the easy way out are going to end up destitute, lonely and without anyone supporting them.  The reason for this is because entrepreneurs like myself look for people who are self-motivated, honest, hardworking and above all, with good work ethic (and ethical in general).  If you screw up, just take the blame for it, learn and move on.  Don’t blame it on your co-workers or make excuses.  Own up to your own shortcomings.  Lord knows, I have.  There have been many mistakes I’ve made along the way.  Still do.  That’s called being human.

But the one thing I can say is that from my very first job, I was not lazy. I took pride in my little carhop job at Sonic when I was fourteen years old (no I did not wear skates).  So much pride in fact that I was promoted to the kitchen, and then night manager, before I even hit sixteen years old.  I have always been ambitious, and never asked for anything that I could not earn myself.  I’ve worked hard to show my bosses over the years that I have ambition and I am smart, and will learn and grow.  In my earlier years, I got fired from a few jobs because I thought I was smarter than the boss (I was – haha – but at that time I didn’t understand how politics of business worked and how to utilize that to legitimately get ahead; I didn’t know how the world worked).  Chain of command.  You dig?

I started my own business(es) because, in all honesty, I got tired of getting fired because I knew of a better way of doing things and my supervisors wouldn’t even entertain the idea for fear of being outsmarted.

But unlike my past bosses in those case – I personally look for employees that are indeed smart and have great ideas.  I may not execute on every idea presented, but the sum of the total is better than the mind of the (one).  I like the idea of surrounding myself with people who are smarter and more creative than myself.  I want them to be motivated to do amazing things – because then my company can do amazing things.

It is important to note – before I got too big for my breeches, so to speak, I was very, very good at performing the basic requirements of the job.  This is key to anything and it is one of the first things I learned in the Air Force.

In basic training, we had to fold our underwear in six inch squares.  No kidding.  I thought, at the time, “this is idiotic.”  But in hindsight, it was all about following direction.

This is key.  To everything.

If you as an employee cannot follow direction, and follow through, then you won’t stand a chance.  This was by far one of the most important things I learned.  Once I figured it out, I was a geeky rock star by the time I got into technology.  I would zing through my basic job – whatever it may be – and then make the extra effort that would afford me the opportunity to get ahead.  And I got promoted.  Repeatedly.  Not because I just showed up and happened to be a warm body.  I knew damn well that I was not entitled.

And herein is the basic difference in the mentality.  If you cannot do your basic job, yet you want to impress someone with your various ideas and try to take the quick way to  get ahead, I can tell you now, it ain’t gonna happen (imagine please my mother rolling in grave because I am using the word “ain’t”).  No supervisor – no real boss, no owner or CEO, wants to hear you tell them how good you are when the basic elements of job performance are not getting done while you are making excuses all along the way.

My simple message – again – is that there are no short cuts.

Again.

THERE ARE NO SHORT CUTS.

You have to work hard for what you want in life.  Guys and gals like me, well, we notice that hard work.  Most people in business will too.  Sure, every now and then you get someone who may not. But myself, growing up basically and entrepreneur since day one, we get it.  We thrive on innovation and ideas, and not having to worry about the basic stuff being done.  I take comfort that I can indeed be creative because I can rely on people to hold up the foundation.  If you are unreliable and inconsistent, forget it.  You could be a rocket scientist and on the cover of Rolling Stone every day of the week,  but if you are unreliable, forget it.

I digress, however.  Not everyone is like that.  I’m fortunate to have a few good people around me in my endeavors that are ethical and who know what it takes.  Folks who have been around for quite a long time, because the do get it.

In the restaurant and bar business – just like music, or ANY business – work hard, live clean, be honest, earn your keep, and don’t think you can just impress people with your shining personality.  We can see through you in half a heartbeat.  If you want to change the world, it is super simple.  Work hard, and prove it.

Peace.

 

Interview with VNUE CEO Zach Bair in Food & Beverage Magazine.

Recently I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Diane Lilli, for an article in Food & Beverage Magazine, about what we are doing with Soundstr.  The headline of the article is spot on:

“The Licensing Revolution:  VNUE’s Soundstr Offers Performance Royalty Reform for Venues and Artists”

Think about that headline for a second.  This is a hot topic, especially as it relates to music streaming – but the gaping hole has been in the “general” licensing category – meaning bars, restaurants, and other brick and mortar establishments.  And yes, radio stations too.

My passion, of course, is bringing fairness to everyone involved, from the artists, writers, and creators, who make the music, to the businesses and stations that play the music. Without reform – and transparency – this cannot happen.  And without accurate tracking, the performing rights organizations – PROs – have no way to really know who should be paid.  With Soundstr, we have the ability to do just that, and we are already working hard on it, with some field deployments to be happening this year.

Read the article below for the full interview, and you can also visit the site here:

F&B Soundstr Article

By Diane Lilli

The next time you enjoy dinner or a drink or a latte, you might just want to thank someone who may be invisible to you but just happens to be changing the very music you hear at public venues across the nation. Every time you spend some quality town in a restaurant, bar or café, or in mall, hotel or casino, you’re probably hearing music, but until now, the way this music is licensed has been anything but transparent – or fair. For the first time, the murky multi-billion-dollar world of music licensing – run by a system that is widely regarded as inefficient at best – is being replaced by a modern, hi-tech, affordable platform that will not only keep your toes tapping while you eat/drink  in public places, but also protect your favorite venue while actually paying the musical artists who created the songs in the first place.

Zach Bair is CEO of VNUE, Inc. (OTCQB: VNUE), a music and technology company creating new revenue streams for artists, and building technology to protect their rights. Bair is an engineer, musician and industry expert who has spent his entire career working in technology, and also as a professional musician and owner of several venues. He said he found out fast how the old-fashioned music licensing system in place today is not only hopelessly out of date but also confusing, threatening and downright unfair to all concerned. Run by “PROs”, which are performing rights organizations, owners of venues sign expensive “blanket license” agreements, which then forced them to pay up big time, or face major copyright lawsuits.

Sounds fair, but the problem with this system is twofold: many of the artists whose music is being played in public places are not getting any royalties, since no one could figure out who was playing which music when/where, and the venues playing the music are being targeted for high fees in an unbalanced, logical way – without any kind of true real-time tracking.

“One day a PRO knocked on my door one too many times,” said Bair. “Their calls and threats were non-stop. I decided there must be a better way to identify songs, and since I was so upset, I literally sat down and wrote up a provisional patent, filed it and started evangelizing it. My idea, which we called the “MiC System” for “Music Identification Center”, came fast, and I was pulling things together along the way. Knowing artists were not getting paid enough – or at all – I started to meet others, like Soundstr founder Eron Bucciarelli-Tieger of Hawthorne Heights, who was not getting paid for his public performances.  It was a no-brainer to bring the Soundstr technology into VNUE.”

Bair’s new program, about to go live July and roll out nationally, is a marriage of technology and transparency. With general licensing unfair, and no accurate way to identify and track music played in real-time, Bair’s new system is the perfect storm of practical hi-tech tracking of each piece of music with a transparent program resulting in lower fees for venues and higher payments for musical artists.

“General licensing is unfair because it is so vague and does not protect musicians,” noted Bair. “There is no accurate way to police it. Currently, they send someone in to “spy” on a venue, and when a song is played they threaten the owners with copyright lawsuits. It’s just the wrong way to do it. Soundstr tracks all music played, so it is more like a utility.  You would pay for what you use.”

With about 160,000 brick and mortar bars and restaurants in the U.S., only a small percentage, perhaps 30 percent according to Bair’s sources, are actually licensed properly for blanket license fees. But in today’s hi-tech age, Bair knew he could use his engineering skills to create an affordable and accurate tracking system that will benefit everyone. And, he believes the PROs will eventually embrace it.

With this new model in place, and set to launch July 1st live on radio stations, the revolution will be music to your ears.

To learn more about how VNUE’s Soundstr can work with your venue, please email Contact@Vnue.com

Main VNUE website:  www.vnue.com

Soundstr website (product specific):  www.soundstr.com

Live Recording Websites:  www.disclivenetwork.com & www.set.fm

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