05/17/2010 06:27 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011


As songwriters we all face a common enemy; the blank page.

Nothing is more terrifying.

Each new day we sit down and try to invent our future through words and music. Most days we fail, and fail badly. If we get one song in a hundred recorded we are on our way to the Hall of Fame.

So the question arises each time we stare at that empty page. Why do we do it? As we are so often reminded by family, friends, and society, we really ought to "Get a real job!" Sadly, this message gets ingrained in our minds and after a while we find ourselves lying in bed at night and asking ourselves if we shouldn't give up and get a 'day gig.' Once we internalize our demons there is little use for others to remind us how shaky our chosen profession is. Yet they continue unabated. Isn't it ironic that the 'Real World' is so tough on dreamers? Without them we would all still be turning over a rock to find our dinner.I am certain that even "one in a billion" talents like Edison, Einstein, Curie and Beethoven all had their detractors telling them to quit wasting their time day dreaming and do something useful. But where would our civilization and our culture be if these men and women had decided to give up on their dreams and aspirations and 'get a real job'?

Recently I was reading comments attacking one of the SGA's pro-copyright statements when I encountered the tried and true 'Get a real job' theme. Here are just three examples:

Zenstic wrote:

"if so many of the SGA's members are unemployed and not making much money at all, shouldn't they be worried more about becoming useful and productive members of society. God forbid if you had to live like us peasants. (rolls eyes)."

szlevi wrote:

"If those poor, poor songwriters are suffering so badly, they need to get new jobs."

chronomitch wrote:

"Would it really be a bad thing if we had fewer song writers?"

I suppose that some of this rancor toward the dreamers comes from the Puritan work ethic that is so ingrained in our culture. The, "idle hands are the devil's workshop" crowd will always be with us. But something else is at play here as well. That something is fear. A blank page is a very scary thing. Most people don't have the nerve to stake their entire future on selling something that they have to come up with entirely off the top of their heads. They tell themselves that it is more sensible to get a real job. But in fact, they are just afraid to live out their dreams and so they tell themselves, and everyone else, that it can't be done, that it shouldn't be done. Not as a career.

Sometimes this antipathy towards creators takes a more sinister form.There are people who are not content to toss off the occasional disparaging remark to a songwriter or two. There are those who feel compelled to actively pursue the destruction of the dream -- for profit. Mark Gorton, the CEO of LimeWire, who has profited for ten years from the massive looting of songs, is a prime example. LimeWire is a parasitic company. It bleeds the money out of other people's creative works and eventually kills their jobs and their dreams. Mr. Gorton has never had to face a blank page. He lets others do the scary work, and then he steps in and steals the rewards. And until recently, Mr. Gorton had never had to face the creators on whose backs he planted his boots. But last week, a U.S. District court told Mr.Gorton that his ten years of destroying the hopes and dreams of songwriters has come to an end. He will no longer be able to sit back and illegally profit from the work of others. In short, Judge Kimba Wood told him, and I'm paraphrasing here... "GET A REAL JOB."