Well, it’s already happened and it didn’t take long. Digient Collective is barely four months old and we’ve already received our first nastygram from a big LA entertainment law firm demanding we take down Saucer, from our very own Grey. Short story: there’s another “Grey” that wants total domination over their trademarked name and evidently it’s quite a broadly defined one. As such we are presented with a choice: fight or surrender. It’s that simple. There are consequences to fighting and losing, and frankly the odds aren’t in our favor.
I’ll be honest though, my first and strongest instinct is to not comply and instead work hard to make things more difficult for them, to waste their time and cost them more money. But, I suspect that’d only cause more pain for us in the long run. I don’t like being bullied like this, but I’ve read and re-read the tea leaves and it doesn’t look hopeful.
What kills me most is that Grey is not just an artist name, a pseudonym, it’s his real legal name. And yet there is just too much case law on such matters to try to stick it to the man. For some reason I’m reminded of this well publicized but now 20-year-old case, involving Madonna and the rights to the madonna.com domain name. Madonna won the case, but this isn’t the same thing, and we don’t have Madonna-like resources nor a bench of trademark attorneys waiting to sink their teeth into someone’s flesh. Quite the contrary, so we have to pick our battles and this is one that’d most likely do more harm than good. I know what Sun Tzu says about being outmatched and overpowered. So, we’ll instead escape the situation at hand, hopefully unscathed.
The pain and damage gets even worse though, as Grey’s entire self-published catalog has been removed from Spotify. He received no notice, no warning, no opportunity to defend his turf. Instead, he got bullied and pushed around and backed into a corner by bigger entities with more resources. How does Grey feel about this? I’ll let him speak for himself. Grey?
[silence, possible fugue state]
[wait no, he’s speaking…]
Yeah, it absolutely crushes me to think about all of this art being stripped away so suddenly. There’s works in my catalogue that meant so very much to me and others. ‘Eidolon’ for example, I had dedicated this project to my mother and released it on her 60th birthday. We were supposed to listen to this together on her birthday but because of the recent earth-shattering pandemic, the trip was not possible. My works were filled with deeply personal moments and experiences and it’s such a shame to have them all simply disappear.
That being said, if you think that this will stop me or slow me down, you’re mistaken. I will come up with a new artist name, and I will continue to write, record, and release music. Honestly, I couldn’t imagine a world where I don’t spend all my time working on music. It’s what I love to do, it’s what I need to do, and it’s what I’ll continue to do until the day that I too am stripped away so suddenly.”
Yeah, he’s pretty pissed off and I know, first hand, how much work he’s put into his catalog. How personal his music was to him, how many years he’s put into building something from nothing — only to have this happen. It’s not a good day.
Digient Collective didn’t launch itself at the height of the pandemic with aims of being the next big indie. We just want to survive and stay true to our mission, and execute on it, entirely in service to its artists, and we have big plans for the future! Funny, I guess, cuz at this same time yesterday I was listening to this NPR interview with Bruce Pavitt and Jonathan Poneman, the founders of the legendary Sub Pop label. It’s a great interview and refreshingly candid. Listening to their story was motivating and inspiring, but also reminiscent of the time before digital and streaming. Could have/would have Sub Pop been so impactful and influential had they launched 20 years later? The knife cuts both ways I suppose.
So its with our victory flag tucked into our rucksack, and our surrender flag held reluctantly over our ducking heads, that we have to tell you that Grey’s new release, Canal Street, scheduled for tomorrow 21 Aug, is now cancelled, and we’ve been forced to do a take-down on Saucer too. Whether or not you can look for these tracks in the future, I don’t know, that will be left up to Grey. Whatever he decides he’ll have our support.
In the meantime, please light a candle for the artist formerly known as Grey.