Mar 23

The Lines Have Never Been Blurred



I’m sure everyone has heard of the legal verdict in the case involving the family of Marvin Gaye vs Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke over the song Blurred Lines.

Many artists have commented on this. Some say that the song Blurred Lines and Marvin Gaye’s piece Got to give it up sound like the same song while others say the two sound nothing alike. It has also been reported that Pharrell and Robin Thicke have both said that the Marvin Gaye piece inspired them in the creating of Blurred Lines. It’s all in the hands of lawyers now but this should really be a wakeup call to artists everywhere, especially independent artists.

There is nothing wrong with having role models in this industry. There is nothing wrong with having other artists or even songs that inspire you but please allow me to give a little fatherly advice. Don’t just copy what your role models do. Instead, learn the why and how they do what they do. The how and the why an artist does what they do with their art can be used as solid principles that you can use in the creation of your own sound. An artists should never want to sound like someone else but you can take the how and why of how your role model does things and apply those same principles to your own work.

True creativity is and should always be unique. If you are trying to be just like and sound just like your favorite artist, you are not creating. You are duplicating. The art that you create will last, in some form, for all time. Don’t be afraid to create something new and you.

Mar 07

Borrowing success: how to legally sample music

[This article was written by Jamie Davis-Ponce, and it originally appeared on the SonicBids Blog.]

Screen-Shot-2015-03-04-at-11.00.56-AM-1Often associated with hip hop, sampling occurs when songwriters and recording artists use borrowed sections of music from other recordings in their new works. The motivations for using clips of preexisting music and recordings in a new song are varied; sampling can lend new songs a sense of nostalgia, quickly give artists and producers a desired sound or riff, and even help new songs benefit from the proven success of a hit.

To hear sampling in action, listen to this medley compiled by William Goodman for his Huffington Post article entitled “12 Hit Songs You Never Knew Used Samples from Older Songs.”

There’s a reason, however, that sampling isn’t as widespread among mainstream artists today. Contrary to popular belief, the US courts have ruled that sampling in commercial recordings is NOT fair use (no matter how short the sample) and have even referred infringers like Biz Markie, whose story is below, for criminal prosecution. So if you’ve ever considered using a sample in one of your recordings, make sure you do it legally.

How do you legally sample a song?

It’s important to remember that samples typically contain two individually copyrighted works: the underlying composition (the song itself, usually owned by the songwriter or publisher) and the recording (usually owned by the artist or record label). When you sample, you must get permission from both the owner of the composition and the owner of the recording before you release any copies of your new recording. If both parties approve your request to sample, you’ll need to enter into a sampling agreement with each copyright owner.

Getting permission to use the composition (the song itself)

To record songs that don’t belong to you, a mechanical license (typically available through the Harry Fox Agency) is usually all you need. When combining two or more songs into a single song/recording, however, you need special permission from each song’s owner because you’re making a derivative work, which renders a standard mechanical license insufficient and forces you to go directly to the song owner/publisher.

Find out who the publishers are for each song you wish to use (try ASCAP’s ACE title search) and request a license to sample the song. To be successful in your request, be prepared to offer them as much information as possible about your planned use of the material. Be ready with information such as which section of the song will be sampled, how many seconds the sample will last, timing of the overall recording, the number of units you plan to create/distribute, and what types of media you will use (CD, ringtone, streams, etc.).

Getting permission to use the recording

As with the request to license the song itself, when you seek to use part of someone else’s recording in your new recording, you’re making a derivative work. Artists and labels may be wary of requests to sample because of the possibility that the new song will diminish the value of the original recording. Find out who owns/administers the master recording that you want to sample (start by contacting the record label) and request a license to sample. Just like the request to sample the underlying composition, you have a greater chance at success when you’re prepared to offer them as much information as possible about your planned use of their recording. In addition to the information listed above, you might even be asked to include a demo of what your new recording might sound like if it were to include the sample.

How to be a good copycat

Although it’s illegal to actually use someone else’s recording, it’s not illegal to sound like someone else (just think of all the Beatles tribute bands). So if you’re able to get permission to use the composition but not the recording, you could create your own soundalike recording and sample your own recording instead of the original. It might not be as authentic-sounding, but it’s legal!

How much does it cost to legally sample a song?

How much it costs to legally sample a song will depend on the owners of the underlying composition and the recording you’re sampling. Because there’s currently no compulsory license for sampling, there’s also no statutory rate. So unlike typical mechanical licenses, which cost 9.1 cents per copy for songs of five minutes or less, you’ll have to negotiate sampling rates for each song you sample.

The 2010 edition of Kohn on Music Licensing suggests that royalty rates for samples of sound recordings range from a fraction of a cent to five cents per unit and carry advances starting at several thousands of dollars, but the rate you negotiate will depend on several factors including the success of the initial song and recording, your own success, the length of the sample, how it will be distributed, and more.

Upon receiving your request to sample, both the owner of the composition and the owner of the recording may refuse to license, or they might try to negotiate one of the following payment methods:

  • Mechanical license for a flat fee or for a royalty
  • Mechanical license for a royalty and share of performance royalties
  • Co-ownership in the new composition/recording
  • Complete ownership of the new composition/recording

As always, if you’re considering entering into any type of legal agreement concerning one of your songs, consult an attorney specializing in entertainment law first.

What happens if you sample illegally?

In a 1991 landmark case on sampling, a federal judge ruled against rapper Biz Markie for his sampling of Gilbert O’Sullivan’s song/recording of “Alone Again (Naturally)” in Markie’s “I Need a Haircut.” In addition to an injunction (taking all copies off the market) and a huge fine, the court actually invoked the seventh commandment, “Thou shalt not steal,” and referred the matter to the US Attorney’s office for criminal prosecution, resulting in the case Grand Upright Music v. Warner Bros. Records, Inc., 780 F. Supp. 182. But for his next album, Markie made it clear that he understood the court’s message, titling it All Samples Cleared.

There’s still a streak of defiance from some musicians such as Girl Talk’s Gregg Gillis who, along with his record label Illegal Art, purposely and unapologetically samples in the name of artistic freedom. Although he doesn’t seem to have been the subject of a scathing legal action (yet), the laws regarding sampling haven’t changed, and illegal sampling can be difficult to cope with financially.

According to the precedent set by the O’Sullivan and Markie case, if you sample illegally, you could be taken to court, made to pay profits and damages, have all copies taken off of the market, and be criminally prosecuted. So before using a sample, make sure you ask for permission (and get it in writing), and don’t use the sample if your request is refused.

Jamie Davis-Ponce is a professional musician and graduate of Northeastern University’s Master of Music Industry Leadership program with a concentration in entrepreneurship. She has been a music lecturer at Ithaca College, and is deeply involved in Boston-area arts and music organizations, having worked with ArtsBoston and held internships at Handel & Haydn Society and Boston Symphony Orchestra. You can view more of her writing on her blog on Music, Business, and Creativity.

Mar 01

A Monster may have been created with “Ten”. The new Album from Stephen Jerome Ferguson

IMG_54062037248925I have been exposed to a lot of different genres of music over the past 45 years and each and every one of them has inspired me in one way or the other.

Jazz, Smooth Jazz, R&B, Soul, Techno, Dance, the list goes on and on and all of these genres have helped to mold me into the artist I am today.

When I set out to create my new album project titled “Ten”, I wanted to just create. I wanted to allow all of these different genre inspirations to just take flight. I wanted to use everything that I have ever loved in any genre to express itself in this project. The results were amazing. There are tracks on the album that are straight up smooth jazz. There are songs that combine elements of Jazz, Hip Hop and Techno. There are songs that combine Soul and Progressive Jazz.

I know that by doing this, I am going against the status quo. “Your project has to fit in a specific genre”. By allowing my pure creativity and love for MUSIC to take control, I have created something that flat out refuses to be put into any one category. It has many ties but it has no leashes, no walls. “Ten” is a CD that contains everything that you love about your favorite genres of music and still maintains the sjfmusic sound.

This must be what Dr. Frankenstein felt like. I may have created a monster. The CD arrives Spring of 2015.stephen1

Mar 01

Star Supporter: Angelo Petruzzi Radio Indie International

Slide11Angelo Ptruzzi

Radio Indie International, founded in 2012 by an initial project called, Smooth Jazz Radio Channel, started in 2008 by its creator Angelo Petruzzi; in those years in the phenomenon of the musical genre, particularly in Europe, was not widely known and from that moment that a group of friends and fans of good music, combining their knowledge, experience, abilities and develop the first project dedicated exclusively to Independent Artists; in the years after 2008, numerous contacts with artists and managers around the world have brought their contribution by creating and offering a really essential as a partner of our projects; latest project launched is called, Radio Indie International Lounge and more, a new music segment on Wednesday and Saturday, Airs 6 pm Till Midnight…

Radio Indie International

promoting great indie, indipendent artists, music since 2008

Slide10  Slide12

Radio Indie International WebSite

Radio Indie International facebook Grooup

Radio Indie International Lounge and more facebook Group

Radio Indie International BLUES

Indie Artists Facebook Group

Angelo Petruzzi on Twitter

Angelo Petruzzi Ceo Radio Indie International & Petruzzi Entertainment Development

Angelo Petruzzi Ceo Radio Indie International & Petruzzi Entertainment Development​ – Second Profile

Pasquale Murano

Shirlee Hydemorris

​Gianfranco Piria

Flor Rojas Villarva

Radio Indie International Soundcloud


stephen1Note from Stephen

Angelo and his staff at Radio Indie International are the most dedicated and professional people that I have ever had the honor to be associated with. They work hard promoting their radio station and the srtists that they have in rotation. All of them are like family to me and I can never have the words to tell them just how much I appreciate what they have done for me. 




Mar 01

Star Supporter: D.C. Coast to Coast

Slide8D.C. Coast To Coast internet radio

A radio station that features INDIE MUSIC & MUSIC VIDEOS from Indie Artists of ALL genres of ORIGINAL music from all over the globe 24 hours a day. You’ll find D.C. Hathaway, who is an Indie Artist himself, hosting & broadcasting from just outside of San Diego, CA in Imperial Beach. D.C. Coast To Coast went on the air February 9th, 2012 and started as an internet radio station that played music only on Fridays.  But now you can SEE D.C. Coast To Coast on Livestream LIVE Monday-Saturday, 1-7pm Eastern, 10am-4pm Pacific at It’s “INTERNET RADIO YOU CAN SEE” on Livestream. We also have our DJ/VJ Jon Scott, who is in the Boston area introducing you to Indie Artists in New England with “ON THE ROAD” and our DJ/VJ in The United Kingdom Stephen Paul Cunningham (who is also an artist seen & heard on the station). Stephen hosts “COOKIN’ IN THE KITCHEN” on D.C. Coast To Coast where he introduces the viewers around the world to INDIE ARTISTS from The UK as they perform in his kitchen. You’ll also find the D.C. Coast To Coast INDEPENDENT ARTIST OF THE WEEK feature which introduces the world to NEW artists on the show either by recorded interviews on Oovoo or directly in the studio with D.C. Hathaway. There’s something for everyone on D.C. Coast To Coast where it’s ALL INDIES ALL THE TIME. To learn more about the station, events, broadcasts and the artists seen & heard on the station go to our website at If Indie Artists have studio quality recordings with no explicit lyrics we invite them to submit music AND official music videos by clicking the SUBMIT MUSIC page of our website. We have no sponsors on D.C. Coast To Coast. We do what we do because we LOVE Indie Music and strive to give Indie Artists the airplay they deserve that MOST mainstream radio stations won’t support. On Sundays, there is no LIVE show but you’ll find Christian programming all day long with Indie Christian Artists music videos & testimonies from Christians all over the world. D.C. Coast To Coast has a 24 hour request line at 619-500-4953 where you can request your favorite Indie Artist around the globe. The “HITS YOU’VE NEVER HEARD ‘TIL NOW” are on D.C. Coast To Coast, the USA FM and Livestream.


stephen1Note from Stephen

D.C. Hathaway is one of the coolest people I know. He and the staff at D.C Coast to Coast have done so much for me and my music that I can’t begin to have the words to thank them enough. 




Mar 01

Star Supporter: Clayton “Big Trigger” Corley Sr.

Slide3Clayton (Big Trigger) Corley, Sr.

A native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He developed his love of writing at the age of 14 and his love of jazz from as far back as he can remember. While in high school, he wrote for the school newspaper and was recognized by the Pulitzer Prize Committee for his articles about the West Philadelphia High Speed-boys basketball team. As of May 2005, he became a published author with the release of Universal Moods (a short story collection). Clayton credits his literary influences from the likes of poets Langston Hughes and George Moses Horton, but more especially his mother Barbara M. Ayers.

His love of jazz stems from childhood when he was asked to play the albums belonging to his father James S. Ayers while they entertained guests in the basement of their home. Yes, they ran a speakeasy and Clayton was the “Record Guy.” His parent’s collection consisting of artists such as Miles Davis, Errol Garner, Cannonball Adderley, and Nancy Wilson. Conversations with his father created the foundation for his broad knowledge of jazz. Clayton feels that jazz and poetry were made for each other. Both have elements of improvisation and are major ways of negotiating agendas and communicating with one another. They also have vast history especially as it relates to our culture. These two art forms need to be kept alive and passed down to future generations. That’s what Spotlight on Jazz & Poetry strives to do. He was born under the sign of Pisces. As is true to most born under that sign, Clayton is a “Dreamer.” This trait is evident in his writing, he co-authored a book titled “Universal Moods,” and has helped in formulating the concept for his radio program. Clayton is married, has four children, and one granddaughter.



Spotlight on Jazz & Poetry premiered in April of 2006 and is hosted by Clayton (Bigtrigger) Corley Sr. Beginning January 20, 2008; the show premiered on the new Spotlight on Jazz and Poetry website.

The concept of the show is based on parings of jazz musicians and their poetic contemporaries. During the program, biographical information is provided on each artist, so in a sense you can say that the show is educational as well as entertaining. At Spotlight on Jazz and Poetry, we like to refer to it as “EDUTAINMENT.”

The goal of the program is to educate everyone, about the history and importance of Jazz and Poetry. Clayton does a lot of research on each artist that is showcased on the program, so he stays pretty busy. He has collected so much music over his lifetime that he probably will never run out of artists to showcase. He is passionate about keeping the history of Jazz and Poetry in the forefront of black culture and consciousness.

The first show highlighted the music of John Coltrane and the poetry of Amiri Baraka. Spotlight on Jazz and Poetry (SOJP) has since featured artists such as Dinah Washington (musician), George Benson (musician), Arine Ward (poet), Stephane Moore (poet), and Stephen J. Ferguson (musician). Leaving no stone unturned, SOJP features both legends and the newer artists in both genres. SOJP is also known for its in-depth interviews with artists such as Nikki Giovanni (poet) and Mulgrew Miller (musician) Jean Claude Toran (Poet) and Roy Ayers (musician). These interviews provide artists with a forum to talk about their work and the creative process.

Follow on twitter

Follow on facebook


stephen1Note from Stephen


I have known Clay for about 4 years now, if not more. He has done so much for not just me but every indie artist that has had the pleasure to connect with him. Thank you Clay. Thanks from myself and thanks from the indie artist community as a whole. You are the man.







Mar 01

Star Supporter: Karen R. Sanderson Elliot

Slide6Karen R. Sanderson Elliot

Raised by a mother who wanted to be an English teacher and who worked for Merriam-Webster as a proofreader and an aunt who could complete the Sunday New York Times crossword in a day. Their favorite expression was, “Look it up!” Karen reads punctuation and grammar manuals for fun.

Karen is an editor and proofreader, blogger, and writer. She edits fiction and non-fiction including: sci-fi, fantasy, children’s, mystery, paranormal, western, horror, historical, literary, and journalism. Karen completed her writing coursework through UCLA, the University of New Mexico, and Santa Fe Community College. She was the winner of the SouthWest Writers 2009 Writing Contest – The Best Hook. Her short stories have been featured in The Rose & Thorn Journal, Every Child is Entitled to Innocence anthology, Valley Living Magazine,, and She is currently working on collections of short stories and poetry.

Visit Karen’s website

Visit Karen’s Blog


stephen1Note from Stephen

I have known Karen for a few years and I can always count on her to give my music a chance to be heard. You are like a sister to me Karen. All my love.


Mar 01

Star Supporter: LaFrenchie Bowman

Slide1La Frenchie Bowman

Certified Clinical Medical Assistant, inspirational speaker for 24 years.
Her facebook page is Women Bouncing Back which is an inspirational tool used to inspire women that has or is still emotionally, physically and mentally scarred by any form of abuse. She is that voice.


“Thank you Mr. Ferguson for thinking of me. I believe that music is also a form healing. Your music has done that for me as well as others I’m sure. Thank you and God Bless”.


stephen1Note from Stephen

This dear friend has supported my music for a few years now. She is an amazing and passionate person and she has and always will have my deepest thanks. Not just for supporting my music but for being a true friend.


Feb 13

Where It All Started. New Single from Stephen Jerome Ferguson

Slide8I started my road of creating music in 1969 in a city that was not really considered a music town but to those that have lived there or were raised there, know that Washington D.C. was full of great music and great music talents. It was considered a central hub of the east coast.

This new single titled Where It All Started, gives you an idea of where I come from. This piece will be on my “Ten” CD coming the spring of this year. Enjoy!


Jan 31

The Art of it all

goldviolinMany people believe that the music an artist creates has a lot to do with the music they were exposed to over the years. This is only partly true for most artists. The music that most artists are exposed to in their formative times, basically just gives them a vehicle to express something more. Music, writing, photography, painting, gives us a chance to express our feelings, emotions and views. It allows us to give life to things we have experienced in our lives and our personal values. Art gives us the opportunity to express things that are difficult for us to speak about or to even put into words. The art that is created by people that follow this formula may not be as popular as others. Why? Because many of these feelings or ideas that are expressed may not be popular or even easily understood by the person viewing or listening to it because there may not be a point of reference. Does that make the art any less artistic?

There are many artists, especially recording artists out there trying to “make it” in the music industry now. They spend months trying to create something that will be popular and accepted as good by their audience. They spend hours attempting to sound like music they hear on the radio every day. Unfortunately, they end up sounding just like most of the other artists using this same philosophy.

Many artists have asked me why is it that my music is not well received in the United States but doing well in overseas markets? The answer may not be popular but it is simple. The American listening audience is into instant gratification. Our society on a whole is based on it. If an American listener is not grabbed by a song in the first 8 to 10 seconds then they are off to something else. Most listeners in the overseas markets will listen to the complete piece before they decide if they like it or not.

So, how do you become the next Stevie Wonder or Prince? First, create from your heart. Create from your own personal experiences that other people can relate to. Begin your project in a way that will grab the listener’s attention. I hate to say it, but in order to be popular in the U.S. market, you must take into consideration our short attention span and the instant gratification aspects._facebook_-339148629

Older posts «

%d bloggers like this: