Schneider speaks about SOPA,PIPA

In part two of the Washburn Review’s three-part series featuring local record producer Paul Schneider, owner of Rundown Recording Studios, he spoke about the music industry and the process of opening a small business. Schneider mentioned in the first article that he plans to change the culture of Topeka, so it gains a reputation for record producing similar to Nashville or Los Angeles.

Aside from his job as a record producer, Schneider works full-time as a firefighter in Lawrence and is a solo musician. Schneider’s dual roles as both an artist and producer gave him a unique perspective when two recently-defeated pieces of legislation were introduced before the US Senate and House of Representatives, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA).

“You know, I kind of fall on both sides of it,” said Schneider. “Bands, record labels, producers put a lot of money into people–bands, people, performers–to build a product for sale. I mean, that really is what a performer or band is, a product for sale. They are groomed through the music, through the look, through their advertising. So when people take the music or the movies, whatever it may be, for free, then that has a business impact on the people who get paid. For instance, me as a studio. If less places have money to put into production, then that’s going to hurt me business-wise.”

However, he believed the pieces of legislation were about something more than illegally-downloaded music or movies.

“To me, the real struggle is not particular about giving away music, it’s about control over the Internet space, which is a huge industry that’s not regulated or taxed,” said Schneider. “So really, I don’t think it’s as much about some kid downloading Green Day for free as it a way to have some sort of legislative control over a large, massive people-controller and money producer, in order to build revenue.”

Schneider also expressed his opinions on Gov. Sam Brownback’s decision to cut funding to the Kansas Arts Commission last May, a decision which cut $689,000 from the state budget and an additional $1.2 million in matching funds from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Mid-America Arts Alliance.

“Here’s my opinion on that,” said Schneider. “Even though I’m in the arts, I tend to be a little more conservative. My belief is in personal responsibility, and the fact that I think if government gives arts money, then really there can be people in control of that money that can just produce what they want. It might be completely shitty and nobody likes it.”

“But if they take the public funding away–when I say public, I mean government, understand that already the public without government intervention has stepped in and donated money towards the arts commission–well what that provides then is maybe a more collective group of people can say ‘You know what, who likes the shitty stuff?’ and one person raises their hand like ‘I did that because I thought it was cool,” but nobody else likes it, well no money is going to go to that, because nobody else likes it except for one dude. But the stuff that a lot more people can enjoy, a lot more people can get involved in, the money will come because then the people who like it will start to donate.”

Schneider said he believes the money would be more beneficial to artists if it came straight from private citizens, rather than being funneled through the bureaucratic system.

“The same thing with people that have issues that have issues with getting jobs or homeless, I know that my church and my community and firefighters, we come together and help our own, so people gather around other people,” said Schneider. “We don’t have to have government to do that for us. In my mind… I think it’s up to all of us as a whole, as a people, to take care of each other. As soon as we start giving money to politicians, only a small percent goes back to help you. If I give a politician 100 bucks to help you, he’s going to give you 5 and take the other 95. Honest to God. But if I just go ahead and instead give you the 100 bucks myself, or just even give you 85 and keep another 15 to help somebody else out, it benefited more people. In my mind, government’s just going to eff it up.”

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