A couple weeks ago, one of my oldest and dearest friends, Will Sullivan, received his first royalty check from SESAC. It’s a small event in terms of other issues going on in the world, but one that contains both irony and significance. A note of congratulations, to both Mr. Sullivan and to SESAC, is in order here. Sullivan, also known as Zubito Huascar, received a check for airplay of a song he’s credited as co-writing with Jim Schlauch and myself, the founding members of The Spunkies. As has been reported on this website, Will, Jim and I formed this unique musical aggregation in 1981 after knowing each other since our high school years growing up in Portland, Oregon. We’ve written dozens of songs together by way of informal but creative gatherings. Over the years, we’ve invited selected friends to participate in some of our music creation sessions. To appreciate the full meaning of his first royalty check, one must look a little deeper. Will Sullivan has had limited formal musical training. Yet, his gift for writing lyrics and telling stories from a high plateau of consciousness, adding weight and meaning to the sound and feel of The Spunkies, cannot be overestimated. He is a one-of-a-kind artistic force. Just as importantly, after I arranged for him to be invited to SESAC as a writer affiliate, he took the time to fill out the paperwork. It sounds simple, taking 45 minutes or so to fill out the forms, mail them in and put oneself in position to get paid for their creative work. A one-time-only investment of time that paves the way for a new income stream. Sullivan did the work. As he frequently says, he “loves the business.” He’s constantly honing his craft and embedding himself into the mechanizations of the music business. It’s refreshing, given the amount of cynicism found among many in music. Sadly, lots of talented composers and songwriters allow laziness or lack of ambition to keep them from doing the work necessary to get in on the payment of royalties. It’s heartbreaking to hear artists complain about being victims of the “commerciality of the business” rather than becoming beneficiaries. The most common excuse is something along the lines of "I just care about my art. Art and business don't go together." Yeah? Well, we all have to eat. Performing rights organizations such as SESAC, ASCAP, and BMI provide a means for composers and lyricists hoping for a share of the musical pie. When I worked at SESAC in the 1990’s, they were the first company to devise a sophisticated system of tracking airplay on thousands of radio stations in the United States. By monitoring the performances of music written by their composers, lyricists, and music publisher affiliates, SESAC can compensate those who create music that adds to the culture of this great land. On this historic day, we inaugurated a new president who promises change and new determination. What better time to look at our own pile of work still to be done, and to get past the doubt and lethargy. Starting with ourselves, let us do the work necessary to take our lives and creativity to the next level. For the record, the song that’s garnered worldwide airplay that led to Will Sullivan’s first royalty check is titled "Steppes II," which can be heard regularly on XM Satellite Radio. The song is also available for download from many digital download sites including iTunes. It’s on my latest CD, titled "Bridging Textures," which is available via my website from CD Baby. Meanwhile, I'm happy for my old friend. May this royalty payment be the first of many more to come. I’m proud of him, and proud to be a SESAC affiliate. Jim Hudak – Clayton, CA

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