Now it's 2011, let's say April or so. I don't remember exactly, but a friend of mine messaged me on AIM saying that D had contacted him asking him to tell me to take the review down. I laughed. Or more accurately, I probably typed, "LOL!" It was about a year and a half after the fact, and I couldn't believe D was bringing this up with my friend, who by the way has no connection to Yoshida or purple SKY, and only knows D through the it's-a-small-world community of Jrock in LA. I told my friend to tell D that if she can contact me directly. You can't go through mutual friends as if that will have some sway over taking the review down. In fact, it has the OPPOSITE effect, and just shows me that D doesn't know how to do PR.
I didn't hear anything until July 24 when I got a message via Facebook.
I think [redacted] mentioned I would be messaging you regarding Tadahisa Yoshida.
I know it's been a long time since the review that was done for Purple Sky however, the response to the content has been a bit negative for Tada and has upset some of his fellow bandmates by their having been included or referenced. He has asked me several times to contact you regarding what could possibly be done to get the review taken down.
He, as do I, completely respect that everyone is entitled to their own opinion and were this a bit more in the future, I/we would not be making this request. But this goes back to what I had orginally comment to you in the beginning after the review was published, in asking for it to be removed as it could be detremental to a young artist. While no press is bad press, for someone in Tada's position, it ended up just that, bad press.
I would be happy to officially send a request to you and your publisher, or whomever at Purple Sky to further have this request consdered. Perhaps an oppotunity to interview him after this next project is completed, which is with a major label, would be a fair trade for removal of the old article.
As I said earlier, freedom of the press and opinion is important and we dearly respect that however, I/we hope that being in the industry, you would consider this as a professional courtesy and a contribution to this young man's future career.
Thank You Sarah for your consideration. You may reply to me here or at: [redacted]
Warm Regards, D
There's a small part of me that couldn't believe this was real. My review was about 500 words long, posted about two years ago, and no one I know has mentioned it since. How could that insignificant piece of the internet affect Yoshida THAT much? Or more realistically, how could he, his bandmates, and his people blame my article for being detrimental (misspelled it may have been)? Was there some record label that was Google-searching Yoshida, found my article, and immediately proclaimed him a hack because of what I had wrote?
No. That's impossible. First of all, who am I? I mostly do live reports and interviews nowadays, and I wouldn't say I'm a well-known, respected music critic. I like to think I'm a GOOD writer, but I'm not internet famous enough to make or break someone's career. Second, there are a dozen or so articles out there about Yoshida that I came across in 2009 that praised him. I wonder if D went around and successfully convinced other negative nancies to take their reviews down. Third, and most important, this all sounded like scapegoating. I'm not an expert on talent scouting by any means, but what I do know is that record labels sign artists based on a long list of factors. Sure, one-liners from critics are important for a press kit, but even without that, you still have to go on talent, crowd reaction, marketability, artist's attitude (this will come into play a little bit later), etc etc etc and etc to infinity.
Nevermind how unprofessional it is to ask a reviewer to take a review down because the artist got hurty hurts. If my review had been "IT STINKS" in a Jon Lovitz voice a la The Critic, then I would understand. But I gave my honest opinion with a little bit of something positive just so I didn't seem too cynical. Either way, asking me to take it down again two years after I had said no, and trying to make it seem like it ruined his chances at whatever he was trying to do in the music business, just shows that he and D have no idea how to approach press.
I didn't reply with that. I wanted to, but I didn't. So I sent D this:
The reply came, but not from D. From the MAN GOD MUSICIAN GENIUS TADAHISA YOSHIDA HIMSELFNESS!
Where do I start? Seriously? Where? The beginning? Ok.
The disclaimer is hilarious. He "respects" what I'm doing, but hates my review. Hates. His English is good enough that he can type all this out, so I'm not going to assume that's a vocabulary deficiency problem. Besides, you NEVER use the word for "hate" in Japanese, unless it's something like, "I hate AIDS!"
Then the comment asking if a friend said he was an asshole. I had heard through the grapevine that people disliked him, but regardless of what people feel toward him personally, I am always fair. That goes either way. If someone is really nice to me but makes awful music, chances are I'll simply refuse to do a review. Sure, I'll make up some excuse or pass it along, but I'm not going to lie in an article. If the opposite happened and someone was personally disrespectful or just plain mean, I would refuse to review them, which is basically what I said to D before I got Yoshida's email. The reason why I do this is so that whoever reads my articles knows I'm telling it exactly as it is. No pretenses here. So when an artist gets a review where I praise them tirelessly, they know I'm pouring my heart out as honestly as possible.
Now we get into the technicalities here. Demo CD this album was not. (Thank you, Yoda.) I followed the link D sent me exactly, downloaded it, listened, and didn't review any other piece of music on his Myspace or whatever. If you read through D's emails from 2009, you won't see any mention of a demo. In fact, it was presented to me as a finished project, so I treated it as such. It's at this point that I started to draw conclusions. Either D had misrepresented herself and actually was not working for Yoshida or Yoshida was looking for any last resort excuse for me to take it down. I guess he figured if appealing to me with "I respect you but hate your article" didn't get me to take it down, saying I got sent the wrong product would.
But then it got more peculiar. On Myspace, in the press kit, and through D's emails, Yoshida was presented as a solo artist. D even said that the name of his latest CD at the time was called "Electric Defect". The album art had a picture of Yoshida in an electric chair with the words "ELECTRIC DEFECT" and "TADAHISA YOSHIDA" on it, which you can see here. Never once was there any indication that the name of his PROJECT (or band) was Electric Defect.
As you could see in the previous post, I have all the emails that indicate he is the artist with a support band and the name of the album was Electric Defect, AND it wasn't presented as a demo CD, AND it was sent to me for review. This is when was get into the part about "copywrite" [sic!!!!!]. His issue seemed to be with the use of his name, not so much the cover art, which would kind of be the smart thing to attack for copyright issues. I later found out that you cannot copyright a name, but you can trademark it like Sarah Palin apparently did. Someone who works in copyrighting and trademarking tried to look up his name, and nothing came up. Even if he had trademarked it, it's not illegal to use a name. Brand names, mascots, and characters are usually trademarked or restricted, but I could write an opinion piece about how Coca-Cola gives me a terrible after taste and is only good if I'm really super drunk, and even only then for puke-inducing purposes. The only thing I couldn't do is put Coca-Cola on a Tshirt with a picture of me puking on a sidewalk and try to sell it. That's mostly because Coca-Cola wouldn't make a profit from it.
And now the "legal shit". This sounds like something he just put in there because at this point he was on his fifth beer. But just mentioning it is enough to send up red flags. He has no case. None. My article is protected in the US and Japan under free speech and freedom of the press. There was nothing in that to indicate I was producing slander, and even still, that is extremely difficult to prove, hence why cases of celebrities suing tabloids make headlines in the entertainment world.
Then there's the "talk to me" bullshit. Honestly, it creeped me out. There is something very unnerving about the way it was thrown in there, almost mafia-esque in the way that he put some veiled threats, mixed them with lies, then wants to "talk". Like you'll find me strangled in a back ally soon after that "talk".
It delves further into creep territory when he says we could be "good friend" [sic]. Don't even get me started how he assumes we would be friends because we like "Japanese stuff", as in "You should just like me because I'm Japanese". If I wanted to befriend some shallow wannabe musician who had too much time on his hands because no one will sign him, I'd hang out in host clubs. Even then, they probably wouldn't threaten to sue me. The thing is, you can't say you hate my article, then suggest we could be friends. It reminds me of this comedian (I forgot his name) who talks about how Italian-Americans will add "no disrespect" to the cruelest things just to avoid confrontation. "Hey, your mother's a fatass, five-dollar whore who'll go down on a homeless crack addict as long as he coughs up the dough... NO DISRESPECT!"
The piece de resistance: the final paragraph. Note the sarcastic "good luck with your career", then how he quickly adds that the jrock world is small (yes, where he is it's tiny). Then he hints that he will basically make sure I'm blacklisted. Allow me to guffaw from my ivory tower as I look down on him. Does he think he has sway in the industry? If he did, he'd be signed and have his name in lights already. A friend told me that he "knows Sugizo", but at this point, EVERYONE knows Sugizo. There's a difference between "knowing" someone and "working" with them. I've actually worked with Sugizo and would say that professionally, we are on good terms. Even still, I'm going to venture a guess and say that I probably have a longer contacts list than he does. But this isn't a contest of who knows who.
In fact, I'm the one with the upper hand here. I forwarded this email to Kathy and she in turn posted a note on Facebook, tagging PR people and other friends who might care. Everyone thought he was ridiculous and unprofessional, but more importantly, a few said, "Thanks for the heads up!" and will never work with him. If he acts this brazenly toward someone who does NOT work for him and who wrote a 500 word article two years ago, how do you think he would treat his staff? It's possible that one of the reasons why he hasn't been signed is because he is so difficult to work with. Imagine how he would act toward a producer telling him to change something about his music. Or a stage manager who told him he can't do something on stage. Or a marketing person who put out an ad he didn't like. He's not Kanye West. He doesn't have the talent and fame to back him up on his diva attitude. If you're not humble and can't take criticism from the person whose job it is to criticize you, then you're a lost cause. I hate to be cliche, but if you can't stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen. And the music industry is blazing hot.
So now that we've come over the hill that is the climax of our story, let's get to the resolution. Kathy sent an email to Yoshida telling him briefly that my article is protected under the First Amendment. However...
If that were the case, then I would wonder why I wasn't told that from the get-go. Plus, this is a pretty serious accusation that could ruin D's career. If he was just butt-hurt about the article and was willing to throw D under the bus for it, then he had to realize what he was getting into. And apparently, he didn't give a shit.
Kathy forwarded this to me, by the way.
He has no idea how press works. Have I said that enough? He also doesn't seem to realize that I forwarded all those emails and CC'ed Kathy in whenever I could. Kathy knows the whole story. And what else doesn't he understand? Hm let's see... oh yeah! That Kathy wasn't talking about his rights. She was talking about mine. That bit about reporting D to the AP, Reuters, and ASMP had nothing to do with his rights. Poor, loyal D might have her reputation tarnished because he got butt-hurt. (Not that D is the best person to work with, but if you are blacklisted by AP, Reuters, and ASMP, you basically will "never work in this town again", as they say.)
Kathy took the article down in the end. She sent Yoshida one last email about that, explained that his name couldn't be copyrighted, and that the final decision was hers, regardless of how I felt.
So how do I feel about the article being taken down? Well, this makes for an excellent story to return to LJ with. Plus, it makes a better statement by having the article up with the original title and just the words, "This article has been hidden as a courtesy per the artist’s request. It is not purple SKY’s policy to censor the freedom to express opinions in articles and we stand by the first amendment right to freedom of press." I think it's brilliant.
Now, does this stop me from being honest? Absolutely not. In fact, it encourages me to write more. I will support the artists who have talent and are willing and open to the media. And if they're not? Then well, I won't even let them "talk to me" because I don't think "we could be friend"... singular.