Five Questions with Singer-Songwriter Kela Parker

Singer-Songwriter Kela Parker

This week we would like you to meet one of our Individual Creator Members, Kela Parker.

1. Can you take us through your process? How long does it take? Does everything you produce make money?

Making music is this weird time warp where you can spend days working something that is ultimately only going to be a few seconds of actual music. Aspects of the creative process can come together very quickly, but the more I do it, the more I want to be thorough and really think about my choices. No, not everything a musician creates makes money!

2. When did you first become aware of copyright and why?

I took a class in college about the emerging “copyleft” movement that covered the history of copyright and how digital media and means of distribution (file-sharing, creative commons licensing, etc.) were changing that. As a music creator I wanted to understand the laws around the type of work I do. Though I appreciate the general spirit of the “shared economy,” I don’t see a lot of examples of it being the most sustainable way to create an actual livelihood. In fact, in many ways the lack of regulation and lack of valuing of a musician’s work is really only a dimension of neoliberalism; the playing field is so open that anyone is allowed entry, everyone works insanely hard for very irregular reward without any industry regulations, and everyone’s work is devalued.

3. What is your best piece of advice, that you would give other creators in your field, about copyright and how to protect themselves?

I have heard of smaller artists having work “stolen” by writers and producers for big pop stars, and their cases getting tangled up in the courts and bled dry by legal fees. I’d say the only thing you can do is make sure you have copyright on your work, but also be aware of what channels you put it into.

4. What is your biggest copyright-related challenge?

Currently almost my entire song catalogue has copyright pending because the copyright offices are backed up by at least two years! I have yet to have anything come up of any concern but it is nice to know you own the rights to your work.

5. If there was one aspect of the copyright law that you could change, what would that be and how would you change it?

The rate court system really needs to be reformed. It is an outdated and inefficient process that really does not work in the interest of creators. A faster, less expensive process would work much better for both the artists and the system itself. The more creators’ work is valued within the actual written laws, the more leverage music creators have to ask for a fair rate in every aspect of the industry.

Kela Parker
Brooklyn, NY

Are you one of our Individual Creator Members? Participate in our Creator Spotlight series! Please email us at And if you aren’t already a member of the Alliance, you can join today by completing our Individual Creator Members membership form!

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