During an AVNation Special, Tim Albright started listing some of the things I do to promote Diversity. I have been asked repeatedly, “Why [are you doing this]?” Allow me to answer that.

Let me be clear, I am sharing my actions to encourage others to follow suit. It is not “virtue signaling”. It is leading by example and sharing some of the actions people can do. Thank you to Alesia Hendley for clarifying the intent during AVWeek Episode 559. To use a quote attributed to Sally Ride, “If you don’t see it, you can’t be it.”Not everything I do to improve the world is public, nor should it be.

Changing employers in 2018 resulted in me being part of a much more diverse workplace. Many of my coworkers were not middle age white men.  I am surprised at how much of an impact that change has had. While getting to know people I was impressed by people’s backgrounds. People had multiple advanced degrees. People that are across the gender and sexuality spectrums. People of different races. People of different nationalities. Talking with people I became much more aware of the challenges and roadblocks nonwhite straight males have.

Becoming more aware of the challenges people face, I started to notice discrepancies more often. A few events and conversations were very impactful. It is impossible for me to list everyone and everything. I do want to mention two people, Clarisse (Vamos) Falls and Amy Shira Teitel. they shared experiences that illustrated the situations very well. I asked before I shared their names. The illustrations are amalgams of multiple people’s experiences.

Being a space and science aficionado, I read Amy’s book “Breaking the Chains of Gravity: The Story of Spaceflight before NASA” and enjoyed it. When her next book “Fighting for Space: Two Pilots and Their Historic Battle for Female Spaceflight” was released I added it to my queue. I was already aware of some of the problems. Seeing a more complete picture made me realize how much I did not know or did not notice. While reading Amy’s book, I was amazed at the number of barriers women faced. I learned how widespread and institutionalized the exclusion of women was. When Wally Funk went to space as part of Blue Origin’s first crewed flight news organizations were getting history wrong. They were saying she was part of a NASA program. The study that Wally Funk took part in was not a NASA initiative at all, it was not First Lady Astronaut Training (FLAT). It was a private study heavily subsidized by Jackie Cochrane, a main person in Amy’s book. Women were not part of the astronaut program until January 1978

Within the “diverse” workplaces there is still a lack of action. I understand that the terms guys and dude are widely considered non-gendered. When someone has said repeatedly that they do not appreciate the term and a manager continues to use it, it shows the attitude toward making a change. This hesitancy can also be seen in upper management typically. At many places the ratio of women to men is not even close to even. When women bring it up, they are dismissed as being aggressive or a “bitch”. That is an outright insult. Women are 50%, okay 49.6%, of the population but are not represented at that same level in many fields.

I worked with a man who was an admitted misogynist. He told people, but more importantly his actions in the workplace reflected it. When issues became widespread and noticed human resources had to get involved. The person was suspended for one week. As one of the people who reported incidents, I am still amazed but not surprised that nothing more substantive happened. I feel that if I had not reported the issues, the problems would have been dismissed by HR as “women being too sensitive and needing to get used to it.” Why should women need to accommodate people being mean to them? Why should anyone?

I have watched women told that they would be taken more seriously if their hair looked different. There are times during meetings, people have leaned over and made downright lewd comments about coworkers. I have seen women who have more experience and more knowledge been mansplained to. I almost choked when a man started explaining to a woman about her area of expertise.

At tradeshows I have seen too many women addressed as “Cupcake, Sweetheart, Honey … etc.” At too many shows I have seen women used as eye candy. I have seen women dismissed as not being knowledgeable about a product that they manage. I watched as a man told a woman, a polyglot, she was pronouncing a French word wrong; she is fluent in French.

I could continue with examples for much longer. Think what would happens if someone said to a man, I would take you more seriously if your hair wasn’t brown. Imagine having someone, unrequested, explain your area of expertise to you. I am highlighting problems I often did not notice. I will admit I have done some of these things.

Some would say I am “woke”. I prefer to say I am more aware and observant. I have always known things like this are wrong. I just did not always notice the problems as they are so common it has become normal. 

I previously posted on social media, “The week of Jan 6 has been tumultuous. There are opinions & feelings at hot levels; mine included. There are companies/people that I will no longer do business with as a result of their actions or comments. I understand it will happen to me as well. I am okay with that. #BeKind” I want to clarify a few things and expand on the post, both here on the company website as well as on social media sites.

It is important to live one’s values as they see fit. What works for me may not work for others. That is fine and understandable. However, there are certain lines that need to be respected and adhered to. Many of us know these as societal norms. Some refer to the essay by Robert Fulghum, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten: Uncommon Thoughts on Common Things Some use The Bible, The Koran, The Torah, The Talmud, Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, The US Constitution… etc. They all have some basic guideposts on how to live.

Those who know me have heard me talk about my beliefs and rules of living as well. I have shared them and had them on my personal website for well over a decade. The week of January 6, 2021 was the first time I felt that they were incomplete. I could not apply them cleanly to the situation. As a business owner I firmly believe that I have the right to refuse service to people, if they are not being discriminated against as a protected class. I put those beliefs on the website and even printed it on the back of our first piece of marketing material, a calendar.

The key item I keep coming back to as I wonder how to implement these beliefs at Advisist is the idea of, “We Reserve the Right to Refuse Service to Anyone.” In that section I call out various scenarios that would result in Advisist refusing to work with someone. I kept coming back to, “We believe in free speech, but that does not mean that there won’t be repercussions. We do not work with hate or extremist groups.” That is the line I set forth when I formed the company; that is the litmus test we will continue to use.

President Donald Trump, through his words and actions since losing the 2020 presidential election, entered into the realm of being an extremist. Mr. Trump’s action and words on January 6 and since then have become hateful and extreme.

What does that mean? If you are Republican, Libertarian, Democrat, Independent, or anywhere else on the political spectrum, that is fine; I am happy to work with you. If you still support Mr. Trump after January 6, 2021 I request that you look elsewhere for the services we provide. If you do not believe that the election was a proper election and the outcome accurate, I ask that you look elsewhere for services.

I understand that I may lose business and friends as a result of this approach, however I need to do what I believe is right. I believe in Free Speech and your right to your opinions; I will defend your right to have them. It does not mean that there are not repercussions.

Some of you may have noticed the new image I have added to the left-hand column of my website as well as below. It reads “I do solemnly swear to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States to ensure that the country protects the right of all. – Signed Bradford Benn” (You can create your own image at the American Civil Liberties Union’s Take the #PeoplesOath webpage.

I do solemnly swear to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States to ensure that the country protects the right of all. - Signed Bradford Benn

Seems an odd thing to put on a website at times. It is important to indicate that I believe in the importance of the US Constitution. I believe it is important that all people have the same rights. Not just donors or members of the political elite or celebrities, everyone. I can go into all the reasons that I feel that this stance is necessary. It doesn’t matter why I feel this way, I do believe that it is important to protect everyone. As news is coming in about various changes in openness in information as well as accuracy, I think it is important to do something about it. The approach of removing data is preventing people from having the right to make up their own mind. If one’s personal opinion does not agree with the datum currently available, it does not mean censoring or removing the data.

While we may not all agree on everything, I want to believe that the majority of us will believe in treating people equally. That information is available to everyone especially if it uses public funding. That science is factual. That privacy is a right. The preamble to the US Constitution is an important guidepost often overlooked.

“We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

People appointed to national leadership positions must be knowledgeable about their role. Disagreeing with science while allowed, does not allow for the deletion or removal of information that disproves your stance; especially if you are a public servant. The story Scientists Racing to Archive Climate Data Before Denier-in-Chief Trump Takes Office provides an example.

Illegal surveillance is illegal.

I can go on, but the important thing is to know that the rights of all need protection. As the administration of the 45th President of the United States trundles forward I will probably be posting more of my views; I think that this post is a good start. All of us need to do what we think is right and important.

Bradford Benn
January 24, 2017

There are many things on my mind about David Bowie’s passing yesterday. I am struck by the loss and the suddenness of it. Mr. Bowie knew it was coming and wanted to be private about it. Perhaps that is what makes, I should write made, him so special.

One of my favorite songs is “Heroes”. Whenever a dear friend of mine asks for a favor, he asks, “Will you be a hero…” followed by the request. Those interactions are resonating in my head today even more. My goal is to be a Hero just for one day. I hope you will join me in the effort.

“We can be heroes
We can be heroes
We can be heroes
Just for one day
We can be heroes”
-David Bowie & Brian Eno

Below is a piece I commissioned Mike McKone to draw at C2E2 in 2015. I am not very glad I did. Thank you Bill for convincing me; you are Henchman #1.

David Bowie as the Joker

As some of you might know in my previous life, I was an audio technician touring with various groups – some known and unknown. I also happen to have eclectic musical tastes. In the past few years I have stumbled upon some musicians through the Interwebs. I have supported some through Kickstarter, Bandcamp, buying direct, and most recently Patreon. I also have had some interesting conversations with artists on Twitter.

The most recent interaction I had got me thinking and created this post. But first the recap of the conversation with Marian Call (@mariancall http://mariancall.com) and Kim Boekbinder [Impossible Girl] (@KimBoekbiner http://theimpossiblegirl.com). There were branches in the conversation so I tried to make it as understandable as a Twitter stream from an iPhone can be.

Me: @KimBoekbinder @mariancall i am curious why go to cities where sales are strong and not go to uncharted areas to increase audience base?

Marian: @BradfordBenn @KimBoekbinder I try to alternate. You can’t eat if you play too many uncharted areas. Strong strong weak, strong strong weak.

@BradfordBenn @mariancall Oh yeah – that’s what labels pay for. Those of us without labels can only afford to go where we are wanted.

@BradfordBenn @KimBoekbinder Touring is incredibly expensive, on the order of hundreds per day. If you don’t recover that you sink.

@KimBoekbinder @BradfordBenn My exception was the 50 states tour. I carefully planned strong and weak cities for months.

@KimBoekbinder @BradfordBenn It was a great experience and made lots of new fans, but after 9 months I wound up with $0 in the bank.

@BradfordBenn What @mariancall said. Only I have so few strong cities I can’t get far enough to increase my presence.

@mariancall @BradfordBenn Not only is tour expensive – it is exhausting. So you can’t just work another job to make ends meet.

Me: @mariancall @KimBoekbinder understand the costs of touring. Thanks for clarifications, new world since i was touring as an audio tech. Marian:
@BradfordBenn @KimBoekbinder Audio techs rule. Me:

@KimBoekbinder @mariancall still support both of you & your work and would like to see you both play live. How can i help?

@BradfordBenn @mariancall So cool. I love touring, wish I could just go and go and go.

@BradfordBenn @mariancall Where is Wonderment?

@BradfordBenn @KimBoekbinder Where are you, first of all?

Me: Wonderment is a state of mind, learning and seeing things that are interesting. I travel quite a lot for work, my home is South Bend, IN but have spent time in So Cal the past 3 months. Yes, i listen to you on planes

Marian: Sometimes it takes a couple years but we get there!
@BradfordBenn Folks who get really excited about planning a concert near them, and who can bring 30-50 people, mostly get their way.

@bradfordbenn Not to pile on you! It’s a good question. It’s a funny business, far less profit and far more risk than most folks think.

Me: @mariancall didn’t think piling on. Thanks for concern. Think having good conversation. Might even become a blog post.

Marian: @BradfordBenn Being on my email list is the first best step: http://mariancall.fanbridge.com  this year I won’t tour much, but I will a little.

 @mariancall yup am on the list and have already bought Sketchbook. Will get CD also cause i prefer WAV to FLAC and MP3

I know much of the things that they were talking about from my past experiences, but the scale was very different. Understanding this different economy and music sales process in this century is interesting and different from other businesses. When I travel for work and make sales calls, I often ask to go see the potential customers that are not familiar with my company. When I travel on sales calls, I can interweave existing customers with new customers because there are multiples of each in one city. For a musician that is not always possible, as there are only so many customers (fans) in each city. However the costs remain high for each city, hotel, transport, equipment rental, venue costs… etc.

You may ask, why am I sharing this post and conversation. There are a couple of reasons.

The first was that I found it interesting so I thought my reader would also. As someone involved in the professional audio industry it is very good to hear from other people involved in the process.

It reminds me why it is important to purchase music and not just stream it or download. Pay or support someone for their effort. I am not saying you have to support everyone, but support the artists that you like.

Go out and try new music, search the interwebs, branch out, you might find something you like. Go to concerts that friends have recommended. I think you get the idea.

There are more music outlets than iTunes, Amazon, and Google.

A few suggestions of some of the artists I have been supporting: