Adam Rafferty – Guitar and Spirit

All about music, guitar, spirituality, personal development and being happy


Adam Rafferty – “Billie Jean” by Michael Jackson – Solo Fingerstyle Guitar

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A solo version of one of my favorite Michael Jackson Tunes! It seemed like a cool idea due to the clearly separate bassline and melody! Enjoy!!! Get Free PDF lessons and tabs at:

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Critical Info for Youtube Musicians Who Perform Cover Songs

Greets Friends. I am sitting in NYC’s Laguardia Airport on the way to the Bermuda Guitar Festival. Normally I would have spent the last 48 hours practicing my tail off for the show. This time was different.

I did get some practicing in, but I had an issue that became what I call “pants on fire” i.e. something that needed to be addressed right away…danger Will Robinson, danger!!! I spent this last 48 hours in front of the computer – namely re-encoding and uploading videos to a new channel on Youtube. Why, you ask? Read on….

[psst – subscribe to the new adam rafferty channel here]

Why Youtube is Critical for Musicians

As you probably know, Youtube is critical for musicians at this point in time. No longer is a record company or magazine review needed to get in front of people’s eyeballs – all you need is a self produced video and an internet connection to reach fans worldwide.

My entire fingerstyle guitar career has materialized through my youtube videos and presence – and I am not the only guy who can say this. I think it has helped countless musicians presents themselves to fans, concert promoters, and sell CD’s and DVD’s, book workshops and who knows what else. Many musicians have gotten a boost from this incredibly genius, earthshaking (but really friggin’ stupid) website called Youtube. I know I have.

Watch the Video, Click the Textbox onscreen To Subscribe to the NEW channel:

In my case my 2 most popular videos are Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” and Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition”. As you may know, I released a Stevie Wonder instructional guitar DVD teaching the arrangements I play on Youtube. All the marketing, customer base, etc is from youtube.

Cover tunes help musicians “get out there”. You might not search for a new artist, especially if you have never heard of them. The Beatles, Stones and Led Zeppelin were cover bands which wove their own material in. Hence, cover tunes are helping me immensely!

[psst – subscribe to the new adam rafferty channel here]

By the Way, Youtube is one HUGE Copyright Infringement Platform

Here’s the rub. All of my cover tunes on Youtube – and anyone’s cover tunes on Youtube are flat out, no questions asked copyright infringement. Yep, if you are not paying for a license, it is copyright infringement. Does not matter if you did it for fun and not for money, does not matter if it is YOU playing the song. Copyright Violation. Period. Grow up if you wnat to argue or think otherwise!

This poses quite a dilemma. My “new fan” traffic comes from people searching the tune titles – not me, as far as I can tell. They find me via the tune connection, and like magic, I have new fans. These infringing videos are critical to my career, as you can see. Few people start out by caring about Adam’s or anyone’s originals – relatively speaking. However when they find my Billie Jean, they flip out!

(EMI told me a one year license for one tune is about $2500. I may even pay for a tune or two – more to come in another blog post.)

So if you do ANY cover tunes AT ALL – you better keep reading and get real with yourself about where it is all heading.

[psst – subscribe to the new adam rafferty channel here]

Youtube Account Deletion – It’s Happening More Than Ever!

Several musicians have had their entire accounts from Youtube deleted after achieving a high profile through popular videos of cover songs. That’s all videos, comments, messages, friends and subscribers gone all at once.

This really would suck for me if it happens. I have 11 thousand people who have subscribed to my channel, and I’d lose contact with them. Ouch! That’s fans and customers. It’s like the ultimate targeted mailing list for an artist gets destroyed.

Glowing comments that show concert promoters that I have fans. Fans means ticket sales to them, so part of my presentation for concerts is based on my youtube presence.

It does not matter if many many other people play the same cover song as you on Youtube. YOU or I could be singled out, have videos removed and once you have an account in “bad standing” and get 3 offenses, your account is deleted.

Youtube – for the geniuses you are, how could you be so moronic to have set up a website where copyright infringement is so easy, and then hurt users so badly in a seemingly random, inconsistent fashion?

What really sucks the big one is that Youtube is totally inconsistent in how they deal with offenders. Also – the more popular you become, the more of a target you become as publishers search their own tunes and report to Youtube on who to axe.

[psst – subscribe to the new adam rafferty channel here]

Warner Music Group
It appears that songs administered by Warner it seems are the most dangerous to use. Once Warner bitches to Youtube about a video, youtube says “Uncle” by flagging, maybe deleting your account. UMG seems to do ad overlays on videos of cover songs which is a much nicer, less hurtful thing to do.

Don’t Believe Me?
Naudo is a guitarist whose instrumental covers were very popular had his account deleted. Read here:

A friend just informed me that his instrumental guitar version of “What a Wonderful World” was deleted and his account is now in bad standing. His buddy, a beatboxer, had 30K subscribers and his account was deleted because he did covers.

A teen girl singing Winter Wonderland got deleted.

The official word here:

This makes me very nervous, to be honest which is why I am taking action before there is a problem.

My concert booking and DVD and CD “pipeline” is my Youtube channel due to my covers – particularly Billie Jean and Superstition along with other popular covers.

After thinking long and hard, I have come up with an action plan of solutions that I am implementing that you may want to consider for yourself to stay afloat in this tricky minefield. Read all of them to get a picture mentally before you implement anything.

[psst – subscribe to the new adam rafferty channel here]

9 Solution Action Steps

Step 1 – Write your own tunes, or use public domain tunes!
Build up a body of your own material and why not check out traditionals, hyms, and look up the definition of “public domain” tunes. This way no one can ever accuse you of copyright violation. Not easy but legal! Get started. I am amazed that people on Youtube learn my material.

God bless those of you like Andy McKee, Tommy Emmanuel, Don Ross and so on. You guys who have well loved original tunes. No one can ever take you down for your originals!

Step 2 – Create a Copyright-Infringement-Free youtube account if you are infringing (i.e. if you have any cover tunes you did not write) on your current account. I am in the process of launching a new youtube channel which will have my original tunes, lessons (not of songs though), messages to fans, rants and so on. YES – I do covers so I am infringing. Let’s call a spade a spade.

Here is the new non infringing channel – and yes, I am asking you to subscribe here in one click right now:

Here is the old channel – subscribe here too, but who knows what the future brings. This is where the cover tunes are:

Of course you can delete infringing videos from your current account but that’s what we want to avoid. Or – we want to get the max out of the infringing videos yet not suffer the full blow of punishment! 🙂

Step 3 – If you must do covers (and I must!) then consider uploading your videos of covers to several other video sites. Hint – check out to make this easy. Just do a google search on “best youtube alternatives” to get educated about where you can host videos. Vimeo, Viddler, Dailymotion are a few.

Remember – if these are infringements, they can at one point be removed from those sites too….but proceed to Step 4.

Here are a few links to my Billie Jean and Superstition on other sites. Yes other video sites exist! I’ll probably embed these….

Step 4 – Put a “pointer” video on Youtube so that a search on Youtube points to a video on a different video site. Unfortunately, Youtube is the 500 LB gorilla and searches are done there more than any other video site.

As soon as I do one, I will link it here for you.

I plan to put up pointer videos – which means if you search “Michael Jackson Billie Jean Guitar” for example, you’ll get a video of me talking, not playing. I’ll say something like “Hi everyone, I am playing nice with Youtube and have a link below this video screen so you can see me play Billie Jean on another site”.

If you have several versions of the same video up across several sites, and one gets deleted, you can always change the link to view the video on some “other site” but retain the search capabilities of Youtube with a non-infringing video – the pointer video. I repeat – we want to take advantage of the Youtube search function, but the infringing material is not on the Youtube server. All that’s on the Youtube server is a pointer video you (or me) talking and a link.

Step 5 – Don’t upload exact duplicate video files from your old to your new channel.

I started re-uploading videos and saw that there might be an issue with 2 accounts uploading exact duplicate files. No sweat. Just go into your original movie editing files and re-output the movie with a few seconds extra on the file, maybe different compression. If the file size and play length are different that “ought” to make the Youtube system see them as 2 different videos.

Step 6 – Do this while your infringing account is active – before anything bad happens It’s like insurance. Easier and less expensive to deal with before disaster strikes.

Step 7 – Put up a new announcement video on the old channel announcing the new channel and urge subscribers to re- subscribe.

Step 8 – (Optional) I may even do an audio-swap on the original infringing videos if I get flagged. More to come on that, as I am not decided yet. I could keep the old vid up with an audio swap, retain the lovely comments and have the old video “point” to another vid.

Step 9 – Get a new habit!!! Watch videos on other sites and don’t be lazy! EAsier said than done. Youtube has to be slightly decentralized so that we are all not at their mercy. What a pain in the ass this is becoming. Excuse my French.

[psst – subscribe to the new adam rafferty channel here]

ADAM’S PROPHECY for 2012 🙂

The days of posting copyrighted material for free will come crashing down and screeching to a halt just like the golden age of when everyone thought that gigabytes and gigabytes of mp3’s were and should be free. I’t only a matter of time. I’d rather prepare than get caught blindsided!

For example, I can type in “Stevie Wonder Songs in the Key of Life” on a Youtube search and I get a nice little playlist of the whole ORIGINAL album, with the visual being a scan of the record cover. Millions and millions of plays and no one – Stevie or the publisher gets paid just because a random person felt like sharing it. IN ALL FAIRNESS – WHAT IF THAT WERE YOUR INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY? If someone shared my instructional material for which I get paid I would be very upset.

This will not last. No one is getting paid for the plays. And sorry – music should not be free unless it’s your creation and you decide to give it away for free.

FYI Here is a nifty video that I found on restoring suspended accounts.

Good luck and be prepared!


Subscribe to the new adam rafferty channel here


Guitar Spotlight: Smokin’ Joe Robinson

Guitar Spotlight: Smokin ‘ Joe Robinson

Joe Robinson is one of the shining young talents on the music scene today. He won top prize on “Australia’s got Talent” at age 14, has toured internationally and is currently honing his songwriting and vocal skills with top songwriters and producers in Nashville.

I first met Joe during my first visit to CAAS 2008 in Nashvlle. I only heard him play one tune and found myself at the dinner table with him an his Mom. His playing knocked me out, so I figured I’d come over and say hi.

What struck me about Joe immediately was that he was such a nice, humble kid. For someone who had won top prize on “Australia’s Got Talent” he had every reason in the world to not act humble. Yet, the true artist and musician in him shone forth in his great attitude. Joe is always eager to learn, always seeking to improve, and always appreciative of what life has offered him.

Wow. Cool dude.

What struck me second was his insane level of talent and dedication to music and guitar. Joe, Michael Fix, Boonchob, Masa Sumide and I all played in 2009 at the Bangkok Guitar celebration where Tommy Emmanuel headlined. I got to spend some more time with Joe there and got to check out his playing on a deeper level.

Joe may not know this, but as he played his set – Tommy , Michael and I listened and just loved what he was doing. Tommy even said “this kid is not leaving any notes for the rest of us old guys!!!”

By the way here’s the tune that got that reaction – an original of Joe’s entitled “It Ain’t Easy”. Well put!

Not only does Joe posses terrific playing, performing and personal skills but he is a great guitar composer. HIs songs have a real musical “hook” and a ferocious groove. He has a very “jazzy” direction to his music.

Here’s a more funky jazz direction on his tune “Daddy Longlicks”:

Many guitarists meander and create songs out of what their fingers do. Joe’s fingers obey what his ears and musical mind dictate, which is the proper order of things!!! As well, his songs display a keen sense of form, everything lines up, everything makes sense.

Joe is already an accomplished fingerstyle guitar player but plays GREAT electric too, and is currently in a songwriting and expanding mode. Once again – my hat is off to him for taking the necessary time out from the road to develop new skills.

Listen to Joe cover a Jeff Beck tune “Cause We Ended as Lovers”. This is a MUST listen.

Watch out for Joe Robinson – he’s destined to be one of the guitar heavyweight champions!!! Bravo Joe, I can’t wait to hear what you’ll be up to next.


Spring 2010 Tour Highlights, Miracles and Averted Catastrophes

Hey Gang!

I am back in good ol’ NYC and feeling so satisfied and thankful for the incredible European solo guitar tour Feb 27 – Apr 27, 2010. Special thanks to all the friends and fans who came together to make every gig a screaming success!!!

Looking back, here are the “News Headlines” of this unforgattable tour.

The Backpack Incident

Touring alone ain’t easy – so I am on the lookout for a traveling partner / soundman assistant type person. Let me know if you or someone you know may be interested. Traveling alone it is easy to make a mistake – just like this…

On March 5 I had a gig in Eschweiller, Germany. As I was about to step out of the train, the door was broken and would not open. I had to get out and get to the gig…and other riders said “you need to use the other door”.

No problem. I grabbed 2 guitars and my suitcase and ran off the train. Uh oh….where’s my backpack with my laptop, passport, paper train tix AND plane tix, guitar pedals, 2 ipods, 2 cell phones…it’s still on the train heading to Aachen! D’oh!

Just imagine. Your life is on this train as it’s pulling out (different town, but same feeling):

Hallelujah! A young student found it and called me within 15 minutes. Had it been a major city like Brussels I probably could kiss the backpack goodbye. Problem solved…needless to say this young fella got free CDs, DVDs and lifetime admission to any of my concerts…

Roll Over Amadeus! Concert at the Vienna Mozart Haus

As I wrote in a previous blog post, it was a thrill to play in the house in Vienna where Mozart lived. It is there that he and Haydn met. At first I felt apologetic to ol’ Amadeus as I busted out the human beatbox on Herbie Hanckock’s CHAMELEON, and then realized – he would have liked it.

I felt his smile in the room. Thanks Wolfgang!

Oxford Jazz Festival and Big Bang Max

Well, a lot of guys say they’ll give you the shirts off their backs. Actually Max – owner of Big Bang in Oxford London tore his shirt in half for me in the middle of a concert so I could wipe sweat from the bald head o’ mine.

That’s a dedicated fan!!!! Yeah Max!!!

I got to hang there for 2 sold out concerts and 2 late night jazz Jams. Can’t wait to go back for the frighteningly tasty bangers & mash next time!


Yes, I was 3 hours outside London and had a plane ticket all set for London to Berlin on April 16 and then this cute little volcano happened, creating a historic air travel deadlock worse than Sept 11. Luckily I moved quickly to buy a train ticket and made it outta there!

Travel started at 3:30 am after the last UK gig and didn’t stop until 8pm. 17 hours of trains more crowded than NYC subways at rush hour – and straight to soundcheck and the gig in Magdeburg, Germany. The audience and vibes were so great that the gig was one of the best on the tour. Yes, I slept late the next day.

Adam Rafferty at Blue Note Magdeburg April 16, 2010

Adam Rafferty at Blue Note Magdeburg April 16, 2010

SUPERNATURAL Festival – Belgrade, Serbia

Wow. This gig was a milestone…this festival is called the “Woodstock of Serbia” – no less than 3000 people in the crowd, a killer sound system and a non stop party. PA speakers were 3 stories high….beatbox and percussion were awesome through this rig.

That’s the tour in an itty bitty nutshell. Thank you for viewing, listening, reading.

Keep swingin’