The Music Gallery: Can Music Ever Be Valued As Fine Art?

Introduction: The Highest Art Auction in History

Recently a Christie’s art sale became the highest auction in history. The sale included works by Jackson Pollock, Roy Lichtenstein and Jean-Michel Basquiat, among others and in total generated $495 million. The sale established 16 new world auction records, with nine works selling for more than $10m (£6.6m) and 23 for more than $5m (£3.2m). Christie’s said the record breaking sales reflected “a new era in the art market”.

The top lot of Wednesday’s sale was Pollock’s drip painting Number 19, 1948, which fetched $58.4m (£38.3m) – nearly twice its pre-sale estimate.

Lichtenstein’s Woman with Flowered Hat sold for $56.1 million, while another Basquiat work, Dustheads (top of article), went for $48.8 million.

All three works set the highest prices ever fetched for the artists at auction. Christie’s described the $495,021,500 total – which included commissions – as “staggering”. Only four of the 70 lots on offer went unsold.

In addition, a 1968 oil painting by Gerhard Richter has set a new record for the highest auction price achieved by a living artist. Richter’s photo-painting Domplatz, Mailand (Cathedral Square, Milan) sold for $37.1 million (£24.4 million). Sotheby’s described Domplatz, Mailand, which depicts a cityscape painted in a style that suggests a blurred photograph, as a “masterpiece of 20th Century art” and the “epitome” of the artist’s 1960s photo-painting canon. Don Bryant, founder of Napa Valley’s Bryant Family Vineyard and the painting’s new owner, said the work “just knocks me over”.

Brett Gorvy, head of post-war and contemporary art, said “The remarkable bidding and record prices set reflect a new era in the art market,” he said. Steven Murphy, CEO of Christie’s International, said new collectors were helping drive the boom.

Myths of the Music-Fine Art Price Differential

When I came across this article I was stunned at the prices these artworks were able to obtain. Several of them would hardly evoke a positive emotional response in me, while others might only slightly, but for almost all of them I really don’t understand how their prices are reflected in the work, and vice versa. Obviously, these pieces were not intended for people like me, an artist, while wealthy patrons certainly see their intrinsic artistic value clearly.

So why doesn’t music attract these kinds of prices? Is it even possible for a piece of recorded music, not music memorabilia or a music artifact (such as a rare record, LP, bootleg, T-shirt, album artwork, etc.), to be worth $1 million or more? Are all musicians and music composers doomed to struggle in the music industry and claw their way up into a career in music? If one painting can be valued at $1 million, why can’t a song or piece of music also be valued similarly? Apparently, the $.99 per download price is the highest price a song is able to command at market value, no matter what its quality or content, and the musician or composer must accept this value as such.

The financial equation looks something like this:

1 painting = $37 million

1 song = $.99

Sometimes people say that a song can change the world, but no one ever says that about paintings. So theoretically, if people want change $.99 is the price we must pay for it.

Now here are a few statements that should help us clarify what the monetary or value discrepancy between painting and music is based upon.

(1) There are fewer painters than there are musicians.

(2) Musicians are less talented than painters?

(3) It is easier to create music than it is to paint.

(4) The public values paintings more than music.

(5) Paintings are more beautiful than music.

(6) Paintings are impossible to copy unlike music.

(7) Painters work harder than musicians and composers.

(8) Blah, blah, blah.

Hardly anyone agrees with all of these statements and yet all, or at least some of them, would have to be true in order for the price of paintings to so greatly exceed the cost of music. Moreover, I doubt that art collectors and great painters have to deal with as much legal red tape as do musicians when releasing their work into the public domain, so why aren’t the rewards equal, if not greater for musicians who have to work almost as much protecting their work as in producing it. Musicians and composers, however, actually must do more than authenticate their work and obtain accurate appraisals concerning what their work is worth, but they get paid less. The equipment costs alone for musicians is much higher than it is for painters.

Maybe it’s fame, and not money, musicians are after? That would explain why most musicians settle for the low pay they receive from record deals and digital downloads. Perhaps, that’s also why many of them are touring more often to increase their fame and not their fortunes. But wait a minute, that’s where musicians actually make most of their money from live performances and the selling of merchandise, but not the music. I guess this is why many musicians see themselves not as composers, but rather as performers and entertainers.

So what can musicians do, who don’t see themselves as entertainers, but instead as composers who create music as a fine art? Because they too have a strong desire to earn a living to support themselves in their chosen profession, thus there must be a specialized approach whereby they present their work to music lovers or art collectors in search of assets and curators for unique pieces to place in their private galleries. Imagine that, a recorded piece of music that few have ever heard which is displayed and played only on a specified music player in a private art gallery or collection.

In thinking about how a musician can follow the example set by painters in the fine arts, I’ve isolated 4 principles that should help to make the spectacular financial rewards they’ve reached possible for the musician. So let’s analyze some of the characteristics that govern the market for fine art and see how musicians can apply these concepts to their creative, production, and marketing processes.

The Ideal Vehicle for Music as Fine Art

Here are 4 principles and practical suggestions for musicians who want to elevate their music into the realm of fine art by following the example of the painters of the past and present.

1) Strive to make unique music or music collections.

The composer must design experiments with sound or compositional techniques. Some music belongs in the realm of the public, while other music solely belongs in the realm of fine art. It’s really not that difficult to tell the difference. The difference is clear when one compares the environment of the nightclub and the music one finds there with the elevated environment of the ballet or opera and its music. The difference is not necessarily one in terms of types of music, but rather in the composer’s sonic fingerprint. In other words, not everyone thinks Jackson Pollock was a great painter, but everyone acknowledges that it took him years of development to reach a point where his style could be born. It’s the style of the artist or composer that will call out to the attention of wealthy patrons, the respect of peers, and the exclusive admiration of the music appreciator. In music, the style of the composer, regardless of genre, I call ‘a signature sound.’ It’s the signature sound that music and art collectors will want to own and for that they might be willing to pay or bid up the cost of ownership to a higher price.

2) Create a music gallery.

This could be modeled after the art gallery where one or several artist put their work on display. The difference with the music gallery is that you would have a hall filled with listening rooms or stations. These showings would not be live performances, but instead will be in effect sound installations. You could also separate one hall into several compartments for different composers. The music showing would be an exclusive event provided to serious music and art collectors who actively seek out sonic experiences and buy what they like. The purpose of the music gallery would be the same as the art gallery – to give the public a sample of the artist’s talent, to give critics something to write about, to have other composers comment on the work of a peer, and to create buzz in the art world. Always remember that it shouldn’t be the event that drives the buzz, but the music that makes the event.

3) Turn your music into a tangible asset.

The obvious difference between a painting and music is that one is a tangible artwork and the other is not. In other words, one of the defining characteristics of a painting is that the medium and the art are one. Unlike music, where the music must be transferred onto another object such as a cassette tape, vinyl, CD, or mP3 player before it can be perceived, whereas with a painting (or sculpture) an object has been transformed into art. So how can it be or is it even possible for a cassette, CD, or download to be transformed into art? The cassette and CD are more akin to a photograph of a painting, rather than a true expressions where the medium and the art are one.

So one step a musician can take to elevate their music into fine art is by making your music and its medium one. The best way that I can think of to do this is by looking to the past. Ironically, the vinyl LP very closely achieved this quality with album art, its sizing, and packaging. Let’s quickly discuss some of the qualities of the vinyl LP and valuable marketing angles that I think opens up interesting approaches for musicians to turn their music into fine art at price appropriate levels commiserate with earning a livelihood.

Today there are several companies around that let you customize your LP vinyl album and artwork. This is wonderful because it gives you total control over the art direction your packaging takes. This is an expressive way to bring the personality of the artist, band, or project out into physical form. Many colors are available and unique mixtures are also possible to add a dimension to your music that isn’t normally possible with cassette tapes, CD’s, or digital downloads. Even split colored and glow-in-the-dark vinyl are available for bold composers looking for something with a bit more flair.

Etched Art and Your Album

Another fantastic way to elevate the music via packaging and presentation is to consider etched art in vinyl. Etched vinyl is an image pressed into the unplayable side of your record which has a frosted appearance. The etched side does not contain any grooves or music but adds a real touch of style to your music package. I don’t know if etched art can also be a hologramic look, but that would be another dimension that would enhance the visual component of your music package.

Art and LP Sizes

The last aspect I’d like to touch on is the size of the LP. Unlike the cassettes and CD’s, which both come in a single universal size determined by the media player, LP’s are played on phonographs or turntables whose arms can adjust to the different sizes of LP’s. In general, LP’s come in 3 sizes: 7″, 10″, and 12″. And because the album covers have to provide a sleeve for a large surface, they correspondingly must also be large. At a minimum the 12″ LP will require an album cover that’s 1 square foot. That’s about 4 times the size of a standard CD and anywhere from 8 – 12 times the size of cassette tape.

Understanding this gives you an additional angle to design artwork for the music package. There might even be a way to design a painter’s canvas which can house an LP within its frame to turn it into a cover. For those musicians and composers who possess multiple artistic talents, an original painting to accompany a music release could be another profitable approach to look into. If you think about it even further the size of the 12″ LP is actually the size of a small painting. Foldable or dual LP covers are also available which provide a much larger surface with which to more greatly present amazing album art work to dazzle customers. The dual LP album cover would give you exactly a 24″ x 12″ surface to work with.

The Non-Vinyl LP and other Miscellaneous Considerations

Other more sophisticated forms of the approach I’m describing here for the LP would keep the concept of the LP at the center of the music package, while removing the vinyl as material. Ideally, the perfect substance for a fine art music LP would consist of a material that didn’t warp, couldn’t be shattered, that would prevent grooves from wearing out, and that would be scratch-proof. So that would mean you’d need to do your homework and find out what’s possible with all known exotic substances, metal alloys, industrial metals, specialized plastics, and non-scratch surfaces to achieve the perfect substance for a fine art music LP. Moreover, this substance would play CD quality sound on any or a special turntable with a uniquely designed needle made specifically for this material and album type.

If a fine art music LP were to ever come into existence it would have to stand the test of time and survive usage, storage, and travel as it transfers custody from one owner to another over decades and even centuries. These are the main reasons why owners of fine art music LP’s will need to get insurance for the asset. A non-vinyl LP could also be manufactured to blow away the art collector, music enthusiast, and investor with something like an LP made of 24-karat gold or some other precious metal like silver or platinum. This one alteration could make such an LP worth a $1 million or more depending on the aggressiveness of the bidders. Overall you’ll have to do some research of your own to discover what your options are and can be in order to raise your LP into the class of an investment, a tangible asset (collectible), and fine art. In the absence of the existence of this ideal substance, we must aim for novelty to achieve appeal.

Exclusive Music

Another aspect to explore briefly is the exclusivity factor in regard to the ownership of fine art. Not everyone can afford a Picasso, but those who can, generally, aren’t willing to share it with everyone because they want exclusive ownership over the Picasso, that’s part of the package of owning fine art.

The way to provide exclusive ownership to interested parties is through contracts, so you’ll have to hire legal advice to shape the legal framework governing ownership of a music album or music as fine art. The contract can be shaped in any number of ways according to your wishes, but basically it should state what the owner has permission to do or is prohibited from doing with the work you are selling them. You want your buyers to know that they can transfer ownership of the album to heirs or sell it to other private collectors as you can with any other tangible asset. This is part of the process of owning fine art, which they’ve come to expect in their dealings with galleries and other collectors, so deal with them as a professional.

In addition, you’ll want to legally prohibit the buyers from broadcasting or disseminating the music from your fine art LP or other media. To preserve its value the music must be kept out of the public domain and remain in the hands of those who have the right to hear it. If the owners want to talk about it and even play it for a small gathering of people as a fine art music exhibit then great, but they should not be permitted to make copies or profit from your recordings.

The beauty of a limit supply and contracts is that together they will help you to track all of the owners over your lifetime and preserve the value of your work. If one of them can be found to be responsible for leaking the material out into public, you’ll have a lawsuit on your hands which you should easily win. But if a leak was to happen, the value (price) of the LP might drop precipitously and demand could even dry up completely. But really what’s the worst that could happen, that the price of your music ends up at the low end of the price scale – $.99 per track?

A Word on Supply and Demand

Similarly, the law of supply and demand must also be part of the equation for pricing your music as fine art. Basically, the law of supply and demand works like this: the greater the supply, the lower the demand and the lower the supply, the greater the demand. In other words, the more of something there is, the less it’s worth and the less of something there is, the more it’s worth. The law doesn’t always work out this perfectly, but as a general rule it works.

The problem with this law is that it only slightly takes into account mass psychology and the way demand is created, which is by advertising, marketing, and PR (public relations). Without these 3 factors working in your favor, there will be little or no demand for your fine art music LP, no matter how small your supply is. It’s only when these 3 factors are working in your favor and demand is fairly high that the price of your singular or limited edition fine art music LP, CD, or digital audio files can rise and skyrocket. So become fluent with hope to employ advertising, marketing, and PR and make sure the demand is there among your target audience prior to releasing your work so that you can be certain your album receives a high bidding.

A Digital Point of View

Some of the ideas I’ve presented here so far can be applied to music in digital formats as well. For example, a limited edition, gorgeously designed iPod or alternative mP3 player with your fine art music programmed into a locked memory is one approach. For example, high-end buyers there’s an iPod available that’s made from 22k gold and it features an Apple logo made of diamonds, it estimate price is roughly $120,000.

Something like this could work or even just a really cool looking, READ-only thumb drive could work. You just plug it in and enjoy exclusive access to an album that only one collector or a select few have in their possession.

The number one problem with a digital format is that it’s too easy to copy files from one device to another, which is why a locked or unhackable memory is crucial. Without the locked memory, the exclusivity factor cannot exist and undermines the creation of a fine art music digital device.

4) Put your music to auction.

Part of the reason why the paintings in the beginning of this article sold for so much money is because competing bids pushed the price upward. After you’ve designed an amazing fine art music collection and package, you’ll need to decide how to sell or auction your product.

Many options for auctioning items are available but probably the most well-known is eBay, but eBay is probably not the best place to sell fine art music this way. To start it might be a good place to test the concept, but you might not reach your target clientele. Another option could be Bandcamp or Amazon, but there’s no auctioning available with these companies. However, you could set a high price for downloads, CD’s or vinyl LP’s and sell few of them.

For example, downloads might go for anywhere from $15 to $200 per track and for the album maybe the price of a mid-range painting, perhaps $800 to $2,000+.

You could also set up a simple website where you present and sell your fine art music like painters, sculptors, sketch artists, wood workers, and artisans sell their work. On your site you can talk about your album on video, with a music blog, on internet radio, through interviews, on music or artists-oriented podcasts, and through articles, so that you can send all the traffic to your eBay page or personal website where all you’re selling are copies of your limited edition collection of fine art music.

The simplicity of this plan is that you, along with eBay as your broker, control the entire process. The idea here is as with most auctions which is to watch the bidders compete with one another as everyone watches the price go higher and higher.

Name Your Price: The Radiohead Experiment

The band Radiohead did something like this but differently. Instead of auctioning a one of a kind or limited edition exclusive digital album, they allowed their fans to pay what they wanted for their new release at the time. The experiment brought in mixed results but overall was a success for the band members who made more money personally than on any previous album. However, it’s been reported that 38% of buyers spent an average of $6, while the other 62% downloaded the album without paying anything at all – $0. Globally, the average price paid was around $2.26 and $3.23 in the U.S. Of those who did pay something, 17% paid below $4, but 12% paid between $8 and $12.

This approach is unlikely to work for lesser known artists who want to present their music as fine art. The main reason why it wouldn’t is because it fails to fulfill the factor of exclusive ownership. Everyone and anyone could get a copy of the Radiohead album, therefore it’s value is reduced because the quantity available was infinite instead of limited or rare, since the demand was high.

NIN and a Tiered Approach

Likewise, tiered fine art music packages whose prices range from a few dollars up to hundreds or even thousands of dollars is a much better way to entice collectors to buy music as fine art or music as an investment.

Here’s how Nine Inch Nail’s Trent Reznor made a small fortune with his “Ghosts I – IV” album release. In total 5 tiers are available.

The first tier offers a free download of the first 9 tracks from the album.

The 2nd tier offers a $5 digital download with a 40 page PDF.

The 3rd tier offers a 2 CD’s with a 16 page booklet for $10.

The 4th tier is a $75 deluxe edition which includes 2 audio CD’s, a data DVD with all 36 tracks in multi-track format, a 48 page book of photographs by Phillip Graybill and Rob Sheridan, a 40 page PDF book, and an accompanying slideshow on a Blu-Ray disc.

And on the 5th tier you get pretty much everything else on the lower tiers except you also get a 3rd book with art prints of imagery from Ghosts I – IV and each limited edition copy is numbered and personally signed by Trent Reznor. This limited edition was restricted to 2500 copies with a limit of one per customer for a grand total of $300. The $300 tier was known as the Ultra-Deluxe Limited Edition Package and is currently sold out.

The financials on the 5th tier look pretty good. With the Ultra-Deluxe Limited Edition Package, we know there were only 2500 copies and that each sold for $300. So, 2500 x 300 = $750,000. Imagine what prices could have been reached if Reznor had allowed the buyers to bid on the Ultra-Deluxe Limited Edition Package. He could have started the bidding at or just below $300 and watched the prices go up from there. Interestingly, as fewer of them were available the prices might have started to get astronomical. He probably still would’ve sold every copy and his income might well have been closer to $1 million, but either he did a great job structuring his price scale as demonstrated by his results. And let’s not forget that our equation excluded the income he generated from tiers 2 – 4, which most certainly brought his total revenues far passed $1 million.

Review

As we end off let’s briefly review the factors that will lead to fine art music success.

1) Strive to make unique music or music collections. To do this you’ll need to experiment with unique methods, techniques, or styles that offer a signature sound. In the art world, this will be known as your sonic fingerprint. This is what art collectors will want to purchase and appreciate.

2) Create a music gallery. Come up with ideas for how to present your new compositions at a music exhibit. It should look and feel much like an art exhibit, but be adapted for music. This might include setting up private listening stations for individual art collectors or small rooms for a limited listening audience and where auctions can occur.

3) Turn your music into a tangible asset. Painting elevates the canvas and paint into art, whereas music can never elevate a cassette tape or CD into art. For music, the medium must be turned into art as part of the package for presenting music as fine art. Painting also elevates and transforms its medium, while music is usually transported by its medium, unless its digital, then it’s all about the music. Remember what we discussed about digital formats and the vinyl LP as ideal vehicles for selling music as fine art.

4) Above all, offer exclusivity as an essential part of the package of fine art music ownership, so find ways to guarantee this for your buyers. Art ownership is strongly based on its exclusivity, which for the collector means they are part of a very select group of individuals who have the right or privilege to receive exposure to your fine art music. If you can exclude the masses and create demand amongst a select few, then the prices you can attract will rise as few buyers try to outbid one another for exclusive ownership of your music.

5) Lastly, use an auction system to create massive profits. Keep the law of supply and demand in mind when building your music into a tangible asset and don’t forget the vital role advertising, marketing, and PR play in creating demand. There’s no purpose in creating a limited supply of anything for which there is no demand.

Conclusion

These are by no means all of the ways in which these ideas can be applied to your situation or in these formats, but whatever you choose to do you’ll need to formulate the right balance of factors that make the price of your fine art music rise. Many of you may be stunned by the extent of initial investment capital you’ll require to elevate your music into a fine art collectible, which is why you’ll have to amplify your people skills and take courses in sales training, marketing, investing and business. Several of the approaches I mentioned will require you to raise capital from a bank, institution such as a private equity firm, or venture capitalists to get you started, otherwise you’ll need to get access to personal or small business credit at low interest rates. This will give you more time to implement your program and generate your first wave of sales.

If your business plan for turning your music into fine art is solid and your sales presentation is thorough, then the money will find you as more investors see profit in the opportunity. Additionally, wealthy patrons may see your work as an important contribution to art history or your presentation may just resonate with an investor or group of investors that they may just give you money to finish your project. In either case, be business-like, get all of your agreements in writing and have them reviewed by a competent legal representative expert at intellectual property issues and financial transactions in particular.

Marc Avante is a musician, sound designer, and blogger. He is also the founder of the music project called Stereo Thesis. Stereo Thesis is a prototype sound design and music studio.

Creating a Virtual Art Gallery

To the online artist, it might seem a paradox, at first glance, to hear a recommendation to hold back work. The artist on the Internet often overproduces and displays their entire body of work. In essence, by placing it for casual viewing, known as “shopping” the work, devalues its worth by defying the Law of Supply and Demand.

How can the artist benefit by applying the advantages of the Internet with the successful business practices of the traditional gallery? Let’s look at the traditional gallery’s sales structure.

At the Preview, in an inner gallery, and by invitation only, previously unviewed works are presented to the gallery’s selected collectors. The works are tagged as sold, but left for viewing. An aspect of human nature, wanting what one cannot have, has been accommodated as well as a relationship to supply and demand.

To paraphrase Israel A. Kirzner, the, almost, universally accepted theory of supply and demand shapes production and consumption, and is, not only the skeleton, but the flesh and blood of the economic system which determines the artist’s survival in the marketplace.

[“The Law of Supply and Demand”, by Israel Kirzner At the time of publication Kirzner was an economist at New York University. http://www.libertyhaven.com and The Freeman, a publication of The Foundation for Economic Education, Inc., January 2000, Vol. 50, No. 1.]

The show opens to the general public. As the show closes, unsold works are then considered shopped, since the public has viewed them. Then, they are placed in an outer gallery for the casual onlooker. Those traditions have held true, stemming from the basic nature of human beings and how market prices are determined.

This brings us back to the question of how might the traditional practices be adapted to the Internet? The artist could, for instance, set up a number of galleries.

The Inner Gallery would contain works previously unseen. A collector might pay a one-time fee, the purpose of which is to discourage window-shoppers. The fee could then be applied to their purchase. Those who purchase are the collectors who go into your special Guest Book to receive Preview invitations, thus, eliminating the major pitfall of current Internet based galleries, the window-shopper.

How does one structure a Preview Page? Obviously, for your Preview Page you wouldn’t want just anyone dropping in. This could be accomplished through a member login given only to your private collectors. By closely monitoring their login dates, you can determine when the Preview is over and it’s time for the show to be opened to the general public.

A Middle Gallery is for works that didn’t sell in the Preview, but are only available to those who have registered in the Guest Book and agree to receive future newsletters and updates. Finally, there is an Outer Gallery, that is for browsers and only contains images that have been sold, their price, but never to whom it was sold.

Although there will be many window-shoppers, as the exclusive nature and as the reputation of the site grows, the more exclusive collector will come to the site, sign the Guest Book, and come to the Preview ready to collect.

Perhaps Museum Directors, Curators, Critics and Reviewers could be contacted as well. Given passwords, they could actually look at the work online, without the artist having to physically move the works as in a land-based gallery. Their reviews could be then added to the Preview Page and the artist’s resume for future use.

Anyone with experience on the Internet knows you can’t just create a web site and expect people to show up. The site must be properly marketed as well as have something the web surfer desires. Go to ARTNews and see how the ads are structured. Ask yourself what it is about that ad that makes you want to visit that gallery. What makes it desirable?

Look at the size of the images in the ad. Are they thumbnails or full-size images and details? Collectors want to see brush-strokes and have the monitors to do so. Remember, that the majority of the nation’s assets lie in the hands of those over fifty years of age. Many of them wear eyeglasses. Accommodate their eyesight. Bigger is better.

Of course, not all artists who put up a web site are going to be worth collecting, just as galleries will not find all artists suitable. Not all collectors will want a given artist’s work. Without demand there are no sales.

Therefore, critical analysis of the web statistics should be carefully monitored. If you get a lot of hits and no sales then the problem is not in the marketing. Conversely, no hits, or very few, would indicate poor marketing. At some point you have to figure whether or not you’re no good at marketing or the work is not collectible.

As for meeting with the artist, the web cam, if not a personal visit, makes for an enjoyable time. With the development of Japanese graphic technology, one day soon the collector and others members of the art community will view the minute details of the artist’s work in truly a virtual gallery without defying the laws of human nature which drives all mankind.

Is Microsoft Word Training Right for Your Law Firm?

Word processing is vital to many businesses but it is especially important for law firms. Any firm can increase their bottom line if they can increase the productivity of their word processing. Is your law firm using Microsoft Office? Are partners and employees comfortable and confident in their Word skills? More often than not I get affirmative responses to these questions and yet when I delve more deeply I find the people in question aren’t actually taking advantage of all the time saving features that Word has to offer.

Here is a sample of the skills you and your company should be utilizing if you want to use Word efficiently. How many of them are you already using? Perhaps it is time to think about arranging some Microsoft Word training for your law firm.

Are you using the Show/Hide command?

The command for Show/Hide is on the Home Ribbon and allows the user to see what keystrokes (Enter, Tab, Space, etc.) have been used in the document. This information is invaluable especially when you are editing a document that was created by someone else. Did the author go onto a new page by pressing the Enter key numerous times, or did they add a Page or Section Break? If they pressed the Enter key, you may find a block of white space in the document when you add more text above the keystrokes. If they used a Break and you add text, you may find you suddenly have a completely blank page inserted into your document. Knowledge is power and understanding the Show/Hide command will make you stronger.

Are you using the Quick Access Toolbar?

The Quick Access Toolbar is Word’s equivalent to having pens and pencils near at hand. Any command that exists in Word can be added to the Quick Access Toolbar (QAT). Where is the QAT you ask? By default it put in the top left corner of your screen, just to the right of the blue Word W. It comes with the commands for Save, Undo and Redo. Click the black drop-down arrow to the right of the last command and you can move the toolbar so it shows just below the ribbon, or add or remove commands. Putting the commands you use most often here, can save you a lot of time changing from ribbon to ribbon or hunting for a command because you can’t remember where it is.

Do you know where the Clipboard is and how to use it efficiently?

When you copy or cut content, where does it go? Many of us envision it floating around in cyberspace until we are ready to use it. In fact it goes to the clipboard. Launch the clipboard before you start cutting and pasting and you will see up to 24 items get added. From the clipboard you can click to place the content into other documents, spreadsheets, PowerPoint slides, email, or wherever you need it to go. The entire Microsoft Office suite shares the same clipboard so it is easy to move content from one program to another.

When you copy and paste from another document or program, does the formatting look right?

You have several choices when you are pasting content into documents. To access these choices, Right Click in the place you want to paste. The Right Click Menu has paste options that make it easy to choose the type of formatting you want automatically added to the new content. If you are a fan of the Ctrl + V shortcut, you can go to the Word Options to set the type of formatting that will happen when you paste.

Are styles more than just a fashion statement?

When you format a document are you still using the traditional direct formatting techniques? This is what we call formatting that is done via the Right Click menu or the Home Ribbon Font and Paragraph Group Commands. The savvy computer user uses styles to format their documents. Styles make it easier for you to keep your document format consistent and allow you to modify your formatting quickly and easily.

When things go wrong in a document, do you know why?

What do you do when you are working in Word and something unexpected happens? If the answer is “calmly and quickly fix it” then you are in a good place. If on the other hand you feel your blood pressure rising, you may benefit from understanding why Word does what it does. Trust me; it isn’t just trying to spoil your day. You just need to get inside its head if you want to reduce your Word stress levels.

Do you take advantage of reusable content?

Often we use the same signatures, headers, paragraphs of text, or tables of information in different documents. Are you recreating these items each time you need them? Word’s galleries contain ready-made reusable content, or you can create your own items and add them to the galleries for easy access.

If these are new concepts to you and/or your staff then training in the use of Microsoft Word could drastically increase user satisfaction and productivity at your office.

Reen Rose is an experienced Microsoft Certified Trainer and Microsoft Office Specialist Master.
She has been described as ‘focused, fun and very effective’. Reen believes in guiding people to become empowered Microsoft Office users by giving them the skills they need to be successful, in an engaging and enjoyable environment.

What Is Tort Law Exactly?

Have you ever done something that was against the rules? Well, torts are something like that; but much more serious. Torts are civil wrong-doings; immoral behaviors and actions against civilians. The law identifies a tort as immoral, and approves it as grounds for a lawsuit. Most often, torts come with severe consequences, like serious injuries and death. These consequences establish a civilian’s right to file a personal injury claim against a wrongful party.

Torts that result in serious injury or death can be punishable by imprisonment; however, the objective of tort law is to acquire compensation for damages incurred by victims and families of victims. In addition, and equally important, intent is to prevent similar wrongdoings from occurring in the future. In fact, victims of tort can take legal action for an injunction in order to inhibit further torturous conduct of the opposing party.

Explaining Torts and Tort Law

Victims of tort can pursue fair compensation for damages incurred as a result of the offence. Exemplary damages include everything from pain and suffering to loss of companionship, and much more; such as lost wages, hospital bills, medical expenses, scarring or disfigurement, funeral expenses, prolonged rehabilitation, permanent disabilities, and much more. Injured victims can also pursue compensation for damages like diminished quality of life and loss of benefits from loved one’s death. Tort law is established to protect injured victims that were wrongfully hurt by a negligent party. Negligent parties can include people, companies, individuals, organizations, products, and much more.

Categories of Tort

There are several individual capacities of tort law that all depend on the type of injury or accident that harms a person. Types of tort include motor vehicle accidents, product liability, assault and battery, sexual harassment, drunk driving accidents, wrongful death, slip and falls, head or brain injuries, dog bites, nursing home neglect, motorcycle accidents, and several other types of deliberate inflictions of emotional or physical trauma.

Every type of tort can be grouped into three separate categories of tort law; these categories are Intentional Torts, Negligent Torts, and Strict Liability Torts. Intentional torts are deliberate, premeditated, and purposeful. Assault and battery, sexual misconducts, and nursing home neglect are some examples of intentional tort. Negligent tort occurs as a result of carelessness and disregard. Disobeying traffic signals and causing an accident that harms another person is an example of negligent tort. Other examples include pedestrian accidents, hit-and-run accidents, medical malpractice, legal malpractice, and slip and fall accidents. Strict liability torts, on the other hand, occur when a particular action causes harm or damage to another person; such as liability for making and selling defective products that are hazardous.

If you are a victim of tort, or was recently injured in an accident caused by the negligence or misconduct of another party, you may be entitled to compensation for your damages. Contact a licensed personal injury law firm for professional guidance and counsel. It is important to take immediate action following a serious injury before the State’s statutes of limitation runs out. An experienced tort lawyer will substantially increase your chances and likelihood of winning your personal injury claim recovering compensation for your damages.

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Common Benefits Received From Workers’ Compensation

It is common for people who are injured on the job to collect workers’ compensation benefits. The amount of compensation and degree of benefits received by injured workers largely depends on the extent of their injuries or damages. Damages can include but are not limited to pain, suffering, prolonged rehabilitation or illness, diminished quality of life, lost wages, medical expenses, hospital bills, mental trauma, PTSD, and much more.

It is wise to hire a personal injury attorney that specializes in workers’ compensation law to recover the full and fair recompense deserved. Continue reading to learn what type of benefits to expect, or that is possible, to receive after being injured while on the clock.

Workers’ Compensation Benefits

Not all workers’ compensation claims are for physical injuries. Although most involve some sort of bodily harm, mental anguish or trauma can be just as damaging. Sometimes, personal injury cases can involve sexual harassment, discrimination, assault or battery, contracting a work-related illness or disease, experiencing an armed robbery, and more. Either way, the common coverages and benefits received from workers’ compensation claims are as follows:

Paid Hospital Bills, Medical Expenses, Physical Therapy, Medical and Vocational Rehabilitation, Doctor Visits, Counseling, Prescriptions, Etc.

Paid Weekly Earnings for Time Off Work Longer than One Week (2/3 of Average Weekly Pay-400 Week Maximum)

Benefits for Dependents in the Case of a Wrongful Death at Work

Punitive Damages in Cases of Malicious Intent or Blatant Disregard

Compensation for Excessive Pain, Suffering, Loss of Companionship, Mental Anguish, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Diminished Quality of Life, Etc.

Travel Expenses (If Applicable)

There are several other types of benefits available to those injured on the job, however, they vary depending on the company’s policies, insurance coverage, the extent of injury, and much more. It is strongly encouraged to discuss your recent work injury with a licensed Indianapolis workers’ compensation lawyer for accurate case assessment and legal guidance. They retain the proper resources, experience, and knowledge to navigate your workers’ compensation claim.

In order to recover the full and fair remuneration deserved to an injured victim and their family, a personal injury lawyer is the path to take. Be sure your personal injury law firm employs attorneys with extensive trial and litigation experience in workers’ compensation cases. This will further ensure you are choosing a lawyer that can successfully navigate your claim and have a better chance of recovering for your damages and losses.

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Who’s Liable for Injuries Sustained in Public Transportation Accidents?

Public transportation is a wonderful asset for thousands of Americans all across the country. Buses, trains, subways, limousines, metros, taxi cabs, and more are just a few examples of the variety we have to choose from when it comes to public transport. As customers and clients, we generally trust that these choices are safe and reliable; but sometimes unexpected accidents happen.

If someone is injured while using public transportation, who is at-fault for their damages? There can be several outcomes when determining who is liable for accidents such as these. Continue reading to understand all the possible parties that might be liable, under law, for injuries sustained to public transient customers.

Public Transportation Traffic Accidents

When it comes to public transportation, buses are one of the most popular. Tickets are inexpensive, and some buses are complementary to individuals in the community. School buses are also widely used for public school transportation. With the rising popularity of public buses, more and more are on the roads every day. As a result, the number of bus accidents continue to increase each year. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 300 bus accidents happen every year, all of which resulting in fatalities.

Bus crashes, and other public transport cases, are complicated to litigate. Determining the at-fault party is a bus crash can be tricky because it may be more than one, or none at all. It requires the professional litigation skills and trial experience of a licensed car accident attorney to effectively pursue a bus accident injury lawsuit or claim. If you or someone you loved has recently been injured in a public transportation accident, like buses or taxis, contact a local personal injury lawyer to learn your rights.

Possible At-Fault Parties:

  • The Driver
  • Management Company
  • Other Negligent Vehicles
  • Government Entities (If Public)
  • Equipment Manufacturers
  • City Traffic Management (If Defective Light or Sign)

Common Causes:

  • Drunk Driving
  • Driving Under the Influence of Drugs
  • Defective Stop Light or Traffic Sign
  • Hazardous Weather Conditions
  • Reckless or Careless Driving
  • Poor Equipment Maintenance
  • Treacherous Roads
  • Defective Equipment
  • Obstruction of Views
  • Other Negligent Vehicles on the Road

Traffic accidents, public or not, can happen very suddenly, and usually result in serious injuries and damages to innocent bystanders and drivers. If a person is injured using public transportation as a result of another carelessness or negligence, they are entitled to legal compensation for their pain, suffering, lost wages, medical bills, and more. 

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A Myth Regarding Personal Injury Protection

I often get told by my clients that they “do not want to make any claims on their own insurance policy” because “it will raise their rates.” Like many things, this is an insurance tactic meant to scare people from claiming what is rightfully theirs. Let me elaborate further.

Under Texas law, every person in the State must carry Personal Injury Protection (“PIP”) coverage on their auto insurance policy, unless you expressly sign a rejection or “opt-out” of this coverage. The State minimum requirement is $2,500, although many people carry $5,000 or $10,000 in coverage (or sometimes even more, depending on what their auto insurance carrier offers). Importantly, under the Texas Insurance Code, it is illegal for your insurance company to raise your insurance rates, drop your coverage, affect your credit, etc. for making these claims. Therefore, if you have this coverage, you always want to use it.

PIP coverage is meant to reimburse you for two things: (1) medical bills you have already incurred or (2) lost wages (although it will only cover 80% of your lost wages). Additionally, Texas allows “stacking” of insurance benefits. For example, let’s say you get into an accident and you are taken to the emergency room where you incur a $10,000.00 bill. Let’s also say that you have the standard $2,500 PIP policy through your insurance company. After you are finished treating, we send that same $10,000 bill to both the Defendant’s insurance company and to your own. We get you paid $10,000 from this insurance company plus $2,500 from your own PIP coverage for a total reimbursement of $12,500. That’s right, you get paid $12,500 for a bill that was originally $10,000.

I always tell my clients the same thing: If you pay for this coverage every month in your premium, and if your insurance company cannot raise your rates for using it, then why wouldn’t you use it? It is free money falling out of the sky. However, because it’s free money falling out of the sky, many insurance companies (and their agents) will deliberately try to convince you that you do not need it because “it cost more.” Again, this cannot be further from the truth. The cost of this coverage is literally pennies on the dollar for what you get in return should you need to use it. Further, the best part is that this coverage is no-fault, meaning you are entitled to these benefits whether you caused the accident or if someone else hit you.

For these reasons, it is a no-brainer not only to have this coverage, but also to use it once you need it.

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How to Complete a Self-Health Assessment Following a Car Accident

As soon as you are involved in a car accident, the first priority is to have your health and over-all condition assessed by a professional emergency medical technician on-site or at the hospital. For less serious car accidents, it is still important to assess your own health to be sure you are not suffering from a head, spine, or neck injury. The issue with these kinds of injuries is that they can become evident or worse as time passes. So you might seem fine after a car wreck, but can then start to develop symptoms later on that point toward neck and back injuries.

There are signs and symptoms to look for, as well as, tips to learn how to identify the difference between vague soreness and tenderness of muscles, and an actual serious injury. Continue reading for a post-accident health assessment guide and information about filing a car accident injury claim for injuries and damages sustained in a serious collision.

Checking On Your Health

Once you have been involved in a car accident, whether it was your own fault or not, is to seek immediate medical attention. As a car accidents happens, authorities are usually alerted almost immediately; either by someone involved in the wreck or a bystander. Police will ask if you or your passengers need to go to the hospital if it is not obvious or evident that someone is hurt. You can make this assessment yourself, or you can simply have an EMT check you out at the scene of the accident or at the hospital.

You can choose to ride in an ambulance for a faster commute to the hospital for emergencies, but for less serious and less evident injuries, you may choose to take yourself or have a loved one drive you. In other cases, you might feel like you are not injured enough for professional medical care, and pass up the opportunity to go to the hospital altogether. Once you are familiar with how to assess your own condition after an accident, you will be able to responsibly make the choice of seeking further medical assistance, or to care for yourself.

Here are some symptoms to look for immediately after, as well as, the days following a motor vehicle accident:

  • Headaches
  • Migraines
  • Soreness or Tenderness of Neck
  • Difficulty Breathing
  • Increased Heart Rate
  • Mental Confusion
  • Pain or Tenderness in Lower Back
  • Pain in Neck or Spine
  • Difficulty Standing
  • Pain When in the Seated Position
  • Swelling of Neck, Back, or Head
  • Redness or Abrasions on Body
  • Nausea or Dizziness
  • Blurred Vision
  • Slurred Speech
  • Bleeding
  • Broken Bones
  • Immobility

Any of these symptoms could be a sign of a more serious injury or internal damage. If you are experiencing more than three of the above symptoms, it is strongly encouraged to go to the hospital or to request an EMT at the sight of an accident. Concussions are one of the most common and overlooked head injuries that results from car accidents. And the problem with this type of injury is that a person can seem fine at first, only to later suffer serious consequences and health decline as a result of a neglected head, brain, or spine injury.

Filing a Car Accident Injury Claim
Contact a licensed personal injury lawyer for information about filing a car accident injury claim against a negligent party that caused you or a loved one serious harm following a traffic accident or collision. You may be entitled to compensation.
Posted in Law

Personal Injury Should Be Well Taken Care Of

If there is ever a situation where a person is suffering terribly from an injury, disability or in worse case scenarios, even death, mostly due to a careless negligence of an individual, in such cases, the personal injury law covers these instances and extends its hand for help.

A severe injury can cost an individual to shell out a lot of money, sometimes an amount that the individual might not even be capable of paying, if you opt for a personal injury claim in such desperate moments then you are eligible to seek some compensation for the injury you have faced and the payment gets taken care of because of the claim.

Mostly this law covers all the kinds of injury that can possibly take place, these injuries can be of any type. It can either be something that can cause a lot of harm to your body or it can make you face some kind of emotional trauma as well. It can be anything and at anytime and having a claim especially for these kinds of injuries will help you in emergencies.

Be alert and be careful of every step you take.

Let us have a look at some of the tips that can help you get this claim:

• DO NOT DELAY TO GET SOME MEDICAL ATTENTION

The first and foremost step that you need to take when you get an injury is to seek out for medical help immediately and instantly. Do not under any circumstances delay that step because the more you delay it, the more serious it can get, therefore seek out for some medical help as soon as you find yourself in such a situation.

• BE CAREFUL OF THE STATEMENTS YOU MAKE

Be absolutely confident and clear in what you say in the accident scene. Do not say anything that might make the situation much more complicated than it already is or give rise to some kind of a conflict. Be clear in what you have to say and keep it straight when asked about it. This will help in dealing with the process much quickly.

• KEEP A CHECK ON ALL THE EXPENSES

This would include all the bills in the hospital. Be it expense bills; diagnose bills, medical bills or any other tests that you might have undergone. Have a record of all the expenses because it might be asked for when you go to claim for compensation. You can also keep a record of some lost wages that you might have faced due to missing work. Keep a track of everything.

Posted in Law

How Car Accident Victims Can Improve Their Cases Before Their First Legal Consultation

Initial Impact

One oft-repeated phrase is, “it’s better read about than experienced for yourself.” Few maxims can better encapsulate what it’s like to be a victim of a car collision.

Like any paradigm shift in someone’s life, it’s often dramatic and sudden. The screeching of wheels, the scream of the unexpected, or the shot of unfamiliar adrenaline.

All such tragic events mark the beginning of a typical personal injury case. For simplicity’s sake, we will discuss a common car accident. This piece explores how a victim of circumstance can take control of their situation, and turn their misfortune into an opportunity to better their case and their chances of reasonable compensation.

Self-Assessment

After the initial shock and twisted metal, victims at the scene may be dazed and confused. Regardless of where you are on the road, examine yourself and passengers for injuries. If there are no visible injuries, do the obvious thing and move your vehicle to a safe location if you are blocking the road.

If anyone is injured, get medical help as soon as possible. Truth be told, calling 911 has the added benefit of documenting the incident for later insurance evaluation purposes. This is because the documentation generated from the call tends to indicate a propensity of a person being truly injured. While it may come across as callused, car accident cases – and other cases involving personal injury – are all about documentation.

Insurance claims representatives will even go so far as to reduce the value of a claim on not going to the emergency room, even if there are later objective findings indicating that an injury occurred. Injuries, such as cervical strain and sprain, tend to appear more than one to two days later after the “shot of adrenaline” wears off. However, it’s the documentation early on that is important.

Interaction With Law Enforcement

If police were summoned by a party contacting 911, documentation will again be generated. It is common that police, in addition to checking for injuries, may cite the at-fault driver for either a crime or a traffic infraction.

Keep in mind that a criminal case is the government (or, in Virginia, the “Commonwealth”) versus the defendant. A criminal case is about seeking justice. On the other hand, a personal injury case is about “being made whole again.” Until a magic wand is invented, that means the “bad guy” paying some form of compensation.

Before law enforcement makes a general “first look” at liability, they will gather evidence – including statements from other drivers and witnesses, as well as obtaining contact information. This information is crucial for a Virginia auto injury or car accident attorney to later help prepare a case.

Keep in mind that the initial police investigation is entirely separate from the civil process, which may, in turn, rely on documentation generated as a result of the crash investigation. Even should an officer believe that a person is at-fault in a collision, the other driver’s insurance company may come to an independent conclusion.

One final point is that calling for help may be legally required in some circumstances. In Virginia, assume that it is required if there is someone that is injured or visible property damage to the vehicles.

Document The Facts For Later

Feel free to be your own detective if you have not yet met with a personal injury lawyer.

Ask for the other driver’s name, address, telephone number, and insurance information. If there are other witnesses to the collision, ask for the same. Take pictures with your cell phone of the accident scene and the driver’s license, if provided.

It is perfectly normal and expected for you to provide your insurance information to the other driver, even if they were at-fault. We highly recommend to clients not to make statements to the other driver’s insurance company. They’re frequently very motivated to assign blame to someone other than their own insured.

Don’t be limited in pictures of property damage of the vehicles. If it’s safe and prudent to do so, take copious amounts of pictures of you and your passenger’s injuries. This includes bruising that may later develop.

By being your own detective, the insurance company for the other driver may not be so quick to turn a blind eye to the blame of their insured. Documenting (if safe and not obstructive) while still at the scene to show the location of the impact, road conditions, and the condition of the vehicles may be critical bits of evidence later that a personal injury attorney can later utilize.

A good law firm will use this evidence to help develop your case into the best it can be under the facts. If you don’t have any of this evidence don’t worry. In most cases a client doesn’t provide this information during initial intake. That said, the more information provided the better.

Seek Medical Treatment

In line with the need to call 911, if necessary, is the simple fact that you need to seek medical treatment if you are hurt in the collision or later develop conditions that didn’t exist the day of the accident.

It is critical that you go to every appointment scheduled with a health provider and do everything that they tell you to do. Top in the playbook of every insurance company is to highlight any and all delays or gaps in treatment and try to use that information to diminish the value of your claim.

This is even true if you don’t have health insurance at the time of the collision. It is highly important that if you don’t have health insurance that you waste no time in getting it. In addition to being legally required at the time of this writing, health insurance may cover tens of thousands (if not millions) of dollars in treatments.

Even if you have the most amazing case, not having health insurance means that the proceeds of any later settlement or trial goes to pay the providers when it could have gone to your pain and suffering that you had to endure as a result of the injuries.

As a slight caveat, under some circumstances the insurance company for the other driver may reduce any settlement offer by the amount paid by insurance. However, this depends on the state and an entirely different analysis. You’ll need to consult with a car accident lawyer in your state to determine if this applies.

Avoid Waiting Until The Last Minute To Seek Necessary Medical Treatment Or Blowing Off Your Appointments If They Are Recommended By A Treating Healthcare Professional

Whether it’s the day after the accident and you were discharged from the Emergency Room or it’s month three of physical therapy or chiropractic care, you need to keep your appointments. We cannot stress this enough.

Car insurance companies for the other driver will even go so far as to unjustly say that you’re faking your injuries. They may resort to this accusation if you stop going to your appointments or blow off treatment all-together before it has run it’s course. Frequently, soft tissue injuries can “flare up” if maintenance treatments do not continue until their natural conclusion.

Once upon a time, it was a socially-acceptable attribute for people to be “tough” and “suck it up” despite pain. That doesn’t appear to be a common thread in today’s negotiations with insurance companies, especially when it comes to auto-injury cases. If you feel a certain way, pursue treatment. We recommend to clients to keep a daily pain and inconvenience journal, so we can see how they are progressing in their treatment.

Lawsuit Time: “Let’s Get It On!”

While this article was limited to what a victim of car accident can do to improve their case prior to their first legal consultation, I would be remiss if I did not include one final bit of information: choose an attorney that isn’t afraid of going to trial. If you don’t get the settlement offer that you are looking for (and is reasonable given prior settlements or verdicts), a knowledgeable Virginia car accident attorney would have no qualms about filing a lawsuit and making a request for appropriate damages to the judge or jury.

If, after negotiation with the insurance company and discussion with my client, we don’t get a settlement offer that is reasonable, then it may be time to file a lawsuit.

Occasionally, it may be advisable to cut the claims representatives out all together and file the lawsuit against the person that hurt you.

If the other driver’s insurance company doesn’t place the right value on your case, a jury of your peers may see that you internalized your pain, choosing not to be a burden on your family and friends, and assess damages a more reasonable way.

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