I’ve Been Robbed… but I’m Totally Stoked – True Story

Ok, so first off I’m sharing this story with you in confidence. As a member of the Good Vibe Tribe, I know I can trust you to see all things in a positive light… so here it goes:

Being in the music and yoga community here in San Diego I get exposed to just about everything that has to do with “feeling good.” About 6 years ago I learned about this “conscious” artist who had broken through to the mainstream masses with a song called “Say Hey”. Of course, if you’ve heard of this song you know his name is Michael Franti and he’s a sort of musical icon in the yoga community.

Chad Scott and Michael Franti

Chad Scott and Michael Franti

After researching him for a bit I thought, wow this guy is legit, he’s really trying to make the world a better place through his music, not to mention he’s paid his dues as a musician by touring relentlessly for the last 20 plus years. I began to see him as a kind of role model who had similar beliefs, mission and music… playing on the same bill seemed a perfect fit. So I buckled down and brainstormed with my band members and promoter to find a way to meet and play with him on stage.

Every year he comes to town to play, so I bought some tickets to see him at 4th & B (its a 1,200 seat venue in San Diego, which has since closed). I went down to the concert with my promoter and prepared two packages to give to Michael which included:

  • A CD of my second album “Reggae Rock Hop” with the hit song “I’m Alive”, (which got licensed to two different television specials on MTV and HBO)
  • A luscious 70% dark chocolate bar and
  • A groovy letter that said something to the effect of: Hey we are really similar and working towards similar goals, I’m not quite at your level, but working towards it.   How about lending a helping hand, joining forces and letting my band open for you.

The show was packed and people were jumping and clapping like a rave frenzy to his performance of Sublime’s “Lovin is What I Got” and a few other jams I’d never heard before.  We strategically gave one package to his engineer, who said: “yes I’ll definitely give it Michael” and one to his merchandise guy who also said: “no problem I’ll give it to Michael after the show”.  After successfully handing off of the packages, we went home stoked, awaiting some sort of reply or sign from the universe that he’d received the gifts and message.

A couple months went by and low and behold we got…. Nothing, Nada, “Zilch” and I was admittedly, a little bummed.  After all, we spent so much time planning out and executing our Guerrilla marketing tactics, how was it possible our efforts went totally unappreciated?  

After about a year went by, the Yoga Journal Conference was happening in San Francisco and guess who was performing? Yep, Michael Franti, acoustic, on his own. I thought what a great opportunity to approach him in person and get some great Yoga education from teachers like Baron Baptiste, Shiva Rea and Shawn Corn.

At the conference Michael was playing live for the owners of Jivamukti, Sharon Gannon and David Life from New York.  After he offered an opportunity to meet and greet, so I stepped up to the plate and introduced myself.  Turns out he’s this really tall, lanky dude with dreads who actually seemed really cool… I didn’t catch a hint of ego.   I handed him my newest CD “Set Yourself Free” (previously titled: “Feel Different” under my old stage moniker Shaka Buku) to which he said “thanks, can’t wait to listen to it.” We exchanged a few words, I told him I was a musician and yoga instructor and would love to play with him some time then left.

I thought to myself, ok this time he’s definitely going to reach out to me. Again I waited several months and surprise, surprise…. we got…. Nothing, Nada, “Zilch”, I wasn’t just bummed this time, I was mystified and kinda freaked out.

Then, quite auspiciously, about 3 years later I got an email from YouTube (I was a subscriber of Michael’s channel) about Michael’s new video called “I’m Alive.”  Immediately, my blood started to boil, “I’m Alive?” really? Is it just a coincidence he named his best song off his latest album the same as the best song off my 2nd album I gave to him 4 years ago?  I clicked on the link and listened to the track and  WTF… the song had the same chorus words and rhythm as my song.  At this point I was literally just trying to stay calm and not freak out.  

This is where years of meditation and yoga practice came in real handy.  The solution always seems to be the same… breath as deep as possible to calm down and think clearly…  and know something good would become of it.  The answer ran through my brain like a bolt of truth serum in my veins… This is not a coincidence, something good has already happened!

I immediately sent the two versions of I’m Alive to my inner circle of friends and musicians as well as to some of my fans and asked:  “Is this a rip off of my song or just a strange coincidence?  Here are the two versions on YouTube:

Chad Scott’s  Version of I’m Alive (formerly Shaka Buku)

Michael Franti’s Version of I’m Alive

Please comment at the bottom of this blog:  Is this a coincidence or do you find similarity?


Of course in reality, there really are no coincidences, everything happens for a reason and I was going to find out what this reason was.  Whether or not coincidences exist is a whole other debate, for now there was just way too many factors that pointed to my version of “I’m Alive” having some sort of influence on Michael’s version of “I’m Alive and the feedback I got supported this.

What Do I Do Now?

I thought, if I do nothing I’ll not only kick myself for not standing up for my creative rights, but it will send a message to the universal powers that be of: “I don’t care that much about making it to the top”.

So I proceeded to write an email to his management to which I was sure I’d get a response.  After about 6 months we got…. yep you guessed it – Nothing, Nada, “Zilch”.  At this point I’m thinking: something is fishy here, if he’s innocent why not respond, if he’s guilty or even thinking of the possibilities that he did listen to my song (remember I gave it to him twice w/ high grade chocolate… he definitely listened!) and unconsciously used it later on in his own version, then he and his management would avoid responding…. at least until they were pushed to the brink.

Due to their lack of response, it seemed they were hiding something, so my manager wrote an official letter to both Michael’s manager and his record label Capitol Records.  Low and behold, about 2 months later I finally got a call from an attorney at Capitol Records and subsequently his manager.

Basically long story short, without admitting he used my song, we agreed that the chances he used my song unconsciously couldn’t be 100% denied and since we’re really on the same team and they loved my music, they agreed to promote me to Michael’s Fans and write a review of my last album in exchange for a truce.  Here are a couple tidbits from Michael’s Twitter Feed:


“If you want to hear some feel good music, check out “Set Yourself Free” by Chad Scott.  Cool vibes and very positive!” – Michael Franti

Diggin @chadscottmusic’s tune Smile For Me. Check it out: http://youtu.be/-aA43Q4UpbQ

At this point I’m feeling REALLY STOKED, through some odd manifestation of my blood sweat and tears, my song “I’m Alive” in some way influenced Michael Franti’s version of I’m Alive.   I have no resentment whatsoever and I’m closer to my goal of playing with him on stage and sharing my music with tastemakers like yourself.

The Big Lesson?

After reflecting on the whole thing a few months later I realized as Bob Marley said, you gotta  “Stand Up For Your Rights” and never let anyone take advantage of you.  The second takeaway is “Persistence Pays Off!”  If I’d given up on the first or second or even third response of Nothing, Nada, “Zilch” I never would have broken through and been able to share my music with you.

I stood up for my rights to eventually share my music with you.  This is my sole mission… to inspire you with my music, So here is “I’m Alive” for you to download.  Turn it UP!  If you could, please share it first.

Thanks for being part of the Good Vibe Tribe.

Chad Scott,

P.S.  Have you seen these new Good Vibe Tribe T’s?
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