Wow. We just wrapped up a panel here at SXSW called Creative Capitol: Music, Culture and Policy Under Obama, and it was amazing. Here's what the roster looked like:
Michael Bracy Policy Director, Future of Music Coalition
Rachel Goslins President's Committee on the Arts & Humanities
Austin Schlick General Counsel, Federal Communications Commission
Tim Tuten Hideout/Department of Education
Christine Varney Assistant Attorney General for Antitrust, Department of Justice
This panel of Beltway peeps covered a LOT of ground, from net neutrality and broadband expansion to music education to the Live Nation/Ticketmaster merger to the Obama family's dancing chops. It would be impossible to do a full rundown, but you can check out our Twitter feed (hashtag #SXSW) for a realtime, 140-character play-by-play.
FMC's own Michael Bracy did a great job of framing the conversation, which centered on current public policy and its impact on the music community. The FCC's Austin Schlick gave a powerpoint presentation about FCC efforts to expand broadband to more Americans. He also talked about a pet topic of ours, net neutrality. The goal of rulemaking to preserve an open internet, according to the FCC, is to "prevent ISPs from acting as gatekeepers." That means that consumers would be able to access the lawful content of their choosing, using the lawful devices of their choosing, without discrimination. It would also mean that musicians, innovators and entrepreneurs can compete on a level technological playing field with the biggest companies. Guess what? You can weigh in, too!
Christine Varney of the Department of Justice talked about the recent Live Nation/Ticktmaster merger and the remedies — legal and behavioral — the DOJ put in place to preserve competition and prevent the merged company from acting in a threatening manner towards other folks in the biz. "We're talking to bands, managers, venues, promoters to see how consent decree may impact you," Varney said. Towards the end of the discussion, Greg Kot of Chicago Tribune and Jim DeRogatis of Chicago Sun-Times asked some tough questions about the vertical aspects of the merger. We can't get into it all right now, but you can read more about these concerns here. Varney countered that the DOJ did what they could within antitrust law to enure competition, and that the effects of the merger on the music community "remains to be seen." It was a fascinating conversation that deserves more time than a single panel can allow.
Tim Tutten of the Department of Education charmed the audience with his self-effacing style, while demonstrating the administration's commitment to arts education. As co-owner of the beloved Chicago nightclub The Hideout, Tutten has music cred in spades. He talked about a wide range of initiatives, and praised the White House for its support of music education and arts in general.
That was a great spot for Rachel Goslins, a documentary filmmaker and the Executive Director of the President's Committee on Arts and the Humanities. "What can I tell you about the first family's attitude to culture? They're committed to it," she said. The White House in this administration has become a "culture center," she noted, adding that the Obamas "have excellent taste in music" and are "great dancers." We also learned that the West Wing is "really tiny" and not at all like what you see on TV.
Michael kept things rolling along, and managed to talk about a couple of other current music policy concerns, namely Low Power FM and the Public Performance Right for terrestrial radio. You can check out our fact sheets on both of these issues right here.
All in all, it was an incredible panel. The only downside was that there was so much to discuss that there wasn't nearly enough time to get to it all. Guess that's why we have those three-day Future of Music Policy Summits.