Arcade Fire. Magnetic Fields. Neutral Milk Hotel. Bands like these have helped define the adventurous spirit of independent music. But where would they be without the help of their independent label, Merge Records? The Durham, North Carolina-based label is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year with special events and reissues of classic albums from its back catalog. Now there’s another reason to celebrate: Future of Music Coalition will be honoring Merge at our 2014 Future of Music Honors event on Monday October 27.
On October 6, 2014, the Supreme Court made headlines by declining to hear several cases where federal appeals courts had upheld same-sex marriage rights on constitutional grounds, effectively making marriage equality the law of the land in several more states. On Tuesday, the 9th Circuit federal appeals court followed suit by rejecting same-sex marriage bans in Idaho and Nevada. But despite all these quickly moving changes, there are a still a number of federal laws that have yet to be updated to ensure that the federal government treats same-sex marriages equally. One proposed update is of particular interest to musicians, songwriters, and other creative professionals.
Hey people! Casey Rae here. Well, it’s that time of year again. And I’m not talking about “pumpkin spice” in everything. I’m talking about the 14th Future of Music Policy Summit, which takes place on Oct. 27-28 at Georgetown University in Washington, DC. read more
The court fights involving the use of recordings made before February 15, 1972 continue to rage on. Earlier, we told you about a ruling from a California court in a case brought by Flo & Eddie (formerly of the Turtles) against satellite broadcaster SiriusXM. Now the duo has filed another suit, this time against Pandora. (There is also separate litigation from the major labels against Pandora and SiriusXM in other courts). read more
If you follow this blog, you know that FMC spends a lot of time thinking about metadata, a shorthand term that can mean a lot of things including the information about who wrote a song, or who played on a recording. We’ve looked at the problems from different angles, examined the wide range of possible solutions, and attended metadata conferences. This month’s Future of Music Policy Summit will have some special sessions that tackle metadata, so we asked FMC’s director of programs Jean Cook six questions about the topic.
Urban Ouftitters is now claiming to be the “world’s number one vinyl seller.” According to Buzzfeed, Calvin Hollinger, chief administrative officer for the Philadelphia-based clothing retail chain made the claim in a meeting with analysts yesterday: “Music is very, very important to the Urban customer…in fact, we are the world’s number one vinyl seller.”
Hollinger’s claim hasn’t been sourced or verified, but even if technically true, it could easily be misleading; the reality is that independent record stores certainly sell more vinyl than Urban Outfitters, but they don’t have a single corporate owner. (Update 9/29/2014: Ed Christman at Billboardconfirms that indie store market share is far larger than Urban Outfitters, and also discovers that Amazon, not Urban Outfitters, sells the largest volume of any single corporate retailer.)
Yesterday, a California federal court ruled against Sirius XM in a lawsuit brought by Flo & Eddie of 60’s hitmakers The Turtles regarding the satellite radio company’s failure to pay royalties for the use of recordings made before February 15, 1972.read more
In some ways, I’m the perfect target for U2’s big new release partnership with Apple. U2 was my favorite band all through junior high and high school. I dutifully collected all their singles, and I still have my ticket stub and sweatshirt from the 1998 Popmart tour. Yet my interests drifted elsewhere as I got older; I’m part of the reason their last record sold relatively poorly, as I still haven’t heard it. Theoretically, a free copy of Songs of Innocence might rekindle my fandom.
But: it’s complicated. U2’s avowed commitments to social justice were a big part of what got me interested in activism and policy at a young age. It feels a bit jarring now to see the band whose liner notes got thirteen-year old me to join Amnesty International so closely associated with a company that’s facing protests both for inhumane factory conditions abroad and low contractor wages domestically.
The ambivalence doesn’t stop there. The Apple/U2/Universal Music Group partnership has also prompted some unexpected backlash. Still, that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been successful on the most basic levels; the band was reportedly well paid (over $100 million in marketing, plus a flat royalty fee), at least 36 million people have accessed the music, the new iPhone has set new sales records and everyone’s still talking about U2 and Apple two weeks later. Including our own Casey Rae, who joined Chris Richards of the Washington Post and Catherine Mayer of TIME Magazine—both of whom have recently written about U2—on the Kojo Nnamdi Show on Sept. 23. (Listen to the archived broadcast).
You may be feeling some U2 fatigue, but we think there’s still a need to ask deeper questions about what this deal means, and what it doesn’t.