FMC Newsletters

FMC Newsletter #122 | June 19, 2014

Greetings, FMC friends! Things are heating up here in Washington, in more ways than one. Read on for all the latest happenings in music, technology, and politics.

Table of Contents

Net Neutrality Update

Last month, we told you how dozens of artists joined with FMC and Free Press to write a letter to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, making the case for true net neutrality. The artists, who included Michael StipeTom MorelloEddie VedderMerrill Garbus of Tune-YardsFugazi,OK Go and Neko Case, argued that an open internet is crucial for all creators and that Wheeler’s plan would amount to a two-tier internet.

The FCC has since moved forward with a 120-day public comment period, and the response has been unprecedented, generating hundreds of thousands of comments. We encourage you to add your voice to the chorus; initial comments are due July 15.

In the interim, Rep. Doris Matsui and Senator Patrick Leahy introduced a bill called the Online Consumer Choice Act, which calls upon the FCC to take any action required to prevent ISPs from picking winners and losers; you can read our statement welcoming the new bill here.  There’s likely to be more discussion of this bill at a House Subcommittee hearing on net neutrality taking place this Friday at 9 AM EST; as usual, we’ll be covering it live on Twitter; for more background, check out our recap of last month’s hearing. And you can look at Free Press’s suggestions for other ways to get involved.

Upcoming Events

It’s officially Summit time here at FMC! We’re thrilled to announce the launch of super early bird registration for the 2014 Future of Music Policy Summit. Now’s your chance to get the full Summit experience for only $149 - you get two packed days of music-tech-policy panels, keynotes and debates, attendee-only evening events and some surprises we’ll be rolling out over the summer months. What do you want to hear at this year’s Summit? Email summit [at] futureofmusic [dot] org with your ideas and get in on the super early bird registration while you can! Make sure to follow FMC on Facebook and Twitter for breaking panelist and programming updates.


And there’s still time for you to register for our Business of Music Workshop! This new two-day workshop for musicians is this Saturday and Sunday, June 21 -22 in Los Angeles, California. FMC is excited to partner with the Center for Cultural Innovation (CCI) for this business bootcamp - focused on the unique needs and challenges of working musicians, it will connect attendees with industry experts to explain the tools and considerations crucial to entrepreneurial success and independence in today’s music marketplace. FMC staff and guest experts represent all facets of the industry and will lead participants in learning key business skills to help advance their art, develop ideas and increase financial independence. Registration must be completed through CCI’s website.

Two new pieces of proposed legislation were introduced in recent weeks to remedy loopholes in US Copyright law that currently prevent artists from getting paid for the use of their recorded works. Neither bill is perfect, but both represent important symbols of the growing consensus on both sides of the aisle that musicians must be fairly compensated.

First, H.R. 4772, the Respecting Senior Performers as Essential Cultural Treasures (RESPECT) Act aims to help resolve a kink in copyright law that has allowed some uses sound recordings created before February 15, 1972 to go uncompensated. This bill is a step in the right direction, but it doesn’t go far enough. We’d much prefer to see full federalization of pre-1972 copyrights so senior performers can enjoy the complete benefits of federal copyright protection. Check out our blog post for the full details.

Secondly, H.R. 4588, the Protecting The Rights of Musicians Act attempts to address a loophole that allows AM/FM broadcasters to play music without paying performers a cent, by prohibiting radio broadcasters that also own TV stations from collecting retransmission consent monies. This bill too is a step in the right direction that may not go far enough, as not all radio broadcasters also own TV stations, potentially leaving them off the hook. And, as we explain here, the bill doesn’t go into enough detail about how the money should flow to artists.

We’ll keep you posted on these bills’ progress.

Congress continued its comprehensive review of the Copyright Act this past month with another pair of hearings. The most recent hearing was a wide-ranging examination of music licensing, from consent decrees and compulsories, to the importance of transparent databases. Before that, the subcommittee tackled the thorny issue of whether first sale doctrine should apply to digital goods. 

The next hearing picks up the music licensing conversation again at 10 AM EST on June 25You can always find full details about past and future hearings, including video, written testimonies, and FMC’s recaps on our House Copyright Review Timeline page.

Meanwhile, the Copyright Office’s own music licensing study is proceeding with a series ofroundtable discussions. The next roundtable events will take place in New York on June 23-24and FMC’s Casey Rae will be among the panelists.

FutureBlog is your destination for analysis of the latest news in music/tech/policy; here’s a selection of our recent posts:

Indies Battle YouTube For Better Terms
Growing global market share, consistent presence on the charts and Grammy wins offer plenty of evidence that the independent sector is crucial to today’s music ecosystem. Yet the consolidated major labels still get the better deals.

DOJ Tackles Consent Decrees:  Careful What You Wish For?
The Department of Justice is currently soliciting comments from the public on the consent decrees governing ASCAP and BMI. Check out our nuanced take on the issue, and learn how songwringers, composers and pubishers can weigh in.

Vimeo introduces Audio Fingerprinting
Popular video hosting site Vimeo introduced a new feature intended to help artists prevent unsanctioned use of their copyrighted works.  But how accessible are these new tools to self-released artists and small indie labels?

Music Recommendation and Digital Payola
When you see an artist featured in a splash ad on your favorite service’s homepage or a “personalized recommendation,” could it may be bought and paid for by a big label, even if you’re a subscriber paying for an advertising-free experience?

Solid Advice on Saving College Radio
College radio is one of America’s most treasured cultural resources; llibrarians and archivists play an important role in documenting and preserving it.

We were thrilled to see that dozens of media outlets covered last month’s artist letter to the FCC Chairman; here’s PitchforkSpin, and Huffington Post, for example.

And in the wake of Apple’s recent acquisition of Beats, Billboard asked FMC’s Casey Rae and an impressive bunch of music industry heavy-hitters to weigh in.

You can always contact us at suggestions [at] futureofmusic [dot] org if you have any questions or feedback.