It was eight years ago that Jenny Toomey penned FMC’s original Manifesto, gathered up four founding board members, and launched the nonprofit Future of Music Coalition. Serving as the Executive Director of the nascent organization, Jenny took the lead in grantwriting, fundraising, and networking, with a determination to make FMC a vital force in helping musicians make sense of the complex issues surrounding music, technology, policy and law.
Back in 2000, FMC had just two staff members, four board members and a budget of $100,000. In 2007, FMC finally moved out of Jenny’s apartment into an office in Washington, DC, where a staff of six now manages an organization with a budget of over $700,000. None of this could have happened without Jenny’s leadership.
Now it’s time for new challenges. On January 14, 2008, FMC’s co-founder and Executive Director Jenny Toomey will start a new job as the Program Officer for Media and Cultural Policy at the Ford Foundation.
It was Jenny’s creativity and commitment that laid the groundwork for FMC’s continued success as we move forward. Although we will most certainly miss her, we know the same qualities that she brought to her work at FMC will serve her well in her new role.
We’re currently engaged in a search process for a new Executive Director and expect to make an announcement in early 2008 regarding this position. In the interim, FMC’s Deputy and Education Director Kristin Thomson will serve as Executive Director, a role she played in 2004 while Jenny took a temporary leave of absence from the organization. Upon the appointment of a new Executive Director, Kristin will resume her Program Director role.
Please join us in wishing Jenny well.
FMC press release on Jenny’s new position
See a description of the Executive Director position or email edsearch [at] futureofmusic [dot] org">email@example.com.
This Saturday, December 1, join us for a Washington, DC house party to aid Sweet Home New Orleans and one of New Orleans’ most beloved musicians, Al "Carnival Time" Johnson. The party is being organized to support the rebuilding and relocation effort for the thousands of New Orleans musicians affected by Hurricane Katrina, including Al Johnson.
The event is being co-hosted by FMC, Mike Mills, Michael Petricone and Eric and Sharapat Kessler, who have graciously opened their home for the occasion, and includes delicious food, cocktails, performances by Al "Carnival Time" Johnson and Mike Mills of R.E.M. Plus, we’ve got a rocking silent auction in the works, with donated items from Pearl Jam (signed posters, DVD box sets), R.E.M, My Morning Jacket, a special signed box set from the songwriters of "Silver Bells", a vintage bottle of Dom Perignon, an iPhone, and a SlingBox.
Minimum donation is $100 per person, with 100% of proceeds going to the beneficiaries. All contributions are tax-deductible.
A limited number of tickets are available to this private event; for info on how you could attend (or donate), e-mail hopeforhome [at] futureofmusic [dot] org by tonight, November 30 at midnight ET.
Can’t make it? You can check out this blog post featuring Al performing at our 2007 Policy Summit.
On October 24, the Senate Commerce Committee held a hearing on "The Future of Radio," which covered a surprising amount of ground — everything from media ownership, to localism, to performance royalties.
Senators aside, the hearing had some real star power in the form of witness Mac McCaughan - longtime rocker and co-founder of Merge Records. (You know, the 20 year-old North Carolina independent label with acts like Arcade Fire and Spoon?) McCaughan spoke clearly and eloquently about how non-commercial broadcasting in its many forms has made a major difference not just on his business, but also in his personal development.
"As a kid I went to sleep and woke up to the radio in an era when even on album rock radio the DJ was playing his or her favorite new records," he said. "Then at the age of 12, college radio exposed me to music that I had never heard on top 40 or album rock stations. The music I discovered then set me on the course of making music myself and starting a record label. And since that time, as both a performer and a label owner, I have relied on radio as an essential component of the work we do helping audiences learn about our music."
McCaughan talked about the importance of diversity, competition and localism in radio, urging Congress to "take action to allow for the growth of non-commercial radio, and the expansion of Low Power FM into more urban settings."
Certainly Senator Dorgan was in agreement - he’d earlier suggested holding official proceedings to deal with the FCC’s recent movements towards changing laws regarding media ownership, which would have an extremely negative impact on the non-commercial radio that McCaughan and so many others cherish and rely on.
But what about the internet? Although there was plenty of discussion about online royalty structures, the important issue of network neutrality was not explicitly examined. In his testimony, McCaughan laid out how important the internet is to indie labels and bands:
"An exciting range of emerging technologies such as internet radio, satellite radio, music subscription services, digital music stores and new webcast services like Mog, Pandora and Last.fm have expanded the opportunities for independent bands and labels worldwide. Not just our label, but any label and artist should have the benefit of competing on an equal playing field, as new technologies emerge that help musicians connect with audiences. An internet based on the principles of network neutrality allows these experiments in commerce and technology to grow. Any policy decision that enables the reestablishment of old bottlenecks or creates a tiered internet would be a tremendous step backward."
FMC agrees wholeheartedly. Our ongoing Rock the Net campaign is a great way for bands and artists to get involved in the fight for net neutrality.
You can read McCaughan’s testimony here.
For some extra credit reading, FMC also wrote two blog posts about the hearing, including one on the discussion of performance royalties during the hearing:
Merge on the Hill
Senate Commerce Hearing Tackles Performance Royalties
In prior newsletters and blog posts we’ve talked about our Rock the Net campaign, a coalition of musicians and indie labels that support the principle of net neutrality - the idea that all websites, services and content should be equally accessible on the Internet.
Since its launch in March 2007, Rock the Net has grown rapidly, to over 750 bands and 150 labels. Now, FMC is taking the show on the road. On October 30, FMC launched a Rock the Net concert series in Seattle at a sold-out Matt Nathanson show at the Crocodile Café. Before the show, Nathanson participated in a teleconference with Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA), Reclaim the Media’s Jonathan Lawson, FMC’s Michael Bracy, and Nabil Ayers, co-owner of Seattle’s Sonic Boom record stores and independent record label. During the teleconference with reporters, Rep. Inslee reiterated his support for net neutrality, while Ayers and Nathanson talked about the importance of the internet for their work. That night, Nathanson played a sold-out show, talking about net neutrality from stage and urging concert attendees to sign up for Rock the Net at the tables in the back. More Rock the Net concerts are planned in Chicago, Philadelphia and Washington, DC in the coming months.
FMC has posted an audio MP3 of the full teleconference here.
Look for more official Rock the Net events in the coming months. For more info or to join the campaign, visit the Rock the Net website.
Recent weeks have seen movement in Congress and at the FCC regarding a few of FMC’s core issues.
For several weeks, there were rumors of an impending media ownership rule change vote at the FCC, but little was known about Chairman Kevin Martin’s specific plans. A pair of hastily arranged official hearings in Washington D.C. and Seattle (on localism and diversity and media ownership, respectively) found Martin besieged by concerned citizens who voiced their near-unanimous opposition to further media consolidation. Congress got into the mix, too — first at the Senate Commerce Committee hearing on "The Future of Radio" (described above) and then at a general hearing on media ownership. Senators Dorgan and Lott warned Martin that he was in for a serious fight if he messed with the ownership rules, and introduced legislation demanding that the FCC allow sufficient time for public comment on any proposed rule changes, and to fully examine issues of localism and diversity in broadcast media.
As details of Martin’s plans have begun to emerge, it’s not been a pretty picture. Although his proposed rule changes aren’t as far reaching as those of previous Chairman Michael Powell, Martin in many ways appears to be paving the way for further unnecessary consolidation, with his primary goal being loosening the existing rules on newspaper/TV cross ownership. For an excellent overview of recent events, read this Wetmachine post by Harold Feld.
There is a silver lining in this ominous cloud, at least from FMC’s perspective. It appears that the local and national radio ownership caps remain intact despite intense lobbying by the broadcasters. This is a clear victory for musicians, music fans, and citizens, and something that FMC has urged the Commission to take off the table since 2002. While commercial radio remains damaged by the 1996 Telecommunications Act, which led to massive ownership consolidation, the FCC seems to have removed the notion of further radio consolidation from its radar.
Perhaps as important, there have been significant steps towards expanding non-commercial radio. In October, the FCC opened up a licensing window for full-power, non-commercial bandwidth - the opportunity of a generation.
In spring 2007, FMC launched an outreach campaign to educate arts and cultural communities across the country about this opportunity, and to walk candidates through the application process. FMC contacted over 300 arts organizations, from symphonies to community centers. We also reached many more through our contacts at Americans for the Arts, Opera America, the Association of Performing Arts Presenters, the All-ages Movement Project, American Symphony Orchestra League and the International Association of Jazz Educators. For non-profit groups supporting jazz, classical, world, experimental, and independent music, this is the chance to rebuild what has been lost over the years: a radio spectrum that more fully reflects the diverse voices and music offerings of communities across the country.
The first stage of the full power window - the application process - has been a major success, with a reported 3,000 applications in the pipeline. FMC will continue to monitor this licensing process, which is expected to take more than a year, and will report back on any exciting new licensees.
Low Power FM
FMC is also pleased to report about encouraging progress on the effort to protect and expand lower power FM. On November 27, the FCC put forth a number of LPFM provisions. The Commission moved to prevent groups from owning more than one such station, and clarified rules regarding license transfer. Perhaps most importantly, the FCC decided to place limits on so-called "translators," which repeat the signals of full power stations, thereby extending the reach of commercial radio. Under the new rulings, translator applications are capped at 10 per broadcast entity. This helps ensure that many community-based low power stations will be protected from encroaching full-power conglomerates. The FCC also pledged to take further comment from the public on LPFM issues.
For more info, read FMC’s LPFM Fact Sheet.
To learn more about radio consolidation, check out FMC’s 2006 Radio Study.
We at FMC were saddened to hear about the October death of Lance Hahn, an Austin-based musician, journalist and punk icon. Hahn passed away as the result of complications from kidney disease. He was perhaps best known for his time with San Francisco punk legends J.Church, a band that crossed paths with Jenny and Kristin’s band Tsunami a number of times in the 1990s. Jenny and Kristin also worked with Hahn on a Tsunami/Superchunk split single, which was released on Hahn’s own Honey Bear imprint.
This news, as well as that of Descendents bassist Karl Alvarez’s recent non-fatal hard attack, is not only sad, but also reminds us all about the importance of health insurance for musicians. FMC’s Health Navigation Tool - or HINT - is a free service for musicians who would like to explore their health insurance options with experts, who are also musicians. The process is simple: visit our HINT website to learn more or schedule a 30 minute phone consultation.
Several FMC staffers recently returned from a weeklong trip to Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, where we convened 35 musicians from across the globe to discuss the important issues affecting today’s artists.
Although there has been plenty of talk about musicians’ place in the digital era, it’s rare to hear what artists themselves believe. As FMC’s core issues become global concerns, we have an increasing commitment to understanding what artists think about their shared challenges and opportunities. Our Brazil Conference brought together a variety of international musicians to share their perspectives. Points of conversation included intellectual property law, contract reform, media consolidation and digital distribution, among others. As expected, the musicians’ opinions were as varied as the cultures from which they came. And that’s fine by us; before we find areas of common interest, we first have to understand the breadth of perspectives held by the artists themselves.
We look forward to more opportunities to engage with musicians, both around the globe and in our own backyard.
You can always contact us at suggestions [at] futureofmusic [dot] org if you have any questions.
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