Although there are plenty of musicians here at FMC, our version of "touring" is a bit different than most. When we pile in a van, it’s usually to offer informative seminars about music, technology, policy and law for musicians and independent labels. Hence, our “What’s the Future for Musicians?” events in Chicago and New York City, and “Creative License: A Conversation About Music, Sampling and Fair Use.”
Chicago’s event took place on Sept. 22 at the Old Town School of Folk Music - an amazing venue that was a perfect fit for FMC. Panels, presentations and breakout sessions offered local musicians and label folks a wide range of information about policy, technology, health insurance and more. Particularly awesome was a conversation between Chicago Tribune music critic Greg Kot and the co-founders of The Numero Group, a record label that’s reissuing some of the most obscure and amazing music ever recorded. Just hearing their stories about the lengths they routinely go to track down the original recording artists and labels made us all want to go buy their entire catalog. We’d love to do another event in Chicago, and it seems like they’d love to have us.
Then we pulled a double-header in NYC on Oct. 6, with another well-attended “What’s the Future for Musicians?” event, as well as “Creative License: A Conversation About Music, Sampling and Fair Use.” The latter discussion featured moderator/media professor Kembrew McLeod and interviewer Steve Stein (aka Steinski of Sonic Boom), as well as panelists musician/composer/educator T.S. Monk, producer and Definitive Jux label chief El-P, June Besek from Columbia Law School’s Kernochan Center and American University School of Law professor Peter Jaszi. The back-and-forth amongst the panelists regarding sampling and “fair use” was intense and fascinating, but only scratched the surface of this very complicated issue. Given the attendance levels and audience engagement, we will undoubtedly be curating more of these conversations in the future. Many thanks to all of our event partners and sponsors!
We’ll let you know when the audio and video archives make it to the website; for now, check out our blog recaps and Flickr page:
Chicago | NYC | Flickr
Next up is our D.C. Policy Day, which takes place at the National Geographic Society on Wednesday, Feb. 11. Stay tuned for more info about that event.
FMC works hard to help musicians understand the importance of net neutrality, and we understand how tricky it is to explain the concept in a way that doesn’t make your eyes glaze over. That’s one of the reasons we started the Rock the Net campaign and, with nearly a thousand members, so far so good.
Of course, we’re always looking for new ways to get the word out about this crucial principle that preserves your ability to upload and download legal content on the web without corporate interference. That’s why we’re thrilled to partner with realizePhiladelphia â€” a non-profit group that promotes social causes through musical and educational events â€” for a multi-faceted project called Web.illish.us.
Web.illish.us is a website, a blog, and a series of webcasts and rock shows, all designed to promote net neutrality and democratic access to media in a very cool way.
The shows will be taking place in Philadelphia at Silk City (5th and Spring Garden) on the third Wednesday of the month from November 19, 2008 til February 18, 2009. Each event will highlight a different aspect of net neutrality and will feature musical talent of national, regional and local notoriety; two DJ sets; special guests (bloggers, artists, politicians); and music and technology related giveaways. And the events will be webcast, too, so you if you’re not near Philly, you can still “virtually” attend!
Wed, November 19
“Level up, ppl”
435 Spring Garden St., Philadelphia, PA 9 PM
The first event will focus on how the level playing field that net neutrality provides is positively impacting creators and musicians.
Performers: Black Landlord * Tuphace * DJ C Sharp
Kristin Thomson, Future of Music Coalition
William Lewis, Big Bloc Entertainment
Taj Walton, studio engineer/producer
Marcy Rauer Wagman, Entertainment Attorney; Associate Professor, Drexel University; CEO, MAD Dragon Unltd.
Geoff DiMasi, P’unk Avenue
Future episodes will focus on:
Check out the Web.illish.us site for more info, and join their Facebook group!
There have been a few developments in the music-policy world since our last newsletter â€” some of it’s a little confusing, so we took the time to explain the details on our blog. Here’s a recap, with links to more information.
In other news, an Orphan Works bill passed in the Senate but failed to make it through the House before Congress packed up and headed home. We went into considerable detail about this bill in an earlier blog post â€” check it out if you need a refresher:
You can also read our fact sheet on Orphan Works.
A few newsletters ago, we told you about an article by hip-hop journalist Eric K. Arnold called “The Effects of Media Consolidation on Urban Radio.” We liked that story so much, we asked Eric to write a piece about net neutrality and urban music, to highlight the connection between the scene’s entrepreneurial, anti-censorship spirit and the open internet â€” which allows free expression and gives everyone the same level of access, whether they’re a huge company or a bedroom beat-maker.
Eric talked to a wide range of urban music figures from prominent bloggers to hip-hop label chiefs and MCs, and got their opinion on why the internet is crucial to their work. Check out the article here.
In September, popular social network MySpace launched its new music service, which features licensed content from all four major labels (and quite a few indies). Supported by advertising, the music is free to stream on-demand for anyone with a MySpace account. If you want to purchase any of the tracks to play outside of MySpace, you get rerouted to the Amazon MP3 store.
While MySpace Music represents a step forward in terms of how labels license their content to digital music services, there have been concerns about how musicians will ultimately benefit. In addition to getting a portion of ad revenue, the major labels entered into an equity-sharing arrangement with MySpace, meaning the labels have acquired financial stakes in the actual company itself. But we have yet to hear whether there is any mechanism for sharing this equity with the artists signed to the major labels.
Although MySpace Music does have a fair amount of independent artists, some of the key indie labels are not currently on board. MySpace has always been a haven for indie acts that use the embedded player as an audio calling card. This in turn has driven a ton of traffic to the site, so it would be nice if those musicians could receive some compensation.
On September 25, FMC Executive Director Ann Chaitovitz talked to Washington, D.C.’s Channel 9 about the service, saying the service was good in that it offers a new way for consumers to experience music and recommend it to their friends, but underscoring the importance of compensating artists in any new business model.
You can watch the clip here.
We also recently published a blog post about MySpace Music that looks at the service from a user’s perspective. If we had to assign a grade, it’d probably be a B-, with room for improvement, though this week’s announcement that IODA had reached an agreement with MySpace would probably improve the grade to a B.
On October 20, 2008, FMC representatives presented a new report at an A2IM-sponsored roundtable discussion in New York City, which also featured a wide range of independent labels. The report, written by journalist (and former FMC Communications Director) Justin Jouvenal, was the result of a 42-question survey of A2IM’s label members. It found that, 18 months after a settlement between the large radio station groups and the major labels and subsequent "voluntary agreements" meant to curb payola and get more indie music on the airwaves, indie labels are still having difficulty reaching commercial radio.
You can read and download the report here.
Here’s a blog post with a bit more background.
Check out our Payola Education Guide for more info about the history of payola.
FMC Deputy Director Jean Cook moderated a panel at CMJ on Thursday, Oct. 23, at the Kimmel Center at NYU from 12:30 PM - 1:45 PM. “What’s it Like Over There?” was all about international music scenes, and highlighted info, programs and resources for aspiring international artists and industry professionals. Joining Jean was Rio Farabi (guitarist for White Shoes & the Couples Company), Joel McDonald (lead guitarist for Torch le Monde), Paulo Andre Moraes Pires (Creator, Abril Pro Rock Festival Brazil) and Rachelle Van Zantan (International Touring and Recording Artist, Numinous Music).
Head to the CMJ site for more info.
You can always contact us at suggestions [at] futureofmusic [dot] org if you have any questions.