For those of you who watched the Grammy Awards on Sunday night (and apparently there were more of you this year than any year since 2004), you may have had a feeling of déjà vu when you saw virtually the same group of stars that clustered together in 2009, 2008, etc. Does this perhaps remind you — at least a little — of the 1993 film Groundhog Day? You know, like Bill Murray’s character hearing “I Got You Babe” every morning?
Now, if you happen to want to hear the same song at the same time every day, that’s fine with us. But sometimes it’s fun to let the needle find a new groove.
Today happens to be Groundhog Day, which is why we bring it up. And if the modern artist or fan feels like they’re “stuck in a loop” when it comes to music on commercial TV and radio, who can blame them? Perhaps the industry is a bit like the groundhog, who hopes that if it waits long enough, springtime will finally arrive. But what if it’s already here?
Everyone involved in music — from artists to labels to fans — have an opportunity to help create a better future for music. Sure, it might seem difficult, but it beats the “head-in-the-ground” alternative. We at FMC support innovations that expands the legitimate digital music marketplace and rewards creators. But we also recognize that there have been enormous disruptions in traditional business models due to changes in technology. Yet we don’t think it’s a good idea to go back to the old system of bottlenecks and gatekeepers that kept so much great music from reaching audiences. That’s why we support net neutrality — the principle that protects an open internet. We see this as crucial to today’s musicians, who use the web for everything from engaging with fans to booking tours to selling merch to collaborating with other artists. (speaking of net neutrality, you can still let the FCC know how YOU use the internet with our handy Comment Tool!)
Still, it’s obvious that we’re a ways off from a truly sustainable modern music ecosystem. In a recent article, Geoff Boucher stated that “there’s an odd postwar feeling these days in some music-industry circles, a sense that the revolutionary front of the Digital Age knocked down all the familiar structures but forgot to build lasting new ones. At the same time, others see a ragged charm and wide-open opportunity in this new order.”
Lately, we’ve been talking about evolving definitions of “success,” and working to identify which structures are working for musicians, and which might be improved. Throughout our ten-year history, we’ve pushed to expand community radio, so more musicians get a shot at reaching listeners in their own backyards, thereby strengthening local music scenes. And we continue to maintain that the internet must remain a platform through which artists can advance their careers on their own terms. Are we concerned about copyright and intellectual property in the digital realm? Of course. But we’re also encouraged by the ever-growing array of tools today’s artists and independent labels have at their disposal for cultivating audiences.
Whether you want to view the traditional industry as being “stuck in a loop” or as a “hibernating groundhog,” one thing is certain: great music will continue to be made. Getting that music heard will require some forward thinking and a bit of pluck, but hasn’t that always been the case? We at FMC hope that this decade will see continued innovation, more fan love and increased artist empowerment. So we celebrate all of you who are out there doing the hard work — and who refuse to be spooked by your own shadow.