The Week in News

Last weekend, our man Alex Maiolo was at Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago for three days of skinny jeans, warm beer and music. But it wasn’t all R&R: Alex was there to talk to musicians and managers about FMC’s Health Insurance Navigation Tool (HINT). From July 16-18, Alex was there hepping the hepcats to their health insurance options and how the new health care reforms might impact musicians. If you were there, we hope you got to say hello!

Here’s some more of what’s been happening in the wide world of music-tech-policy-law…

Samantha Murphy 4 Exec. Direc. (of SoundExchange)
Following the recently-announced departure of SoundExchange head John Simson, tech-savvy singer-songwriter Samantha Murphy has nominated herself as the new Executive Director of SoundExchange, reports Digital Music News. (In case you didn’t know, SoundExchange is a nonprofit appointed by the government to collect and distribute digital performance royalties. For more info, check out our SX fact sheet.)

Murphy’s online petition calls for more transparent, artist-centric leadership in the organization, stating, “For too long, artists have relied on others to make sure we are paid the money we need to live. But now we are living in a new age. It’s time for artists to take control of our careers, our finances and our lives.  We need a transparent organization controlled by us.” There’s no doubt that more musicians need to be represented in organizations and issues that affect their livelihoods — we’ve been saying as much for a decade. But we also recognize the tremendous strides SoundExchange has made in communicating with artists. Of course, it’s not all about outreach — musicians gotta get paid! To that end, SX recently announced a quarterly payout totaling $54.8 million, a record high for the organization. Money in musicians’ pockets is always a good thing. We’ll leave it to you to decide what you think of the rest of Murphy’s platform.

SoundExchange doesn’t appear to be holding an open election for executive directors, so it’s not too likely that Murphy will land the gig. On the other hand, campaigning for the top spot is a creative way to send a message to an organization that plays such an important role in the lives of working musicians. We’re interested to see where this is headed.

Clear Channel to FCC: “We are the airwaves!”
As the FCC once again reviews its media ownership rules, radio behemoth Clear Channel has submitted a petition arguing that reduced radio market share restrictions are Clear Channel’s only hope to compete with…the Internet. In case you’re having trouble following their reasoning, we’ll break it down for you: Clear Channel is radio, and unless the FCC allows Clear Channel to become even more of radio, the Internet will steal all the listeners away from, uh, Clear Channel. Makes sense, doesn’t it? A more detailed, less sarcastic analysis of Clear Channel’s petition is available at Ars Technica. (And check out our radio-centric comments to the FCC in the Media Ownership proceedings here.)

iTunes in the Cloud
A recent study by market research firm NPD predicts that “between seven and eight million U.S. music fans would pay $10 per month for a cloud-based version of iTunes that would let them listen to, and organize, any of its 11 million-plus songs across their computers, phones and media players,” WIRED reports.

This one time, at Bandcamp…
…I experimented with a new business model? Bandcamp, the popular online music-publishing platform, has announced that, starting in August, the company will begin claiming a 10-15 percent share of sales conducted through the site (an increase from their previous share of 0 percent). Meanwhile, the basic service will remain free. Details available from the Bandcamp blog.

Are RIAA lawsuits a waste of time… and money?
Addressing a UK tech conference, IMMF president emeritus (and FMC advisory board member) Peter Jenner called attempts to thwart file-sharing a “waste of time.” They may also be a waste of money, suggests copyfight blog Recording Industry vs. the People, which recently released documents showing just how much the RIAA is loosing on its lawsuits. Meanwhile, the RIAA tells TorrentFreak why they don’t mind losing money: they’re teaching the public a (very expensive) lesson about copyright and infringement.

And in other news…
Justin Timberlake will play Napster co-founder Sean Parker in the upcoming Facebook movie The Social Network (see JT in action in The Social Network full trailer, released Friday). Justin Beiber surpassed Lady Gaga for the honor of “most-watched Youtube video of all time.” HarperCollins thinks the future of the album is books, and the Books’ new album is streaming at NPR Music. Meanwhile, in the “picture is worth a thousand words” department, TheRoot gives us a graphic look at how much musicians make in the traditional recording industry. In “music of the future” news, MIT researchers are developing a textile that can “hear” and “sing”— is shirt-pop the new synth-pop?

And finally, if you’ve got still Pitchfork on the brain, there’s an interesting story in the New York Times about the state of the indie institution in 2010.

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