FMC Newsletters

Future Music Newsletter: August 2015

Greetings, FMC friends! It’s been another swampy August in DC, and with our 15th annual policy summit approaching fast (two months away!), it seems like the timing couldn’t be better for a serious and lively debate on how to achieve fairness, transparency and opportunity for the music community. Read on for the latest updates. 

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Future of Music Policy Summit

Early bird registration for 2015’s Policy Summit is now available for only $199. That’s two full days of panels, presentations, keynotes, debates, attendee-only parties and networking opportunities at a deeply discounted price. Register today!

Our annual event brings together some of the smartest folks from all corners of music, technology, and policy. Summit schedule and panelist details are now online for you to browse; more speakers are added every day, but here’s a random sampling of what #FMC15 has in store:

  • Merrill Garbus of tUnE-yArDs moderates the “Music Policy State of the Union,” tackling the current proposals being floated to make music work better for artists in the digital age. Meet key players and learn how to get engaged.
  • Willard Ahdritz, Founder & CEO of Kobalt in conversation with Panos Panay of Berklee College of Music’s  Institute for Creative Entrepreneurship will discuss transparency and accountability for artists as the music business goes high-volume and global.
  • As on-demand streaming continues to grow in popularity, are there potential alternatives to the current streaming model that could better serve artists and fans? Sharky Laguana, Dick Huey, Simon Wheeler of Beggars Group (UK) indie label head Darius Van Arman of Secretly Group, and musician Melvin Gibbs of Content Creators Coalition will be among those weighing in.
  • While Taylor Swift’s decisions about where her music can be heard continues to make headlines, what kinds of choices about how to participate in the marketplace are available to the rest of us? How do musicians and their teams evaluate opportunities and use their voice and leverage?
  • As music becomes a data and service-driven industry how can we make sure that our informational resources are up to snuff so more artists get paid on time, fairly and accurately?
  • Learn from managers of such artists as Radiohead, The Lumineers, Matthew Friedberger, and many more.
  • What are the newest developments in music education, and what role can technology play?
  • With hundreds of new LPFM stations about to launch, public radio growing and Internet platforms competing for new (and old) audiences, what’s on the horizon for radio?
  • and much more to come!

Plus the usual array of awesome evening events, with networking, live music, and the always popular listening party hosted by NPR’s “All Songs Considered.”  Register today!

FMC is committed to making it possible for musicians to fully participate in conversations about the issues that impact their livelihoods. Our scholarship program allows a limited number of musicians to attend our entire event on a sliding scale starting at only $25 — the application is available online.

The Data Journalism That Wasn't

This weekend, the New York Times Magazine ran a cover story that raised some eyebrows in the music community. The article, entitled “The Creative Apocalypse that Wasn’t” and written by Steven Johnson, frames itself as a data-driven response to concerns about the plight of creative workers—including musicans— in the digital age. Unfortunately, Johnson’s grasp of the limitations of the data he cites seems tenuous, and he ends up relying on some oversimplified narratives and dubious assumptions about musicians’ income.

Now, we’re not normally in the habit of getting all scoldy with journalists. But we were consulted on this piece by NYT Magazine factcheckers, and were disappointed to find that the magazine chose to publish without substantive change most of the things we told them were a) not accurate or b) not verifiable because there is no industry consensus. So we’ve written up a detailed response to Johnson’s article, rooted in lessons from our own Artist Revenue Streams research, addressing the problems with his use of data and with his overarching framing. As we explain:

…our problem with Johnson’s article isn’t that he fails to conform to some doom-and-gloom scenario for artists working today. Indeed, there are a lot of new opportunities for artists, and those opportunities are worth celebrating. Most frustrating to us is that Johnson reinforces a false binary between pro-technology optimistic futurism and anti-technology digital pessimism. And that simply doesn’t describe the state of the contemporary debate about art and the digital age.

If you want to know how musicians are faring, you have to ask musicians, preferably a whole lot of them. You’ll get different answers from different musicians, and they’ll all be correct in terms of their own experiences. But your overall understanding will better reflect the complexity of the landscape.  (Check out the full post).

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

SESAC Buys Harry Fox Agency, Settles with Commercial Radio
Big changes are happening in the marketplace for music licensing; we break down all the acronyms and help you make sense of it.

Celebrating National Radio Day
August 20 marked National Radio Day, with celebrations at non-commercial stations across the nation. For us, it’s a good opportunity to reflect on how music communities and community radio can work collaboratively.

New Music Industry Report Focuses on Transparency & Fairness for Creators
Berklee College of Music’s report highlights problems that could be keeping performers and songwriters from collecting revenue that’s rightfully theirs.  

Wilco’s Free Album Comes With Some Recommendations
Though the acclaimed Chicago rockers are giving away their new record for free, they’re making it clear to their fans that “not every band, label, or studio can do the same.”

Taylor Swift On Spotify (Well Not Exactly)
Ryan Adams’ announcement of his plans to cover Taylor Swift’s 1989 in full offers a timely example of how the compulsory license for mechanical royalties works.

What the Marriage Equality Ruling Means for Copyright
The Supreme Court has essentially guaranteed that same-sex spouses will have the same inheritance rights to musical copyrights in every state in the Union.

Music Cities Convention is the world’s first conference to explore the relationship between city planning, strategy, urban development, quality of life and the music industry. From venue and community space development to education, employment, event provision, licensing, regulation and demographics, the music industry impacts a number of issues prevalent in city planning, strategy and regulation.  

In exploring these topics, Music Cities Convention brings together the top minds from municipalities, regions, academics, consultancies, developers, artists and the music industry to introduce new ideas to make all our cities ‘music cities’.

This October, the event will be held here in DC at Georgetown University on Sunday October 25,  the day before the FMCs Policy Summit; its the first time Music Cities Convention will be held in the United States. Some notable speakers to look forward to hearing from this fall include Joyce Linehan, Chief of Policy for the City of Boston, Martin Elbourne, Co-Founder of Music Cities Convention and The Great Escape Festival and Nikki Rowling, President and Co-Founder of Titan Music Group and Austin Music Foundation. 

You can bundle your Music Cities Convention registration with our Policy Summit and save big! Visit for details!

It’s been a busy summer for FMC staff in the media.  It seemed like everyone wanted to know our CEO Casey Rae’s thoughts on Taylor Swift and Apple Music, including NPR’s All Things Considered, CNBC, Yahoo! Tech, KCRW’s To The Point and more.

Meanwhile, FMC’s Kevin Erickson appeared on C-SPAN2, for a briefing organized by the Congressional Internet Caucus tackling the question: Who’s more powerful: Taylor Swift or Congress?

Kristin Thomson helped explain to Rock On Philly why the lack of a performance right in the US is “a travesty on multiple levels”.

And Kevin appeared on the Radio Survivor podcast to describe how the generous provisions of the Fair Play Fair Pay act will protect non-commercial radio while helping musicians and independent labels.

p>The Jazz Connect Conference, organized by JazzTimes and the Jazz Forward Coalition, will be held January 14-15, 2016 at Saint Peter’s Church in New York City and will lead into the annual APAP (Association of Performing Arts Presenters) Conference as well as Winter Jazzfest.  The conference brings together a wide cross-section of the jazz community for 12 workshops and 5 plenary sessions, on a variety of timely subjects to engage, stimulate and challenge the registrants. This year’s theme “Fresh Horizons” was chosen as it embodies jazz’s spirit of reinvention and creativity, powered by a vigor of forward thinking.  Moderators and panelists will include an impressive cross-section of artists and professionals from around the world.  Early Bird Registration is only $95 until September 15, with an additional 20% discount offered to FMC members/registrants, using promo code FMC2016.  

For more information go to

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