Summer’s here and the time is right… for consolidating the major music/tech
companies (Mp3.com, Myplay, and Emusic) securely in the hands of the same
corporations they used to compete with.
Here at FMC we can’t help but wonder how this benefits musicians or consumers?
But first, let’s get down to business.
On April 3, 2001 Jenny and Michael attended the Senate Judiciary
hearing on Music and Technology and the FMC submitted written testimony
that summarizes our perspective on how the music and technology space
impacts the majority of musicians.
The testimony also reveals our priority action items for 2001. We are
Since some of these are complicated policy issues involving copyright
law and digital distribution, we encourage those who are interested
to read the 12-page testimony for further explanation, which is available
as a PDF at http://www.futureofmusic.org/news/FMC_testimony_4.3.01.pdf.
We are also working with great success to get all of the groups that
represent artists in the space to agree to these issues. We hope to
present a list of supporters in the next newsletter.
The big news in Washington is the sudden shift in control of the
Senate from Republicans to Democrats after Senator Jeffords of Vermont
left the Republican party. This could have a dramatic effect on issues
important to artists, as the GOP essentially has a sorry record of
recognizing media consolidation as an area of concern. In particular,
Senator Trent Lott, the former majority leader, was personally responsible
for supporting the Appropriations rider last session that gutted the
FCC’s Low Power FM Radio initiative. The impact on specific areas
of interest will be less dramatic, as Senator Patrick Leahy takes
over the Judiciary Committee from Orrin Hatch. Leahy and Hatch have
been in essential agreement over their preference that their committee
serve less as a venue for specific legislation related to music-technology
issues as opposed to a public forum for hearings that examine any
roadblocks in the way. We do not anticipate that this leadership shift
will dramatically impact the direction of this committee as it relates
to music/tech issues.
Beginning around July 15, 2001, you’ll see a redesigned and vastly
expanded website at http://www.futureofmusic.org. There will be new
sections that compile articles from our board members, press releases,
FMC in the news, and a vocabulary list. Plus, we’re building the “Wall
of Shame” where we are collecting stories from former major label
artists about their experiences in the music industry. In addition,
a number of entertainment lawyers have been working on “The Major
Label Contract: What it Says, What it Means” as a way to ferret out
those dangerous clauses that all us should be aware of. These two
pieces are just a part of an ongoing effort to build a public history
of the failures of standard industry practices to serve the majority
That’s just the tip of the iceberg! There will be reports on ongoing
research, more interviews and articles, and invitations to participate
in future FMC events. Expect another website launch alert in the next
couple of weeks, after it’s gone live.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that the overwhelming majority of musicians
do not have health insurance. As far as we can tell this is based on
A. Most record label contracts do not include health insurance as part
of the standard agreement between the label and the artist
B. Musicians are poor so health insurance seems like a luxury
C. Musicians tend to apply for health insurance as individuals which
means they can not appreciate the benefits and lower premiums of group plans.
The FMC is currently researching a number of ways to offer inexpensive,
comprehensive health insurance to musicians in the United States. But
our first step is to get a sense of if and how the existing music community
is covered. We are also studying the policies that are available through
other artists’ organizations.
In an effort to better understand the percentage of musicians who do
not have health insurance, we will be posting an online survey where
you can answer a short list of questions about your experiences with
our without health insurance.
The survey is currently being pre-tested and should be available on
the revised FMC website within the next couple of weeks. We’ll let you know!
We’ve got videotapes of all of the panels from the 2001 FMC Policy Conference,
which was held at Georgetown University in Washington, DC last January.
We will be setting up a series of video viewings where musicians and
interested folks can get together and watch the conference and relive
the fireworks. In Washington DC we’ll be doing it on the back stage
of the Black Cat on July 2nd and 9th. It should be fun to get together
in a rock club with a beer to learn about music/technology.
If you are interested in doing something similar in your neck of the
woods, contact Jenny at simplejt [at] aol [dot] com and we’ll try to figure out
a way to get some copies into circulation.
You can always do this informally on the web thanks to the folks at
Webnoize, who videotaped the entire conference and offer digital streams
version of the various panels in the Real Audio format. Go to http://www.Webnoize.com/
to see the panels and presentations.
In order to flex our mental muscles and focus on the bigger picture
in an environment of seemingly endless details, the board members of
the FMC are engaging in a reading course this summer dealing with activism,
music, technology and copyright issues. The first book we will be reading
is Paulo Freire’s “The Pedagogy of the Oppressed”, and the second will
be Bernard Lietaer’s recently released “The Future of Money: Creating
New Wealth, Work, and a Wiser World”. Curious folks are heartily encouraged
to read along and join the online discussion. If you want to join, send
an email to Kristin at tsunamismr [at] aol [dot] com and she’ll add you to the
group. I believe we will be doing a book or essay every two or three
weeks for the summer.
The free flow of information over the web makes it difficult to keep
unfair business practices private. As imbalanced standard industry
practices become common knowledge to people outside the music industry,
those people can’t help but begin to see these businesses and institutions
as hostile to musicians, greedy and morally corrupt.
Recent articles that make a good case that the music business is broken are:
A. Salon, April 30, 2001
“Radio’s Big Bully: Dirty tricks and crappy programming. Welcome to
the world of Clear Channel, the biggest station owner in America”
by Eric Boehlert.
B. CNN, May 10, 2001
“Musicians Find Net Success Without Record Labels” by Julene Snyder.
C. LA Times, May 28, 2001
“Logs Link Payments with Radio Airplay” by Chuck Phillips.
D. Salon, June 1, 2001
“The Music Revolution Will Not Be Digitized” by Janelle Brown.
E. Salon, June 5, 2001
“The “Bootylicious” Gambit” by Eric Boehlert.
Positive responses from the press keep coming in many major and independent
media outlets. This last month it includes two mentions in Billboard,
Interviews on Tech TV, mentions in Yahoo Internet Life and Magnet
Magazines, and elsewhere.
Check out the digital archive of Walter and Jenny on panels at a recent
conference on music/technology issues heald at Harvard. On Walter’s
panel there is a particularly interesting exchange between Harvard
law professor Charles Nesson and Matt Oppenheimer of the RIAA about
Oppenheimer’s recent letter to Princeton professor Edward Felten strongly
discouraging him from releasing his research about the hacks of the
watermarks in the SDMI watermark removal contest.
Walter’s Panel http://www.webnoize.com:80/live/item.rs?ID=12803
Jenny’s Panel http://www.webnoize.com:80/live/item.rs?ID=12801
Jenny has spent most of her time speaking and writing about music/technology
issues. She participated in panels at the American Assembly, Harvard’s
Berkman Center, Temple Law School and Washington Area Lawyers for
the Arts. She has been writing extensively to contribure to the new
artist’s area of the FMC website focusing mostly on The Wall of Shame
and the critique of major label contracts. She has also been working
to try to organize all of the PROs (BMI/ASCAP/SESAC), the musician
unions, the artists’ groups and the webcasters to present a unified
front behind the four points outlined in the FMC’s recent Senate Judiciary
testimony. Jenny was recently asked to participate on the board of
Public Knowledge, an organization that is working to preserve the
information commons. On a rocker note, she also completed the mastering
on her new double album which will be released in the fall on Misra
Records and did a 5 date tour of the east coast with a 6 person band.
Her performance on WFMU should soon be archived on their http://www.wfmu.org/ site.
Over the past month we have continued to be impressed with the level
of interest on Capitol Hill to both understand these complicated issues
and to work toward creative solutions. We will continue our educational
meetings on the Hill throughout the summer, and will also begin expanding
to relevant agencies, like the NEA, FCC, NTIA and the Copyright Office.
It is clear that policymakers here in Washington enjoy the opportunity
to learn more about this space and brainstorm on ways to improve artists’
ability to make a living.
Walter has been traveling back and forth across North America speaking
at music conferences and law schools. He has recently participated
in panels at the Harvard Law School Journal of Law and Technology
Forum, Suffolk Law School, and the NEMO Music Conference (among others).
Walter has been continuing his research into international copyright
law and how it impacts musicians. As always, the FMC is looking for
attorneys and law students to assist with our efforts. The current
research topics are focusing on how artists, producers and independent
record labels are paid by foreign governments. Those who are interested
should contact Walter McDonough at digitalmusiclaw [at] yahoo [dot] com.
Brian’s been working hard on a project which will hopefully create
a new economic reality, one which financially benefits artists who
have been able to retain their rights. He’s also been writing articles
(which will appear on the new website, as well as in publications
such as Streaming Magazine) addressing such topics as what the non-interactive
restrictions in the statuatory webcast license were designed to accomplish,
and how instead they are being used as a stick to deter innovation.
Kristin has recently finished graduate school, in the process winning
an Urban Affairs and Public Policy Alumni Award that recognized her
thesis research on “The Internet as an Agent of Change” and her contributions
of usable social knowledge. Now with more free time, Kristin has been
working on the FMC website redesign, the creation of the health insurance
survey, some more interviews and articles, and some of the logistics
on the upcoming FMC events. If you want a PDF of her thesis sent to
you (not all at once, now!) send her an email at tsunamismr [at] aol [dot] com.
Peter DiCola has received a grant from the John M. Olin Center for
Law and Economics at the University of Michigan to study compulsory
licenses for digital music and their possible effects on the labor
market for musicians. He will also be revising an article about MP3.com
and its community of musicians.
If you have any feedback, questions, or suggestions please send
an email to suggestions [at] futureofmusic [dot] org,
and let us know how we’re doing.
Thanks for your support and see you next time.
xo Jenny Toomey
Executive Director, Future of Music Coalition
Jenny [at] futureofmusic [dot] org