Friday, January 30, 2009

Stimulating the Arts in America

There's been a lot of back-and-forth about lately about the proposed stimulus package for our ailing economy. It's also been said that you can judge a country's overall health by how it values the arts. Shouldn't any attempt at economic recover include the people who contribute to American culture?

That's precisely what Americans for the Arts — a 45 year-old nonprofit organization for advancing the arts in the US — is advocating for. In a January 25 article in the New York Times, AFTA president Robert L. Lynch says “the artist’s paycheck is every bit as important as the steelworker’s paycheck or the autoworker’s paycheck.”

Arts groups are urging federal departments like Transportation or Labor to factor culture into their financing. A transportation enhancement program, for example, could pay artists for related public artworks; through the Labor Department displaced arts professionals could receive new training to stay in the work force. “Every one of these places is a vehicle through which the money is going to flow, and we want to make sure the arts is part of it,” Mr. Lynch said.

One of the most pressing concerns for artists — including musicians — is a lack of health insurance. (FMC's Health Insurance Navigation Tool, or HINT is a free service for musicians to learn about their health insurance options.) But the market downturn has had an even more far-reaching effect, including job losses and the erosion of educational opportunities for those looking to hone skills or learn about American culture.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment bill that is currently winding its way through Congress includes $50 million for the National Endowment for the Arts to be spread out among nonprofit arts organizations as well as state and municipal institutions. In addition, arts groups like AFTA are hoping to convince various federal agencies like the departments of Transportation and Labor to include culture in their agendas.

But don't call it a government giveaway: “I don’t think of this as a bailout for the arts,” Lynch says. “It’s an economic investment in the arts.” We at FMC think that's money well spent.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Future of Music is On Demand

FMC Education Director Kristin Thomson recently put together a short presentation about how being a music junkie in the digital age doesn't necessarily mean owning stacks and stacks of CDs or having gazillions of MP3s cluttering up your hard drive. Not that there's anything wrong with that — but the point is that these days, you've got options.

Kristin's been obsessed with music since, well, forever, and she's got a massive LP collection to show for it. Which is totally cool, but not always convenient. In the clip below, Kristin explains how the future of music might be more about "access" than collecting physical product (or even audio files):

Look for more micro-presentations on all kinds of interesting subjects in the near future!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Meet the Policy Day Panelists: Rick Carnes

Rick Carnes of SGA

Next up in our “Meet the Policy Day Panelists” series is Rick Carnes. Hailing from Nashville Tennessee, this multi-platinum selling songwriter is currently president of the Songwriters Guild of America (SGA) and has written tunes for Sony Music International, Elektra Asylum Music and Peer Music International. (He's also on the FMC advisory board.)

The Songwriters Guild of America was founded in 1931 with the mission to help advance, promote and benefit the profession of songwriters. SGA offers services for both the developing and professional songwriter, including online and offline classes, in-depth song evaluations, contract reviews, royalty collection, catalog administration and more.

Carnes’ calling kicked off when he narrowed his job choices down to schoolteacher, guitar player or wallpaper hanger. Naturally, he chose to hang wallpaper, which led to him meeting his wife Janice. The two began performing duets, which ultimately led to Rick becoming a hit songwriter. Not your typical vocational path, but what musical career is typical?

To date, Carnes has written Number One hits for Reba McEntire (“I Can’t Get the Blues No More”) and Garth Brooks (“Longneck Bottle”). His credits also include three Top Ten hits for the Whites, as well as songs written for Dean Martin, Alabama and Conway Twitty. All told, Carnes has helped to sell more than 20 million records with tunes he has either written or co-written.

On February 11, Carnes will participate in our D.C. Policy Day on a panel called “Copyright and Innovation in the Digital Age,” which also includes Zahavah Levine (Chief Counsel, YouTube),
Steve Marks (Executive VP and General Counsel, RIAA), (Hal Ponder Director of Government Relations, American Federation of Musicians), Gigi Sohn (President, Public Knowledge) and Walter McDonough (General Counsel, FMC).

If you’re a musician or songwriter wondering how technology and copyright law might impact your own career, you’ll definitely want to attend. And if you act now, you could get in for free — a limited number of musician scholarships are available. Click here to apply!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Meet the Policy Day Panelists: Derek Sivers

Derek Sivers

With so many cool and interesting panelists on board for our upcoming DC Policy Day (February 11!) it’s hard to choose which guest to be more excited over. That said, there is one speaker that every musician attending should take special note of: Derek Sivers, founder of CD Baby and the mind behind DIY music info hub

For those of you who don’t know, Sivers founded CD Baby in after quitting his job at Warner Music to become a full time musician. Instead of trying to score a record deal and conventional distribution, Sivers began selling his CD on his personal website. Soon he was helping his musician friends do the same, and CD Baby was born. Since those humble beginnings, the site has grown to include more than 267,000 acts, sold more than five million CDs to online customers and has paid more than 98 million dollars directly to artists (whoa!).

No doubt those are impressive numbers. But in 2008 Sivers decided to move on from CD Baby in order to focus on informing and inspiring indie musicians at (Did we mention that prior to all of this he toured with the circus as a ringleader/musician? And that he's never tried coffee?)

So with CD Baby, Warner Music and the circus behind him, this FMC Board member following through with his mission. Through his website, Sivers offers numerous projects to help out the everyday musician trying to pursue their art and hopefully earn a buck.

From his free e-book full of tips on how to successfully promote your music to MuckWork, a concept involving the outsourcing of promotional and design chores, Sivers is always dreaming up ways to help musicians become more empowered and self-sufficient. Particularly interesting is his grassroots music biz documentary, which lets musicians interview magazine writers, club promoters and radio programmers (to name a few) to better understand the how the gears turn.

Sivers will be moderating a panel at Policy Day ’09 called “Fair Trade Music: Toward a Legitimate Digital Music Marketplace,” which also features legendary British manager and artist advocate Peter Jenner and Pandora founder Tim Westergren (they’ll be joined by one more soon-to-be-named individual). Expect a fascinating conversation about new applications and technologies that help musicians promote and sell their music, and how policy decisions affect the viability of these sites and services.

As always, we’ll be offering a limited number of musician scholarships to Policy Day; click here to apply!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Audio Ads on Pandora

You might have run across the handful of articles in the last day or so about online "predictive" radio service Pandora adding audio ads. This move is no doubt an attempt to develop a sustainable revenue stream for Pandora's free services (the company also offers yearly ad-free subscriptions for $36).

We at FMC are big Pandora fans, and we know we're not alone. It's a good bet that the service's regular users will continue to support it, largely due to Pandora's easy-to-use and highly addictive architecture that allows listeners to customize any number of "radio stations" based on their musical preferences. But we'll have to wait and see.

Pandora founder founder Tim Westergren said that ads would only appear once every two hours, which is nowhere near the level of interruption heard on commercial terrestrial radio. Westergren has been front-and-center in the ongoing webcasting royalty rate negotiations, claiming that the rates set forth by the Copyright Royalty Board in March 2007 would drive Pandora and other online broadcasters out of business.

In our original response to the CRB decision, FMC “urge[d] the parties to work together to strike a balance that recognizes the value of webcasting, but also properly compensates artists, performers and labels for uses of their work." We also voiced our support for a Public Performance Right for terrestrial radio, which online broadcasters pay but over-the-air stations do not. (Check out FMC Executive Director Ann Chaitovitz's January 7, 2009 Huffington Post Op-Ed and our Performance Right Fact Sheet to learn more.)

Negotiations between labels, artists, big and small webcasters and SoundExchange (the organization tasked with collecting and distributing royalties from online broadcasting) continue. This FMC post from September 2007 helps explain what will happen should all parties come to an agreement.

In related news, we're thrilled to have Tim Westergren confirmed as a panelist at our upcoming DC Policy Day on February 11, 2009 at the National Geographic Society here in Washington. You'll wanna think up some good questions and reserve your spot now! A limited number of musician scholarships are still available; head here to apply.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Review and Pics of Big Shoulders Ball

Pitchfork has an awesome review of the Big Shoulders Ball: Chicago Celebrates Change, the Inauguration Eve concert held at the Black Cat in D.C.

Hosted by Windy City club the Hideout and, ahem, "community organizers" Interchange, Big Shoulders boasted a kick-ass lineup that included Andrew Bird, Tortoise, the Waco Brothers, Ken Vandermark, Sally Timms, Jon Langford, Icy Demons, Freakwater and more. Suffice it to say, we were thrilled to be the co-beneficiaries (along with the Chicago Public Schools marching bands program) of such an awesome and historic event.

We'll be posting our own pictures once our hangovers subside. . .

A2IM's Rich Bengloff in Huffington Post

If you've been following FMC's work, you've no doubt heard us talk about the American Association of Independent Music (A2IM) — a forward-looking non-profit organization that represents a broad coalition of independent labels.

A2IM has gone to bat on a number of important issues, including making commercial radio friendlier to independent artists — an effort FMC wholeheartedly supports. In fact, we recently collaborated with A2IM on a report about how indie labels are still having difficulty getting airplay on commercial radio a year after the "Rules of Engagement" with major station groups. (These voluntary agreements were a result of 2006-2007 payola investigations; for more info see our Payola Education Guide.)

On January 15, A2IM President Rich Bengloff published "An Indie Music Memo to the FCC: We Need a Level Playing Field Too" at the Huffington Post. The article calls on the Commission to recognize the indie sector's contribution to the music economy (around 30 percent of all domestic music sold), and says that access to the digital marketplace is crucial to indie artists and labels. That means net neutrality — the principle that protects the open internet — must be preserved. (For more info on net neutrality and the music community, visit FMC's Rock the Net page.)

Bengloff also underscores the need to properly compensate musicians for their creative efforts:

Everyone who embraces the digital model now has access to a global market and can compete. Intellectual Property in general, and music specifically, are big contributors to our economy -- and to our culture. Making certain that open and fair access to market is maintained while supporting fair compensation for the use of music is the worthwhile and achievable goal.

That pretty much hits the nail on the head. Achieving this goal isn't exactly easy, but you can count on groups like A2IM and FMC to keep working towards it nonetheless. You could say the future of music depends on it!

Monday, January 19, 2009 Episode III: Kiss My RSS panel preview

Check out this six-minute panel preview from Episode III: Kiss My RSS! It's about about "How Internet Culture Interacts with the Music Industry," and features Cee Knowledge (Digable Planets), Rich Medina (DJ/Poet/Producer), Anthony Tidd (musician/producer), Montez Roberts (engineer "The Studio") and moderator Andy Hurwitz (Ropeadope Records). Cick here for full panelist bios. represents a partnership between FMC and realizePhiladelphia to educate the entire web population about the importance of net neutrality — the principle that protects the open internet. Proceeds from the series go to FMC's Rock the Net campaign.

"Kiss My RSS" will be webcast live from Silk City in Philadelphia on Wednesday, Jan 21. The event represents participatory democracy and how blog culture interacts with social and political issues and entertainment. Music lineup:

Oscillations Quartet

Jef Lee Johnson

Doomstone (by Grimace Foundation)

Click here for artist bios.

Watch the full length panel on the live webcast in between musical sets. Or even better, attend in person!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Kevin Martin Resigns From FCC

Current Federal Communications Commission Chair Kevin Martin just announced his resignation from that agency, which wasn't entirely unexpected. Martin will step down on Inauguration Day (January 20), and then join DC-based nonpartisan think tank the Aspen Institute.

Martin's predecessors at the FCC — Democrats Reed Hundt and William Kennard and Republican Michael Powell — were each Aspen Institute Fellows following their tenure at the Commission.

Martin's leadership of the FCC was sometimes controversial, particularly in matters relating to media ownership and the regulation of the cable industry. Yet many found Martin's stint to be less troubling than that of his immediate predecessor Michael Powell, who unsuccessfully pushed for further deregulation of media, including radio. FMC worked alongside other groups in both the 2003 and 2007 media ownership proceedings to hold the line on radio station ownership, urging the Commission to uphold its stated commitments to localism, competition and diversity on the dial.

It was recently announced that Julius Genachowski has been chosen by President-Elect Obama to head the FCC. A tech-policy veteran, Genachowski will likely have different views than Martin on key issues like media ownership and net neutrality.

To learn more about how changes in the policy landscape could impact the music community, check out our third D.C. Policy Day — which takes place at the National Geographic Society in Washington on February 11, 2009. Musician scholarships are available — click here for more info!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Big Shoulders Ball = Sold Out!

Yes indeed, the sure-to-be amazing Big Shoulders Ball — which takes place on Inauguration Eve at the Black Cat in Washington, D.C. — is sold out.

In case you're all, "Big Shoulders Wha?" here's the skinny:

On Monday January 19, Chicago's Hideout Club and Interchange will host "The Big Shoulders Ball: Chicago Celebrates Change." The show features Windy City talent like Andrew Bird, Tortoise, Waco Brothers, Eleventh Dream Day, Jon Langford, Sally Timms, David "Honeyboy" Edwards, Ken Vandermark, Freakwater, Icy Demons and Judson Claiborne. There are also some non-Chicago musicians playing — D.C.’s Ted Leo just got added, and FMC Deputy Director Jean Cook will also be sitting in with an act or two.

Proceeds from will go to the Chicago Public Schools marching bands program and FMC. If you already bought a ticket, we’ll see you there! If not, well. . . maybe next inauguration?

We were psyched to read the New York Times Magazine article on Andrew Bird that ran a short while ago. Andrew has a new album that comes out the day after the Black Cat show, which also happens to be Inauguration Day. Hmm, a Chicago musician releases an album on the day a fellow Chicagoan becomes President. . . sounds like some kind of strategy.

Either way, we're psyched to see him and all the other acts on Monday night!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

FMC's Kristin Thomson on Minnesota Public Radio

FMC co-founder and Education Director Kristin Thomson was featured on the January 9 episode of "Weekend America" — a nationally-syndicated Minnesota Public Radio program. (You might be familiar with MPR's "Prairie Home Companion" and "Sound Opinions.")

Kristin talked spoke briefly about mashup artist Girl Talk and the sample license clearance process, which could very well make GT's latest, Feed the Animals, illegal. (Check out our earlier blog post for a megaton of information on this hot topic).

You can read listen to and read a transcript of Kristin's interview with MPR's John Moe right here.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A New Chair at the FCC?

There's a lot of talk in Washington (and elsewhere) about President-Elect Barack Obama's apparent choice of tech-policy veteran Julius Genachowski as the next Chair of the Federal Communications Commission.

Genachowski previously served as chief counsel for Clinton-era FCC chairman Reed Hundt, and is a former Harvard classmate of Obama's. He was instrumental in the campaign's digital strategy, which included the use of social networking and other online outreach tools to build and sustain momentum. Genachowski has also worked as a venture capitalist and internet executive, so he's clearly familiar with that "series of tubes" known as the worldwide web.

The Washington Post ran a brief item about the Genachowski pick today (January 13). Soon, the story was picked up by the Wall Street Journal, the L.A. Times, and Ars Technica, to name a few.

During the Obama campaign, Genachowski helped formulate the candidate's positions on media ownership and net neutrality, so it's safe to say these perspectives would inform his role as Chair. Still, it's far too early to speculate on what a Genachowski-led FCC will ultimately look like — especially with other Commissioner seats still being sorted out.

We'll definitely be watching to see how this comes together, and as always, we'll do our best to keep you informed about what it might mean to the music community. If you're looking for some up-close insights about how changes in the policy landscape could impact creators and fans, you'll definitely want to attend our third D.C. Policy Day on February 11. Musician scholarships are available — click here for more info!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Podcast Interview with Tom Roe of free103point9

Back in October 2007, the FCC opened a brief licensing window for full-power, non-commercial stations. FMC and our friends at Radio for People thought this would be the perfect (and rare) opportunity for community arts organizations to get on the dial. We worked to identify qualifying groups, letting them know about the possibility and assisting interested parties with the application process.

Now, the approvals are starting to trickle in. New York State "transmission arts" collective free103point9 was recently awarded an FCC license to launch a 3,300-watt FM radio station on 90.7-FM in Greene and Columbia Counties.

Freelance journalist and radio enthusiast Mike Janssen (who worked on and has written about the full power licensing process) recently interviewed free103point9's Tom Roe about how they plan to build a community-oriented radio station from the ground up.

Listen to the podcast here (right -click or option-click to download).

Friday, January 9, 2009

Talkin 'Bout the FCC

With a new federal administration on its way, there's been a lot of talk about possible changes at the Federal Communications Commission — the agency charged with regulating the public spectrum (including television and radio broadcasting), as well as "interstate telecommunications" (like the phone lines, radio and cable). Increasingly, the FCC is called upon to deal with internet issues like net neutrality. So you can see why people are paying attention to how things shake out over there.

Some, like law professor Lawrence Lessig, have advocated for scrapping the FCC and replacing it with an innovation-oriented agency. Others have called for a more measured approach. On January 5, 2009, the Washington group Public Knowledge co-presented (with Silicon Flatirons) "Reforming the Federal Communications Commission"— a conference that examined the agency's history while discussing its possible future.

Now, Public Knowledge and has launched a website "to provide information and solicit your suggestions about what changes need to take place at the FCC for the agency to restore the public’s confidence that it will meet its legal obligation to promote the 'public interest, convenience and necessity.'"

The site contains papers and opinions from leading minds in the field. It's pretty wonky stuff, but there's tons of good information about how the FCC can better serve the public interest while allowing for marketplace innovations.

So what does any of this have to do with music? Plenty, actually. Whether its the airwaves or the internet, artists need to be able to reach potential audiences. That's why FMC has worked to fight consolidation in radio station ownership and stop payola, both of which have kept too much talent off the dial. And it's why we support net neutrality, which lets all artists — established or developing — compete on a level online playing field with the biggest companies.

FMC wants more artists to be able to connect with more listeners, so we look at changes in the policymaking landscape as an opportunity to get some stuff right on behalf of musicians. If you want to know more about these issues, you should check out our D.C. Policy Day on February 11, 2009. As always, we're offering musician scholarships — click here to apply. And stay tuned for more news about this exciting event!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Hank Shocklee Nominated for a Grammy!

Producer extraordinaire (and FMC advisory board member) Hank Shocklee was just nominated for a Grammy award!

Hank's nomination is in category of Best Compilation Soundtrack Album for Motion Picture, Television or other Visual Media for his work on the American Gangster original motion picture soundtrack.

The driving force behind the Bomb Squadthe legendary production unit heard on classic Public Enemy records and more — Hank has a vast knowledge of music and a keen sense of how it fits into American culture.

Hank wrote and produced new songs for American Gangster film and soundtrack including the title cut by Grammy-nominated platinum artist Anthony Hamilton (composed by Diane Warren.)

Ridley Scott wanted someone to bring an authentic sound to the film and create music with a retro late-1960s to mid-1970s feel to it," Hank says of his contributions. "I loved working on this project because it allowed me to go in the studio and imagine a period in time that was the very beginnings of hip hop, where blues, soul, funk, Latin and Afro-beat all started to mesh together and inspired the sounds of the hip hop generation on the streets of New York."

In July 2008, Hank and his brother Keith Shocklee appeared alongside Chuck D and journalist/"media assassin" Harry Allen at a panel discussion about the seminal PE album It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, co-presented by FMC and Chicago's Pitchfork Music Festival. Yes, it was awesome.

Congrats to Hank from all of us at FMC. We'll be rooting for you!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

FMC's Ann Chaitovitz on the Public Performance Right in Huffington Post

FMC Executive Director Ann Chaitovitz just published a piece in the Huffington Post about the need for the Public Performance Right on terrestrial radio.

If you've followed our work for a while, you'll probably be familiar with our support of this right, which would pay performing artists (and their labels) for the use of their music on over-the-air broadcasts. You can read our fact sheet on the Performance right here.)

In her article, Ann offers compelling moral and economic reasons for lifting radio's current exemption:

Just like all other types of U.S. copyrighted works, sound recordings should have a performance right. Entertainment is America's number one export, yet the U.S. stands alone in the industrialized world by not requiring radio stations to pay for the use of copyrighted sound recordings — putting us in such exalted company as North Korea, Iraq and Iran. Call it an axis of exploitation.

The new Congress should quickly redress this inequity. In this time of economic recession, it is especially important for the U.S. economy -- American artists and labels will not receive their share of foreign royalties until sound recordings have a performance right in the U.S.

She also points out the fact while webcasters and other online music services pay performing artists, commercial terrestrial radio does not, creating an inequity in the royalty environment that affords traditional broadcasters a market advantage. But it's really about the performing artists themselves. "The situation can have tragic consequences for older R&B and soul artists, American cultural icons who deserve and need compensation," Ann says.

Read the full piece here.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Good News From New Orleans!

Al "Carnival Time" Johnson plays the "Hope for Home" benefit house party in 2007.

Regular readers will be familiar with FMC's efforts to help New Orleans musicians, like our annual Artist Activism Camp and benefit concert, where artists from around the country come together to discuss best practices for advocacy and play a show to help NOLA musicians still struggling in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

One such musician, Al "Carnival Time" Johnson, just got great news. As of December 29, the New Orleans R&B and Mardis Gras legend has brand new digs, courtesy Habitat for Humanity. Al lost everything in Katrina, including his longtime dwelling in the Lower Ninth Ward. Now he can finally come home.

This was a long time coming, and represents the hard work and generous support of individuals and groups like Sweet Home New Orleans — a non-profit that helps Big Easy artists get back to their neighborhoods and communities.

Congrats to Al on his new place!

Monday, January 5, 2009

FMC at APAP 2009!

Attention, New Yorkers!

FMC is partnering with the Association of Performing Arts Presenters and FTM Arts Law to present a special copyright/royalties track at the 2009 APAP Conference in NYC. This years' event takes place at the Sheraton and Hilton Hotels in the Big Apple from January 9-13.

The three sessions FMC is participating in will look at the basics of copyright, contracts and royalties (Sunday, Jan. 11), a best practices discussion/support group for folks who have encountered royalties and copyright issues in their presenting/producing work (Monday, Jan. 12), and a policy update on where the copyright landscape is headed (Friday, Jan. 9).

Scroll down for more info on the presentations/discussions.

Media Ownership Matters! + 2008 Copyright Policy Roundup Friday, 1/9/09, 3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. Sheraton New York in Conference Room I

Wondering if radio is ever going to play anything good again? Sure the internet has changed everything, but will “net neutrality” change the internet? So what are these “white spaces?" Heard about Orphan Works, but not sure what they are? So when are they going to straighten out all the “gray areas” around royalties and copyright anyway? Will the webcasting rates ever be settled?

Join Future of Music Coalition for an artist and presenter-friendly roundup of major technology, copyright, and policy issues from 2008, as well as the first look at what to expect from the new administration in 2009.


Copyrights and Licenses: Myths and Misunderstandings Sunday, January 11, 2009 from 9:30am – 11:30am Hilton, Sutton North

As with other industries that create and sell valuable assets, the performing arts industry creates, manages, and sells passion and experiences in the form of words, sound, images, design, and movement. Issues regarding the ownership of and rights to use such materials are important not only for those who create them, but the managers and agents who promote them and the presenters and venues which display them. The internet, digitalization, and other new technologies have made these issues even more complex.

With expertise in representing and counseling clients in the fields of entertainment and the performing arts, and in simplifying and de-mystifying the complex and arcane, Brian Taylor Goldstein will present basic concepts and practical considerations in the areas of copyright protection, rights management, and licensing the rights necessary to use materials created and owned by others. He will also be on hand to address your specific questions and concerns.

- How can I protect my own work?
- When do I need or not need to obtain permission to use someone else’s work?
- How do I obtain permission to use someone else’s work?
- What special challenges are posed by the Internet?


Intermediate/Advanced Copyright Issues Roundtable Monday, 1/12/09, 9:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. Sheraton New York in Conference Room I

A follow up to Sunday morning’s “Copyrights and Licenses: Myths and Misunderstandings” basic session, this interactive session brings together presenters, agents and artists to share horror stories, best practices, and get the straight facts on practical issues around royalties, copyrights, and

Hosted by Ann Chaitovitz from Future of Music Coalition and Brian Taylor Goldstein of FTM Arts Law.