Thursday, August 30, 2007

WPFW: Why Community Radio Matters

Jenny just returned from Piety Street Recording studios in New Orleans where Damian & Tim from OK GO, Bonerama and Al "Carnival Time" Johnson were collaborating on a forthcoming benefit record to support Sweet Home New Orleans.

While there she listened obsessively to WWOZ the spectacular community radio station that features a lot of local New Orleans music. Just this morning she was sent this link to a mini movie about DC's own spectacular community radio station WPFW. It was produced by Jessica Duda who is also working on a Net Neutrality documentary. It gives you a clear picture of why it's so important to expand community and low power radio.

Tale of Two Cities

Our buddies at connect the dots between a recent Washington Post Article on high-speed Internet in Japan and the fight for Net Neutrality here.

Yet Another Reason to Get Health Insurance

We were saddened to learn that Karl Alvarez, bassist for Descendents, ALL and The Lemonheads suffered a minor heart attack on August 11. Luckily he's recovering physically, but without health insurance he's also overwhelmed with medical bills.

Alvarez's friends have set up a MySpace page and Paypal account for donations to help him pay his bills. To donate via Paypal, visit this website.

Read the whole story on Pitchfork and listen to streams of Descendents and ALL's music.

Here at FMC, we hate that it takes health crises like these for people to think about health insurance. After all, benefit concerts are amazing events, but you don't want your future finances dependent on them.

If you're a musician and you've been meaning to look into health insurance options, check out FMC's Health Insurance Navigation Tool (HINT). HINT gives musicians FREE advice on health insurance from insurance experts who are also musicians.

Better yet, watch this quick video chat with Alex Maiolo, HINT's project director and learn all about how the program works.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Musician Scholarships for the Policy Summit Are Almost Gone

Future of Music Policy Summit

Time is almost up to apply for a musicians' scholarship to the Future of Music Policy Summit in Washington DC September 17-18th. We have 15 scholarships left to award to musicians that would like to come to the Policy Summit next month, so if you'd like to be one of the attendees and cannot otherwise afford the registration fee, please apply now.

Now in its seventh year, the Future of Music Policy Summit brings an unprecedented group of panelists and keynote speakers together with an engaged, diverse audience for a robust debate about the critical issues at the intersection of music, law, technology and policy.

To apply for a musician's scholarship you can go right to:

We look forward to seeing you there!

Monday, August 27, 2007

FMC seeks Communications Director

FMC is looking for a Communications Director to work in our office in Washington, DC. This person would develop and implement a comprehensive communications plan for FMC, including consistent outreach to and contact with journalists, coalition members, musicians and peer organizations. The ideal candidate would have excellent communication, organizational skills, knowledge of PR and media, sharp and fast writing skills. Marketing or journalism background preferred. Music background or familiarity with music industry strongly preferred. Experience with graphic design, print production and web architecture strongly preferred. Very good understanding of FMC programs and related issues is helpful, but not necessary.

Read details about the position and how to apply here. Applications are being accepted until September 10.

Friday, August 24, 2007

SoundExchange reaches agreement with some large webcasters

The Cold War between SoundExchange and webcasters over the new royalty rates is thawing -- at least in part. SoundExchange announced yesterday it had reached a compromise with some large webcasters that will give them a break on the rates set by the Copyright Royalty Board back in March.

The CRB had required webcasters to pay a minimum $500 "per station per channel" fee with no cap. This would add up to a hefty chunk of change for webcasters (such as Pandora) that allow each listener to create a persona web channel. Under the terms of the compromise, each webcasters' royalty rates will be capped at $50,000 regardless of the number of stations or channels.

The compromise also calls on webcasters to report each song they play to SoundExchange, instead of a sampling as is required right now. There is also a requirement that the sides continue to discuss anti-stream ripping technology.

John Simson, executive director of SoundExchange, made the following comment about the deal:

“This agreement shows that we can address specific issues of concern to the industry through private negotiations while upholding the integrity of the CRB process and while protecting the interests of SoundExchange members."

Right now, the agreement only applies to webcasters, who have signed the compromise, but SoundExchange hopes it serves as the basis for a larger compromise with the whole industry. Billboard reports the signers are AOL, Live365, MTV, RealNetworks, Pandora and Yahoo.

Separately, SoundExchange has offered to keep small webcasters under their current royalty rates through 2010. RAIN obtained a copy of the agreement which would:

Allow webcasters to continue operating under the terms and rates essentially equivalent to those authorized under the Small Webcasters Settlement Act of 2002.
  • Establish an annual revenue cap of $1.25 million and a listener cap of each webcaster's first 5,000,000 aggregate tuning hours ("ATH") of usage each month. The offer also states that for any usage in a single month above 5,000,000 ATH, the webcaster must pay the applicable commercial webcaster rates (currently $0.0011 per performance during 2007.)
  • Be valid until a webcasters' overall annual revenue exceeds $1.25 million, the terms of the offer are void. After a six-month "grace period", the webcaster is no longer eligible for the terms of the settlement and would begin paying the rates mandated by the CRB decision of March 2.

The SoundExchange offer also maintains that the settlement is "non-precedential", adhering to the organization's contention that these rates reflect a below market rate subsidy extended to small commercial webcasters.

Small webcasters have until Sept. 14 to accept the deal. Small webcasters seem less than enthused by the offer (to put it mildly). David Oxenford, the attorney representing small webcasters in the negotiations with SoundExchange, sees nothing new.

The proposal of SoundExchange simply turns their offer made in May, summarized here, into a formal proposal. It does not address the criticisms leveled against the offer when first made in May, that the monetary limits on a small webcaster do not permit small webcasters to grow their businesses – artificially condemning them to be forever small, at best minimally profitable operations, in essence little more than hobbies.

You can read his full comments here.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Is net neutrality in trouble in the UK?

Disturbing development in the UK, where it appears some of the worst fears of net neutrality advocates may come to pass. Two British telecoms have warned the BBC that it new iPlayer video player, which allows users to watch BBC programs over then net, is hogging too much bandwidth and the news channel must pay extra fees if it expects to continue to get high quality service.

According to an article on a UK finance site:

Another source said: '...The nuclear option is to tag or deprioritise its traffic - that would not stop users downloading BBC content but would slow it down enormously.'

Pretty scary stuff. It's exactly the type of behavior that telecoms in this country have said would never happen. This example makes abundantly clear why net neutrality laws are necessary here. If it can happen to the BBC, it can happen to anyone.

Internship Opening at FMC

FMC is looking for a fall intern for our office in Washington, D.C. It is a great opportunity to work on many of the projects we have going including Rock the Net, our Annual Summit and many other projects. The unpaid position runs from September to December. For more information and for directions on how to apply, go here.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Early Bird Registration ending soon

Music. Technology. Policy. What more could you want? Future of Music Coalition's 7th annual Policy Summit is quickly approaching on Sept. 17th and 18th, but if you want a spot at the cheapest rate you need to act today. That sounds like a sales line, but it's literally true. Once the 16th comes around, FMC's early bird rate for the summit, $149, jumps to $199. To register or to get the full rundown on the summit, go here.

ATT's Pearl Jam story unravels

Last week ATT admitted muting Pearl Jam’s political lyrics during its exclusive webcast of the band’s Lollapalooza show on Aug. 5. ATT rightly apologized, said the silencing was a mistake by a content monitor, and claimed that the company “does not censor or edit performances.” ATT spokeswoman Tiffany Nels also told the Los Angeles Times that it uses the content monitors to block “excessive profanity.”

After being pressed by fans and reporters, ATT admitted on Friday it had muted political lyrics during the webcasts of other bands on its “Blue Room” site. ATT said in a statement: "It's not our intent to edit political comments in webcasts on Unfortunately, it has happened in the past in a handful of cases. We have taken steps to ensure that it won't happen again." Earlier this week, Wired News reported a “Blue Room” crewmember said censoring political speech was a policy for the webcasts.

Fans of Flaming Lips, John Butler Trio, The Nightwatchman and a number of other bands came forward saying the bands' political lyrics/banter had been silenced during other "Blue Room" broadcasts. (Video of these incidents has not surfaced yet, but if you have please post links on the comments section of the blog. We'd love to see it.)

One instance of muting a band’s political comments might be chalked up as a mistake, but multiple instances point toward something much more sinister: a policy of silencing political speech.

The silencing is especially troubling because it appears the content monitor ATT hired to watch the Pearl Jam webcast did not do what ATT claimed he was there to do: monitor inappropriate speech. As we mentioned earlier this week, FMC counted 20 instances of curse words during the Pearl Jam webcast that were not censored by the content monitor, yet Eddie Vedder’s anti-Bush lyrics were muted.

Monday, August 13, 2007

ATT content monitor does not mute curse words during Pearl Jam webcast

The content monitor ATT hired to remove inappropriate language from the webcast of Pearl Jam's Lollapalooza show did not edit out 20 instances of curse words during the webcast.

ATT claimed it had hired the content monitor to remove curse words and other less than family oriented material from its "Blue Room" webcasts, but the content monitor instead silenced Pearl Jam's anti-Bush lyrics. The revelation casts doubt on what exactly the role of the content monitors was during the webcasts.

The intrepid Eliot Van Buskirk is now reporting over at Wired News that there was a policy in place to censor political speech during ATT's webcasts of concerts at its "Blue Room" site. Wired News quotes a crew member during one of the webcasts as saying:

"I can definitively say that at a previous event where AT&T was covering the show, the instructions were to shut it down if there was any swearing or if anybody starts getting political. Granted, they didn't say to shut down any Anti-Bush comments or anything specific to any point of view or party, but 'getting political' was mentioned."

The uncensored curse words and the crew member claim casts some serious doubt on ATT's rickety story that it did not have a policy of censoring bands during its "Blue Room" webcasts. After admitting it silenced Pearl Jam last week, ATT admitted on Friday that it had also silenced the political comments of other bands during its "Blue Room" webcasts. ATT's story now has more gaps than the performances it censored.

This Week in News: Monday, August 13, 2007


Study: Consumers Prefer DRM-Free Tracks
A survey conducted by law firm Olswang Entertainment and Media Research of over 300,000 UK music fans reveals that DRM-free music is preferred by consumers, as well as a willingness to pay more for DRM-free tracks.
By Anthony Bruno,, August 6, 2007

UMG Ramps Up DRM-Free Testing
Universal Music Group, following the lead of EMI, will begin selling thousands of DRM-free tracks on various digital music outlets in a test to see how DRM-free tracks affect sales. Itunes is excluded from UMG test in an effort by UMG to protest Apple’s dominance of the digital marketplace.
By Anthony Bruno,, August 9, 2007


Webcasting Royalties: Indies vs. Majors
Live365 has found that 55% of the music played on its various channels is from independent labels. These numbers contrast the CD sales, 87% of which are from major labesl. This research indicates the importance of internet radio to independent artists and highlights how independent music could be damaged by the potential collapse of internet radio brought on by the increase in webcasting royalties.
By John Healy, LA Times, July 26, 2007

Music Industry

Starbucks Records: Number One With A Latte
USC Music Industry Professor praises Starbucks for finding a new and successful business model for selling CDs and points to live music as the new music business where the growth potential exists.
By Jerry Del Colliano, Inside Music Media, August 9, 2007

Going postal
New postage rates have increased the price of mailing CDs by 34%. Although reviewers and radio stations may prefer receiving promotional CDs rather than promotional mp3 files, the Digital Audio Insider wonders whether the cost of sending CDs is proportional to the benefits reaped.
Digital Audio Insider, August 6, 2007

Large Webcasters And SoundExchange to Continue Negotiating Soon
Negotiations between large webcasters and SoundExchange over the CRB ruling are tentatively scheduled to resume in two weeks.
By Eliot Van Buskirk, Wired blog, August 8, 2007


Who has to pay if music plays?
Following ASCAP’s lawsuit against a Seattle restaurant owner for failing to pay royalties to play music inside its venue, the Seattle Times asks intellectual property lawyer Matt Geyman to explain the workings of public performance right.
By Kristi Heim, Seattle Times, August 8, 2007

RIAA Lobbying Expenses Cross $650,000 During First Half
According to documents uncovered by the Associated Press, the RIAA has already spent $650,000 during the first half of 2007 on lobbying expenses alone. These documents provide insight on the RIAA’s budget, which focuses on file-sharing lawsuits and piracy among other issues.
By Paul Reskinoff, DigitalMusicNews, August 7, 2007

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Did ATT censor Pearl Jam and can we trust them with the Internet?

Pearl Jam closed Lollapalooza in Chicago on Sunday night with what was by all accounts a rousing performance, but if you weren’t there you didn’t see the whole show. According to a Pearl Jam press release, ATT, which had the exclusive rights to webcast Lollapalooza via its “Blue Room,” silenced a piece of video from its live webcast that featured anti-Bush lyrics.

During the song “Daughter,” Eddie Vedder sang “George Bush leave this world alone" to the tune of “Another Brick in the Wall.” When he repeated the line again and then sang "George Bush find yourself another home" the sound was muted, even though it can clearly be seen Vedder was singing. The editing was first discovered by Pearl Jam fans, who notified the band.

According to the release, when asked about the incident, ATT told Lollapalooza that one of its content monitors had made a mistake. Whether it was a mistake or blatant censorship, the incident is a cautionary tale that shows what can happen when one company has unfettered control over Internet content.

Of course, ATT and other big telecoms have been pushing for several years to increase their control over Internet content. They want to create an Internet where they determine which web sites download the fastest. The Pearl Jam incident gets to the crux of why this is dangerous.

If this kind of incident happens during a webcast of a concert, imagine what type of power ATT or any other telecom might wield if they determined which web sites you are able to effectively access? Would they degrade access to web sites that feature political views they don’t agree with, or perhaps, ones that compete with their commercial interests? We don’t know and we don’t want to find out.

This is exactly why 713 musicians through the “Rock the Net” campaign, liberal groups like, conservative groups like the Christian Coalition, and thousands of others have been pushing for “net neutrality.” Net neutrality means the web remains a level playing field – no single company (or anyone else for that matter) has the power to block or degrade the download speeds of any web site.

We need a law or rules that positively affirm the principles that have made the Internet open and democratic. We shouldn’t wait until ATT or anyone else decides what we see, read or hear on the Internet. By then, we might not even know what we’re missing.

Here's the silenced version:

This is an unmuted version shot by a fan at the concert. The important section begins at the 1 minute mark:

Friday, August 3, 2007

Bottom of the Hudson needs your help

The Philadelphia/Brooklyn band Bottom of the Hudson was in a tragic accident on Sunday while touring to promote their new album Fantastic Hawk. The band's tour van flipped over a number of times after a tire blew out on a North Carolina highway.

The accident killed bassist Trevor Butler. Drummer Greg Lytle is in intensive care in a North Carolina hospital (fortunately stable though), while the rest of the band escaped with only minor injuries.

Absolutely Kosher, the band's label, posted the following on its web site:

"We didn't have an opportunity to get to know Trevor Butler as well as we would have liked, but he was a great guy and a great musician. He was instrumental in the evolution of the band's sound over the years. In addition to playing in Bottom of the Hudson for the last several years, Trevor also was a founding member in fellow-Philadelphia group Coyote. He was utterly devoted to music and helped many, many bands set-up shows in Philadelphia. We are devastated by his loss and he will be greatly missed. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the band and their families. Thanks to everyone who has sent condolences and well-wishes."

The Absolutely Kosher folks are collecting money for Greg's medical bills. If you would like to make a donation, you can send one via Paypal at Our condolences and best wishes go out to Bottom of the Hudson.

FMC has also set up a hotline called HINT, Health Insurance Navigation Tool, that helps artists get health insurance.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Senate leader backs off anti-piracy initiative tied to education bill

Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV, has quietly backed off a controversial proposal that would have required the Secretary of Education to monitor college’s anti-piracy efforts.

Reid’s proposal, which was folded into the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, included a provision mandating the 25 schools with the most piracy violations begin filtering P2P filesharing networks on their campus. Critics, including the Digital Freedom Campaign and some educators, charged such filtering would inevitably catch perfectly legal filesharing as well as unauthorized downloads.

Jennifer Stoltz, a spokesperson for the Digital Freedom Campaign, said in a public statement:

"This amendment is the just latest in a series of legislative efforts by wealthy record labels to require our tax dollars to be spent on policing college students…no one supports illegal downloading or file sharing, but the Digital Freedom Campaign and its members believe that Universities have more urgent things to do with their scarce budgets than collect information on their students for the government and for the [Recording Industry Association of America]. Academic resources would be better spent educating students rather than spying on them at the behest of large corporations."

Late last week, Reid substituted the bill’s stronger language for a softer approach that would require the top 25 piracy schools report how they are combating piracy, not trying to block it through filtering.