Friday, November 30, 2007

Mike Mills: a Friend to Musicians

Mike Mills of R.E.M. is just plain awesome. Not only does he play bass and sing backup for one of the longest-running and influential "alternative" rock bands in America, he's also a dedicated supporter of musician causes.

Currently, Mike is hard at work putting the final touches on R.E.M.'s 14th(!) studio album, but being the generous fellow he is, he's made time to come to Washington, D.C. for tomorrow's benefit house party for Al "Carnival Time" Johnson and Sweet Home New Orleans.

There are a limited number of tickets available to this private event -- only ten at last count! For info on how you could attend, e-mail If you can't make it, please consider making a donation.

We've been blogging about the shindig all week; read the previous entries here, here and here.

Pitchfork also ran a couple of news items about the party.

We at FMC are thrilled to have Mike Mills on board for this worthy event. And it's certainly not out of character. Last November, Mike played a concert at legendary Big Easy venue Tipitina's to benefit Arabi Wrecking Krewe and the New Orleans Musicians' Clinic. "Future of Music Coalition presents: Musicians Bringing Musicians Home" also featured Sleater-Kinney's Corin Tucker, Tom Morello, the Coup's Boots Riley, Steve Earle, Jackson Browne, and Allison Moorer.

In October of last year, Mike testified before the FCC in Los Angeles at a hearing on media ownership held at UCLA. He talked about the harm consolidation has done to radio, speaking eloquently about the importance of localism and diversity on the dial.

We applaud Mike's ongoing commitment to bettering the lives of his fellow musicians and look forward to hearing him perform with Al Johnson at Saturday's party. See you there?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Sweet Home New Orleans: Helping New Orleans Musicians Return Home

On December 1, FMC and Sweet Home New Orleans invite you to join Mike Mills of R.E.M. at a Washington, DC house party to aid one of the Big Easy's most beloved musicians, Al "Carnival Time" Johnson. There are a limited number of tickets available to this private event; for info on how you could attend, e-mail

We figured this would be a fine time to post about the event's beneficiaries, sponsors and special guests. Today's entry is about Sweet Home New Orleans, a fantastic group that aids Crescent City musicians.

Sweet Home New Orleans is a collective that works to revitalize New Orleans music community by connecting artists impacted by Hurricane Katrina to an array of social services, while providing direct assistance for relocation and housing. SHNO’s goal is to help New Orleans retain and maintain its unique musical culture, by helping its artists and performers return to and stay in their old neighborhoods. This is accomplished through relocation, rental and renovation assistance for affected musicians.

According to SHNO data, out of 4,500 musicians who previously called New Orleans home, nearly 3,000 have yet to secure stable housing in the city post-Katrina. 1,500 of these families remain displaced outside the metro area.

Here's some more info from the Sweet Home New Orleans Website:

  • Sweet Home New Orleans directs resources to this community through an innovative data-sharing system that connects local and national service providers.
  • Since opening its intake center in June of 2007, Sweet Home has served 250 tradition bearers with $150,000 in housing aid, and approximately $96,000 in assistance from its network of partners.
  • Sweet Home New Orleans administers housing assistance through a case management system that addresses each household’s needs holistically.
New Orleans' rich and vibrant culture has contributed to almost all of our nation's musical idioms, from jazz and funk to rhythm & blues and rock 'n' roll. At the heart of it all are New Orleans' musicians, whose oversized talent and contagious energy make up the soul and spirit of the Big Easy. We applaud SHNO's commitment in helping Al "Carnival Time" Johnson and many other musical talents reestablish their community and cultural roots.

Friday, November 23, 2007

The Amazing Al "Carnival Time" Johnson

On December 1, FMC and Sweet Home New Orleans invite you to join Mike Mills of R.E.M. at a Washington, DC house party to aid one of the Big Easy's most beloved musicians, Al "Carnival Time" Johnson. There are a limited number of tickets available to this private event; for info on how you could attend, e-mail

We figured now is a perfect time for a few posts about Al, Sweet Home New Orleans, and the importance of protecting the Crescent City's cultural heritage. Let's start with the guest of honor.

Alvin Lee Johnson is better known to everyone in New Orleans as Al "Carnival Time" Johnson. His famous song, "Carnival Time", originally recorded in February 1960, has become a Mardi Gras tradition, and it continues to be performed every Mardi Gras/Carnival Time season.

But Al, like many musicians in New Orleans, was a victim of Hurricane Katrina. The Gambit Weekly recounts his story:

"I lost everything in Katrina. I was in Mississippi for a barbecue the Saturday before the storm, and we tried to come back that day, but they wouldn't let us in." Johnson's home was on Tennessee Street in the Lower Ninth Ward. "Water filled it up. The house got moved off the foundation and back into the yard 25 feet. We came back after the storm and Armand and Patty St. Martin and the Arabi Wrecking Krewe went in and salvaged some stuff, some laminated stuff."

But his ordeal wasn't nearly over. According to Johnson, "The city came in and bulldozed the house. I didn't request it. In fact, I was trying to get them to let it stay, but they said that it was in imminent danger."

Since then, Johnson has been spending half his time in Houston and half in New Orleans. He has been approved for a house in the Musicians' Village, and there have been several benefits on his behalf. "Everything is uncertain," he says, "I had one address for years and now I don't have one."

Check out this video of Al performing at FMC's 2007 Policy Summit in D.C.:

Stay tuned for a closer look at Sweet Home New Orleans, and the terrific work they do.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

FMC in Brazil

Photo by Wayne Marshall

Several FMC staffers recently returned from Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, where they convened with international musicians for discussions and public panels about the issues and challenges that musicians face in an ever-evolving field.

Plenty of people are talking about issues that affect musicians around the world. However, it's rare to find information about what artists themselves believe. As FMC’s core issues become global concerns, we have an increasing committment to understanding what artists think about the challenges and opportunities they face in the digital era. Our Brazil Conference was an attempt to bring together a wide variety of international musicians to talk about their perspectives, regardless of their country of origin.

Areas of discussion included intellectual property law, contract reform, media consolidation and digital distribution, among others. As expected, the musicians' opinions were as varied as the cultures from which they came. And that's OK by us -- we believe such complex viewpoints are extremely important to take into account if artists worldwide are to achieve sustainability in a rapidly changing environment.

But the Brazil Conference was hardly a buttoned-down affair. Between the great music, exotic drinks and dynamic conversation, there was plenty of fun to be had. Check out what Tim Quirk, musician and Vice President of Music Programming for Rhapsody America (and FMC advisory board member) has to say about the experience.

Despite a crashed hard drive, ethnomusicologist, MC/DJ/producer and blogger Wayne Marshall also managed to post about the trip.

We look forward to more opportunities to engage with musicians, both around the globe and in our own backyard.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Presidential Candidates and Net Neutrality

Musicians haven’t always been the most politically plugged-in animals, but they do fight for what they need and care about.

We hope they realize how important net neutrality is to their work -- both now and in the future.

Some Big Telecom companies want to charge providers for faster service, which would result in a "tiered" Internet. This could affect musicians, small labels and entrepreneurs who depend on equal access to the Internet to reach new listeners and engage fans and supporters. So it's important to know which presidential candidates are in favor of net neutrality. Sometimes this is trickier than it sounds.

Senator Barack Obama recently came out in full support of net neutrality, producing a June podcast outlining his commitment. In October, he claimed that if elected President, he'd appoint only net neutrality-supportive individuals to the Federal Communications Commission. We here at FMC aren't necessarily endorsing Obama, but we certainly applaud his forthrightness regarding net neutrality.

Hillary Clinton's commitment to NN is harder to gauge, at least lately. Initially, she seemed to be a net neutrality champion, co-sponsoring legislation (introduced by Senators Snowe and Dorgan) that would compel broadband providers to follow clearly outlined Internet regulations.

But since the bill was introduced two weeks before she announced her candidacy, Clinton has been surprisingly quiet about the issue. Although she has offered a nine-point technology plan, it contains no reference to net neutrality. Stanford Law Professor, internet expert and FMC Advisory Board member Larry Lessig has suggested that Clinton's silence may have something to do with her funding from large telecom corporations.

The Clinton camp counters this claim, pointing to August's YearlyKos convention, at which she promised attendees she'd "make sure that the architecture of the Internet stays open." Read more about the back-and-forth here.

Democratic contenders have been the most supportive of net neutrality, with John Edwards and Bill Richardson also chiming in on the importance of keeping the Internet clear of corporate gatekeepers.

On the Republican side, only Mike Huckabee has articulated a pro-NN position. We'd love to see more candidates -- of both party persuasions -- follow suit.

Although no single candidate may have all the answers, it's important to know which ones are actually addressing net neutrality. It may not be as "sexy" as national security or immigration, but a free and open Internet is of utmost importance to our shared digital future.

Musicians should check out FMC's ongoing Rock the Net campaign to learn more about the importance of net neutrality, and to add their voice to the call to preserve an open Internet.

Public performance royalty hearings continue in Senate

Last week, it was the Senate Judiciary Committee's turn to direct its attention to the debate about the public performance right for sound recordings.

A little primer: When you hear a song on regular radio in the US, the composer/songwriter/publisher are compensated for that "public performance" via ASCAP/BMI/SESAC, but the performer and record label are not.

However, if you hear the same song performed on XM or Sirius, or on a webcast, or on a cable music station, even on that very same terrestrial radio station's webcast -- the songwriter and publisher get their ACSAP/BMI/SESAC royalties AND the performer and record label are compensated via SoundExchange. You can read a lot more about the public performance royalty on our fact sheet.

This difference exists because US terrestrial broadcasters have been exempted from paying a public performance right for sound recordings for decades, despite the fact that this right exists in almost every other Western country. This exemption has withstood repeated criticism and advocacy for change, but the National Association of Broadcasters is a very powerful trade group that has been able to beat it back every time.

On Tuesday, Nov 11, the committee called up four witnesses: singer/songwriters Lyle Lovett and Alice Peacock, NAB Radio Board Vice Chairman Steven Newberry and noncommercial broadcaster Dan DeVany of WETA.

Lyle Lovett touched on the negative effect this exemption has on artist revenue. Most particularly, since the US is one of the only countries in the developed world where there is no performance royalty for sound recordings, there is no reciprocal agreement to collect US performers' share of royalties from performances in other countries. That means that when Lyle Lovett's songs are played in France, for example, a performance royalty is collected on his behalf, but there's no mechanism through which he can be paid. This anomaly has left millions of dollars on the table instead of in artists' pockets.

The rest of Tuesday's hearing was somewhat predictable, with Steven Newberry continuing to call it a "performance tax". But the NAB has also stepped up its attempt to discredit artists and record labels, suggesting that the record industry is just going after the broadcasters now because they need more revenue to improve their bottom lines. From the NAB's testimony:

"...the recording industry’s pursuit of a performance tax at this time appears to result in part from illegal peer-to-peer sharing of sound recordings, and in part from the loss of revenues from the sale of recorded music and an inability of record companies to timely adapt to rapid developments in digital technology and consumer demands. Broadcasters are not responsible for either one of these phenomena, and, particularly in the current highly competitive environment, it makes little sense to siphon revenues from broadcasters in order to prop up the recording industry’s failing business model."

Anyone who has been following this debate knows that this is not new. This is a right that recording artists (including Frank Sinatra) and the US Copyright Office have been advocating for for more than 30 years. Plus, it already exists on the non-radio digital platform. XM, Sirius, webcasting stations, cable stations -- even the webcasting version of these very same terrestrial stations that are arguing against this -- are already paying the digital performance royalty. What artists want is for Congress to move toward a system where all media platforms are operating under the same set of royalty responsibilities.

The NAB has also been employing a bit of verbal jujitsu, suggesting that if recording artists aren't as well off as they should be, then perhaps Congress should be looking at the contracted relationship between record labels and artists, instead of trying to get more money out of radio.

FMC will be one of the first to stand up and say that recording contracts have historically been unfair for musicians. In fact, we did a whole critique of these contracts that you can read here.

But that's beside the point in this debate. The NAB is tempting Congress to think that these royalties would be paid to the record labels for dispensation to their artists. That's not the way it works. Just like ASCAP/BMI/SESAC pay songwriters/composers/publishers directly, rather than relying on the publishers to pay the writers, recording artists are paid their 45% directly via SoundExchange. Non-featured artists get their 5% share directly from the AFM-AFTRA Intellectual Property Rights Distribution Fund. The money does not pass through the labels first. Recording artists are paid directly by SoundExchange.

Tuesday's hearing finished with Senators asking the witnesses to gather some "hard facts and numbers" and send them to the committee, so that it could act "equitably" in addressing the matter. FMC will continue to monitor and participate in the proceedings. Stay tuned....

Friday, November 16, 2007

Hope for Home

On December 1, FMC and Sweet Home New Orleans invite you to join Mike Mills of R.E.M. at a Washington, DC house party to aid one of the Big Easy's most beloved musicians, Al "Carnival Time" Johnson. There are a limited number of tickets available to this private event; for info on how you could attend, e-mail

"Hope for Home" is being organized to support the rebuilding and relocation effort for the thousands of New Orleans' musicians affected by Hurricane Katrina, including Al Johnson

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Trade a Song With Sufjan

This is pretty cool: prolific songsmith Sufjan Stevens is holding a Christmas contest in which participants could get the chance to own the rights to an original Sufjan composition. The catch? You gotta come up with a killer Christmas tune of your own. Kind of like Secret Santa gone indie-pop. Here's the skinny, from his label:

Sufjan Stevens is busy working on a very special gift right now, for a very special person. And in the spirit of Christmas, that person will give Sufjan a similarly special gift.

Here's how it works: write an original Christmas song, record it, and email the song to us. Asthmatic Kitty will pick a winner, and that person will trade rights to their song for rights to Sufjan's song.

Just like a gift exchange, Sufjan's song becomes your song. You can hoard it for yourself, sell it to a major soft drink corporation, use it in your daughter's first Christmas video, or share it for free on your website. No one except Sufjan and you will hear his song, unless you decide otherwise. You get the song and all legal rights to it. We get the same rights to your song. By submitting your song, you also give us permission to stream it online.

Sounds like a fairly decent trade. Interested parties should click here.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Search Engine Shenanigans

When Verizon started rolling out their FiOS fiber-to-the-home service in select areas earlier this year, more than a few folks were excited about the new offering. We can't say that we blame them -- who doesn't want a faster Internet? Yet if recent developments offer any indication, the price that users pay for speedier service might be more than what's listed on the bill. FiOS users are reporting that when a URL is typed into their web browser, instead of a run-of-the-mill error message, they're redirected to Verizon's own search page. This might seem fairly innocuous on the surface, but it also raises questions about net neutrality.

Verizon's redirection allows it to profit from web ads hosted on its search site -- at the expense of users who might not want to see the company's search engine every time they produce a typo.

Musician fingers are pretty deft, but everybody mistypes here and there. And conceivably, ISPs could start redirecting traffic even if a URL is entered correctly. That opens up an even bigger can of worms. Imagine typing "Save the Internet" -- the name of a coalition that works to establish strong net neutrality principles -- only to be sent to "Hands Off the Internet," an ironically named shill group paid for by the cable and telephone companies that tries to eliminate any rules protecting an open Internet.

Verizon's search switcheroo poses a number of potential security and configuration issues, as its implementation involves the tweaking of user DNS settings. (That's web lingo for the process of changing an alphabetic domain name to a numeric IP address.) But perhaps more significantly, it presages a future where an ISP could use this strategy to promote other products. Mistyped the name of an artist's website? No problem, your ISP will happily redirect you to its own music store!

At the moment, all users can access the content, or run the applications and devices of their choice. But this could change if Big Telecom has its way.

FMC has long supported net neutrality. In fact, that's what Rock the Net is all about. Founding bands of this campaign to preserve net neutrality include R.E.M., Pearl Jam, Ted Leo, Death Cab for Cutie, Boots Riley of The Coup, Calexico and Kronos Quartet.

Check out the official RTN site and/or MySpace page and join thousands of artists and fans in demanding that the Internet remain open and neutral.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

FCC Gets Heat From Senate

Today's Senate Commerce Commitee hearings on media ownership, localism and diversity found several Senators stepping up the anti-consolidation rhetoric. Can a showdown with FCC Chairman Kevin Martin be far off?

The hearing's biggest announcement was that of legislation to impede the Martin's mad dash to alter current media ownership rules. This bi-partisan effort, which has been given the catchy title "Media Ownership Act of 2007,” is co-sponsored by Senators Snowe, Obama, Kerry, Feinstein, Nelson and Cantwell. The proposed bill compels the FCC to hold separate proceedings on localism, as well implement a task force to look into issues of minority and female ownership before attempting to alter existing structures. In addition, the legislation introduces a 90-day public comment period on any proposed rule changes.

We at FMC think this is excellent news. However, given the FCC's poor track record of actually completing assigned research, there may be need of further Congressional (and perhaps Court) intervention. According to research by Free Press, the FCC has never produced accurate documentation of existing minority broadcast licenses. Can we actually expect them to take the proposed ownership task force seriously?

Back to the hearing. Several Senators spoke in no uncertain terms about the consequences of further consolidation, with Dorgan referring to the "galloping concentration" of media outlets as being "quite unhealthy." The general consensus was that they’d been here before with the FCC -- specifically in 2003, when then-Chairman Michael Powell made a similar rule-change attempt. Senator Kerry made reference to the deja-vu nature of the current proceedings, calling them "a little like Groundhog Day." Legislators seemed in agreement that Martin is rushing things. Said Dorgan, "The Chair is not in a position to credibly suggest that we need a vote by December."

Of the panel of witnesses, Seattle Times publisher Frank A. Blethen made the most compelling argument in favor of localism and diversity. He claimed that localism has all but been abandoned by Congress and the FCC, saying that the big media conglomerates no longer "invest in journalism," to the detriment of civic comprehension. He also countered conventional wisdom about the newspaper industry, stating that traditional press is still profitable. Yet Blethen also told Congress that "the only way to save local papers is to stop the FCC from relaxing ownership rules." In addition to maintaining the current cross-ownership caps, he urged lawmakers to create incentives for greater minority ownership.

All in all, it was a smashing day for supporters of localism and diversity in media. Let's hope the FCC gets the message.

Watch the an archived webcast of the hearing here.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

More FCC Hearings

At their joint press conference two weeks ago, Senators Lott and Dorgan stated that FCC Kevin Martin was "in for a fight" if he rushed to change existing media ownership rules without sufficient debate. Well, this Thursday, the Senate Commerce Committee will hold a hearing on localism, diversity and media ownership. Call it the public weigh-in in advance of a possible showdown.

Here's the official description of the proceedings, which take place at 10 a.m. on November 8 in Room 253 of Senate Russell Building:

This hearing will focus on issues related to media consolidation, pending proposals to change the Federal Communications Commission’s media ownership rules, and government efforts to promote localism and diversity the media marketplace.

Sounds about right. Today, the SCC announced its panel of witnesses, which are as follows:

Alex Nogales, President and CEO, National Hispanic Media Coalition

Jim Goodmon, President and CEO, Capitol Broadcasting Company, Inc.

Tim Winter, President, Parents Television Council

Frank A. Blethen, Publisher and CEO, The Seattle Times

John Lavine, Dean, Medill School, Northwestern University

We encourage you to attend the hearing, or at least watch it online.

On October 31, the FCC held a hearing on localism in Washington D.C. Despite the last-minute announcement of time and location, there was a fantastic turnout, with plenty of informed and impassioned discussion about the negative effects of consolidation.

The sixth (and final) hearing on media ownership is scheduled for Seattle on Friday. This time around, the public was given less than a week's notice to prepare. Kinda makes you wonder if Martin actually cares about citizen opinion, or if it's all just for show.

We're guessing Seattle-dwellers will turn up either way. As Lynn K. Varner puts it in today's Seattle Times Op-Ed:

This region ought to welcome the FCC to the Emerald City in proper Seattle fashion by flooding the e-mail inboxes of our congressional representatives, inviting every key person we know to Friday's hearing and, most of all, jamming the place with our bodies and voices.


Public Hearing on Media Ownership
4pm-11pm, Nov. 9 2007
Town Hall Seattle, Great Hall
1119 Eighth Avenue

Visit for more information.

Internet Users Unite!

We just received word from People For Internet Responsibility about their brand-new project, the Net Neutrality Squad.

According to its executors, NNS is "is an open-membership, open-source effort, enlisting the Internet's users to help keep the Internet's operations fair and unhindered from unreasonable restrictions." FMC's own Rock the Net campaign has made great strides in educating and mobilizing musicians on net neutrality. How cool is it to use the collective intelligence of the open internet to keep the internet open? We think it's very cool.

Here's some more info from the announcement:

The project's focus includes detection, analysis, and incident reporting of any anticompetitive, discriminatory, or other restrictive actions on the part of Internet service Providers (ISPs) or affiliated entities, such as the blocking or disruptive manipulation of applications, protocols, transmissions, or bandwidth; or other similar behaviors not specifically requested by their customers.

Other key aspects of the project are discussions, technology development and deployment, and associated activities -- fostering cooperation and mutually agreeable methodologies whenever possible -- aimed at keeping the Internet a maximally unhindered, useful, competitive, fair, and open environment for the broadest possible range of applications and services.

The NNS is open to individual, commercial, nonprofit, government, and all other Internet users and stakeholders (including ISPs). Sounds like a party!

Join the moderated mailing list by heading here.

There's also an "interactive discussion and incident reporting forum" for further communications on related topics. Check it out here.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Radio Daze

They say you better listen to the voice of reason
/ But they don't give you any choice 'cause they think that it's treason. . .

-Elvis Costello, "Radio, Radio"

In the course of doing some internal research here at Future of Music Coalition, we rediscovered a fantastic article by John Nova Lomax, which ran in Houston Press back in January. The piece is all about how the Federal Telecommunications Act of 1996 resulted in the appalling homogenization of the commercial airwaves.

In the story, Lomax lays bare the tactics through which the National Association of Broadcasters claims diversity on the dial. FMC Executive Director Jenny Toomey is quoted heavily:

I called Jenny Toomey, director of the FMC (and an excellent musician), to see if she could answer the NAB's claim. Turns out she can -- most of those "new formats" they tout are just fresh applications of lipstick on the same old pigs. "This is something we identified a long time ago -- all of the data that was used to try to show that consolidation had led to more diversity was simply them thinking up new format names. It's very easy to thin-slice the exact same pie of songs under different names. We all know that 'active rock' might have very similar songs to 'classic rock.’"

The article is downright pissy in regards to the wasteland that is corporate radio. It also happens to be right on.

In related news, the NAB continues to oppose the public performance royalty for sound recordings, calling it the “performance tax”. In response, the MusicFIRST Coalition sent the NAB a dictionary and told them to look up the definition of tax. Clearly it’s not a tax, but the NAB has employed the word as a way to sully this debate. Calling it a tax also give members of Congress some fake comfort in voting for something that would retain the NAB’s exemption from paying a performance royalty that is currently paid by all of the NAB’s competition -- webcasters, satellite radio, cable TV and non-interactive music subscription services. Why is the NAB, the most established of all these mediums, still getting music for free, when all the other radio-like services compensate musicians, songwriters, publishers and labels?

Remember, the terrestrial public performance right (which already exists in 75 other countries) ensures that performers and also get paid a small royalty when their song is played on the radio.

This is tremendously important for jazz, classical and country artists who often perform works by other composers. The establishment of a public performance right in this country would mean that when you hear John Coltrane's unmistakable rendition of “My Favorite Things,” not only would songwriters Rodgers & Hammerstein receive a royalty, but also Coltrane -- or at least their respective estates. This seems pretty fair to us.

Yet the NAB routinely cries poor in this debate. Surely they can afford to pay the artists, even considering radio's ever-diminishing revenues. Maybe the NAB should stop complaining about competition from internet and satellite radio and focus more on diversity? Terrestrial radio is killing their golden goose by not focusing on the medium's built-in localism. Satellite radio is mandated not to do community-oriented broadcasting, and the internet is simply too big. But your old-fashioned FM stations have an incredible opportunity to offer diverse programming. Why don't they? Because greedy media monopolies emboldened by consolidation are only interested in aggregating the broadest possible demographics to increase ad revenue.

By the time they realize their folly, it'll be too late. Radio — once a great public vehicle for information and entertainment — will have one the way of the dodo.

For more info, check out FMC's 2006 Radio Summary. We've linked to it a lot over the last couple of weeks, but it's just that good.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Consolidation Indignation

Late last Friday afternoon, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin announced the sixth and final hearing on media ownership, to take place in Seattle on November 9. As was the case with the October 31 hearing on localism in D.C., Martin has given the public precious little time to prepare. This once again calls into question his commitment towards considering public opinion. Of course, citizen sentiment regarding consolidation is almost entirely negative. But that's no excuse for ignoring concerns.

Is it all just a charade? Check out what FCC Commissioners Copps and Adelstein have to say:

A hearing with only five days notice is no nirvana for Seattle and the Pacific Northwest. This smells like mean spirit. Clearly, the rush is on to push media consolidation to a quick and ill-considered vote. It shows there is a preordained outcome. Pressure from the public and their elected representatives is ignored. With such short notice, many people will be shut out. We received notice of the hearing just moments before it was announced. This is outrageous and not how important media policy should be made.

And they're not the only government figures peeved by Martin’s rush to change existing rules. Following Senators Lott and Dorgan's joint press conference, Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Inouye decided to hold a hearing on November 8 -- the day before the Seattle affair. The topic du jour? Localism, which Martin no doubt thought he'd put behind him with the Halloween hearings. Guess the topic just won’t stay, ahem, buried.

Word on the Hill has it that Martin is planing a vote for sometime in December. It remains to be seen whether Congressional pressure will have any effect on his push for rule changes. One thing is certain, at least according to the general public: further consolidation will have an incredibly negative effect on the FCC's stated goals of competition, localism and diversity.

Need more proof? Check out FMC's 2006 Radio Study and its corresponding Executive Summary. Watch an interesting video report on consolidation from PBS' Bill Moyers.

Visit the Senate Commerce Committee website for the the live webcast of Thursday's hearing on localism.

Details on Friday's public hearing on media ownership in Seattle:

Date: Friday, Nov. 9, 2007
Time: 4:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.
Location: Town Hall Seattle, Great Hall
1119 Eighth Avenue (at Seneca Street) Seattle, WA 98101

Swing by for more info.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Seattle Times Rocks the Net

Seattle Times editorialist Ryan Blethen has a great blog post today about the recent Rock the Net performance from singer-songwriter Matt Nathanson, which took place in Seattle last Tuesday.

How is a musician on an independent label like Nathanson able to sell out a show so quickly to an obviously smitten crowd? Through the Internet and a lot of touring. The Internet is vital tool of commerce and communication for a musician who is on the road for about 10 months.

Blethen also gives a hearty shout out to FMC. Read the full post here.

Prior to to Tuesday's concert, Nathanson and Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA) also participated in a teleconference about net neutrality with FMC Policy Director Michael Bracy and various Washington State music and media representatives. Read more about it here; listen to an MP3 of the entire conversation here.