Friday, February 29, 2008

From Long Tail to No Tail?

Chris Anderson, editor-in-chief of Wired Magazine, is known for his clear-headed analysis of emerging business models. He's the guy that analyzed Amazon's success in his now frequently-cited book, The Long Tail. His latest article, which he plans to expand into a new tome next year, explores the future of business models based on the concept of not paying money for stuff.

Anderson writes that the Internet has made information essentially free. Terrestrial radio and some publications are free to the consumer, supported by advertisement, and we're now seeing an extension of that into every sector of the economy. The reason this can work, he argues, is due to a variety of tactics that drive profit without customers paying a cent. Instead of a two-way economy (buyer and seller), the new model is a three-way (producer, advertiser, consumer).

He also briefly extends the free concept to the music industry, using the example of a band that distributes free copies of its CDs to entice people to come to their shows. They're in the performance business, he writes, and their product merely inspires audiences to attend concerts. The notion of CDs as a commodity to be sold is outdated, he suggests, because the profit margins are next to nil. Therefore, the live experience will become the lucrative aspect of the music business, with recordings acting as a hook to ensnare fans.

The problem with this argument is that that most artists would still like to get paid for their work, whether they cut tracks in a big-money studio or their bedroom. Although touring and merchandise is profitable for some, others acts aren't as performance-driven. Let's face it, if Anderson's model were applied to The Beatles, they wouldn't have received a cent for any album after Rubber Soul.

Anderson admits that, according to his vision, artists will make less money than before, due to the loss of a major revenue stream. By point of comparison, he mentions that internet classifieds have lost $326 million a year in revenue because of cragislist, while craigslist pulls in just $40 million a year. A similar trade-off would be devastating to most musicians.

And that's why simply giving away recorded music in hopes that other revenues will increase is an iffy proposition, at best. The music industry is changing rapidly, but the new form must be one that is fair to artists, or else there won't be a product to give away.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

More Interesting Links

We typically run our "This Week in News" round-ups on Fridays, but we were running a little behind last week, so we posted it yesterday. But the noteworthy stories just kept coming. So consider this your music/biz/tech/policy after dinner mint.

Apple's iTunes Now No. 2 Music Retailer in U.S.
Apple Inc. Tuesday said iTunes is now the No. 2 music retailer in the U.S., behind Wal-Mart Stores, based on the latest data from market research firm NPD. Apple also said there are now more than 50 million iTunes store customers. The major labels aren't always in agreement with the way Apple does business, but this level of market dominance pretty much compels them to keep selling through iTunes., February 25, 2008

Music Exec: "Music 1.0 Is Dead"
Or so says Ted Cohen, a former EMI exec who used the phrase at the Digital Music Forum East conference. He pleaded with the industry to be more creative with new business models but not to "be desperate" during this transitional period. Most people agree that the music world is going through a major transformation, but nobody knows exactly where things will end up.
Nate Anderson, Ars Technica, February 26, 2008

Entrepreneurs Lash Out Against Lopsided Major Label Deals
Are major labels killing promising startups with lopsided deals? According to entrepreneurs at the Digital Music Forum in New York on Tuesday, the answer is yes. Majors frequently demand massive upfront costs for the rights to their catalogs, as well as lopsided percentage payouts. "There's too much squeeze up front, and companies can't survive five, seven years," explained David Del Beccaro, president and founder of Music Choice. "This is a ten-year transition."
Paul Resnikoff, Digital Music News, February 26, 2008

More Teenagers Ignoring CDs, Report Says
According to recent data, 48% of teenagers bought no CDs at all in 2007, up from 38% in 2006. Music download sales are growing, with iTunes at the front of the pack. Sales might not yet be comparable to the peak of the CD era, but music business execs should probably be happy the kids are buying at all.
George Frey, LA Times, February 27, 2007

FCC: We'll Protect Web Neutrality
A top U.S. regulator Monday said the U.S. Federal Communications Commission is ready to stop broadband providers from interfering with users' access, while a leading Internet service provider denied accusations it discriminates against users. "I think it's important to understand that the commission is ready, willing and able to step in if necessary to correct any (unreasonable) practices that are ongoing today," FCC Chairman Kevin Martin said at a hearing on Internet practices.
Reuters, February 25, 2008

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

This Week In News

Online radio sees rating spike, but conventional radio continues decline
A report by AccuStream iMedia Research indicates that users spent 4.85 billion hours listening to online radio last year. That’s up 26 percent from 2006. AOL’s Shoutcast dominated the market, with a share of nearly 50 percent. The industry as a whole was worth $92 million.
ZDNet, February 20, 2008

But at the same time, conventional radio is losing listeners steadily. Billing was down 6 percent in January from the previous year, and ratings have declined by 16 percent over the last nine years. Jerry Del Colliano, a professor at USC who studies the music industry, has some suggestions to revitalize radio.
Inside Music Media, February 21, 2008

Songwriters association proposes fee for Canadian Internet users
The Songwriters Association of Canada is set to unveil a proposal that would charge internet users $5 per month in exchange for unlimited music downloads. If enacted, the proposal would make paid services like iTunes obsolete in Canada, as users could download free, “illegal” files without fear of reprisal.
Saskatoon StarPhoenix, February 21, 2008

Music Industry Profile: Jimmy Iovine of Interscope Records
Jimmy Iovine, founder and chairman of Interscope Records and a legendary producer, sits down to discuss the ins and outs of running a record label. He gives some free advice to aspiring artists and discusses ways for record labels to survive.
Artists House Music, November 2007

For those of you with short attention spans, Idolator summarizes the interview, although with a distinct anti-Jimmy Iovine bias.

NC State U Study Connects Hip-Hop/Sexism
Researchers at North Carolina State University studied the effects of listening to hip-hop music on a sample of men and women. They found that women tended to be more evaluative, and overtly sexist songs had little effect on them because they rejected the message, while men did tend to espouse more sexist views. But the study found that at worst hip-hop exacerbated pre-existing feelings and wasn’t any more damaging than many other aspects of popular culture., February 22, 2008

Monday, February 25, 2008

Damian Kulash of OK Go in Huffingon Post

OK Go's Damian Kulash is one committed musician-activist. Not only does he keep up to speed on important issues like net neutrality, he's also deeply concerned for New Orleans residents still struggling to put their lives back together after Hurricane Katrina.

Damian is a veteran of FMC's Artist Activism Camp, which brings together musicians to talk about the best ways to engage in positive social change. These yearly events culminate in an all-star benefit concert for NOLA musicians like Al "Carnival Time" Johnson, who lost everything in the storm.

OK Go and Big Easy brass band Bonerama recently released an iTunes-only EP, called You're Not Alone, which benefits the same cause. But Damian hasn't stopped there. Last week, he wrote a moving article for the Huffington Post about his experiences in New Orleans. Check it out here.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

No Depression is No More.

After 13 solid years, alt-country magazine No Depression is moseying off into the sunset. Fans of the publication — which helped break the careers of artists like Ryan Adams and Wilco — are understandably bummed, as are many of the niche acts the mag covered.

This article from The News & Observer was written by onetime ND scribe David Menconi. It's a pretty good eulogy.

What's behind the shutdown of one of the most beloved rags in American music? Shrinking advertising revenue, for one. But publishers Grant Alden, Peter Blackstock and Kyla Fairchild also point to a changing media and retail environment as factors in their decision. Here's an excerpt of the announcement from the most recent issue:

Those circumstances are both complicated and painfully simple. The simple answer is that advertising revenue in this issue is 64% of what it was for our March- April issue just two years ago. We expect that number to continue to decline.

The longer answer involves not simply the well-documented and industrywide reduction in print advertising, but the precipitous fall of the music industry. As a niche publication, ND is well insulated from reductions in, say, GM's print advertising budget; our size meant they weren't going to buy space in our pages, regardless.

On the other hand, because we're a niche title we are dependent upon advertisers who have a specific reason to reach our audience. That is: record labels. We, like many of our friends and competitors, are dependent upon advertising from the community we serve.

That community is, as they say, in transition. In this evolving downloadable world, what a record label is and does is all up to question. What is irrefutable is that their advertising budgets are drastically reduced, for reasons we well understand. It seems clear at this point that whatever businesses evolve to replace (or transform) record labels will have much less need to advertise in print.

The decline of brick and mortar music retail means we have fewer newsstands on which to sell our magazine, and small labels have fewer venues that might embrace and hand-sell their music. Ditto for independent bookstores. . .

What makes the news particularly, um, depressing is that the magazine still has a loyal readership and high sell-through rates. But that's apparently not enough to offset the losses in ad revenue.

No Depression will continue to operate its website, but readers only have one more physical issue to look forward to. And the independent Americana, folk and country acts who have come to depend on the magazine for publicity will no doubt have a tougher trail to tread.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

FMC's Podcast Interview Series: Brian Zisk

"I think that fans like supporting musicians, and if you can find ways to more directly connect them, you'll find a way that works."Brian Zisk on new technologies in music.

Welcome to the second installment of our ongoing Online Interview Series, in which we chat with experts in music, technology, policy and law. This episode features FMC founding board member, Technologies Director and "serial entrepreneur" Brian Zisk, whose SanFran MusicTech Summit takes place at the Kabuki Hotel in San Francisco on Monday, February 25.

Brian spoke with us about his reasons for putting together the conference, and waxed philosophical about the tricky issues at the intersection of music, technology, law and policy. Listen to a full MP3 of the conversation here.

Friday, February 15, 2008

This Week In News

The New Economics of Music

Economist Umair Haque explains why the music industry is so vulnerable to piracy and how to fix it. He argues that consumers download music because buying an album comes with a great element of risk because the record label provides no guarantee of quality. In most industries the cost of a product is an indication of quality, but the music industry has near-uniform costs. Umair suggests new pricing models to reduce this element of risk.
Bubble Generation, February 15, 2008

Microsoft: Teens Pirate Less Often if Aware of Laws
A new study by Microsoft has a different take on pirating. It found that just ten percent of teens were familiar with copyright laws and that when the teens were made aware of the laws they were less likely to download music. Microsoft reacted to the study by launching MYBYTES, a website to promote intellectual property rights education. Sounds like the sort of thing kids would be interested in.
Electronista, February 13, 2008

Yoko Seeks to Stop Performer From Using the Name "Lennon"
Yoko Ono is taking legal action against singer-songwriter Lennon Murphy for naming her band “Lennon.” Murphy was named after the famous Beatle. John’s son Julian Lennon said that Murphy has his full support.
BoingBoing, February 12, 2008

Rocker Tells Huckabee to Lay Off Song
In a story that may look a little familiar, Tom Scholz of Boston fame has asked Republican Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee to stop using his song, “More Than a Feeling,” in campaign events. Scholz said that while Boston has not endorsed a candidate, he favors Democrat Barack Obama.
Associated Press, February 15, 2008

New Lease of Life for Aging Rock Stars
The European Union has proposed extending copyrights for recorded music from 50 years to 95 years, in a move that will surely benefit Britain’s aging rockers. EMI, which holds the rights to the Beatles catalog, is understandably eager to extend the length of copyrights, as their first single, Love Me Do, is set to become public domain in just five years.
The London Times, February 15, 2008

Aerosmith Plugs Into 'Guitar Hero' Popularity
A new version of Guitar Hero is set to come out in June that’s based on the career of Aerosmith. The band has seen an increase in sales after being featured in Guitar Hero III and hopes to capitalize on its success. In fact, 62 of the 70 artists featured in GH III saw a noticeable increase in sales after the release of the game, led by previously unknown band DragonForce, which saw its sales rise from under 2,000 a week to 40,000 a week. Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry said that someday the band could release new music through Guitar Hero, which he called “part of the next evolution.”
USA Today, February 14, 2008

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Blog Hype and Album Sales — Fact or Fiction?

A new study by NYU/Stern professor Vasant Dhar indicates that blog buzz has a strong correlation with album sales. The study looked at blog posts, changes in an artist's number of MySpace friends, and online album reviews over an eight-week period — half before an album was released, half after.

The study found that increases in MySpace friends had a slight positive correlation to album sales. More significantly, artists who received ample attention from major blogs seemed to "move more units," as they say in the biz.

Marketing budgets were also factored in, with major label artists performing better than their indie counterparts. However, artists on smaller labels could overcome this disadvantage with sufficient buzz. The magic number of blog posts to achieve online semi-stardom is apparently 240. Something to shoot for!

All of this number-crunching proves something that we all know intuitively — the more you're talked about, the more albums you'll sell. But you have to wonder about cause and effect: do better-selling albums receive more attention in blogs simply because the artists already have a higher profile? The study doesn't analyze whether the blog mentions are positive or negative, so you can't tell if blogs are truly tastemakers, or merely indicators of an artist's existing popularity.

Along those lines, the number of MySpace friends a band has may be the result of of higher real-world sales rather than the cause. And, there's also anecdotal evidence of a backlash when a band is overhyped by blogs before they even get to release an album. Indie-rockers Black Kids are an example of this phenomenon, according to snarky music-news site Idolator.

So should bands view blogs as a potentially powerful marketing tool? The results are inconclusive. But the study does indicate that blogs and MySpace have a role to play in exposure and sales. So you might wanna keep e-mailing those tunes and adding more friends.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Full Power Series #2.5: Spirit of Radio

Palace of Gold, New Vrindaban

Drivers crossing West Virginia who find themselves in the mood for Christian radio are sure to have an ample selection of stations to choose from. Heck, in some zones of the South, it seems as if twangy country, Christian rock and earnest preachers are about all the radio dial has to offer.

In a few years, however, West Virginia radio listeners might encounter a wholly different breed of religious radio—a station whose hosts advocate yoga, vegetarianism and lessons from The Bhagavad Gita. If licensed, this noncommercial outlet could well be the only one of its kind in the country. The applicant is a small group of Hare Krishnas who live in the intentional community of New Vrindaban, near Moundsville, West Virginia.

New Vrindaban was established 40 years ago by the founder of the Hare Krishna religion, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Today, it’s home to 20 or so devotees, according to Chris Fici, a recent addition to the community who is spearheading the application for a noncommercial station. Another 80 people who live nearby are closely connected to the community, Fici says. In keeping with the tenets of the Krishna faith, New Vrindaban’s residents shun meat, promiscuous sex and intoxicants such as drugs and alcohol. The community is no longer self-sustaining, as it was at its inception, but its residents still grow vegetables on 10 acres of land.

For many outsiders, the community’s biggest draw is its Palace of Gold, an ornate, Indian-style temple that looks entirely unlike anything you’d expect to encounter in West Virginia. Fici says the site is visited by upwards of 40,000 pilgrims and tourists a year, many from India.

If New Vrindaban gets a radio station, its goal would be “to give people a chance, through the programming, to gain spiritual knowledge,” Fici says. Programming might focus on yogic disciplines, gardening and environmental matters, and would help to connect New Vrindivan to the larger non-Krishna community that surrounds it. Ideally, Fici says, New Vrindaban would also broadcast its station via the Internet to reach a worldwide audience.

Fici, 27, is a self-described “aspiring devotee.” He moved to New Vrindaban in November 2006 after learning about the Hare Krishna faith through a student program in Michigan, where he worked in Internet radio. That background, along with his degree in film and video, has made him an apt leader for the group’s effort to get on the airwaves.

Like many other applicants, New Vrindaban faces conflicts with other would-be broadcasters for its desired frequency. The competing applicants include non-local Christian radio groups that already operate stations. Fici is working to gather signatures in support of New Vrindaban’s application and to make a case to the FCC that his group would provide important local content. “These other stations need to share radio space,” he says. “It would be a boon for this community to have this kind of alternative programming.”

If Fici and his fellow devotees prevail, the station would be as singular as their Palace of Gold—not visible, but an aural embodiment of their unique way of life. And, if they achieve their goal of broadcasting online, you won’t even have to visit New Vrindaban to experience it.

Friday, February 8, 2008

This Week In News

House Approves MPAA-Backed College Antipiracy Rules
The U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday overwhelmingly approved a higher-education funding bill that includes controversial new antipiracy obligations for universities. The College Opportunity and Affordability Act leaves says higher-education institutions participating in federal financial aid programs "shall" devise plans for "alternative" offerings to unlawful downloading — such as subscription-based services — or "technology-based deterrents to prevent such illegal activity.
Anne Broache, February 07, 2008

Mellencamp Songs Off McCain's Playlist
It may be "Our Country," but it's John Mellencamp's song. When the liberal rocker found out his songs were being played at events for Republican John McCain's presidential campaign, Mellencamp's publicist sent a letter that questioned the campaign's playlist. "Are you sure you want to use his music to promote Senator McCain's efforts?" according to the letter sent to McCain's campaign on Monday." McCain campaign spokesman Brian Rogers in Washington, D.C., said Thursday that the songs would no longer be played. He declined to elaborate.
Associated Press, February 08, 2008

No Business in Showbusiness?

Miami Herald discusses the future of record labels. “Whatever the future of the industry,” Leon McDermott argues, “they need to take into account the major change that has come with digital distribution: people don't buy albums anymore. They buy single tracks.” The industry is not doomed, it simply needs to adjust to a changing market.
Leon McDermott, Miami Herald, February 3, 2008

Music Websites Are Fighting to Be Free
Are ad-supported, free music sites the business model of the future? Websites like and Imeem have 20 million users, while Yahoo’s subscription-based service recently shut down.
Jefferson Graham, USA Today, February 5, 2008

Want Better Music? Don't Stiff the Songwriters
Recording industry executives claim that artists need to accept lower royalties in order to keep the business afloat. But Eliot Van Buskirk of Wired argues that smaller cuts for musicians will ultimately hurt the quality of the product if fewer songwriters are able to make a living, and both parties will be worse off if that happens.
Elliot Van Buskirk, Wired, February 08

The Life and Crimes of the Music Biz
Longtime music industry insider Simon Napier-Bell’s article is a lengthy, fascinating indictment of major labels. He claims that they have no interest in helping artists and instead look to cheat them at every turn. He says that major labels are to blame for their current problems, and that in the modern music industry they will have to radically change the way they do business.
Simon Napier-Bell, Observer Music Monthly, January 20, 2008

Feds Querying Labels Over "Total Music"
The Department of Justice has begun investigating “Total Music,” a digital music concept being developed by Universal and Sony BMG, for a possible violation of antitrust laws.
Associated Press, February 08, 2008

Thursday, February 7, 2008

OK Go & Bonerama Pics

OK Go & Bonerama

The other day we promised to show you some pictures of the February 2 show with OK Go & Bonerama at Washington, D.C.'s 9:30 Club.

Well, here they are, freshly loaded onto our Flickr page.

If you haven't yet picked up your (digital) copy of OK Go & Bonerama's You're Not Alone EP, click here. Remember, it's for a great cause — proceeds go towards building a Habitat for Humanity home for New Orleans music legend Al "Carnival Time" Johnson.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Music, Technology, Politics & Mardis Gras

Happy Super-Duper (and Fat) Tuesday!

Not too long ago we posted about Presidential hopefuls' various positions on technology, with an eye towards net neutrality. Well, the other day, we stumbled across a list of their views on related issues like copyright and intellectual property. Some of this information is dated, because a few candidates have since quit the race. But it's still pretty illuminating.

And here's another candidate-tech chart.

If all that's too wonky for you, you might want to have a look at this Guardian UK round-up of which musicians are supporting which candidates.

Let's skip the election talk get back to Fat Tuesday, otherwise known as Mardis Gras. Today is the day to pick up your digital copy of OK Go & Bonerama's awesome collaborative EP, You're Not Alone, which is available exclusively through iTunes. Last Saturday, the two groups put on a kick-ass performance at Washington D.C.'s 9:30 Club — this mini-album makes a great memento or offers a taste of what you missed.

The sold-out concert raised more than $8000 for Big Easy legend Al "Carnival Time" Johnson and Sweet Home New Orleans — a group that helps bring back the city's displaced musicians. Read more about it here. We'll be posting pictures of the show soon, so stay tuned.

Here's a link to a short CMJ article about the EP.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Full Power Series #2: Angling for a Spot on the Airwaves

Full-Power applicant Bill Hensel, of the North Fork Angling Society

Who wants to run a noncommercial FM radio station? It's easy to find out—all of the applications filed with the Federal Communications Commission last fall can be viewed online. But you don't have to delve deep into the database to get a general idea. Just browsing a list of the organizations by name suggests some dominant interests.

Many applicants bear titles reflecting, in the words of Dan Aykroyd, "a mission from God." According to analysis by Public Radio Capital, religious organizations filed 60 percent of the applications. (Check out my first post for more details.) Colleges, universities, municipalities and school boards are well-represented among the secular hopefuls. And monikers such as the Jazz Birds or the Delta Blues Foundation suggest a focus on arts and culture.

Future posts in this series will examine some of these other applicants. But I wanted to start by catching a few rare butterflies—groups with singular visions. Digging turned up two who differ from the masses yet share much in common. Both the North Fork Angling Society of Pine, Colorado, and the Hare Krishnas of New Vrindaban, West Virginia, hail from small communities whose residents seek refuge from a society at odds with their values. These applicants hope to create forums where neighbors can speak to each other and to the world beyond.

Local flavor on the radio is rare these days, when our airwaves seem as homogenized as fast food. Music mixes on commercial FM stations vary little from city to city. Public stations aim to provide local service, yet homegrown voices must compete to be heard above the roar of news about global events. The tacit message is that your local music scene matters less than the latest hit single, and that your experiences of your home, your street, and your community deserve less valuable airtime than what happened on Wall Street today.

FMC and our partners at Radio for People saw the October filing window as a chance to counter this trend. So did many applicants across the country, including Bill Hensel, whose proposed station would offer an audio haven for local fly-fishing enthusiasts, among others.

If Hensel prevails in his quest to get a station, rest assured that it would bring a blast of uniquely local character to his mountain hamlet of Pine, Colorado. On K-Pine Radio, Hensel's neighbors might hear, for example, musical elegies for the community's dearly departed dogs.

"Where else are you going to have a radio program on an FM station that's going to say, "Okay, we're going to honor Skip and Alexia. These dogs died last month, and we're playing some music for them?" Hensel asks. "That sounds odd, but for the area here, people get into it." And if Hensel's cat wanders off one night, that might make the news, too. "I'm on the station: 'Yellow alert out for Lily!'" he says, and laughs.

Pine's 50 or so residents live southwest of Denver, nestled in a valley among 9,000-foot mountain peaks. A fork of the South Platte River "runs cold and clear" through the community, Hensel says, and lends its name to Hensel's environmentally minded group, the North Fork Angling Society. When asked about his affiliation with the Society, he replies, "Founder of the feast." The small group of anglers teaches local kids to fly-fish and helps keep the river free of beer cans, fishing line and other junk.

More than a hobby, fishing provides a livelihood for Hensel. Known as "Bamboo Bill" among the locals, the avid angler handcrafts and sells bamboo fly-fishing rods, shunning newer materials such as graphite and fiberglass. When a rod's not in his hand, Hensel writes essays that extol a Thoreau-like message of simplicity (you can read some here). Now, at age 55, he seeks to add another profession to his vita: station manager. A lifelong radio hobbyist, Hensel built crystal radios as a kid. He grew up to be a ham-radio enthusiast and self-described radio "fanatic," and he longs for the days when radio had more personality.

Radio is now "just a medium for people to make money," Hensel says. "There's no romance there in the art and science of radio—it just doesn't exist."

By serving Pine and other nearby residents, Hensel's station would aim to restore some of that bygone romance. The angler envisions a 100-watt station that would showcase local music, make local kids into town reporters, and broadcast an eclectic mix of music, including oldies and rock-and-roll. Furthermore, it could provide important information about emergencies, such as the forest fires that have been known to afflict the area.

The future of the North Fork Angling Society's station is hazy. Like many applicants, Hensel faces competition—a Catholic organization has applied for a Spanish-language station that could potentially interfere with his operation. But Hensel remains hopeful that his small community, where radios pick up almost nothing, could get its own voice. "I just see no end to what we could do with it," he says.

In my next post, I'll tell you about the Hare Krishna community in West Virginia looking for audio empowerment. Until then, you can read more about Bill Hensel at the North Fork Angling Society's online home. What would you like to hear on your local airwaves, or about your community? Can you make it happen? Share your thoughts as a comment.

Mike Janssen served as Project Manager on FMC's Full Power Initiative, recruiting arts and cultural groups to apply for stations and assisting eventual applicants throughout the process. He is a freelancer writer, editor and leader of media workshops in the Washington, D.C., area. Visit his website at

Friday, February 1, 2008

This Week in News

Insiders talk free music at MidemNet
Music industry and technology insiders met in Cannes to discuss the future of free music at the annual MidemNet forum. Many of the participants said “they believe that subscription-based or advertiser-based business models are the answer.”

Author: Ray Bennett
Source: The Hollywood Reporter, January 27th

McGuinness Speech Brings Dismay, Confusion and Little (Online) Support
Also in Cannes, U2 manager Paul McGuinness gave an impassioned, controversial speech calling for ISPs to crack down on downloaders. The speech served as a rallying cry for music industry folks, but has been widely derided by others.

Source: Coolfer, January 30th

More music dealers offering downloads with sound quality that rivals a CD's
Popular music downloading services like iTunes sell music files in compressed form that reduces sound quality. As a result, audiophiles shy away from downloading and prefer to buy CD’s, which sound better through expensive speakers. Now, new websites are starting up that allow high-quality downloads, but they tend to be more expensive and take longer to download.

Author: Hiawatha Bray
Source: The Boston Globe, January 28th

US Presidential Candidates Reveal Positions On Some IP Issues

With major primaries coming up for both parties in the Presidential election, it’s worth seeing where the candidates stand. Intellectual Property Watch compiled the candidates’ positions on intellectual property issues, copyright infringement, and Internet neutrality.

Author: Kaitlin Mara
Source: Intellectual Property Watch, January 28th

Copy a CD, owe $1.5 million under "gluttonous" PRO-IP Act
Congress is currently considering the PRO-IP Act, which would, among other things, instate a $1.5 million fine for copying a single CD. The RIAA apparently has been pushing for the change because current $9,000 per song fines are insufficient.

Author: Nate Anderson
Source: arstechnica, January 29th

Quality doesn't equal popularity
A study by former Columbia University researcher Duncan Watts indicates that the popularity of a given song or artist is based on luck as much as quality. The study found that popularity breeds more popularity, but “objective quality” plays a much smaller role.

Author: Matt Rosof
Source: CNet News, January 31st

OK Go & Bonerama — Two Great Tastes That Taste Great Together


Lots of excitement here at FMC this week, as pop-rock princes OK Go and New Orleans brass-funk act Bonerama are coming to D.C.'s 9:30 Club this Saturday, February 2. (Also known as the day before the Superbowl.)

The concert is a benefit to raise money for NOLA music legend Al "Carnival Time" Johnson and Sweet Home New Orleans — an organization that provides housing and rental assistance to musicians scattered by the storm.

The bad news is, the show is completely sold out. The good news is, the show is completely sold out. The former is true if you're a fan who doesn't already have tickets. The latter is true if you care about the ongoing struggles facing Big Easy musicians in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

But if you're not in the area or don't have tickets, there's still an exciting way for you to help the cause. On Tuesday, February 5, OK Go and Bonerama will release a collaborative, iTunes-only EP called You're Not Alone. The 5-song mini-album boasts an inspired take on David Bowie's "Rock and Roll Suicide," and also features Al Johnson on a cover of the Bob Dylan classic "I Shall Be Released."

Confession time: we've heard You're Not Alone, and can tell you unequivocally, it's awesome. Don't believe us? Check out this Blogcritics review of the EP. And make sure you stand in digital line bright and early next Tuesday to get your copy.

OK Go and Bonerama first met at FMC and Air Traffic Control's annual Artist Activism Camp, which brings musicians together in New Orleans to discuss best practices for positive social change. Attendees also tour the the Lower Ninth Ward to hear from residents about efforts to revitalize their communities.

Check out these articles in Washington Times and the Washington Post Express, to read how OK Go's Damian Kulash was affected by his experiences in New Orleans.