Tuesday, September 30, 2008

(Web)Casting Call

FMC has been following the back-and-forth about webcasting royalty rates almost as long as webcasting has existed. We’ve always recognized the value of smaller online broadcasters to the online music world — their passion and energy mean an awful lot of music that would otherwise have no outlet can reach ears around the world. We also support the continued development of larger webcast services, particularly the ones with innovative technology that conforms to your personal taste, like Pandora. On the other hand, we believe that artists should be fairly compensated for their work, and that the success of new technologies can’t come at the expense of creators’ interests.

Unfortunately, there have been a few roadblocks on the webcasting highway. Back in March 2007, after a lengthy proceeding, the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) — a government body responsible for setting royalty rates — set a rate scheme for webcasts that many online broadcasters claimed would force them out of business. In our response to the 2007 CRB decision, we “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."

Those parties — which include labels, artists and big and small webcasters — have been involved in negotiations to find a royalty rate that would do just that. But with the 110th Congress about to wrap up, even if an agreement was reached, it couldn’t be implemented until the next session convenes.

The Webcaster Settlement Act of 2008 (H.R. 7084) — which was passed by the House of Representatives on September 27 — permits the implementation of a settlement agreement, should one arrive. Its passage will hopefully allow room for productive solutions that would be of benefit to artists, copyright holders, web broadcasters and, ultimately, listeners.

On a related note, FMC reiterates its call for a public performance right for terrestrial radio. We have a fact sheet that explains the issue in depth, but here's the quick 'n' dirty version: when Sinead O’Connor’s version of “Nothing Compares 2 U” is broadcast on the web, both the songwriter (Prince), and the publisher are paid. So are the performer and the label. But, when traditional radio broadcasts the same recording, only the Prince and his publisher receive a royalty.

While no one would deny the Purple One’s his due, Sinead’s voice certainly had a lot to do with the success of that recording. Why shouldn’t terrestrial radio compensate the performer who helped make the song a hit? There’s also the question of consistency. The lack of a performance right for broadcast radio creates inequalities between traditional broadcasters and webcasting. Why should terrestrial radio have the competitive advantage when both stations are competing for the same listeners?

FMC is pleased that the House realized the importance of these negotiations and the need to implement any agreement reached. We hope that the Senate will do the same. And, now that Congress is paving the way for implementation, we hope that the parties will be encouraged to reach an actual settlement. Stay tuned!

Friday, September 26, 2008

FMC's Ann Chaitovitz on MySpace Music

Yesterday, Washington, D.C.'s Channel 9 talked to FMC Executive Director Ann Chaitovitz about the launch of MySpace Music — which lets users listen to pretty much the entire catalogs of the major labels, create playlists and share the tunes with their friends. Supported by advertising, the music is free to stream on-demand for anyone with a MySpace account. If you want to purchase any of the tracks to play outside of MySpace, you get rerouted to the Amazon MP3 store.

Ann says that the service is good in that it offers a new way for consumers to experience music and reccomend it to their friends. On the other hand, the deal MySpace made with the major labels is for an equity stake, and it's entirely unclear if or how the labels plan to share that equity with their artists. If history is any indiction, they might not share it at all.

Although MySpace Music does have a fair amount of independent artists, a lot of of indie labels are not currently on board — the sum total of which represent a share of the market equal to EMI (one of the four majors involved in the enterprise). MySpace has always been a haven for indie acts, who have used the embedded players as a sonic calling card for years. This in turn has driven a ton of traffic to the site, so it would be nice if those musicians could receive some compensation.

Watch the Channel 9 clip here, and tell us what you think about MySpace Music in the comments.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Thank You, Chicago!

FMC staff just got back from the land of Bears and brats, and, while we're happy to be home, we're already wondering how we're gonna find an excuse to get back to the Windy City.

We had blast at both the "What's the Future for Musicians?" event (Sept. 22), and the Hideout Block Party (Sept. 20-21). Chicago is a mighty fine city, and we were honored to give its musical inhabitants some tips about the challenges and opportunities of this digital era.

Special thanks to our friends at Illinois PIRG who volunteered to run our table at the Block Party on Saturday. We took the reins on Sunday, spreading the word about our Rock the Net campaign and the importance of net neutrality to the music community. Beers were drank, music was heard and info was exchanged throughout a gorgeous Windy City afternoon and evening.

The following day was the "What's the Future for Musicians?" seminar, which took place at the incredible Old Town School of Folk Music — a 50 year-old music education institution that proved a perfect fit for FMC. Many, many thanks to all of the OTS staff and volunteers who acted as true partners in on this event.

The seminar itself was well-attended and well-received, with participants engaging with our expert panelists and presenters on a wide range of subjects including new revenue streams for musicians, digital promotion and distribution services, podcasting and webcasting, the "greening" of music and much more.

A particular hit was the special conversation with the Numero Group — a Chicago-based label that uncovers and releases a wide range of music lost to history, from foreign pop sides to forgotten American soul and R&B. Label honchos Ken Shipley and Rob Sevier were joined by Chicago Tribune music critic Greg Kot for an informal exchange that we could've listened to for hours. Alas, thre was more to get to, including the net neutrality presentation and Policy Roundtable.

FMC staff was in full effect, participating in panel discussions, presentations and breakout sessions. Stay tuned for audio and video archives of the day's activities. In the meantime, check out these Flickr shots taken by Events Organizer Chhaya Kapadia.

The whole shebang was part of One Web Day — a global celebration of the open internet. Suffice it to say, we were thrilled to be part of such a dynamic and important event.

If you're closer to the New York City area, you should register for our next "What's the Future for Musicians?" event, which takes place at The Public Theater on October 6. Admission is $25, tough a limited number of musician scholarships are available. Space is filling up quickly; reserve your spot now!

What's the Future for Musicians — NYC
Oct. 6, noon-7 PM
Musician Scholarships
Spread the Word

Immediately following the musician education event (and cocktail party!) at The Public is "Creative License: A Conversation About Music Sampling, and Fair Use," which kicks off at 7 PM.

More info on that event can be found here.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Position Available!

Web Coder Project Position
October – November 2008

FMC is looking for a couple o' solid HTML-slingers for a little code-scrubbing project we've got going on. Details below:

FMC seeks a website coder for a month-long project who can assist the organization as it transitions its existing website to a new, dynamically-generated PHP site. We need an organized, detail-oriented person who can help us scrub and clean HTML code from approximately 1,500 existing website pages and post the cleaned pages into our new PHP-based content management system. Existing website here: http://www.futureofmusic.org

Required Skills
Excellent knowledge of HTML code, website design, W3C conventions, CSS, PHP and other web 2.0 functionality. Must be organized, efficient and detail oriented. Knowledge of Cold Fusion a plus. Understanding FMC’s mission and role would also be helpful.

General Expectations
FMC is a fast-paced but friendly work environment. Since we’re not all in
the same office we rely heavily on email, conference calls and meetings to get our work done. Answering your email promptly, completing tasks and sticking to deadlines will be essential.

Coder can be in any location, as long as s/he has reliable and consistent access to a computer and an internet connection.

20 hours a week. Hours are flexible, but FMC staff would check in on a daily basis.

Project timeline
October 10, 2008 – November 10, 2008

$15 an hour

To apply
Send a cover letter and resume/links to: jobs@futureofmusic.org.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Chigago Registration Reminder!

"What's the Future for Musicians" in Buffalo, April 2. Photos by Josh Spaulding

Hello there!

We're still knee-deep in last-minute events details for our "What's the Future for Musicians?" seminar at Chicago's Old Town School of Folk Music on Monday, Sept. 22. It's really coming together, and we can't wait to dazzle Windy City musicians with our humungo brains! (Seriously, we've got a ton of great presentations and panelists lined up; click here to see what we mean.)

Now that the clock is really ticking, we wanted to give you a heads up that online registration for the seminar closes at 11:59 PM on Friday, Sept. 19 (that's tomorrow). So if you wanna do it digitally, you best hop to it.

We'll continuing to take in-person registrations at the Hideout Block Party on Saturday and Sunday (Sept. 20-21), as well as walk-ups at the event. If that's your plan, make sure to bring a checkbook or credit card, because, like those commercials, we don't take cash. (Some of us aren't very good at the maths).

Our Chicago adventure is part of One Web Day — a worldwide celebration of the open internet and the creativity, commerce and expression it inspires. As we mentioned before, we'll be at the Hideout Block Party for two days before our musicians' event talking about Rock the Net — our campaign to preserve the open internet. Make sure you swing by and say 'sup!

If you're not a Chicago-area musician or label, you can still join the Rock the Net campaign and show your support of the open internet. And stay tuned for video and audio of the Windy City seminar.

If you live closer to the Big Apple, you should clear October 6 on you calendar. That's when we'll be in town for the season's final "What's the Future for Musicians?" entry at The Public Theater in NYC. Right after that event (just later in the day) is "Creative License: A Conversation About Music, Sampling and Fair Use." Learn more about that event here.

The "What's the Future for Musicians?" seminars are $25, but a limited number of artist scholarships are available at the event websites:

What's the Future for Musicians? - Chicago Scholarships
What's the Future for Musicians? - NYC Scholarships
Creative License — NYC Scholarships

Monday, September 15, 2008

Events on the Brain!

Hi everybody. Sorry for the lack of posts lately — we've just been super-busy putting the finishing touches on our series of fall events. The first one is a musician education seminar called "What's the Future for Musicians?" that takes place at Chicago's Old Town School of Folk Music on Monday, September 22.

Not to toot our own horn, but we've been working pretty hard to make this event the best it can be. We're really excited about the programming, which will cover a range of topics — including how to use new technologies to promote and distribute music, the importance of open internet structures to musicians, information about health insurance, local arts funding opportunities and much more. there will also be five (count 'em, five) breakout sessions on new revenue streams, podcasting and webcasting, the "greening" of music, local arts funding opportunities and an activism roundtable.

The whole shebang is in conjunction with One Web Day — a global celebration of the open internet, or as some have called it, that "series of tubes." We'll also be hanging out at the Hideout Block Party on Saturday and Sunday (before the Monday musicians' event) spreading the word about net neutrality to concertgoers. Which means we'll be hearing sets from Neko Case, Black Mountain, Monotonix, Giant Sand, the New Pornographers and more. Tough work, we know.

After our escapades in the Windy City, we'll jet back to DC to throw ourselves into our final two fall events, which take place at The Public Theater in New York City on October 6.

The first is another entry in the "What's the Future for Musicians?" series; you can check out the programing deets here. Immediately following is "Creative License: A Conversation About Music, Sampling and Fair Use." That's right, it's the same date and location — just later in the day. Learn more here.

We strive to make all of our events affordable for musicians. The "What's the Future for Musicians?" seminars are $25, but a limited number of artist scholarships are available at the event websites:

What's the Future for Musicians? - Chicago Scholarships

What's the Future for Musicians? - NYC Scholarships
Creative License — NYC Scholarships

If you can't attend these events, you can still help us spread the word via our handy outreach tools:

Spread the Word - WTFFM? Chicago
Spread the Word - WTFFM? NYC
Spread the Word - Sampling NYC

Hope to see you there!

Monday, September 8, 2008

FMC Fall Event Details!

What's The Future for Musicians: Chicago

Remember when we told you about the “What’s the Future for Musicians?” events in Chicago and New York City? Well, now we've got more details, including a date and venue for our sampling panel (also in NYC). An incredible array of panelists and presenters are lined up to inform on a range of topics crucial to today’s musicians. Whether you play rock, jazz, folk, country, world, classical or hip-hop, these events will get you up to speed the issues that affect you — now and in the future.

The Chicago event takes place on Monday, September 22 at the Old Town School of Folk Music. In addition to your pals at FMC, panelists include Nan Warshaw, co-owner of Bloodshot Records — the label for Firewater, The Waco Brothers and Justin Townes Earle, to name a few — Frank Mauceri from the eco-friendly label Smog Veil Records, the Chicago Independent Radio Project's Shawn Campbell and many more. There will also be a special conversation between music critic Greg Kot and the music preservationists behind The Numero Group record label, who will talk about rescuing some of the most interesting and overlooked albums from the dustbin of musical history, and how they build bridges between the analog past and the digital present.

What’s the Future for Musicians? Chicago

12:00 PM – 7:00 PM, Monday, September 22, 2008
Old Town School of Folk Music, Chicago, IL
Registration: $25, but a limited number of musician scholarships are still available

While we’re in Chicago, FMC will also be taking part in One Web Day — a global celebration of the open Internet. For our part, we’ll be hanging out at the annual Hideout Block Party on Sept. 20-21 (right before our musician education seminar), spreading the word about the importance of net neutrality to musicians. If you’re a Windy City native or will be in the area, head to 1354 West Wabansia Ave and hear sets from Neko Case, The New Pornographers, Ratatat, Black Mountain and more. Make sure you swing by and say hello!

Can’t make it to Chicago? Demonstrate your support for network neutrality by joining our Rock the Net campaign.

After Chicago, we’ll be bringing our “What’s the Future for Musicians?” event to New York City’s Public Theater. Join us for this day-long event that includes three panels and a set of simultaneous breakouts, featuring TuneCore’s founder Jeff Price, digital PR expert Ariel Hyatt, Jennifer Wright Cook who is Executive Director of The Field, new music podcaster Molly Sheridan, producer/musician Joel Hamilton and many more!

What’s the Future for Musicians? NYC
12:00 PM – 6:00 PM, Monday, October 6, 2008
The Public Theater, New York NY
Registration: $25, but a limited number of musician scholarships are still available

We’re also really excited to announce the date and venue for “Creative License: a Conversation about Music, Sampling and Fair Use,” which takes place at the Public Theater in NYC on Monday, October 6. That’s right — it’s the same day and location as the “What’s the Future for Musicians?” forum. The panel, which is co-presented by the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy, starts at 7:00 PM. Admission for the sampling discussion is $25, though attendees of the earlier event will be able to attend “Creative License” free of charge.

This subject couldn’t be more relevant, particularly with all the interest in Girl Talk — a DJ/producer who skillfully combines well-known pop, rock, hip-hop and R&B tunes in a party-ready concoction that’s infectious and possibly illegal.

Girl Talk’s latest release, Feed the Animals, illustrates the hurdles in licensing samples for new creative uses. More than 300 songs are sampled on the record, none of which were properly licensed. FMC took a look at what it would take to legally use these works in a blog post about the current sample license process. Girl Talk claims he doesn’t need authorization as his sampling falls under the doctrine of fair use. We’ll be discussing the fair use aspects of sampling at the Oct. 6 event.

If you’re a Twitter user, you can track our every movement as we plan these events. If you're on Facebook, please friend us to stay informed about all our events and activities.

Friday, September 5, 2008

This Week In News

Sorry for the radio silence, everyone — we've been getting ready to announce a whole bunch of info about our upcoming events, including the date and venue for "Creative License: A Conversation about Music, Law and Fair Use." Stay tuned for more info! Oh, and here's that news ya ordered:

File Sharing Lawsuits at a Crossroads, After 5 Years of RIAA Litigation
It was five years ago Monday the RIAA began its massive litigation campaign that now includes more than 30,000 lawsuits targeting alleged copyright scofflaws on peer-to-peer networks. But despite the crackdown, billions of copies of copyrighted songs are now changing hands each year on file sharing services. Some are wondering if the campaign has shaped up as an utter failure. Today, the RIAA admits that the lawsuits are largely a public relations effort, aimed at striking fear into the hearts of would-be downloaders. Spokeswoman Cara Duckworth of the RIAA says the lawsuits have spawned a "general sense of awareness" that file sharing copyrighted music without authorization is "illegal." "Think about what the legal marketplace and industry would look like today had we sat on our hands and done nothing," Duckworth says in a statement.
David Kravets, Wired

DailyTech Talks Piracy, Taxes, Orphan Works and More With Independent Music Chief
The music industry is a wholly different beast from your father's music business or even the industry that existed at the start of 1990s. While the advent of CDs and music video brought revolutionary changes of sorts, nothing would compare to what the future held in store in the form of the digital revolution. DailyTech recently talked to Rich Bengloff, a music veteran and president of the American Association of Independent Music (A2IM), an organization that represents small labels.
Jason Mick, DailyTech

Internet's First Music Festival to be Launched by College Radio Network
Internet radio is taking another step forward this month as the Intercollegiate Broadcasting System's IBS Student Radio Network by Backbone (IBS-SRN) launches the Web's first live music festival, called IBS-Palooza. Increasingly sophisticated college radio clubs combined with advances in Internet broadcasting technology will allow, for the first time, multiple stations to digitally share and play each other's live content and provide valuable exposure to emerging local artists from around the U.S and around the world. IBS-Palooza is intended to break new ground in the areas of both entertainment technology and education. As the first live multi-venue music festival created for the Internet, it harnesses the technologies of both Apple and Backbone Networks to enable live syndication of streaming content among several stations simultaneously.

Comcast Appeals FCC Web Traffic-Blocking Decision
Comcast is appealing an FCC ruling that the company is improperly blocking customers' Web traffic, triggering a legal battle that could determine the extent of the government's authority to regulate the Internet.
John Dunbar, Associated Press

Amazon, IMDb Launch Music Wiki
Amazon and IMDb have now launched a music-focused wiki, one that allows anyone to enter and edit content. The site, SoundUnwound, also features content from Amazon, Musicbrainz, and YouTube. Artist entries include discographies, biographies, photos, videos, timelines, recommendations, and of course, purchase links to AmazonMP3. A living, breathing music database sounds useful and interesting, though Wikipedia already carries a serious advantage. Whether SoundUnwound can ever rival that dataset remains unclear, especially since Wikipedia delivers a large body of highly-detailed and relevant music listings.
Digital Music News

Music Tastes Link to Personality
Musical tastes and personality type are closely related, according to a study of more than 36,000 people from around the world. The research, which was carried out by Professor Adrian North of Heriot-Watt University. "We have always suspected a link between music taste and personality. This is the first time that we've been able to look at it in real detail. . . If you know a person's music preference you can tell what kind of person they are, who to sell to. ... One of the most surprising things is the similarities between fans of classical music and heavy metal. They're both creative and at ease but not outgoing."
BBC News