Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Early Bird Registration for DC Policy Day Until Dec. 31

FMC will be hosting its third DC Policy Day on Wednesday, February 11, 2009, where some of the smartest voices in music, law, technology and policy will convene to discuss how changes in media, broadband and copyright policy might impact the music/technology communities.  You can't afford to miss this!

Take advantage of an early bird registration price of $40 from now until December 31, 2008.

Info | Schedule | Register | Musician Scholarships | Tell Your Friends!

Confirmed Speakers (as of 12.30.08)

FCC Commissioner Michael J. Copps
FCC Commissioner Jonathan S. Adelstein

Michael Bracy Policy Director, Future of Music Coalition
Rick Carnes President, Songwriters Guild of America
David Carson General Counsel, US Copyright Office
Parul Desai Associate Director, Media Access Project
Peter Gordon President, Thirsty Ear Records
Peter Jenner Sincere Management and Secretary General, IMMF
Zahavah Levine General Counsel & VP Business Affairs, YouTube
Steve Marks Executive VP and General Counsel, RIAA
Walter McDonough General Counsel, Future of Music Coalition
Sascha Meinrath New America Foundation
Michael Petricone Senior VP, Government Affairs, Consumer Electronics Association
Derek Sivers Founder, CD Baby
Tim Westergren Founder, Pandora
Brian Zisk Technologies Director, Future of Music Coalition

...with more to be announced in January.

Register now!
Just two more days to take advantage of early bird rate of only $40.
Secure online registration

Musicians' Scholarships Available
As always, we're offering a limited number of scholarships that allow working musicians to attend the event for free, to ensure that musicians are not left out of the music/policy debates. Head here for more information or to apply.

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Net Effect.

Today (Dec. 22, 2008), the Media & Democracy Coalition — of which FMC is a member — released a "Statement of Public Interest Groups on Proposed Broadband Principles in Upcoming Economic Stimulus Package." That's a mouthful, we know. Despite its tongue-twisting title, the document offers well-thought out reasons why policymakers should focus on a coherent national broadband policy that includes accountability, local approaches, metrics for access and adoption, and a committment to open network structures.

FMC believes that better broadband penetration will expand the legitimate digital music marketplace, and ultimately connect more artists with more listeners. We also think that any internet strategy must honor the principles of net neutrality, which provides all musicians — established or developing — with a means to reach potential audiences. And as you may have noticed, we're pretty into localism — be it in community-based broadcasting or online initiatives that contribute to sustainable cultural communities.

The following is from the intro of the statement:

President-Elect Barack Obama and Congressional leaders are calling for government support to fund universal broadband Internet access as part of a potential economic stimulus package. We applaud these discussions and strongly believe that providing every community in America with high-speed Internet access – particularly those who have long remained on the margins of public participation and debate – is essential to the economic and democratic future of the U.S.

The undersigned organizations, which represent a broad coalition of local and national public interest groups, strongly support investments in broadband build-out, as well as the training, tools and other resources needed to connect those that are currently on the wrong side of the digital divide.

The economy is inextricably tied to infrastructure, of which the internet is an increasingly large part. We hope that the incoming leadership recognizes this, and takes steps to enhance democracy, culture and American competitiveness through smart and forward-looking broadband policies. The future of music (and so much more) depends on it.

Read the full statement here.

DC Policy Day 2009!

Join us in Washington, DC on Wednesday, February 11, 2009 for FMC's second DC Policy Day. Scheduled just two weeks after the inauguration, this day-long event will bring a laser-beam focus on how media and broadband policy affect the music industry, and how changes in copyright law could impact music and technology communities. Panelists and speakers will represent leading stakeholders in the music/tech policy space, with a particular emphasis on individuals who are central to setting the agenda in 2009 and beyond.

DC Policy Day
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
9:00 AM — 6:00 PM with cocktail party to follow from 6:00 - 8:00 PM
National Geographic Music and Radio and National Geographic Live!
Early Bird Registration: $40 until January 1, 2009
Musician scholarships Available!

Press Credentialing
Tell Your Friends

CONFIRMED SPEAKERS (as of 12.22.08)
- FCC Commissioner Michael Copps
- FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein
- David Carson, Associate Register for Policy & International Affairs, U.S. Copyright Office
- Rick Carnes, Songwriters Guild of America
- Derek Sivers, Founder, CD Baby
- Tim Westergren, Founder, Pandora
...with more to be announced shortly!

Early bird registration is available for the discounted rate of only $40 until December 31, 2008. Secure online registration

As always, we're offering a limited number of scholarships that allow working musicians to attend the event for free, and ensure that musicians are not left out of the music/policy debates. Head here for more information or to apply.

Thanks as always to our generous sponsors:
Google * American Federation of Musicians

Interested in sponsoring?
Contact John Henkel at jhenkel@futureofmusic.org.

We hope you will join us for what's going to be another spectacular event!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Rocking the Inauguration!

You may have heard that our town is gonna get pretty wild around inauguration. Factor in the legendary Chicago venue the Hideout bringing kick-ass bands to the Black Cat in D.C., and a raucous party is a given. And we'll be on hand to make sure.

On Monday January 19, Chicago's Hideout Club and Interchange are bringing some of the finest musical talent in the Windy City right here to Washington, DC. "The Big Shoulders Ball: Chicago Celebrates Change" features such incredible Chicago-based artists as Andrew Bird, Tortoise, Waco Brothers, Eleventh Dream Day, Jon Langford, Sally Timms, David "Honeyboy" Edwards, Ken Vandermark, Freakwater, Icy Demons and Judson Claiborne, plus special guests to be announced. (FMC Deputy Director Jean Cook will also be playing with one or more bands!)

Proceeds from this amazing show will go to the Chicago Public Schools marching bands program and FMC. Tickets are $50, and available at the Black Cat and Ticketmaster. A show like this is certain to sell out very quickly, so grab yours now!

You'll also get to play dress-up! Ball-goers are encouraged (but not required) to wear vintage, thrift-store, hand-me-down and ex-bridesmaid formal attire. New administration aside, this is a rock show.

We'd also like to take a moment here and recognize how incredibly awesome the Hideout is, as a venue and as a group of people. In addition to their regular venue schedule that includes some of today's best indie rock, bluegrass and jazz, they organize an annual Hideout Block Party that attracts thousands of music lovers to Chicago. They've also played host to FMC's own events and have actively worked to spread the word about FMC in the Chicago community.

We'd love to celebrate this incredible moment with you. There's plenty of work to be done in 2009, but before we roll up our sleeves, let's take a night to party with some incredible music and great company. Hope to see you there!

The Hideout Presents: The Big Shoulders Ball
Monday, January 19, 2009
The Black Cat
1811 14th Street, Washington DC
Buy tix: www.blackcatdc.com or www.ticketmaster.com

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Dear Mr. President-Elect

Today (December 18, 2008), more than 100 groups, unions, musicians, bloggers and media and technology leaders sent a letter to President-Elect Barack Obama calling on his administration to appoint leaders who will reform the media and protect the open Internet. FMC (and members of Pearl Jam and R.E.M.) were among them.

Below is the text of the letter. Click here (PDF) to see the full list of signatures.

President-Elect Obama:

We congratulate you for putting crucial media and technology issues in the public spotlight. Not only did your campaign embrace new technology and innovative media, you have embraced these values in your policy agenda. Your commitment and detailed plan represent a fundamental shift toward communications policy in the public interest. We happily offer our support and service in pursuit of our common goals.

We look forward to working with the leaders you will appoint to the White House, such as the Chief Technology Officer, the positions on the Federal Communications Commission, the Federal Trade Commission, Corporation of Public Broadcasting and in the Commerce, Education, Justice and Agriculture departments. We urge you to select strong proponents of the public interest who will embrace and enact the policy proposals you made on the campaign trail to shape the future of the media, the Internet, the economy -- and our democracy.

Together, we have a unique opportunity to break with the past, lift the stranglehold industry lobbyists have had on communications policy, and put the public's priorities first. In your own words, you pledged:

  • Protect an Open Internet: To "take a backseat to no one in my commitment to Net Neutrality" and "protect the Internet's traditional openness to innovation and creativity and ensure that it remains a platform for free speech and innovation that will benefit consumers and our democracy."
  • Promote Universal, Affordable Broadband: To see that "in the country that invented the Internet, every child should have the chance to get online" by bringing "true broadband to every community in America."
  • Diversify Media Ownership: To create "the diverse media environment that federal law requires and the country deserves."
  • Renew Public Media: To foster "the next generation of public media," and "support the transition of existing public broadcasting entities and help renew their founding vision in the digital world."
  • Economic Growth: To "strengthen America's competitiveness in the world" and leverage technology "to grow the economy, create jobs, and solve our country's most pressing problems."
  • Open Government: To reverse "policies that favor the few against the public interest," close" the revolving door between government and industry," and achieve "a new level of transparency, accountability and participation for America's citizens."
The more than one hundred people who signed onto this letter -- and the millions more we represent in our organizations, workplaces and communities -- join your call to create a more vibrant and diverse media system and to deliver the benefits of the open Internet and new technology to all Americans.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

web.illish.us: Digital Love tonight!

web.illish.us — the multifaceted event series to support net neutrality — continues tonight with Episode II: Digital Love. web.illish.us is a partnership between realizePhiladelphia and FMC, with proceeds going to our Rock the Net campaign for net neutrality. The events take place at Silk City in Philadelphia on the third Wednesday of the month through February 18, 2009.

Digital Love goes live on December 17, at 9PM (tonight!), and features musical acts Lo Life (members of Brothers Past, Biodiesel and MJ Project), Dialects (members of Burndown All Stars) and Dephonic. DJs Law One and Ras Heights will keep the party going in between live sets.

The theme this time around is digital inclusion — which is the idea of equal broadband access for everyone, no matter what background or walk of life. Todd Wolfson of Media Mobilizing Project will lead a discussion about this important concept, featuring Beth McConnell of the Media and Democracy Coalition, the Reverend Jesse Brown and Phuong Ninh of the Philadelphia Student Union. Charles Gregory of 3 Guys Don’t Lie will once again play host.

One of the coolest things about web.illish.us is the fact that you don’t have to attend to attend. What? You read that right — the shows are all live webcast. There’s even a live chat that lets you connect with all the other remote viewers.

If you missed the last episode (virtually or in-person), you can check out a video archive here.

Hope to see you there!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Whither Net Neutrality?

You may have seen the article in the Dec. 15 2008 article in the Wall Street Journal about certain pro-net neutrality companies and individuals seemingly acting less supportive of the open internet than they previously had.

The article suggests that Google — a longtime advocate for net neutrality — "has approached major cable and phone companies that carry Internet traffic with a proposal to create a fast lane for its own content." Google's Richard Whitt is quoted as saying his company's proposal would not violate net neutrality principles, but the piece doesn’t provide further details as to why not.

Net neutrality is the principle that protects the open internet, meaning everyone can upload and download the lawful content of their choice without interference from Internet Service Providers (ISPs). But companies like AT&T and Comcast want to charge content providers — including musicians, filmmakers, labels and retailers — a fee for the faster delivery of their sites and services. This would put those unwilling or unable to cut a deal with the ISPs in the slow lane. It's pretty easy to imagine what this would mean to an independent musician or label trying to do business on the web.

With a new administration coming in, many net neutrality advocates feel more confident that there will be explicit rules put in place to protect the open internet. Currently, the FCC's "principles" regarding net neutrality are the only thing preventing ISPs from divvying up the internet into fast lanes and slow lanes. Unfortunately, these principles are vague and difficult to enforce, even on a case-by-case basis (which is so far how the FCC has handled allegations of non-neutral activity by the ISPs). President-Elect Obama has stated his support of net neutrality in the past, so it's reasonable to believe he'll follow through on this commitment once in office. Right?

The WSJ article, while not entirely suggesting otherwise, plants a seed or two of doubt in the mind of the reader. The piece points to a "shift" in position by prominent internet scholar (and alleged Obama associate) Lawrence Lessig as proof, claiming Lessig has "has softened his opposition to variable service tiers." Whether this means consumers paying more for faster internet service (not a violation of net neutrality) or ISPs charging content providers a "toll" to get on the speedy pipes (a clear violation) is not elaborated on.

Lessig took the opportunity to publish a rebuttal to the WSJ article on his blog, claiming the article "is an indirect effort to gin up a drama about an alleged shift in Obama's policies about network neutrality." Lessig disagrees with the assessment that he’s "softened" his position regarding NN — he says he's always been supportive of regulation giving all marketplace comers the same "Most Favored Nation" rate as any company that wants to pay for faster connections. Lessig doesn't, however, say what this means for smaller businesses, entrepreneurs and independent artists who depend on a level internet playing field to reach people. Chances are, they wouldn't be able to afford "most favored" status.

We'll be watching this one closely, for sure. Check out our Rock the Net site for more info on what you can do to support net neutrality.

UPDATE: Check out this New York Times editorial about Barack Obama's internet agenda.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

New Orleans Done Right

Jazz in New OrleansToday's post is by FMC Events Coordinator Chhaya Kapadia, who just returned from our fourth Artist Activism Camp. The picture is hers, too!

We're happy to say that FMC's fourth trip to New Orleans years revealed a city rebuilding. There's still an unconscionable amount of work to be done, but what our government neglected, the residents of the city have stepped in to do with grace and class (and a little bit of help from Brad Pitt).

If you ever make it to New Orleans, we highly recommend you visit the Mother-in-Law Lounge, the former home of and now tribute to Ernie K-Doe. Ernie's widow Antoinette K-Doe tells the story of how she waited out Katrina for days in the second floor of the lounge before she got airlifted out of the building still flooded in six feet of water, but you wouldn't know it from seeing the new tiki bar in the back and the Christmas decorations alight.

That first night at the Mother-in-Law cascaded into a day of meetings about musicians engaging in activism, which segued beautifully into a thoroughly entertaining benefit concert for Sweet Home New Orleans, an organization that helps bring New Orleans musicians back to New Orleans post-Katrina and helps keep the city's musical traditions alive. See the nice Rolling Stone write-up and lots of photos here.

Check out out this previous post for a list of Artist Activism Camp participants and performers at the "Bringing Musicians Home IV" concert.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

New Orleans Action!

Ann Chaitovitz (FMC), Brer Rabbit (Flobots) and Michael Bracy (FMC) chillin' in NOLA. [Photo: Chhaya Kapadia]

A handful of FMC peeps are in the Big Easy for our fourth annual Artist Activism Camp, which brings together emerging and established artists to talk about how to incorporate positive social change into their lives and careers. The three-day retreat is followed by "Musicians Bringing Musicians Home IV," a benefit concert for Sweet Home New Orleans — a non-profit group that provides housing and financial assistance to musicians displaced by Hurricane Katrina.

The show takes place tonight (December 4) at Tipitina's. Advance tickets are available here. If you're in the area, you gotta swing by to hear live sets and collaborations from/with Will Oldham (Bonnie “Prince” Billy), Nicole Atkins, Hank Shocklee (Bomb Squad, Future Frequency), Alec Ounsworth (Clap Your Hands Say Yeah), Jonny 5 and Brer Rabbit (Flobots), Waterflow (of Senegalese hip-hop band Wageble), Steve Berlin of Los Lobos, members of brass band Bonerama and jazz vocalist John Boutte.

FMC's Events Coordinator Chhaya Kapadia has been snapping pics of the activities leading up to the show — check 'em out here. Looks like a party!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

FMC's Michael Bracy on Well Rounded Radio

FMC Policy Director Michael Bracy recently spoke with Charles McEnerney of Well-Rounded Radio about why policy matters to the everyday artist, and how decisions made in Washington impact the entire music community — from creator to fan and everyone in between.

Head here to listen to the interview.

Michael also spent some time discussing the issue of net neutrality and FMC's Rock the Net campaign, which raises awareness about the importance of the open internet to musicians and fans.

The Rock the Net CD, which features Wilco, Aimee Mann, They Might Be Giants, Bright Eyes and more, was released in July 2008 via Thirsty Ear Records. You can pick up a copy at Amazon, iTunes, eMusic, Rhapsody or your favorite record shop.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Broadband Call to Action

Today, a range of groups from the public and private sector demonstrated their support for a national broadband strategy. Non-profit public interest orgs like Free Press, Public Knowledge, Media Access Project and the New America Foundation joined telecom and internet titans like AT&T and Google to advocate for affordable broadband access for all Americans.

The panel discussion in the Senate Dirksen building featured representatives from AT&T, Google, Free Press, Communications Workers of America, New America Foundation and more. Each speaker described the need for a comprehensive broadband strategy as essential to job creation, international competitiveness, innovation and education.

The ailing economy was front and center in the majority of panelist comments. Larry Cohen of CWA suggested that investment in broadband would create 100,000 telecom-industry jobs, and ultimately result in 2.4 million new jobs throughout the economy.

Ben Scott of Free Press outlined a few problems on the road to better broadband penetration, including availability, adoption rates (which he tied to higher speeds and lower prices), and the lack of computers and appropriate training in many neighborhoods and communities.

FMC believes that smart broadband initiatives will ultimately benefit musicians who live and work in these very communities. In fact, we think digital inclusion and broadband deployment are key to the emergence of a legitimate digital music marketplace where fans can find the music they want, and more artists can reach those fans without the interference of gatekeepers and middlemen.

As technology helps us develop and refine possible new revenue streams for musicians, it becomes all the more necessary to make sure artists can compete on a level playing field. There are encouraging signs that net neutrality — the principle that protects the open structure of the internet — will be at the core of any new broadband policies. Even AT&T — which in the past could hardly be described as pro-net neutrality — seem to have come around to recognizing the importance of open internet structures.

During his comments, Jim Cicconi of AT&T said that his company had an "explicit commitment to the open internet." However, he stopped short of suggesting there needed to be any specific regulation to determine how net neutrality hould be enforced, saying that the FCC's current principles are sufficient. Unfortunately, the vagueness of the existing principles makes them difficult to enforce, even after lengthy investigations such as the recent FCC probe into Comcast's "network management" practices.

We at FMC think it would be in everyone's best interest to have consistent and transparent rules that allow a level playing field for innovators, consumers and creators. Actually, that's the whole reason behind our Rock the Net campaign.

One thing's for sure: there's a lot of work to be done on the road to a legitimate digital music marketplace. A national broadband strategy that upholds the principles of net neutrality is definitely a step in the right direction.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Off to New Orleans!

OK Go and Bonerama at Musicians Bringing Musicians Home III. Photo by Chhaya Kapadia.

It's that time of year again (we're not talking about the Holidays, but yes, they're happening too).

Thanksgiving leftovers having been (mostly) consumed, FMC staff are off to New Orleans for our annual Artist Activism Camp and the "Musicians Bringing Musicians Home IV" concert event.

MBMH IV is the rockin' finale of the fourth three-day activist retreat hosted by FMC and Air Traffic Control since Katrina wracked the region in 2005. Artists from around the country converge on New Orleans to tour affected neighborhoods, visit with the city’s notable musicians and community leaders and participate in strategy sessions about how to integrate activism and philanthropy into their musical lives and careers.

This year's concert takes place on Thursday, December 4, and features Will Oldham (Bonnie “Prince” Billy), Nicole Atkins, Hank Shocklee (Bomb Squad, Future Frequency), Alec Ounsworth (Clap Your Hands Say Yeah), Jonny 5 and Brer Rabbit (Flobots) and Waterflow (of Senegalese hip-hop band Wageble). The concert benefits Sweet Home New Orleans — a coalition of non-profit organizations that helps find affordable housing and provides rental assistance for Katrina displaced musicians, Mardi Gras performers and other traditional New Orleans artists.

If you're in the area, head to Tipitina’s Uptown (501 Napoleon Ave) at 9pm, and join the celebration. Get advance tickets here. If you can't make it, keep your eyes right on this space for updates from the Big Easy!