Friday, February 27, 2009

LPFM Gains Momentum!

Earlier this week, we told you about the re-introduction of Low Power FM legislation in the House of Representatives. The Local Community Radio Act of 2009 would bring more LPFM stations to cities, towns and suburbs across the United States — something we all should get behind.

On Wednesday, February 25, members of Congress, public interest advocates and community organizations participated in a national conference call to talk about the bipartisan bill. Joining the discussion was Reps. Mike Doyle (D-PA) and Lee Terry (R-NB), Cory Fischer-Hoffman of Prometheus Radio Project, Shawn Campbell of the Chicago Independent Radio Project, Ben Scott of Free Press and our very own community radio champ Michael Bracy. You can listen to an MP3 of the conversation here.

Our friends at Free Press scored another cool point for LPFM this week with a Huffington Post article by Timothy Carr, brilliantly titled "Celine Dion is Stalking You." They also created a page where you can tell your representative why Low Power FM matters to local communities.

Low Power to the People!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Live Nation/Ticketmaster Merger: A Look at Possible Impacts

The music industry is currently abuzz about the proposed merger between concert ticket giant Ticketmaster and the world’s largest concert promoter, Live Nation (which also sells tickets.) On February 24, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the matter that included representatives from both Ticketmaster and Live Nation, as well as the independent promotions/ticketing and public interest sectors. The House Judiciary Committee took up the case today (February 26).

The hearings examined antitrust concerns raised by the possible merger. Committee members seemed skeptical that the deal — supported by witnesses Irving Azoff and Michael Rapino — would lead to $40 million in “efficiencies,” lower ticket prices, and create more revenue streams for artists, as the two men suggested. You can watch the CSPAN video archive of the Senate hearing here; read witness testimony here.

Consider the playing field. Until the end of 2008, Live Nation had a deal with Ticketmaster to handle the ticketing for their US events but began selling its own tickets after their deal with Ticketmaster expired. This means that Live Nation had recently moved from being a Ticketmaster customer to a Ticketmaster competitor.

The field has also changed on the superstar artist side. In 2007, Live Nation began experimenting with so-called “360-degree” deals with a handful of top-tier artists, including Madonna, U2, Nickelback, Jay-Z and the Jonas Brothers (These deals vary from contract to contract, but they typically give Live Nation a slice of merchandise and/or concert and recording revenue.) On Ticketmaster’s side, a recent merger with Azoff's Front Line Management Group put Azoff — a powerful music manager with a star-studded roster that includes The Eagles, Christina Aguilera, Guns N’ Roses and many others — in charge of the combined company.

Some are concerned that the proposed Live Nation/Ticketmaster merger would create a monopoly force with influence over ticketing, promotion, venues and artist representation. Live Nation and Ticketmaster counter that the arrangement would create stability in an ailing industry, drive innovation and ultimately reward fans. Although there’s plenty of evidence that consolidation in the music industry benefits few in the long-term, some, including music biz curmudgeon Bob Lefsetz, are suggesting this merger might help move the industry forward.

Since this proposed merger would likely affect the entire industry, we’ve been paying close attention. In the interest of providing a balanced look at the possible pros and cons of the proposal, FMC solicited statements from a handful of experts, including Stephen Weisz (founder and CEO, In Ticketing), Albert A. Foer (President, The American Antitrust Institute), Peter Jenner (Manager of Billy Bragg and Emeritus President of the International Music Managers Forum), Michael A. Einhorn (Silberman School of Business; former member of the Antitrust Division at the U.S. Department of Justice), Eddie and Wolfgang Van Halen, Journey and Seal (the latter artists provided by representatives for Azoff). Click here to read them all.

It remains to be seen how the merger will impact the industry if and when it goes through. For now, we thought it would be constructive to present a few different sides to the debate.

We’ll be inviting everyone who commented to submit replies in the coming weeks. We’re also interested in what you have to say — send your comments to, and we’ll consider them for publication on our site.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

New LPFM Legislation to be Introduced

It was only a matter of time before the new Congress saw the reintroduction of a pro-Low Power FM bill. If passed, this legislation would create opportunities for hundreds more community radio stations in cities, towns and suburbs across the United States. The House of Representative's new Local Community Radio Act represents a strong step forward towards this goal.

FMC has long advocated for LPFM (and non-commercial, community radio in general) as an alternative to the homogenized playlists often heard on hyper-consolidated corporate radio. LPFM in more areas would be a tremendous boon to local and independent artists who typically find themselves shut out from area commercial stations. We figure that if more people had the chance to hear the talent in their own backyards, it might even have a positive effect on local economies.

But LPFM isn't just good for musicians — new low-power licenses would make radio station ownership possible for schools, churches, labor unions, local governments, emergency providers and other nonprofit groups, who could use the public airwaves to directly communicate with their local community.

Tomorrow (February 25), members of Congress, public interest advocates and community organizations will hold a national conference call to discuss the reintroduction of the bipartisan Local Community Radio Act. The sponsors of this legislation, Reps. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.) and Lee Terry (R-Neb.) will join the call to explain the details of this bill. Here's the details:

WHAT: National Conference Call on Community Radio Legislation
WHEN: Wednesday, February 25 12 p.m. ET
Rep. Mike Doyle
Rep. Lee Terry
Cory Fischer-Hoffman, Prometheus Radio Project
Shawn Campbell, Chicago Independent Radio Project
Michael Bracy, Future of Music Coalition
Ben Scott, Free Press
*** Call this number: (888) 792-8352 Call-in Code- 87422899 ***

The last time LPFM legislation was introduced, it won nearly 100 co-sponsors in the House. The Senate version of the bill, sponsored by Sens. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) and co-sponsored by then-Senator Barack Obama, unanimously passed out of the Commerce Committee. The Senate is expected to reintroduce a new version of the bill in the near future. We'll keep you updated!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Caught in the Web

For those of you who were there, you already know that Threads and Cred — last week’s final event at Silk City in Philly — was one kick-ass party. For those of you who weren’t there, here’s a brief run-down on what you missed (You can also watch the video archive from the live webcast at

The jam-packed event saw local fans ready to hear a bracing mix of hip-hop, jazz rock and instrumental fusion. From the mysterious mood lighting to DJ Dirty South Joe’s between-set mix, it was obvious from the start that Threads and Cred was going to be a memorable (and musically diverse) occasion.

Philly’s Drake opened the show, amazingly and deftly combining two MCs, a cellist, a drummer, trumpeter and singer in a progressive stew that got the crowd hyped up and ready to dance.

Next up was rapper Dice Raw, who impressed with his stellar rhymes and unusual beats. Another local, the MC demonstrated serious versatility and creativity in a one-man show that totally rocked the crowd and clearly left them wanting more.

Headliner MJ Project’s was obviously the crowd favorite as evidenced by the wild audience reaction from the moment they hit the stage. Their funky performance was marked by intense energy which is probably why the exhausted crowd still demanded an extra 15 minute encore.

Whew. Talk about a party!

Thanks to everyone who showed up and supported FMC and realizePhilladelphia for our series, which spread the word about the importance of net neutrality. To learn more, check out our Rock the Net campaign. And visit our main website to see the full spread of musician-oriented issues FMC is working on and ways you can plug in.

Thursday, February 19, 2009 in Philly City Paper!

We'll post a full report about "Threads and Cred" — the final installment of at Silk City in Philadelphia — in just a few, but for now you can check out this preview in Philly's City Paper. The item includes quotes about net neutrality (the underlying theme of this multi-faceted series of events) from Dejha Ti of realizePhiladelphia, our partners.

Check the site for archived video of the live webcast of this and previous episodes.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Webcasting Royalty rates: Deal or No Deal?

Back in September 2008, we told you about the passing of the Webcaster Settlement Act, which allowed for the implementation of an agreement between copyright owners, performers and online broadcasters on webcasting royalty rates — provided they arrive at mutually-agreed-upon rates by February 15, 2009.

To better understand the situation, a little history is in order. In May of 2007, the Copyright Royalty Board set royalty rates for online broadcasts that many webcasters said would mean lights out for their services. In the wake of this decision, webcasters and SoundExchange (the designated organization that collects and distributes payments to performers and labels for digital broadcasts) have been negotiating rate compromises, to varying levels of success.

SoundExchange seeks equitable payments for its members, which include performing artists and labels, while the webcasters want to broadcast without going bust. So it’s a bit more complicated than “these guys are awesome, and these guys are jerks” (although some may be inclined to see it that way.)

In FMC’s statement on the original CRB rate setting, we called on parties “to adopt reasonable rates and reporting requirements for clearly-defined categories of small, noncommercial and hobbyist webcasters that will ensure the future development of this medium.” We also stressed the importance of properly compensating artists, performers and labels for uses of their work, without which there’d be nothing much to play. We remain hopeful that any final agreement will satisfy these concerns and ultimately lead to the discovery of more music. The latter is something webcasting can play a huge role in, provided there’s a way forward.

Some individual deals have already been made. The National Association of Broadcasters and SoundExchange reached an accord on February 16 that sets a per-song rate for simulcast programming online or stand-alone internet stations through 2010. (The next rate-setting period would cover 2011-2016.) The Corporation for Public Broadcasting came to a February 15 agreement with SoundExchange that sets a one-time payment of $1.85 million together with consolidated usage and playlist reporting from CPB on behalf of the entire public radio system. This settlement covers streaming services from January 1, 2005 through December 31, 2010. Earlier this year, some smaller webcasters accepted a deal with SoundExchange that bases royalty rates on revenues and site traffic; others are still negotiating.

So what happens next? Well, the Digital Media Association (which represents large webcasters like Pandora and RealNetworks as well as tech companies like Apple and Nokia) is free to continue negotiations with SoundExchange. But unlike under the Webcaster Settlement Act, any agreement would only apply to copyright holders that are signed up with SoundExchange — it wouldn’t cover everyone. Meanwhile, the original CRB decision is on appeal. Congress could extend the deadline for a negotiated solution that will apply to all parties, but new legislation would have to be introduced and passed in both houses. So for the moment at least, the future of webcasting is anything but certain. We'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Live! Tommorow! Final event!

Hard to believe three months have gone by and we’re now at the final event, which takes place tomorrow night (Wednesday, Feb. 18) at Silk City in Philadelphia.

Saving the best for last may be an understatement considering tomorrow’s jam-packed event. Appropriately titled “Threads & Cred,” this installment will focus on how net neutrality strengthens creative culture by facilitating innovation, real-time experimentation and collaboration. “Threads & Cred" refers to dialogue threads (as well as a pun on clothing) and the credibility you need to thrive in online (or real-world) communities.

FMC has partnered with realizePhilladelphia (a non-profit group that promotes social causes through musical and educational events) to bring you these events, which raise awareness about the importance of net neutrality to the musical and creative communities. (For more information on why the open internet is so important for musicians, check out our Rock the Net campaign.)

Tomorrow night’s event is hosted by Philly native Charles Gregory and includes performances from hip hop Grammy winner and Roots collaborator Dice Raw, experimental jazz group Drake and the progressive instrumental band MJ Project.

FMC will have our eyes and ears up in Philly, and we’ll report back all the highlights right here. Of course, you can always watch it live on the web via the site — the live music kicks off at at 10 PM, and there's also a studio-produced panel discussion that was pre-recorded on February 12th. This is the final event, so you really don’t want to miss out! Head here for more information; you can watch video archives of the previous “webisodes” here. Hope to see you there!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

DC Policy Day = Amazing!

We're still reeling from the awesomeness that was yesterday's DC Policy Day (Feb. 11, 2009). If you couldn't make it or weren't able to catch the live webcast, you can see archived video of all the panels below (just click "On Demand"), or at

Stay tuned for pictures and more!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

National Geographic Music and DC Policy Day

Tomorrow, FMC will be presenting our annual DC Policy Day at Grosvenor Auditorium at National Geographic Music and Radio and National Geographic Live! Before the big event, we wanted to tell you about our Policy Day partner National Geographic’s recently launched record label, National Geographic Music.

The label will record, release, promote and distribute modern music from around the world, including Australia, New Zealand, Japan and Africa. The newly formed imprint plans to represent genres ranging from African pop to Arab classical.

National Geographic Music will be distributed through INgrooves — a digital media distribution company based out of San Francisco that provides clients with marketing, promotion and sync licensing. The label will also operate National Geographic’s Cinema Ventures; feature Films, Kids Entertainment and a radio division.

National Geographic Entertainment, the umbrella of National Geographic Music, is headed by David Beal — a speaker at tomorrow's Policy Day. He'll appear on our Fair Trade Music: Toward a Legitimate Digital Music Marketplace panel.

Online registration for Policy Day is now closed, but we'll be accepting walk-ups. If you can't make it to DC, you can watch a live webcast of the event here.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Meet the Policy Day Panelists: Alec Ounsworth of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah

This post is part of a series on DC Policy Day, which takes place on Wednesday, February 11 at National Geographic's Grosvenor Auditorium in Washington, DC. Read previous entries here.

Alec Ounsworth is the lead singer and songwriter of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah — the posterboys of indie success in the digital era. Alec was a participant in FMC’s most recent Artist Activism Camp in New Orleans, and will be on hand for DC Policy Day this Wednesday, February 11. So let us tell you a little story about a college kid in a band who cut out the middleman and sold thousands of CDs with no label backing.

Born in Philly, Alec Ounsworth’s interest in music began when he was encouraged by his mother to learn the piano and later guitar. By the age of 17, he was writing and recording his own demos. In 2004 he formed Clap Your Hands Say Yeah with bassist Tyler Sargent, keyboardist Robbie Guertin, drummer Sean Greengalgh and Tyler’s guitarist brother, Lee Sargent.

Before long, the Brooklyn-based group had begun to generate some serious buzz. Their self-titled debut was released in 2005 without the benefit of label backing — how’s that for indie CYHSY had minimal expectations when they started selling the record through their website, yet within a few months it had sold a startling 25,000 copies. Did we mention that this was all done with out ANY label backing or distribution?

Accolades from MP3 blog sites and a Best New Music review from Pitchfork Media — which Alec calls the group’s “defining moment — followed. As of today, CYHSY have sold over 200,000 CDs and have had the likes of David Bowie and David Byrne attend their often sold-out shows.

This kind of DIY success story isn’t likely to happen for every band, but one thing is for sure: CYHSY wouldn’t have been able to move this many “units” without a level online playing field. Net neutrality — the principle that protects the open internet — allowed Alec and co. to reach their fans directly on the same “series of tubes” that iTunes and Amazon use. (Click here to for more info about why net neutrality is so important to musicians.)

Of course it takes a lot of time and envelope licking to deliver CDs to your legions of fans without any help. So for 2007’s Some Loud Thunder, CYHSY signed a distribution deal with the UK label Wichita Recordings. So far so good: the song “Satan Said Dance” was one of Rolling Stone’s top 100 songs of the year and was featured in the second season of “The Office.” The band also released Live at Lollapalooza 2007, a digital-only live album available through iTunes.

Alec will appear on the “Fair Trade Music: Toward a Legitimate Digital Music Marketplace” panel with CD Baby founder and moderator Derek Sivers, National Geographic Entertainment President David Beal, music manager Peter Jenner and Justin Ouellette, CEO & founder of Muxtape at DC Policy Day 2009.

Time is almost up for online registrations — head here to reserve your spot now!

Meet the Policy Day Panelists: Justin Ouellette of Muxtape

This post is part of a series on DC Policy Day, which takes place on Wednesday, February 11 at National Geographic's Grosvenor Auditorium in Washington, DC. Read previous entries here.

Way back in March 2008, 25 year-old graphic designer and photographer Justin Ouellette unveiled Muxtape — a gloriously simple online music service that quickly endeared itself to music fans around the world.

Based on the old-school cassette mixtape, Muxtape 1.0 was a user-friendly, clutter-free website that let users upload their own playlists using music from their own collections, to be streamed by others. "[Muxtape's] intended purpose is to introduce you to new music that you would then hopefully go and buy," Justin said at the time. The idea caught on incredibly quickly, with 8,685 registered users in the first day, and 97,748 in the first month. The facilitated music discovery, and everyone seemed to love it.

Well, maybe not everyone.

Pretty much from the moment the site went live, Justin received notices from the RIAA (the trade group that claims to represent the US recording industry) and the major labels about infringing content. The RIAA asked Justin to remove a handful of specific mixes, and he complied. Not long after, Justin entered negotiations with the majors to find a way for Muxtape to continue while providing compensation to copyright holders. (You can read the story in Justin's own words here.) Although the negotiations had their hiccups, Justin was certain the negotiations were taking place in good faith and that the terms for a legit Muxtape might eventually be agreed upon.

(Re)enter the RIAA. Justin hadn't heard from them in a while, which he chalked up to the negotiations with the majors, Then, in August 2008, he received notice from Amazon Web Services (who hosted Mutape's files and servers) that he had one business day to business day to remove all the songs on his site or have the Muxtape servers shut down and all data deleted. Still thinking it was some kind of misunderstanding, Justin hastily tacked up a not about “a problem with the RIAA," and the site went dark. And it stayed that way until recently.

And so I made one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever faced: I walked away from the licensing deals. They had become too complex for a site founded on simplicity, too restrictive and hostile to continue to innovate the way I wanted to. They’d already taken so much attention away from development that I started to question my own motivations. I didn’t get into this to build a big company as fast as I could no matter what the cost, I got into this to make something simple and beautiful for people who love music, and I plan to continue doing that. As promised, the site is coming back, but not as you’ve known. I’m taking a feature that was in development in the early stages and making it the new central focus.

The new Muxtape is a service exclusively for bands. It will, in Justin's words, allow indie acts to "upload their own music and offer an embeddable player that works anywhere on the web, in addition to the original Muxtape format." The redesigned service is currently in beta, but will be relaunched "in the coming weeks," according to a notice on the site.

We're thrilled to have Justin appear on the "Fair Trade Music: Toward a Legitimate Digital Music Marketplace" panel at DC Policy Day on Wednesday, February 11 at National Geographic's Grosvenor Auditorium. The clock is ticking for online registrations (we'll be taking walk-ups as space permits) — head here to reserve your spot.

Can't make it to DC? Policy Day 2009 will also be webcast live, via

Friday, February 6, 2009

Meet the Policy Day Panelists: Hank Shocklee, Super Producer

In case you were wondering if anyone from the urban/electronic music community would be at our upcoming DC Policy Day, no worries — production legend and FMC advisory board member Hank Shocklee will be ready to represent in Washington on Wednesday, February 11.

A Long Island native and two-time Source Magazine “Producer of the Year,” Hank is currently president of Shocklee Entertainment — a music, film media and technology info portal through which users can exchange information and discover valuable tools to advance their own careers.

Hank revolutionized the sound of hip-hop with his production unit the Bomb Squad, introducing the world to Public Enemy with their 1987 debut, YO! Bum Rush the Show. Hank’s deft touch helped elevate the role of the producer in hip-hop music — after Hank and the Bomb Squad hit the scene, it was no longer just about the MC. Hank’s unique production style became a cornerstone of the classic Public Enemy sound, and paved the way for a whole new generation of producers from the Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA to Dr Dre and Snoop Dogg.

During his rise to prominence, Hank also extended his production skills to such artists as Madonna, Janet Jackson and Peter Gabriel. He’s also scored and produced film soundtracks for movies like Juice, How Stella Got Her Groove Back, Dangerous Minds and most recently, American Gangster — which earned him a Grammy nod.

Currently, Hank is working on a series of projects that he calls the Future Frequency. “I’ve always had a good sense of where entertainment needs to go next and right now I’ve honed in on the next dimension of sight & sound,” he says. Hmm, if you add “mind” to that mix, you’d be in the Twilight Zone! Bad jokes aside, we’re psyched to have Hank at DC Policy Day — he’s got a brilliant mind for media issues, and brings a whole range of perspectives often lacking in the stuffy world of public policy.

Hank will join moderator and FMC Technologies Director Brian Zisk, Free Press Policy Director Ben Scott, New America Foundation’s Sascha Meinrath (one of Ars Technica's "Tech Policy People to Watch") and Consumer Electronics Association Senior Vice President, Government Affairs Michael Petricone for the “Broad-band: Internet and Spectrum Policy and the Creative Class” panel. The conversation will examine how broadband policy intersects with intellectual property concerns and other issues likely to be tackled by policymakers in 2009. The clock is ticking on registration — reserve your spot now!

DC Policy Day
When: Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Time: 9:00 AM — 6:00 PM with cocktail party to follow from 6:00 - 8:00 PM
Where: National Geographic Music and Radio and National Geographic Live!
Registration: $50 through February 9 11:59 pm ET.
Registration with 6.0 CLE credits: $200 through February 9 11:59 pm ET.

Onsite registration and onsite CLE sign-up will also be available.

This event has been approved in Virginia for 6.0 hours of Continuing Legal Education (CLE) credit. Additionally, CLE credits from Virginia can be claimed in the states of New York, California, Delaware (additional fees apply), North Carolina, Pennsylvania (additional fees apply), and West Virginia.

Have you already registered but want to upgrade your registration to qualify for CLE credits? Click here to upgrade.

Can't make it to Washington, DC? This event will be webcast live on February 11.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Ars Technica: Tech Policy "People to Watch" 2009

Ars Technica just published a who's-who list of rising tech-policy stars that includes four individuals who'll be appearing at our DC Policy Day at National Geographic's Grosvenor Auditorium on February 11:

Michael Copps, Acting Chairman, Federal Communications Commission

Julius Genachowski may be the president's pick to serve as the next chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), but make no mistake that Acting Chairman Michael Copps is fully prepared to hold down the fort until the Chairman is confirmed...

Sascha Meinrath, Research Director, Wireless Future Program, New America Foundation

Before joining New America Foundation in 2007, Sascha Meinrath previously worked as a policy analyst, telecom consultant, and community organizer. The skills he developed in those three different roles undoubtedly have influenced his current work as research director at New America's Wireless Future program where he and Michael Calabrese are striving to reform US telecommunications policy, particularly spectrum access, one challenging step at a time...

Ben Scott, Policy Director, Free Press

As the chief DC lobbyist for Free Press, the advocacy group behind the Save the Internet and Stop Big Media campaigns, Ben Scott keeps a watchful eye on the country's telecom and media giants—and he's ready to react when he disagrees with them...

Gigi Sohn, Co-founder and President, Public Knowledge

A perennial presence on the tech policy scene, Gigi Sohn is a force to be reckoned with. She is the face—and voice—of Public Knowledge, the nonprofit interest group she co-founded in 2001. If there's a policy debate involving consumers' digital rights, you can bet Sohn will be involved to make sure PK's concerns are heard...

Also making the list are several Policy Day and Policy Summit veterans — we'd like to think that can spot stars, too! Head here to see the full roster of speakers at this year's Policy Day. And why not register while you're at it?

Meet the Policy Day Panelists: Peter Jenner

We definitely have an interesting Policy Day panelist to tell you about today: legendary manager and artist advocate Peter Jenner (you can listen to an earlier FMC podcast interview with Peter here).

Hailing from across the pond (that’d be the UK), Peter serves as Emeritus President of IMMF (International Music Managers’ Forum) — an organization that represents worldwide music managers and their acts. Comprised of fifteen managers’ forums around the world including France, New Zealand, South Africa and Norway, this organization aims to ensure the respect and rights of a global community of managers and talent.

Peter’s story kicks off when he became the 21 year-old Lecturer at the London School of Economics. His four-year stint ended when he resigned to manage a daring young band that had caught his ear. That group was Pink Floyd, who subsequently went into "interstellar overdrive" (that one's for the fans!). Peter’s voice can even heard on Floyd’s 1967 song “Astronomy Domine” from the classic album Piper at the Gates of Dawn.

It was during this time that Peter and his business partner Andrew King formed Blackhill Enterprises and began putting on free concerts in London’s Hyde Park, which concluded with the famous Rolling Stones appearance in 1969 (the group’s first gig following the death of founding guitarist Brian Jones). From there, Peter went on to manage a long list of successful acts such as The Clash, Ian Dury, Robyn Hitchcock and Baaba Maal. Peter currently represents British folk firebrand Billy Bragg.

Peter is doggedly persistent in his fight for musicians' rights, and is a true artist champion. He also embraces technological change, particularly when it comes to creators getting paid. He’s been a strong advocate of the “music access charge” — a small fee on consumers’ internet bill that would let them legally obtain music from file-sharing services. (FMC hosted some of the earliest discussions of this idea at our 2004, '05 and '06 Policy Summits.) Peter's background in artist rights and representation makes him particularly well-equipped to understand the benefits and challenges of implementing such a plan.

Recently, a proposal was floated by the government of the Isle of Man — a small island in the Irish Sea — to allow the Isle’s 80,000 citizens to download unlimited music from P2P services for a nominal fee from their internet service provider. (The Isle of Man has a forward-looking history when it comes to technology; it was the first place in the world to offer 3G cellular service and broadband is available in every home.)

When asked what his role in all of this is, Peter says, “I’m an evil genius. I’m Doctor Strangelove.” (He’s actually a consultant.) Although the music access charge currently faces opposition, Peter believes it might eventually become commonplace. “If it happens, it sets a huge precedent,” he says. “If the sky doesn’t fall in it becomes more and more possible for the record companies to see it as a way to bring in revenue.”

He dismisses claims that an ISP surcharge would set a permanent price for digital music, calling it “absolute f**king nonsense.” (In a British accent, of course.) “By that logic, it means that if you listen to radio you won’t buy another record,” he says. “That’s what they said about cassettes; Disney said it said it about the VCR. It’s probably what the stagecoach companies said when the trains came along. If they’re clever they’ll figure out how to work with the new technology.”

Peter stresses that this structure would not upset existing digital music services and their own artist compensation mechanisms. “This is only an access charge for non-commercial use — commercial services will have to pay extra,” he explains. “The service providers, the ISPs and the music providers should all benefit from developing new services and new commercial services. This should make licensing very much easier; currently there is not a sensible licensing system. The dam is bursting — the industry can’t go on living a fantasy.”

So why the Isle of Man? “Because they wanted to do it,” Peter relates. “They already have a really strong tech infrastructure, and they hope people come in and try new services. They wanted another string to their bow.” (The Isle of Man is well known as a online gambling destination and tax haven.)

Peter will appear on a Policy Day panel called “Fair Trade Music: Toward a Legitimate Digital Music Marketplace” alongside David Beal (President, National Geographic Entertainment), Alec Ounsworth (Clap Your Hands Say Yeah), Justin Oullette (founder of Muxtape) and moderator Derek Sivers (founder, CD Baby). The conversation will focus on how technology is changing the marketplace and the ways to ensure fair compensation to creators.

This is just one of several fascinating panels at Policy Day 2009. The clock is ticking on registration — reserve your spot now!

DC Policy Day
When: Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Time: 9:00 AM — 6:00 PM with cocktail party to follow from 6:00 - 8:00 PM
Where: National Geographic Music and Radio and National Geographic Live!
Registration: $50 through February 9 11:59 pm ET.
Registration with 6.0 CLE credits: $200 through February 9 11:59 pm ET.

Onsite registration and onsite CLE sign-up will also be available.

This event has been approved in Virginia for 6.0 hours of Continuing Legal Education (CLE) credit. Additionally, CLE credits from Virginia can be claimed in the states of New York, California, Delaware (additional fees apply), North Carolina, Pennsylvania (additional fees apply), and West Virginia.

Have you already registered but want to upgrade your registration to qualify for CLE credits? Click here to upgrade.

Can't make it to Washington, DC? This event will be webcast live on February 11.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Kembrew McLeod on "Media Minutes"

June Besek and Kembrew McLeod at FMC's "Creative License" panel discussion.

Regular readers might already be familiar with media professor and documentary filmmaker Kembrew McLeod. A longtime FMC associate, Kembew is the co-author of our upcoming book Creative License, which examines the issue of sampling through extensive interviews with artists and producers on all sides of the debate. Look for it on Duke University Press in fall 2009.

Last year, Kembrew moderated an FMC-organized panel discussion called "Creative License: a Conversation About Music, Sampling and Fair Use," which took place at The Public Theater in New York City on October 6, 2007. (You can check out archived audio and video from the discussion here.) Before that, Kembrew helped facilitate a Chicago talk featuring original members of Public Enemy and journalist/Media Assassin Harry Allen. Co-hosted by FMC and Pitchfork Music Festival, "It Takes a Nation of Millions" commemorated the 20th anniversary of PE's album of the same name — an important piece of hip hop-history that also happens to contain tons of samples.

Kembrew talks about the tensions between intellectual property and sampling in this episode of "Media Minutes" — a podcast series from non-profit media reform organization Free Press. Hip-hop in particular has been stifled by current copyright law, Kembrew says. "We can look to the relatively recent past to see what the detrimental effects of overzealous copyright protections are," he explains. "You're either within the law, or can pay for the law, basically, or you're an outlaw."

(This episode of "Media Minutes" also features Sascha Meinrath of New America Foundation talking about the importance of broadband expansion.)

The world of sampling and hip-hop is further explored in Kembew and Benjamin Franzen's upcoming documentary, Copyright Criminals: This Is a Sampling Sport. You can check out the trailer here.

Stay tuned for our own discussion with Kembrew as part of FMC's Podcast Interview Series!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Meet the Policy Day Panelists: Bryan Calhoun

With DC Policy Day around the corner, today we decided to keep it local and introduce fellow Washingtonian Bryan Calhoun — Vice President, New Media and External Affairs at SoundExchange and FMC Board member.

Bryan is no stranger to FMC events; he’s been one of our most captivating panelists at past gatherings. He’s also the founder/CEO of Label Management Systems and the Music Business Toolbox — a music business and marketing solutions company based out of Atlanta, Georgia. This service is designed to help indie musicians and record labels compete on a level playing field with the majors by providing tools to efficiently run their operations and market their releases.

Over the course of 15 years in the music business, Bryan has worked with hip hop icons such as Kanye West and Ludacris — in fact, he was previously the Chief Operations Officer for West’s Good label. Bryan has also pulled stints with Warlock Records, Red Distribution and Relativity Records, with a focus on concert promotion, marketing, A&R and radio promotions. So you can see why we’re psyched to have him as a guest panelist next week.

At Policy Day, Bryan will join Michael Bracy (FMC Policy Director), Peter Gordon (president, Thirsty Ear Recordings), Brian Austin Whitney (founder, Just Plain Folks), Parul Desai (Associate Director, Media Access Project), Randy Hawke (Operations Manager, Mid-West Family Broadcasting) and Frannie Wellings (Legislative Assistant, Senator Byron Dorgan) on the “Adjust Your Dial: Radio for the 21st Century” panel. This in-depth conversation will look at some of the key issues facing the FCC and Congress and their potential impact on the music community.

Still not registered? Get to it!

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DC Policy Day
When: Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Time: 9:00 AM — 6:00 PM. with cocktail party to follow from 6:00 - 8:00 PM
Where: National Geographic Music and Radio and National Geographic Live!
Registration: $50 through February 9 11:59 pm ET.
Registration with 6.0 CLE credits: $200 through February 9 11:59 pm ET.

Onsite registration will be available as well.

This event has been approved in Virginia for 6.0 hours of Continuing Legal Education (CLE) credit. Additionally, CLE credits from Virginia can be claimed in the states of New York, California, Delaware (additional fees apply), North Carolina, Pennsylvania (additional fees apply), and West Virginia.

Monday, February 2, 2009

We Interrupt Your Regularly Scheduled Programming. . .

FMC's Jean Cook rocks out with the Waco Brothers

Here at FMC it's pretty much all DC Policy Day all the time. We're hustling to make sure the event — which takes place on February 11 at National Geographic here in Washington — is the best it can be, and we're feeling pretty good about it! On the FMC blog (which yer readin' right now), we've been giving you the inside scoop on some of the fabulous panelists and speakers. (Basically what we're saying is that you should register now!)

But let's take a break from all that a minute. We just posted our own pictures from the Big Shoulders Ball: Chicago Celebrates Change concert back on Inauguration Eve! Head to the FMC Flickr page for more shots by our intrepid photographer Caroline Deutermann.