The 2012 Future of Music Summit has come and gone, and if you were one of the more than 2,000 live viewers (and countless more tweeters, etc.), you know it was one for the books. And if you missed it, don’t worry: we’ll have complete archives of the event uploaded as soon as possible.
As always, we are incredibly grateful for all of the amazing speakers and presenters who helped make this year’s conference in Washington, DC an informative — and often feisty — affair. We’d also like to give a nod to our staff whose dedication and commitment made it all possible. And our hosts at New America Foundation for providing a great environment for these crucial conversations.
It’s almost impossible to recap everything that went down yesterday, but the biggest fireworks surrounded the debates about the Internet Radio Fairness Act (IRFA), which aims to change the standard through which webcast royalty rates are generated. Critics say the bill would lower compensation for artists and contains language that could inhibit the collective bargaining power of creators. Proponents suggest that lowering rates for webcasters will grow the marketplace and ultimately reward both artists and innovators.
Our panel on the issue was called “Radio-active: Internet Broadcasting and Artist Compensation,” and featured Kurt Hanson CEO, AccuRadio.com; Publisher, RAIN: Radio And Internet Newsletter; David Lowery University of Georgia/Cracker/Camper Van Beethoven; Michael Petricone Senior Vice President, Government Affairs, Consumer Electronics Association; Patricia Polach Of Counsel, Bredhoff & Kaiser, PLLC, and Associate General Counsel of American Federation of Musicians; Colin Rushing General Counsel, SoundExchange; and Chris Richards Washington Post Pop Music Critic (moderator). You can check out a great recap from Greg Kot of Chicago Tribune right here. Kot also interviewed Tim Westergren of Pandora, which generated its own heat in the form of audience questions.
Also weighing in was Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), who introduced the bill in the Senate. His keynote speech put the issue in terms of allowing for disruptive innovations that ultimately benefit artists. Digital Music News has published the entirety of the Senator’s remarks.
But Summit wasn’t just a back-and-forth about royalty rates. Elsewhere, panelists tackled issues ranging from intellectual property enforcement to artistic expression writ large. Artist-oriented tech presentations got a killer reaction from musicians watching the proceedings near and far. Author Thomas Frank stole the show with his pointed observations about cultural policy and “hipsterism.” A passel of musicians, writers and digital service operators including Ben Weinman of Dillinger Escape Plan, Benji Rogers of PledgeMusic and Jennifer Mondie of the National Symphony Orchestra waxed philosophical about how musicians’ labors might be valued in a dynamic landscape for music and technology.
We also examined the importance of data to cultural policymaking and examined what the election results might mean for the arts sector. We heard from amazing musicians and activists like Merrill Garbus of tUnE-yArDs; Jordan Kurland, Musician Manager, Zeitgeist Artist Management; Thao Nguyen of Thao & The Get Down Stay Down; Chris Walla of Death Cab for Cutie; and Erin Potts Executive Director, Air Traffic Control. We explored what the Pussy Riot case means not only for free expression but a global network of activism enhanced by technology.
And thanks most of all, to you. Your participation — in person and online — is what makes our events worthwhile. If you enjoyed the conversations or learned something new, please consider contributing to Future of Music Coalition so we can keep on advocating for musicians the year ‘round.