By guest blogger Taylor Lambert and Kevin Erickson
In the age of on-demand streaming, it’s common to hear people talk about music as “limitless”— something that flows forth endlessly like water. Indeed, musicians around the world release a huge volume of new music every day. But in practice, most consumers’ exposure to the world of new music is extremely limited. It’s one of the thorniest problems—if there’s so much music out there, why do consumers end up being exposed to so little of it? Why should the music marketplace be a winner-take-all system?
Of course, whether or not you view this as a problem to be solved could depend on whether you’re fortunate enough to be one of the “winners.” Still, media critics have long pointed to the role of gatekeepers who exercise considerable control what music reaches audiences. From radio programmers to retail managers to talent buyers to music reviewers and beyond, the most powerful labels do their best to keep their offerings front and center—often at the expense of independents. Radio is the still the number one source of “music discovery,” but commercial AM/FM radio broadcasters in this era of ownership consolidation tend to be highly risk-averse in their programming choices. Playlists are narrow and repetitive, as our research has documented. It has been the strong hope of the independent sector that online music services would be more democratic, allowing more artists to find audiences than was possible in the old-school media world.
Interim Executive Director Casey Rae Speaks to MN Musicians and Composers
Monday, March 10, 2014
Good morning. Thank you for all for being here, and thank you for having me at the Minnesota Music Summit. It’s truly an honor to be joining you at this amazing event. Today, I want to explore the future of music, which is still being written, and which you all can play a part in writing. Some of the issues I’ll be bringing up will no doubt be familiar to you. Others may not be as familiar. But it’s not just about me giving some prepared remarks, it’s about dialog. It’s about the very real connections between people who are passionate about music, who create it and nurture it. And those are the connections that I love to make. In 2014, there’s no single approach to being a musician or composer, so it’s become critical that we listen and learn from one another.
For the past twelve years, Future of Music Coalition has worked to inform and engage musicians and the music community on issues that impact artists and creative culture as a whole. Some of our work is very straightforward, such as reinforcing the notion that musicians have a range of views on a host of issues and must be included in discussions about their livelihoods. Some of it is nuanced, such as examining how artists are paid in the emerging digital economy and complex questions around copyright and technology. read more
Last week, Russian punk rock art collective Pussy Riot was sentenced to two years of correctional labor colony for their guerrilla art performance five months ago in the Temple of Christ the Savior in Moscow. This judgement — for a 45-second unplugged performance mostly consisting of chanting and dancing in front of the church’s altar — seems to be absurdly cruel. Moreover, considering there is no criminal law that these feminist artists have broken. read more
All of us at FMC were saddened to hear of the passing of Adam “MCA” Yauch of the Beastie Boys. A pioneering musician, rapper, filmmaker, and activist, Yauch was hugely influential in connecting music and social change.
The following statement can be attributed to Casey Rae-Hunter, Deputy Director of Future of Music Coalition.
“Since AT&T first announced its intent to acquire T-Mobile, Future of Music Coalition has steadily raised concerns about what the mega-merger would mean for the creative community — particularly musicians who increasingly rely on affordable access to mobile broadband platforms to reach audiences and advance their careers.
You’re an artist. You’ve stumbled onto our site from a tweet, Facebook post, friend’s referral or a Google search, probably something along the lines of “artist + musician + activism.” You want to take charge of your career and do your part to grow the new music ecosystem, but you have questions.
We’re here to help. While we can’t give you specific career advice, we can help demystify a complex and evolving marketplace for music. We’re always happy to discuss ways for you to get involved.
Back at our 2010 Future of Music Policy Summit, Canadian Member of Parliament Charlie Angus (House of Commons, Timmins, ON) joined FMC co-founder and general counsel Walter McDonough on stage for a special conversation about Charlie’s experiences as a musician, broadcaster, elected official and activist. Charlie got in touch with us this week to update us on a cause close to his heart: the native people of Attawapiskat. read more