Followers of our work over the past 15 years know that we’ve always taken a stand against against payola—the practice of well-heeled music companies giving cash or other enticements to big broadcasters in exchange for radio airplay. Technically, this practice is only illegal if it is not disclosed over the airwaves when the paid-for music is played. But over the years, the broadcasting conglomerates have found workarounds. Most recently, they established a system of so-called “independent promoters” who would funnel cash or other goodies to broadcasters without the major labels ever dirtying their hands. (Our Payola Education Guide offers a great overview of this pernicious practice.) read more
There’s a reason FMC is so often aligned with independent labels: this community, representing a diverse array of genres and business models, typically does right by artists. Today’s news that more than 700 indies are backing fair treatment of musicians is further proof that indies have a different way of doing business than major labels.
Independent imprints including Domino, Cooking Vinyl, Epitaph, Glassnote, Nettwerk, Ninja Tune, Secretly Canadian, Saddle Creek, Sub Pop, Tommy Boy, XL Recordings and the Beggars Group (which includes indie powerhouses 4AD, Matador and Rough Trade) and many more signed on to the “Fair Digital Deals Declaration,” a commitment by the labels to treat artists fairly and equitably on today’s digital distribution platforms.
Future of Music Coalition submitted the following comments to the United States Copyright Office in its Notice of Inquiry on the Music Licensing Study. We examine the state of music licensing in America, and how the current regime impacts musicians, songwriters and independent labels.
[UPDATE: you can also visit the LabelLove website to make donations, or email labellovebenefit [at] gmail [dot] com to learn about other ways to help.]
You’ve probably heard about the situation in the UK. If not, turn on CNN or fire up your favorite news site. You may have also heard that in the course of the unrest, a Sony/PIAS distribution warehouse in the Enfield neighborhood of London was burned to the ground. read more
Nearly four years ago the four largest commercial radio owners promised to play more independent music as part of FCC consent decrees resulting from recent payola investigations. Future of Music Coalition has been tracking radio playlists to see if commercial stations have been keeping their promises. FMC?s Kristin Thomson joins the Mediageek Radioshow to discuss the situation.
News broke today that "pure play" webcasting services (i.e., the bigger online broadcasters who earn the bulk of their revenue through their services) have reached an agreement with SoundExchange — the nonprofit organization that collects and distributes the digital public performance royalty on behalf of performing artists and sound copyright owners (usually the labels). read more
Digital Music News recently ran an article called "The Gray Art of Counting Indie Sales," which underlined the confusion of tallying purchases of downloads or CDs based on the music's "independent" classification. According to the American Association of Independent Music (A2IM), 32 percent of album sales in 2008 came from independent artists, but Nielsen Soundscan puts that number at 12.8 percent. Part of the difficulty in differentiating between an indie and a major the fact that many indie labels enter deals with distribution companies owned by the majors, such as ADA (95% owned by Warner) or Fontana (owned by Universal). read more
Have you ever been scanning through the music rags at your local bookstore/music retailer/coffee emporium/tchotchke outlet and wondered, "why do I never hear this band that's on the cover of all of these magazines on my local radio station?"
We've scratched our heads about this, too.
There are quite a few independent acts out there that are successful by pretty much any other measure -- they sell out venues, play Saturday Night Live, can be heard on movie soundtracks, TV shows and commercials yet never seem to crack commercial radio playlists. After a while you start wondering if there's a reason. Turns out there is -- it's just sort of complicated. read more
There's been been a couple of online articles recently (that's one shy of three, which almost makes a trend!) about what "do-it-yourself" means in the era of digital music. So we figured we'd do a little thinking out loud, then turn the floor over to the experts -- in other words, you.
With the advent of user-friendly digital distro services, musicians now have a wide array of relatively inexpensive tools to get their tunes out there. Of course, with fewer gatekeepers and the "democratization" of technology, it also means you probably have to work harder to get noticed -- there's no slick suit who can make it magically happen for you. (And if there is, maybe s/he can give us a call?) read more