It’s often challenging for musicians to try and keep track of all the policy issues that can potentially impact their lives and livelihoods. In the unprecedented day-to-day chaos and unpredictability of our current unconventional political environment, it can be even harder.
So here’s a quick update on one of the most important issues facing musicians, some questions answered, and some thoughts about what may lie ahead.
Philadelphia is known for its vibrant music scene, which runs the gamut from doo wop to hip-hop to funk to electronic and beyond. But if a bill proposed by city councilman Mark Squillagiving local police veto power over music performances had become law, Philly’s incredible reputation as a vital music metropolis may have been over.
Squilla’s billl (there’s a band name for ya) would have amended the Special Amendment Occupancy License (SAOL) process of the city code. Thankfully, in response to intense opposition from constituents and the local music community, the councilman has decided to withdraw the bill. You can go ahead and take a moment to cheer.
On February 26, 2015, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) moved to adopt strong net neutrality protections in a 3/2 vote that was a huge victory for musicians and indie labels who want a fair shot at reaching audiences online.
These are exciting times at FMC. After 15 years at the intersection of music, technology, policy and law, we’ve taken some bold steps to better serve you well into the future.
As musicians, songwriters, managers, indie publishers and labels ourselves, we know that it’s a challenge to stay on top of the many issues that are reshaping music. But with so much happening in the policy arena and the marketplace, this is a crucial time for artists and their teams to get involved. In FMC’s next next phase, we’ll be coming up with new and innovative ways to help you crack the code of an evolving industry. Be sure to sign up for our newsletter so you don’t miss an opportunity. read more
On the campus of the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), there is a little cabin called The Ché Café, but it is actually much more than a simple vegan café. Since its founding in 1980, it’s grown to become a landmark of San Diego’s music scene, helping launch the careers of countless bands and hosting an array of internationally known touring acts like Green Day, Pennywise, At the Drive-In, Album Leaf and Jimmy Eat World. But persistent battles with the college administration have put the venue in peril.
St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Athens, Georgia had been listed by Rolling Stone alongside Graceland, the Ryman Auditorium, and Sun Studios as one of the South’s musical treasures. The band now internationally known as R.E.M. played their very first concert inside the building on April 5, 1980. Even so, the main part of the church was demolished ten years later to make room for condominiums, despite its significance to the American music culture. The only remaining part of the building is the steeple, but it still stands as a reminder of St. Mary’s musical significance. read more
By Kevin Erickson, Communications Associate, and Maria-Teresa Roca de Togores, Policy Intern
This week’s midterm elections have come and gone, and while turnout was low (as is often the case in midterms), the resulting shift in the balance of power may impact what music-related issues are on the congressional agenda for the next two years. read more
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.
Today, the<Federal Communications Commissionvoted to bring forward a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking onnet neutrality—a process meant to preserve an open and accessible Internet.FCCCommissioners voted 3-2 in favor of opening a 120-day comment period in which the public is invited to weigh in on the proposed rules.
The proposal, which had been previously amended in the face of unprecedented response from creators and the public, asks questions about the best way to prevent Internet Service Providers from picking winners and losers online.