It’s often said that is a universal language that can bridge cultural, political, and geographic divides. Indeed, cross-pollination from all corners of the globe has inspired incredible collaborations and innovative sounds. But for foreign artists, international travel isn’t always easy when they want to share their gifts with U.S. audiences. read more
If you’re in the music business or hanging around the music business, you’ve probably heard about blockchain—an emerging technology that has taken on near-mythical proportions in the minds of many.
What is blockchain? Well, at its most basic, it’s a decentralized, open database that records transactions in a ledger comprising “blocks” of information. Most people associate blockchain with BitCoin, a cryptocurrency that has inspired plenty of breathless reporting. But blockchain doesn’t have to be married to invisible Internet money. It can ride on top of the aforementioned ledger like a smart database that works in any digital environment.
If that sounds like a whole lotta ‘bot talk, we understand. But it’s probably a good idea to get better acquainted with blockchain, because we think it’s going to power a great many services and processes that are currently slow, inefficient and prone to fraudulence.
Slow, inefficient and prone to fraudulence? Sounds familiar. But instead of complaining, let’s crank up the speakers and fix some stuff. There are currently a lot of smart folks trying to figure out ways that blockchain can resolve the music industry’s longstanding issues with transparency and accountability. Just weeks ago, Imogen Heap partnered with developers Ujo and Etherium to release what appears to be the very first song on the blockchain. That was kind of like the moon landing for music tech-nerds. And there are many more experiments forthcoming.
SXSW is here again, and as usual, Future of Music Coalition staff and board are well represented at America’s biggest music conference. Amidst the BBQ, margaritas, and awesome music, we encourage you to make time to check out these can’t-miss panels and sessions featuring your favorite FMC superheroes.
For the estimated 2.4 million people incarcerated in the United States, without access to many of the pleasures that we all take for granted, the ability to listen to music is deeply valuable. As our friends at Jail Guitar Doors have demonstrated, music can play an important role in rehabilitation and healing. After all, music is a universal language, a cross-cultural unifier that builds bonds of empathy and understanding.
But some former federal prisoners are now arguing that their access to music has been wrongly compromised after leaving the prison walls behind. In a recent complaint, five former inmates allege that SanDisk Corp. and Advanced Technologies Group LLC (ATG) are taking advantage of an exclusive contract with the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to financially exploit this vulnerable population at a time when their focus should be on successful reintegration into society. In the class action suit, filed in a United States District Court in Michigan, the former inmates assert claims for Sherman Antitrust Act violations, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, unjust enrichment, conversion, unconscionability and violations of state consumer protection laws.
Another year, another massive merger. Recall back in April 2015, when cable/internet behemoth Comcast—also owners of the major content studio NBC-Universal—walked away from its planned acquisition of Time Warner Cable, after folks like Future of Music Coalition pointed out how devastating this deal would be to content creators and Internet users. Well, now another slightly-less-massive cable co., Charter Communications, is attempting to gobble up TWC. If allowed to go through, this deal would create a true Mega Cable conglomerate with the same incentive as Comcast to call the shots on content and innovation while depriving creators and fans of choice in the legitimate digital marketplace.
Think of your favorite song. Now think of how often you keep change in your pockets. Besides buying a record at retail, on-demand listening used to mean plunking cash money into a special machine called a jukebox. This bulky device, still found at dive bars and themed restaurants, would play your selection based on a combination of letters and numbers. These days, you can dial up music on-demand and on the go from the likes of Spotify, Rhapsody, Google Play, Apple Music and Tidal. These services offer huge catalogs of music, some of them for free, depending on whether a service has an ad-supported tier. This all sounds amazing, but it’s completely reshaped the way artists get paid.
Fully licensed, on-demand streaming (also known as “interactive”) has been around since 2006, when Rhapsody came online. As is often the case with experimental formats, at that point, no one was completely sure how adoption and economics would play out. Some predicted a new golden age for recorded music revenue; this may end up being the case for copyright owners with sizable catalogs (like major labels and some independents), but things look a lot different at the individual creator level. It’s not that the services are not paying out—according to Spotify, they deliver approximately 70 percent of their total earnings to copyright owners, which mirrors the percentages of most download stores—it’s more about deal structures, how pricing works, how it impacts other revenue streams, and how royalties are distributed.
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.
Last week, the trio of federal judges who compose the Copyright Royalty Board announced new rates for internet radio and digital webcasting. It was a bit of a mixed bag, and a pretty complicated decision. But for any musician whose work gets played on internet radio, it could affect what you’re earning. Here’s what you need to know.
You may have heard about “Binge On”—a way for T-Mobile subscribers with 3 gigabyte data caps to watching online video without worrying about blowing past their data limit and being hit with sizable overage charges. Sounds awesome, huh? Perhaps for some, but the program has nevertheless been criticized due to the fact that certain apps were binge-able and others were not. As we previously pointed out with another T-Mobile program, “Music Freedom,” this establishes a troubling precedent for consumers who want to be able to use their preferred apps to access legitimate, licensed content without being penalized for doing so. Such plans, while consumer-friendly on the surface, also impact developers who may find their products and services in the penalty box for no discernable reason.
Even more troubling are reports that T-Mobile is not only excluding certain video services—they’re also throttling non-Binge On video across the board, even for subscribers with unlimited data plans. So if you’re a T-Mobile customer who wants to check out a band’s Pledge Music video to decide whether you want to plunk down to support their upcoming record, you might end up watching a spinning wheel instead. If you’re hoping to take in an exclusive live concert from your favorite singer-songwriter on your tablet while on the bus, you probably won’t have much luck.
On December 16, 2015, the Copyright Royalty Boardissued its decision establishing non-interactive webcasting royalty rates for sound recordings in the 2016-2020 period. These rates represent a partial increase over the amount currently paid by digital radio services transmitting music via the Internet.
Future of Music Coalition CEO Casey Rae made the following statement: read more