Today’s the last day to sign up for the Health Insurance Marketplace at healthcare.gov, and if our Facebook feed is any indication, there’s no shortage of musicians out there who’ve waited till the last minute and are now getting covered. Don’t forget: we’ve put a page of artist-friendly resources together over at health.futureofmusic.org, and if you need some last minute assistance, our friends at Headcount are still manning their hotline at 1-919-264-0418.
Last-minute shoppers should also know that if they run into any technical problems related to the surge of traffic, they won’t be penalized, and will be given a little extra time to enroll. You can also call 1-800-318-2596 to sign up over the phone.
Pono, the Toblerone-shaped personal hi-res audio player backed by Neil Young and endorsed by a gaggle of high-profile rockers, recently made waves at SXSW, and its Kickstarter campaign has already zoomed past its stated goal and raised over $5 million with 16 days to go. But will the device live up to the hype? More importantly, what will it mean for musicians? read more
There’s been a lot of back-and-forth regarding a recent court ruling that maintains the current royalty rates paid by Internet radio company Pandora to ASCAP, a 100 year-old performing rights organization (PRO) that collects money for AM/FM and Internet radio play then distributes that revenue to songwriters and publishers.
In the coming days, we hope to offer varying viewpoints from individuals and groups in this ecosystem. For now, we’ll try to demystify this decision and the licensing frameworks that informed it.
Back in January, we shared the crummy news that a federal appeals court had overturned the FCC’s Open Internet Order, which established basic rules of the road for ISPs (Internet Service Providers). The upshot is that net neutrality—so important to preserving a level playing field online for musicians and everyone else—is once again in jeopardy.
Then in February, we shared the more encouraging news that incoming FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler was now fully determined to do something about it, having just received a million signatures in support of an open, accessible Internet. As the new head of the independent government agency tasked with regulating communications technologies, Wheeler announced an action plan and asked for feedback.
You won’t be surprised to learn that we had a lot to say!
Maybe it was in celebration of International Happiness Day, or maybe it was just coincidence, but this week saw three high-profile copyright cases all resolved through out-of-court settlements.
First, upstart toy company GoldieBloxsettled with Beastie Boys over the unauthorized use of a version of the Beasties song “Girls” with altered lyrics in an online ad video. As we reported in December, the case was framed initially as a question of whether the video qualified as fair use, but it also raised issues of trademark infringement, false endorsement, unfair competition, and misappropriation of publicity rights. In the end, the Beasties got what The Hollywood Reporteroriginally reported that they were after: a donation by Goldieblox to a charity of the Beasties’ choice, based on a percentage of revenue, and a more substantive apology:
That process continued last Thursday with an examination of Section 512 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). This section contains “notice and takedown” provisions, under which internet service providers are sheilded from liability for infringement committed by users. Such “safe harbors” are only extended if an online service expeditiously complies with rightsholders’ requests to take down infringing content upon receiving notice. (You can watch the hearing online and read witnesses’ written testimony at the Judiciary Committee’s website).
The safe harbor protection provided by the DMCA is important to musicians and other creators because it enables the existence of many services that we use every day to communicate with fans, express ourselves creatively and sell our wares. Without the safe harbor, it would be difficult for services like Bandcamp, Soundcloud, Twitter, YouTube, and countless others to have gotten off the ground and remain in business, due to potential damages for the actions of their users.
However, assessments of how well the notice and takedown requirements are working in practice vary widely.
When I talk to friends about my work with FMC, they’re eager to hear about the behind-the-scenes excitement that fuels policy change. Perhaps they’re hoping for House of Cards-style political intrigue set amidst DC’s marble halls.
To be honest though, the most exciting part of my job happens in more humble settings—like a couple Tuesdays ago in NYC, when I got to see Tift Merritt and Marilyn Carino huddle in a corner of a backstage green room to practice harmonies, singing along with a phone’s tinny speaker: “You! You got what I neeeeed!” as David Byrne paced around staring at a lyric sheet, doing his best to memorize as much he could before taking the stage at Le Poisson Rouge.
This Background Vocalist performs regularly on network TV and in widely-released films. She also performs live on tour, and as a singer on many recordings. Based on accounting data from 2009-2010 provided by the artist, this case study –– like other financial case studies we have conducted –– examines her music-based sources of income and expenses.
A major US orchestra’s performance of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring – recorded in 2012 and released by a major label – is for sale on iTunes. How are the orchestra members who participated in the recording session paid for digital sales?
A. The performers aren’t paid anything for sales. The income from sales goes to the orchestra management, just like ticket sales.
B. The performers aren’t paid directly for sales. Orchestra members who participated in the recording are entitled to participate in distributions made by the Sound Recordings Special Payments Fund.read more