High costs, crappy customer service and speeds well below what’s advertised. How much do you love your Internet Service Provider (ISP)? If you have Comcast or Time Warner Cable, chances are not a lot. These two cable behemoths consistently come in at the top of “worst companies ever” lists, and we’re sure plenty of musicians can count themselves among the frustrated. Now these two companies wanna get married. But will the government allow it?
That’s something that Washington, DC is grappling with as we speak. On one side of the debate you’ve got well-heeled corporate lobbyists working on behalf of ISPs keen to make more money from controlling even more of the broadband marketplace. On the other, you’ve got regular Internet users, consumer groups and creative entrepreneurs who are tired of being promised one thing and paying out the nose for another.
Musicians are a very adaptable bunch, particularly independents. We’re the ones who turned the original MySpace into a powerhouse of music discovery; we’ve made Twitter an important platform for conversations about music; we continue to drive eyeballs to YouTube. Unfortunately musicians have also experienced the hassles of having a once-dependable platform disappear or transform into something that isn’t so useful, like when MySpace went Murdoch or the recent changes to Facebook.
Musicians’ needs in the digital realm might not be simple, per se, but they should be recognized. Although artists are generally enthusiastic about digital tools to reach fans, raise capital and sell stuff, we’re less thrilled when an online service goes away or is modified to the extent that its less useful. When news broke recently that streaming on-demand site Beats Music had acquired Topspin—a well-liked, direct-to-fan commerce solution for musicians—many wondered what this would mean for artists who had come to depend on its suite of services.
You might think a two-time Grammy-nominee more than once named America’s Best DJ by DJ Times would be immune to label pressures. But as DJ and producer Kaskade explained in a series of tweets last month, that’s not the case. The frequent festival headliner (real name: Ryan Raddon) announced he is “in between labels,” leaving behind former label/publisher/mangement company Ultra Music (part owned by major label Sony): read more
Congress’ ongoing review of the Copyright Act continued Wednesday when the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet convened a hearing on “preservation and reuse of copyrighted works”
Committee chairman Howard Coble (R-NC) began the hearing with a nod to his love for bluegrass music—a genre he acknowledged has limited commercial potential in the contemporary marketplace, but remains an invaluable part of America’s cultural history. It’s actually a pretty good example of what’s at stake in these debates, particularly with orphan works.
It’s been said that Jazz is “America’s greatest gift to the world.” So it’s only right for America to preserve and protect that gift for generations to come. That’s why were glad to see Rep. John Conyers (D-Mi) reintroduce his jazz appreciation bill, H.R. 4280, the “National Jazz Preservation, Education, and Promulgation Act of 2014.”read more
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: