On March 10 and 11, OK Go’s Damian Kulash and Andy Ross came to Washington, D.C. to talk about the importance of net neutrality to musicians. Their appearance coincided with the one-year anniversary of our Rock the Net campaign — musicians are known for their timing (rimshot!). OK Go are in the midst of writing material for their next album, so the issue must be important for them to jet from L.A. to D.C.
Monday, March 10 saw the band members participating in a Hill briefing and meet-and-greet, where they told their story to a packed room of reporters, Congressional staffers and net neutrality supporters. Damian and Andy described the importance of the open Internet to their musical success, and then hopped up on a Senate witness table and rocked out on acoustic guitars. Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) also popped by to voice his support for the cause. But he seemed disappointed when Damian told him that his candy apple red pants from the “Here it Goes Again” video were no longer being made.
The following day, Damian and Andy visited with Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) to talk about how open Internet structures foster innovation and creativity. Damian and Andy gave Markey the scoop on how their band became internationally known and won a Grammy, all because of a homemade video they posted on YouTube.
After that, it was over to the House Judiciary Committee, where Damian testified before members of Congress about the importance of preserving the structures that make the Internet such a powerful tool for musicians and consumers. He also played three video clips, illustrating the amazing back-and-forth between the band and their fans. Members were impressed that the video for “Here it Goes Again” has received more than 35 million views since it was first posted; less so by the actual treadmill dance routine. “I think those of us on this Committee could put together something like that,” said Chairman Conyers. We think he was joking…
Click here for a blog post about the proceedings.
Here’s a short YouTube clip of Damian testifying:
And check out Damian’s spoken testimony.
Today’s music landscape is filled with both excitement and foreboding. With so many new technologies and ways to promote and distribute music, how do performers, composers, songwriters and independent labels know how to participate, who to trust and what is most effective?
FMC is partnering with American Federation of Musician locals and other artist organizations around New York State to host free, daylong forums in Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and Albany in April 2008.
Buffalo: Wednesday, April 2, Livingston Hall, inside Kleinhans Music Hall, 10 AM-4 PM
Rochester: Monday, April 28, Bausch Auditorium, Rochester Museum and Science Center, 3 PM-8:30 PM
Syracuse: Tuesday, April 29, Jazz Central, 1 PM-7 PM
Albany: Wednesday, April 30, The Clarion Hotel, 3 PM-8:30 PM
These free seminars will provide musicians, songwriters, students and indie label owners with practical advice about emerging technologies, online marketing strategies, performance royalties, podcast/webcast basics, DIY licensing, as well as a snapshot of the state and federal policy issues affecting how artists will be compensated in the digital future.
The first of these events takes place in Buffalo on Wednesday April 2, at Livingston Hall (inside Kleinhans Music Hall). Click here to see the schedule.
For more information about or to RSVP for any of the events, visit:
Our new Executive Director has been here for just over a month now, and she’s already being put through her paces. Ann is no stranger to high-level panel appearances, having attended every one of our Policy Summits. Now, she’s speaking as an official representative of FMC, which we couldn’t be happier about.
On February 23, Ann attended the Folk Alliance Conference in Memphis, TN, where she appeared on a panel called “The Law of Music 2008: Legislation, Litigation and Deals.” The discussion provided an overview of the policy, law, and contract issues musicians are likely to face throughout 2008.
A few days later, on February 25, Ann appeared at our own Brian Zisk’s SanFran MusicTech Summit, which brought the best and brightest minds in the music/technology space together with musicians and consumers. Ann appeared on the “Hot Topics in Music and Technology Law” panel. (If you happened to miss the MusicTech Summit, have no fear - Zisk is planning another event on May 8, 2008.)
On March 5, Ann attended the “Copyright Office Comes to California” conference in San Francisco. Ann talked about the evolving legal environment surrounding the public performance right for sound recordings. Basically, terrestrial radio only pays a royalty to the songwriter or composer of a piece of music, but the performer doesn’t get anything. Meaning, when you hear John Coltrane’s version of “My Favorite Things” on your AM/FM dial, only Rodgers & Hammerstein get paid. This is in contrast to satellite radio and webcasts, which pay songwriters/composers and performers. Ann explained the importance of royalty parity for performing artists from a policy and creative perspective.
To learn more, check out our Public Performance Right for Sound Recordings fact sheet.
On February 23-24, Education Director Kristin Thomson and research collaborator Gabriel Rossman presented preliminary findings from our analysis of commercial radio playlists at the Social Science Research Center’s Necessary Knowledge Conference, an organization that facilitates collaboration between researchers, advocates and academics. Kristin and Gabriel have been using radio playlist data to investigate whether the new policies put in place during recent payola settlements have had any effect on playlist composition, in particular whether there have been any changes in independent label/musician presence on the charts. FMC will be publishing its findings in the near future.
It’s not all about hardcore research and wonky panel discussions: we also know how to party. FMC arrived en masse in Austin, Texas on the week of March 13 for the city’s annual music free-for-all, South By Southwest. We checked out a lot of cool shows and ate some awesome Tex-Mex. And we managed to take care of some business, too. Here’s a summary:
FMC’s Michael Bracy moderated the panel “Selling Music as a Service,” which featured experts like Matthew Adell of Napster, Vicki Nauman of Sonos, David Pakman of eMusic and FMC Advisory Board Member Tim Quirk of Rhapsody.
FMC co-founder and board member Brian Zisk moderated the lively “Resolving Webcasting Fees” panel, which saw John Simson of digital royalty distribution organization SoundExchange discuss the pros and cons of percentage vs. fixed webcasting royalty rates with smaller online broadcasters.
Our resident health insurance expert (and musician) Alex Maiolo was on hand to raise awareness about the importance of health insurance for musicians through our Health Insurance Navigation Tool, or HINT. Alex conducted dozens of free, one-on-one consultations with artists about their options.
Deputy Director Jean Cook pulled double duty as an FMC representative and a performing artist. Jean played several gigs in Austin, including sets with the Waco Brothers, Jon Langford and a special guest appearance with Langford alongside the Sadies.
FMC advisory board members Sandy Pearlman, Peter Jenner and Jim Griffin appeared on the well-attended “Mobility, Ubiquity and Monetizing Music” panel, which discussed, among other things, how rights holders can get paid in the brave new digital world. Our newest Board member, Bryan Calhoun, did his best to keep things reined in as moderator.
There was a mini Artist Activism Camp reunion with participants Jim James and Patrick Hallahan of My Morning Jacket kicking back with FMC staff.
We also connected with musicians regarding the importance of net neutrality, through our Rock the Net Campaign. Thanks to all the artists who let us use their merch tables to help spread the word about this important issue.
For a full recap of the action check out our blog post about the festival.
Sign up for Rock the Net.
A week before we went down to bake in the Texas sun, FMC co-founder and General Counsel Walter McDonough headed up north to the Canadian Music Week conference in Toronto. On March 7, Walter moderated a panel called “Broadcasting & Webcasting Royalties: The Battle Heats Up,” which is as true of a title for a panel as you’re likely to find. Other participants included John Simson from SoundExchange, Kurt Hanson of the Radio and Internet Newsletter, and Michael Geist, Canada Research Chair of Internet and E-commerce at the University of Ottawa.
Our Rock the Net campaign for net neutrality continues to gather steam, with more than 800 bands and labels signed up. On February 23, a crew of lady-powered Philadelphia rockers came together in support of the open Internet. Making appearances were Beretta 76, Victor Victor Band, Surgeon, DJ Chatty Cathy and KeN — featuring our very own Kristin Thomson.
Rock the Net also traveled to California for NoisePop, home of its initial launch a year ago, making an appearance at NoisePop’s Education Day. Thanks to our friends at Media Alliance for partnering with us on this event.
Rock the Net
On February 26, FMC’s Michael Bracy and Casey Rae-Hunter joined our friends at Prometheus Radio Project for their Low-Power FM Leadership day. As part of the gathering, Mike and Casey escorted delegations of LPFM hopefuls around Congress to meet with their state representatives. Community radio advocates, like transmission arts collective free103point9 (Acra, NY) met with staffers for Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand and Senators Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer, to discuss how non-commercial radio benefits local communities. The visits have already made an impact: Senator Clinton has since pledged to sign on to the Local Community Radio Act, which would allow LPFM stations to broadcast in urban areas.
We’d also like to let you know that the FCC has extended the window for comment on several proposed rule changes designed to enhance broadcast localism and diversity. Head here to make your voice heard.
Check out our LPFM fact sheet.
Visit PrometheusRadio.org to learn what you can do to support community radio.
We mentioned it in the last newsletter, but it bears repeating: The Local Media, Democracy & Justice Summit, which is hosted by our friends at Common Cause, takes place on Saturday, March 29 at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, CA. The conference addresses the media’s impact on economic, gender and racial justice, as well as the importance of bringing community voices to the fore through Low-Power FM, Public Access TV and the internet. Click here for details.
FMC continues our podcast interview series with the sharpest minds in the music, technology, law and policy space. Last month, we spoke with FMC co-founding board member and serial entrepreneur Brian Zisk, who is currently organizing his second SanFranMusicTech Summit for May 8, 2008, following the annual NARM Convention. Check out the interview here.