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Tag: Future of Music Coalition (Page 1 of 2)

Future of Music Coalition

Getting Started with Music Policy

The following post was written by Audrey Harrer, the Associate Creative Director of Online Learning Media. Audrey is a multimedia producer and studied composition and film scoring here at Berklee. Her work is experimental, and she is particularly interested in the space where music and drama collide.

Where are you allowed to perform music and dance? What is your music worth? How loud is too loud?

Policies are what define these things. They can be government policies, school policies, or just the rules around your house. Policies are laws, guidelines, or methods of practice that guide our principles and behaviors. In modern society, we live in a matrix of policies that define everything from our food and shelter, to our art.

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend the Future of Music Coalition Policy Summit 2012 in Washington DC. It was a densely packed day of influential presenters, from Sen. Ron Weyden of Oregon to Merrill Garbus of tUnE-yArDs, discussing, sharing and debating the issues of today’s musicians. Topics explored included the Internet Radio Fairness Act, artist compensation, and online music technologies. The Future of Music Coalition focuses on “education, research and advocacy for musicians,” and it works to affect government and industry policies in a positive way on musicians’ behalf. A major sentiment that echoed throughout the Summit was that more musicians need to be involved in policy making.

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Future of Music Series: The Future of Broadband

Musicians should know at least the basics about broadband. Our microphones work on broadband (due to spectrum). Our music, played through the internet, is heard because of broadband. If that’s not important enough, broadband enables Americans to learn, research, engage in civic activities, economic opportunity and contribute to the clean energy economy through lower carbon emissions and energy efficiency. If a community lacks access to broadband, and many in the United States today still do, their connect-ability is impeded. In early 2009, Congress directed the Federal Communications Commission to create a National Broadband Plan to ensure that every American has access to broadband. When President Obama signed into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, nearly $7.2 billion was obligated for broadband-related activities under the auspices of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration and the Rural Utilities Service. The final funds were dispensed and so far the reports have been positive. Read more .

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Future of Music Series: Rhapsody and Subscription-Based Music Services

Imagine that you are the host of a party in 1985. You grab your giant box of vinyl records and drop it next to your record player and begin spinning, acting as your own DJ. Guests come by the standard 8-foot banquet table that you have assembled and flip through the cardboard folders looking for their favorite artists. Unfortunately, you have Michael Jackson’s Off the Wall album but not U2’s The Unforgettable Fire. Fast forward to cassette tapes, and though the table gets smaller and the box lighter, you still run out of listening options.

My how things change. Today we have subscription-based music services. For $9.99 per month, subscribers can listen to their choice of millions of songs on a mobile app, online, on a home listening device, mp3, iPhone or iTouch. I spoke with Brendan Benzing, Rhapsody’s chief product officer, about how subscription-based services benefit music fans and artists.

Benzing describes subscription-based services as a “powerful music experience” and likens it to being your on DJ. Instead of downloading each song, thereby limiting a listener’s musical choice by affordability and storage space, a listener has, in the case of Rhapsody, 10.5 million songs to experience.  The rationale is this: consumer tastes can be fickle and music can be enjoyed one moment in time and discarded the next. Benzing believes that an access-based model is the preferred choice because the overall experience for listeners is heightened by their ability to control the experience. Listeners can explore a wider variety of music, when and where they want.

Today, there are only about two million people who use subscription-based services. While digital downloads account of the great majority of digital revenue, Rhapsody and its competitors are expecting that as the cost of data services in the mobile market continues to decrease, and subscription services become accessible on more platforms and devices (Rhapsody is already available on more than 30), the number of subscribers will continue to increase. Benzing says that once subscribership achieves a mass-market level (I won’t hold him to an exact number), its payouts will make an even greater impact on labels and independent artists alike.

I asked Benzing how a subscription-based business impacts smaller artists.  He responded that subscription-based services are good for artist discovery because listeners are not limited by their wallets. For a flat fee, listeners can discover new artists and categories of music. Rhapsody has deals with labels, and independent artists can be included in Rhapsody’s catalog through companies like CD Baby, tunecore, and The Orchard.

Music subscription service is certainly a business to watch. I, for one, am looking forward to seeing how this market develops (will Apple enter?) and how artists will be both discovered and compensated in it.

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Shai Littlejohn

Shai Littlejohn is an attorney in the music industry, singer-songwriter and Professional Music major at Berklee. She is currently interning with the Future of Music Coaliton, an artist’s rights lobby and advocacy group in Washington DC. Though late November, Shai will work as an integral member of the coalition team in developing, organizing and promoting both the Future of Music Policy Summit as well as the Dear New Orleans Benefit Rock Show.

Follow Shai on Twitter for continuing tips and updates on music law and policy at https://twitter.com/ShaiMusic.


See also:

Future of Music Series: Is the 360 Degree DIY Model Good for Musicians?

Future of Music Series: Internet Streaming Revenue

Future of Music Series: The Role of Video

Future of Music Series: The Shrinking Pie

Future of Music Series: Setting the Stage on Music Policy

Future of Music Series: Shai Littlejohn

Future of Music Series: Is the 360 Degree DIY Model Good for Musicians?

Partial To-Do List for Emerging Artists:

Register your copyrights, build a website, create and manage Twitter, MySpace, and Facebook accounts, write a newsletter, form a company, get health and equipment insurance, trademark your name and logo, register with a performing rights organization, draft an agreement between band members, contact venues, schedule appearance dates and negotiate terms, design t-shirts and other merch (and sell it), write your music, record your music, produce it, mix it, and then distribute it.  And make sure that it’s all done right and above all that your music is good.

This laundry list is several occupations rolled into one where the music sort of comes last.  So, who has time for the craft?  If you think you might fall short in your knowledge of at least half of these areas, you are not alone. So is the do-it-yourself model necessary for musicians or is it detracting from the music?

At the 2010 Future of Music Policy Summit in Washington DC, Emcee and hip hop entrepreneur Oddisee explained that it is important for artists to work the business side of their craft but that artists must be careful to put the music first. He believes that “the better the music, the easier it is to get the music out. “ Oddisee turns the business switch off when it is time to create. He only works the business side once the music is totally complete.

Both Oddisee and jazz musician Marcus Johnson (JD/MBA) seemed to agree that you should work the business yourself for as long as possible, particularly the parts that you can do well. This way, you’ll know what it takes to perform each role and whether the person you eventually hire is actually making or wasting hard earned dollars. On the flip side, Eric Garland, Founder of BigChampagne Media Measurement, said that the notion that an artist has to do it all is “false if it is not in your heart.”

Composer and producer T. Bone Burnett expressed a similar sentiment saying,“Artists can’t run a marketing campaign and review data . . . you need to focus on your music.” “What good is it to sell something that is not great? Get the music right first.”

Chuck D, co-founder of Public Enemy, added that part of the DIY pressure is caused by the expectation, created by the major labels, that artists attempt to create a national audience. Chuck D assured us that a “local vibe” can be incredibly effective. Artists can be successful with a small, local fan base, which removes pressure for artists to spread few resources across a plethora of geographic areas.

So the success or failure of the DIY model is probably dependent on each musician and his ability to create in spite of the distraction that business can cause. While there are some musicians whose only measure of success is a national reputation and wealth, it is important to acknowledge that we can succeed as artists even though we might fail commercially. We have to remember what music means, how it makes us feel, and simply respect music as an art first.

________________________________________________________________________________

Shai Littlejohn

Shai Littlejohn is an attorney in the music industry, singer-songwriter and Professional Music major at Berklee. She is currently interning with the Future of Music Coaliton, an artist’s rights lobby and advocacy group in Washington DC. Though late November, Shai will work as an integral member of the coalition team in developing, organizing and promoting both the Future of Music Policy Summit as well as the Dear New Orleans Benefit Rock Show.

Follow Shai on Twitter for continuing tips and updates on music law and policy at https://twitter.com/ShaiMusic.


See also:

Future of Music Series: Internet Streaming Revenue

Future of Music Series: The Role of Video

Future of Music Series: The Shrinking Pie

Future of Music Series: Setting the Stage on Music Policy

Future of Music Series: Shai Littlejohn

Future of Music Series: Internet Streaming Revenue

Any discussion on the future of artist compensation is incomplete without mentioning the potential for revenue generated by internet streaming. The performing rights organizations (ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC) collect and distribute performance revenue for the owners of copyrighted musical works. Those entities do not however collect revenue for the online streaming of sound recordings owed to owners of the sound recording copyright. This responsibility has been exclusively granted by The Copyright Royalty Board (under the authority of the Library of Congress) to the non-profit organization, SoundExchange. SoundExchange collects digital performance royalties generated by the streaming of sound recordings over satellite radio (like Sirius XM), internet radio (like Pandora), and cable television music channels, on behalf of featured recording artists, master rights owners (like record labels), and independent artists who record and own their masters.

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