Russell Senate Office Building.
There’s finally been a lull in the storm that has been my past week-and-a-half, so I figured it might be a good time to explain what I’ve been up to lately, professionally-speaking.
As some of you may know, I recently took on the role of Communications Director for the Future of Music Coalition — a national non-profit education, research and advocacy organization that identifies, examines, interprets and translates issues at the intersection of music, law, technology and policy. Have a look at our advisory board. It’s a doozy!
But what does this actually mean? Well, to put it plainly, we make sure that musicians’ voices and opinions are part of the discussion on issues that most affect them. If this means dragging rock stars to Congress, we’ll do just that. Here’s a snippet from a recent FMC blog post:
FMC has helped bring artists’ voices to the debate, with Tift Merritt, Jenny Toomey, Chuck D., Tom Morello, Ted Leo, Boots Riley of The Coup, the Indigo Girls and Mike Mills appearing as invited witnesses. Each musician talked frankly about how issues including media ownership, low power radio, payola and net neutrality affect their careers as musicians, and their access to information as citizens.
And that’s just a partial list. Say, why don’tcha just bookmark the blog? It’ll keep you abreast of many of the things we’re up to.
On Monday, we were hurriedly prepping for a Senate Commerce Committee Hearing on "The Future of Radio." Several of the superstar speakers tentatively lined up to testify had prior commitments, but the incredible Mac McCaughan, co-owner of Merge Records, agreed to step in and talk about how community radio has impacted him both personally and professionally. I had a major hand in crafting his testimony, and got to attend the hearings. They were definitely a trip. I blogged about it here; Idolator also threw in their two cents. You can take in the full hearings on your computron.
Then it was full steam ahead for a Seattle Rock the Net event featuring a a concert from Matt Nathanson and a teleconference featuring both he and Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA). A bit of a scheduling nightmare, but we have it set for Tuesday.
Net neutrality is the idea that all websites and services should be equally accessible on the internet. Some ISPs have proposed charging a fee to Internet content providers to make their sites load faster. Net neutrality advocates believe such a move could make it harder for fans to access the vast array of musical offerings now available through legitimate online stores and services.
Meanwhile, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin is trying to aggressively push for media ownership rule changes that would undoubtedly result in further consolidation of radio, print and television. Trust me, this is not a good thing. Our media reform partners, including Free Press and Prometheus Radio, are kicking ass to make sure that public opinion is counted. Which is tough, considering the FCC scheduled the latest open hearings in a hall that can only accommodate a hundred or so people, and with less than a week’s notice. Here’s a post about it, by yours truly.
We’re also working to put together a DC house party to benefit New Orleans music legend Al "Carnival Time" Johnson, whose home was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. The hope is to raise money to have Habitat for Humanity build him a new place to live. Mike Mills from R.E.M. is coming up for that. He seems like a real good guy.
And there’s tons of other stuff going on, like a major website overhaul which should not only make FMC literature more accessible, but also improve the site’s aesthetics.
There’s been a lot of movement on issues that directly affect musicians, labels and fans — from open access on the internet to community radio. I’m frankly psyched to be advocating for my own peer group as technology and the music business continue to evolve.
Phew — I hope that at least provides an overview. More later.
Check out our latest Halloween Podcast.