- At 7 p.m. August 29 in Seattle, Jenny Toomey will be speaking at a FREE event with Dave Allen from the Gang of Four, Dave Dederer from The Presidents of the United States of America, Michael Bracy from the Future of Music Coalition. Krist Novoselic from Nirvana, Reggie Watts of Maktub and author Ann Powers of EMP.
EMP is hosting the event titled “Where Do We Go From Here? Artists, Technology, Activism and the Industry.” in the Experience Music Project’s lovely JBL Theater.
These past few years have been a whirlwind for all of us involved in music. New technologies have utterly changed the rules. Home recording studios grow ever more efficient, and the Internet provides new means of distribution, so that independent artists can find an audience more readily than ever before. At the same time, the consolidation of the music industry, including major record labels and commercial radio, makes the mainstream harder to enter than ever
before. Music makers negotiate between extremes as they try to satisfy themselves creatively, reach people, and live healthy, satisfying lives.
But before we can participate in the change we have to understand it.
Did you know that:
1. Before the Telecommunications Act of 1996 it was illegal for any radio corporation to own more than 40 stations nationally? Since the cap was lifted however, well over 6 thousand (close to HALF of all stations) have changed hands and to-date Clear Channel (the leader) alone owns over 1240!
2. It is generally understood that a musician signed to a major label must sell between 500 thousand and one million records to recoup promotion costs and to begin to make royalties. In 1999, less than 1 percent of the total number of albums released sold more than 10,000 copies!
3. Recent articles in the Wall Street Journal, The LA Times and Salon.com have documented the shadowy network of “independent radio promoters” and the process by which Commercial radio airplay is often sold to the highest bidder. These articles allege that musicians must pay to get on the air and that the estimated cost to purchase a national hit can cost as much as several million dollars.
Musicians have traditionally turned away from the business and legislative side of the industry instead turning towards their art. Sadly, this is a strategy that leaves artists ripe for exploitation. We need a new strategy. FMC and EMP would like to invite musicians to learn information they need to protect their rights and to understand the structures that will change the way they make art and do business.
How can one person comprehend the intricacies of copyright law and legislative change? With “Where Do We Go From Here?” EMP and the Future of Music Coalition invite you to become part of an ongoing public discussion of these matters. The panel features artists and artist-rights advocates frankly discussing how they deal with the myriad upheavals in the music industry. Topics raised will include the state of radio; the wild world of the Internet; the battles in Congress over topics like radio consolidation and the work-for-hire
law; musicians and health care; and artists’ relationships with the system that (we hope!) supports them, including labels and the concert industry. Many of us entered these conversations around the time that Napster made file-sharing a hot debate; so much more has transpired since then, and we all need to educate ourselves and share information.
The panel includes Jenny Toomey and Michael Bracy of the FMC, a not-for-profit think tank that examines the music industry in search of policies, technologies and business models that can benefit artists and fans. You might know Jenny from her stellar recording career with Tsunami and other ensembles, or Mike from his work with the Low Power Radio Coalition and Misra Records. Also joining in will be musicians Krist Novoselic, Dave Dederer and Dave Allen. But the audience is going to make this event work – we need people like you to share your experiences and opinions. As a group, we can share in a vision that may shape policy and the business world in significant ways.
We hope you will attend our event. If you know nothing about these subjects, it’s a chance to learn. If you know a lot, it’s a way connect with others. Please help make EMP a home for discussion about the most important aspect of music making – integrating it into a whole and happy life.
See you there!
Ann Powers, Susie Tennant, and Sarah Sternau & Jenny Toomey