The Future of Music Coalition has been looking out for musicians’ best interests since forming in 2000. Every year they have a Policy Summit in DC that discusses pressing issues in the industry. This year is no different, and the organization’s Kevin Erickson talked to On Tap about what to expect.
On Tap: How did Future of Music start and what are its goals?
Kevin Erickson: Back in June 2000, a group of musicians, technologists, artist advocates, and legal experts came together around the idea that musicians needed to have a more central voice in the [big] issues. The digital music economy was just taking off, but while the media focused on conflicts between the music industry and disruptive technological innovations, the real world experiences and ambitions of working musicians were frequently absent from these debates. We wanted to fix that. Today, our goal is to ensure a diverse musical culture where artists flourish, are compensated fairly for their work, and where fans can find the music they want. This means that we wrestle with a whole host of issues that impact musicians and their livelihoods—everything from access to affordable health insurance, to reforming laws so musicians can earn royalties from broadcast radio; from freedom of expression to guarding against consolidation in media ownership.
OT: Who is the summit for?
KE: The summit is for anyone who has a stake in creating a sustainable, equitable future for musicians. It attracts musicians, artist managers, independent record labels, arts organizers and advocates, technologists, researchers and policymakers from the local to the federal level; wherever you are in the music ecosystem there’s something for you. We try to address everything from the big lofty questions to some of the specific tech tools and career strategies that musicians are using to sustain themselves.
OT: This is the 11th year…what has changed since the beginning?
KE: When we started the summit, we were sort of the only conference in the field talking about these issues. Now there are many such industry-wide gatherings. So today we tend to focus on the things that really set us apart: our event focuses on getting folks from diverse backgrounds (music, tech, & policy) talking to each other and looking for win-win solutions—past conferences, for example have featured Mike Mills from REM interviewing Senator Al Franken, something you won’t see anywhere else. We’re also unique in our artist-centric focus on what impacts musicians’ bottom line.
The Future of Music Summit will take place November 13 at New America Foundation: 1899 L St. #400, NW, DC; www.futureofmusic.org.