Arts Advocacy in Action: The Future of Music Coalition
The Future of Music Coalition (FMC) was co-founded in June 2000 by two Georgetown graduates, Michael Bracy (COL 90) and Jenny Toomey (COL 90). Toomey identified herself as a punk rocker, Bracy was working as a lobbyist. Joining them was a lawyer (Walter McDonough), a technology expert (Brian Zisk) an economist (Peter Dicola) and a public policy expert (Kristin Thompson). Concerned about the changes wrought by new entities such as Napster, this group designed their non-profit organization along the lines of a think-tank, dedicated to bringing together independent musicians and leading experts in technology, public policy, and intellectual property law. Their founding goal was threefold: to serve as a voice for independent musicians who were regularly being exploited by the music industry, to promote innovative business models that would help musicians tap into new technologies, and to educate the media and policymakers about music/technology issues. In 2019, Georgetown University became the depository for the FMC Archives. This exhibition tells the story of FMC’s early years as reflected in those archives. It also highlights the transformative work that FMC has done, and continues to do, for the betterment of the music industry.
FMC kicked off 2001 with its first policy summit, which took place January 10-11 in Gaston Hall on the Georgetown University campus. The keynote speakers that year were US Senator Orrin Hatch, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee; Chuck D, leader of the rap group Public Enemy; FCC Chairman William Kennard; and Michael Robertson, Founder and CEO of MP3.com, one of the first internet music sites.
*Program for the FMC Policy Conference in January 2001
*Photos of Orrin Hatch, Chuck D, and summit attendees in Gaston Hall January 10-11, 2001.
The success of the 2001 Summit led to annual events, and each year, the audience grew. Lawmakers and industry leaders began to pay attention. At the 2002 summit, Michael Bracy gave an update on the previous year’s accomplishments. These included submitting testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee that outlined key legislation needs for musicians, including direct payment to artists for digital royalties and federal support for non-commercial speech on the radio and internet. The keynote speaker in 2002 was Representative John Conyers. Also that year, R&B legend Lester Chambers joined the conversation.
In 2003, a third day dedicated to a “Musician-Focused Program” was added to the schedule, a reflection of FMC’s continued commitment to put musicians front and center. Highlights included Punk legend and DC native, Ian MacKaye of Fugazi and Dischord records, who moderated a roundtable on the choices artists face when entering the music industry. The keynote speaker in 2003 was US Senator Rus Feingold, who spoke about the devastating effect the 1996 Telecommunications Act had on broadcast radio and the legislative steps he hopes might fix it.
*Flyers advertising the 2002 FMC Policy Summit and Lester Chamber’s FMC Performance in Gaston Hall on January 7, 2002.
*Flyer advertising the 2003 FMC Policy Summit.
*U.S. Senator Russ Feingold’s Keynote Speech delivered at the 2003 FMC Policy Summit on January 7, 2003.
*The FMC Policy Summit was featured in a special double issue of The Nation in January 2003.
As the impact of FMC grew, the organization began organizing additional events around the country. For example, in 2004, in addition to the annual policy summit FMC produced a 13-stop national concert tour titled Tell Us the Truth, hosted a symposium in Seattle on The Future of Radio, and organized a West Coast Music Law Summit in San Francisco.
FMC began to reach beyond the realm of music, as witnessed by their collaboration with the Tribecca Film Festival in 2005. Realizing that revenue streams for artists were connected to various industries, they curated a conversation exploring the intersections of music and film.
*Flyers advertising the 2004 and 2005 FMC Policy Summit.
*Postcards outlining new FMC’s nationwide initiatives in 2004, 2005 and 2006.
*Postcard advertising the 2006 FMC Policy Summit in Montreal, Canada.
*Publicity Postcard and Schedule for the 2006 FMC Policy Summit in Washington, DC.
FMC has proven to be a major force in addressing the legislative needs of the music community. For example, after Hurricane Katrina, FMC teamed up with Sweet Home New Orleans in efforts to aid musicians who had lost their homes. They also designed and hosted a Health Navigation Tool for musicians without health insurance. And when Net Neutrality came under threat, FMC organized Rock the Net, a national campaign that brought together dozens of high-profile musicians from a range of genres, from rock and pop to jazz and classical, dedicated to fighting for internet freedom and equality.
*Postcard and flyer promoting FMC’s Rock the Net campaign.
*Music CD and MP3 download card featuring music from FMC’s Rock the Net campaign.
*Poster advertising the benefit concert Musicians Bringing Musicians Home produced by FMC and Air Traffic Control. Autograph signatures are from the musicians who performed at the event: Wayne Kramer (MC5), Erin McKeown, Mike Mills (R.E.M.), Martín Perna, Nicole Atkins, and Bonerama band members (Mark Mullins, Craig Klein, Greg Hicks, Bert Cotton, and Joe Ashlar).
2010 marked FMC’s Tenth Anniversary. Always reflective as an organization, they took the milestone year as an opportunity not only “to reflect back on a decade of ideas and innovations” but also to “ponder the paths not traveled.” The rise of streaming services, social media and the changing nature of artist compensation and intellectual property law proved especially compelling to the 350+ attendees. 2010 also marked the year that Georgetown University’s Music Program began offering a Music Industry Seminar based on the issues discussed at the conference.
Special events at the 2010 Summit ranged from health insurance consultations for musicians, a screening of the documentary Barbershop Punk, and a benefit concert for New Orleans musicians, to conversations with Chuck D and T. Bone Burnett.
*Program for the FMC Policy Conference held at Georgetown University October 3-5, 2010.
*FMC Tenth Anniversary commemorative t-shirt and button (not shown online)
*Program for FMC Policy Day on February 11, 2009.
*Program for FMC D.C. Policy Day, hosted by the New America Foundation on May 25, 2010.
FMC’s most important work has been the ground-breaking research they have done over the last two decades on a wide range of topics. Since 2001, FMC has published research on media ownership, the effects of the 1996 Telecommunications Act on musicians and the public, payola, musicians’ opinions about changes in the digital landscape, and musicians’ access to health insurance. They have also compiled several “Money from Music” quizzes, accessible through their website (futureofmusic.org), designed to educate musicians about commonly misunderstood copyright and revenue stream issues. These projects have been financially supported with major grants from various entities, including the Rockefeller Foundation, the New York State Music Fund, and the Social Science Research Fund (SSRC).
*Research Report. Radio Deregulation: Has It Served Citizens and Musicians? (2002).
*Research Report. Same Old Song: An Analysis of Radio Playlists in a Post-FCC Consent Decree World (2009).
*Research Report. Change That Tune: How the Payola Settlements will Affect Radio Airplay for Independent Artists (2008).
*Poster outlining the revenue streams and copyright issues discussed in the FMC on-line “Money from Music” quizzes (2013) (not shown online)
*Promotional Postcards for the FMC Artist Revenue Streams project (2011)
Curated by Professor Anna Harwell Celenza