Friday, December 05, 2008

Michael Bracy of The Future of Music Coalition: The Well-Rounded Radio Interview

A little over a year ago I interviewed Jenny Toomey, who co-founded The Future of Music Coalition in 2000 with Michael Bracy, Walter McDonough and Brian Zisk. Toomey and I discussed how the organization came into existance and some of its main areas of focus. You can hear that interview here. Toomey has since moved over to the Ford Foundation and Ann Chaitovitz is the new Executive Director.

Bracy is the Policy Director for The Future of Music Coalition. He also co-owns the Misra Records label and is a partner at Bracy Tucker Brown & Valanzano, a government and public affairs consulting firm in Washington D.C., so he knows his way around the worlds of both music and legislation.

The Future of Music Coalition is, to quote, "a national non-profit education, research, and advocacy organization that seeks a bright future for creators and listeners. FMC works towards this goal through continuous interaction with its primary constituency — musicians — and in collaboration with other creator/public interest groups."

To quote Google, “Network neutrality is the principle that Internet users should be in control of what content they view and what applications they use on the Internet. The Internet has operated according to this neutrality principle since its earliest days. Today, the neutrality of the Internet is at stake as the broadband carriers want Congress's permission to determine what content gets to you first and fastest. Put simply, this would fundamentally alter the openness of the Internet.”

You can learn more about network neutrality at, Google, Wikipedia, and The Future of Music Coalition's Rock the Net pages.

The Future of Music Coalition's Rock the Net campaign was established in April 2007 to increase musician's awareness about the importance of net neutrality because certain telecommunications and cable companies would like to charge content providers higher fees for faster delivery of their sites. The result would be an Internet where those who couldn't afford to - or didn't want to - pay a toll would be stuck in the slow lane. Artists could lose an important connection to their fans and suffer financial loses, while listeners might be denied their freedom of choice.

The Future of Music Coalition’s benefit album, entitled Rock The Net: Musicians for Network Neutrality, was released by Thirsty Ear Recordings this past summer and the money raised goes toward supporting FMC's efforts on this front. You can buy the album direct from Thirty Ear. Artists who donated songs to the cause include David Bazan (of Pedro the Lion), Bright Eyes, The Classic Brown, BC Camplight, DJ Spooky, Free Form Funky Freqs, Guster, Aimee Mann, David Miller, Palomar, Portastatic, Matthew Shipp, They Might Be Giants, Wilco, and The Wrens.

I wanted to do an episode on the subject because the battle over net neutrality seems to be well known in geek circles, but the general population doesn't seem to be as aware and it's ultimately going to effect everyone using the Internet. I'm hoping this episode will help bring the idea to a broader audience, including music fans and musicians who will certainly depend on the web more than any other distribution channel in the future.

And while Barack Obama's selection of Susan Crawford and Kevin Werbach to lead the FCC review team are encouraging, by all accounts the battle is far from done.

Many of today's most talented artists are demonstrating their support of an open Internet where all users can access the lawful content of their choice without undue restrictions. Founding Rock the Net artists include Calexico, Les Claypool, Death Cab for Cutie, John Doe, The Donnas, Guster, Kathleen Hanna, Griffin House, Kronos Quartet, Jerry Harrison, Ted Leo, The Locust, Bob Mould, Matt Nathanson, OK Go, Pearl Jam, R.E.M., Boots Riley, Rogue Wave, Jimmy Tamborello, State Radio, Street to Nowhere, Matt Wertz, and The Wrens.

I met with Bracy during a recent Future of Music Coalition event at the Public Theatre in New York City to discuss:

* why network neutrality matters to musicians and music fans
* what it is about developing net policy that needs to improve upon past technological inventions
* how you can stay informed and take action to help keep net neutrality as a defining principle going forward

Songs featured in this interview from the Rock the Net CD include:
1) The Classic Brown: Modulation (in preview)
2) David Bazan: Cold Beer and Cigarettes (in preview)
3) DJ Spooky featuring Saba Saba: Uganda
4) Bright Eyes: I Won't Ever be Happy Again
5) Palomar: Red
6) Aimee Mann: 31 Today
7) Wilco: Impossible Germany (Live)
8) Portastatic: Hang Down Your Head
9) The Wrens: Sleep
10) Matthew Shipp Trio: New Orbit
11) FREE Form Funky Freqs: The Binds That Tie
12) They Might Be Giants: We Live in a Dump
13) BC Camplight: Soy Tonto
14) David Miller: Sunday Driver
15) Guster: Timothy Leary