CMW/SXSW Recap

Canadian Music Week: I was able to introduce Jaron Lanier at the Global Forum which was very well attended. Jaron is a brilliant guy and I learned a lot from both his book and his speech. Jaron gives the bedrock of Web 2.0 (as well as the singularity movement) a good shake, and that naturally stimulated good discussion. I’m always impressed with CMW as a platform for Canadian music and enterprise (and since I lived up there for many years, I’m always glad to go “home”).

SXSW: Another great year for SXSW, in the educated rumor mill, Interactive exceeded Music in number of badges sold (which may mean more people with expense accounts go to Interactive than to Music). SXSW is truly becoming a premier international festival and conference, and I frankly think that unless you live in Europe or you’re a publisher, there’s not much point in going to MIDEM if you go to CMW and/or SXSW. My panels were on graduated response and on the NMPA settlement.

We had a good international turnout for the graduated response panel sponsored by IAEL, and it was great to have Dina LaPolt and Susan Abramovitch on the panel to give the perspective of the international artist community. Part of the discussion focused on the Isle of Man project, which is a form of the global license that the copy-mad types tried to get going in France except at 1 euro a month instead of 5. I don’t get the impression that there is a copy-mad element to what they’re doing, but I still think that trying to have a network focused solution is going to be very difficult to get off the ground. I also still have a problem with flat fee licensing for all the usual reasons.

The panel got some great audience questions, particularly from people who pointed out some of the technical problems with the network licensing model. There was a particularly good question that prompted the question of examining online theft in the larger context of cybersecurity and net pollution.

Jay Rosenthal did a superb job of moderating the NMPA Settlement panel, which made a pretty process-oriented (read “dry”) topic a lot more fun and even funny at times. Jay and Steve Englund discussed the details of the deal they negotiated, and my role was to fill in the “how we got here” part.

Jay also moderated a very good CLE panel on legislation with Terrie Bjorklund from AFTRA and Lee Knife from DiMA that focused on net neutrality and the Performance Rights Act. The panel had an in-depth discussion of artist rights and the ability of artists to be equitably remunerated for their labor (See Artist Rights are Human Rights).

I also heard Feargal Sharkey, CEO of UK Music, give a great talk about the future of music online and the importance of UK Music. What is different about UK Music is that it represents all the rightsholders in the UK which gives Parliament one voice to listen to, an idea we should pay attention to in the US. I was very impressed with this idea from a legislation strategy perspective (and I know that forming the organization wasn’t easy). I also think that it’s great that someone with an artist background like Feargal is running the show.