Clyburn: Musicians Need “Level Online Playing Field”

FCC commissioner speaks about policies at Future of Music Coalition event
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“As a federal regulator, I see myself as a champion of the voiceless.” So said FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, speaking to and about musicians at a policy gathering this week held by the Future of Music Coalition in Washington.

She told the gathering, “This commissioner seeks to advance the optimal expression for artists and the creators of original music … our policies should encourage more, and not less, creativity and ownership,” though emphasizing that she supports “allowing markets the chance to solve problems.”

Clyburn took note of the “open Internet” proceeding that is attracting so much attention, and sought to tie it to the interests of musicians. “The power of an open Internet enables musicians who have been told ‘no’ by big corporations to prove critics and gatekeepers wrong,” she said, according to an FCC transcript. “Musicians can distribute their content online, and demonstrate the power of a good idea to reach millions.”

She said good regulatory policies are important to allow creative works to come to the digital marketplace. “As an unabashed proponent of diversity, I strive to ensure a l­­­evel playing field, and for the game to be open to every player who wants to step onto the field.”

In the music industry, Clyburn said, “this means considering the perspectives of both actual musicians and the major industry players to guarantee that artists have access to the Internet’s distribution avenues, and that all consumers have access to content. And by content, I mean all the diverse content this world has to offer, not just the mainstream, greenlighted or popular music that a few radio stations play over and over again.”

Musicians, she said, “increasingly depend on a level online playing field to reach their audiences, one that does not favor different types of content over another.” She said FCC policies to promote an open Internet, competition and expansion of broadband networks will benefit musicians: “By pursuing these three goals at the FCC, I believe we can create a regulatory regime that will enable more creativity and innovation by content producers, while ensuring far-reaching access to diverse music for consumers.”

Clyburn, a Democrat, was nominated to the commission by President Obama and sworn in in 2009. She is also former acting chairwoman of the FCC.

The Future of Music Coalition has been active in pushing for legislation to require radio stations to compensate artists for music in over-the-air broadcasts, among other issues.

Read the Clyburn transcript.

Video excerpts from the event.

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