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"McGill's Faculty of Music is a 21st- century music school," says Kristin Thomson, deputy director of The Future of Music Coalition, commenting on why, for the first time ever, the Future of Music Policy Summit will be held at McGill this year. The summit will take place October 5 to7 in conjunction with Pop Montreal. It will bring together a collection of musicians, producers, engineers and lawyers to talk about cutting-edge problems and issues in today's music industry. Usually held in Washington, D.C., the summit has a more international focus this year, including panels on international copyright law, the Québécois music industry and worldwide online distribution.
The summit will take advantage of what Thomson calls "McGill's incredible music legacy." McGill's Schulich School of Music has researchers, scholars and musicians working on many of the issues and new technologies to be addressed at the summit, such as online music recommendation engines that can analyze users' musical tastes and suggest works they might like. The summit will also have special use of Tanna Schulich Hall, which is "well outfitted to talk about what is changing in the world of sound and production," says Thomson. The space will host three panels that explore producers' reactions to the loss of audio fidelity in digitally compressed music, an important issue considering that music must often be compressed to fit on CDs, iPods and even cell phones. In addition, there will be a panel discussing new orchestral techniques — and the McGill University Orchestra will perform twice during the weekend.
New technologies have changed the way music is distributed and paid for. As more music is distributed digitally through the internet, companies may have to change their conventional distribution practices. David Byrne of the Talking Heads will address this issue in "Record Companies: Who Needs Them?" Other panels will address new ideas about compensation and "remonetization" of the music industry. For example, William Terry Fisher from Harvard Law will discuss a new compensation system that pays musicians through institutions and access providers, rather than charging individual users.
As the industry grows and changes, the challenge is to find ways to "create and sustain a favourable environment for musicians," according to Dean of Music Don McLean. He believes that McGill is the perfect place to explore these challenges, adding that "McGill is uniquely positioned to drive the future of music itself."
David Byrne, who co-founded the group Talking Heads (1976-88) will be at a McGill conference looking at the future of the music industry.