Future of Music Public Forum

On December 12–14, 2019, as part of the Smithsonian Year of Music, the Future of Music Public Forum will feature visions regarding the future of music from artistic, technological, sociological, legal, business, and educational perspectives, for both industry insiders and the general public of music enthusiasts.

Fascinating trends will be discussed by experts from multiple fields, including representatives from: the Smithsonian Institution, NPR, SXSW (South by Southwest), No Depression, The Baffler, Bandcamp Daily, Future of Music Coalition, the Recording Academy, the American Association of Independent Music, Dischord Records, Cash Music, Berklee College of Music, Teach to Learn, MIT Media Lab, #Don’tMuteDC, and more. Taking place at the National Museum of American History, the Freer-Sackler Galleries of Art, and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, discussions and demonstrations will be centered around five main themes: Sharing, Creating, Inventing, Learning, and Engaging.

Sharing: The nature of sharing music is constantly evolving, and with it how listeners curate their music experiences, whether it is through festivals or listening platforms. Representatives of the music industry and media will reflect on the implications of these changes for listening experiences.

Creating: Technology, diversity, and ongoing social change have transformed the way music is created and presented. With creating come questions of ownership of the music, and of remuneration when music is heard or used by others. Discussions will focus on how copyright and licensing laws help or thwart the work of creators and performers. The Future of Music Coalition will present a panel focusing on what kind of infrastructure and policy initiatives best serve community needs and cultural diversity.

Inventing: Invention has always been at the heart of musical creativity. We have seen the rise of spectacular inventions that have transformed every aspect of music, from recording to amplification to broadcasting to dissemination of recordings through records, tapes, downloads and streaming.  Some of the latest technologies that point towards the future will be on display.

Learning: Experts will look at tensions between 19th century legacy and 21st century realities of music programs in schools, and address the question on how to best prepare young people to be professional music makers in the 21st century.

Engaging: Music has always been a catalyst for community identity and cohesion. Experts and artist activists from a wide range of backgrounds first reflect on how music defines community, builds community, and supports community.

The Future of Music Public Forum kicks off on Thursday evening, December 12 with a performance by Lula Wiles in the Freer Gallery of Art. Sessions on Friday, December 13 and Saturday December 14 take place at 10:30 a.m., 12 p.m., 2:30 p.m., and 4 p.fpmm.  On Friday evening, December 13 Mark de Clive-Lowe will perform at the Ring Auditorium in the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, and on Saturday December 14, Vijay Iyer and Wadada Leo Smith will close the Future of Music Public Forum with a performance at the Freer Gallery of Art.



 Thursday, December 12  7:30–8:45 p.m.  Lula Wiles Concert
 Friday, December 13  10:30 a.m.–5 p.m.  Forum Sessions
   7–8:30 p.m.  Mark de Clive-Lowe Concert
 Saturday, December 14  10:30 a.m.–5 p.m.  Forum Sessions
   7:30–9 p.m.  Vijay Iyer & Wadada Leo Smith Concert

Thursday, December 12

Performance: Lula Wiles
7:30–8:45 p.m.
Freer Gallery of Art

Advance tickets are $6 each (choose your seats) at Eventbrite.com. Remaining tickets are distributed free at the door, beginning at 6:30 p.m. on the day of the concert.

Friday, December 13

All sessions are free and open to the public.

Session 1
10:30–11:30 a.m.
Hall of Music, National Museum of American History

Listening and Audiences: How has listening changed with curating an experience, or use of algorithms? How has technology facilitated and disrupted listening?

  • Lauren Onkey, Senior Director of NPR Music
  • Todd Puckhaber, SXSW, Senior Music Event & Programming Manager
  • Hilary Saunders, Managing Editor, No Depression
  • Gwen Thompkins, NPR veteran and host of WWNO's Music Inside Out

Session 2
Noon–1 p.m.
SC Johnson Center, National Museum of American History

Considering changes in music industry, what are the next steps and how do we predict future changes as an industry? 

  • Daryl Friedman, Chief Industry, Government, & Member Relations Officer, Recording Academy
  • Richard Burgess, President & CEO, American Assoc. of Independent Music
  • Brian Lowit, Label Manager, Dischord Records
  • Maggie Vail, Executive Director, Outreach & Education, Cash Music
  • Robbin Ahrold, President, Century Media Partners LLC

Session 3
2:30–3:30 p.m.
Conference Room, Freer|Sackler Galleries of Art

Small Is Beautiful: Connecting diverse audiences and creators, curated by Future of Music Coalition

  • Marc Masters, Bandcamp Daily
  • Kevin Erickson, Director, Future of Music Coalition
  • Chad Clark, Singer, Guitarist of Beauty Pill
  • Maureen Andary, Musician
  • Liz Pelly, The Baffler and Silent Barn

Session 4
4–5 p.m.
Conference Room, Freer|Sackler Galleries of Art

“Hey, That's My Song!” What is the future of copyright and licensing laws?

  • Michael Johnathon, Woodsongs Radio Hour
  • Martha Dantzic, Quicksilver Productions
  • Cecille Chen, Director of Business Affairs and Royalties, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings

Performance: Mark de Clive Lowe
7–8:30 p.m.
Ring Auditorium, Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden

Free and open to the public.

Saturday, December 14

All sessions are free and open to the public.

Session 1
10:30–11:30 a.m.
Conference Room, Freer|Sackler Galleries of Art

K-12: How do we use music to educate in the classroom/museum? How are we framing the benefits?

  • Carol O’Donnell, Director, Smithsonian Science Education Center
  • Leila Ramagopal Pertl, Instructor in Music Education and Harp, Lawrence University
  • Loneka Wilkinson Battiste, Assistant Professor of Music Education, University of Tennessee
  • Lynn Tuttle, Director of Public Policy, Research, & Professional Development, National Association for Music Education
  • Teng Chamchumrus, Executive Officer, Smithsonian Office of the Associate Provost for Education and Access

Session 2
Noon–1 p.m.
SC Johnson Center, National Museum of American History

University & Graduate School: How do we prepare music professionals for a Twenty-First-Century audience? What is the relevancy of conservatories?

  • Ross Ramsay, Associate Professor of Piano, Berklee College of Music
  • Derek Beckvold, Co-founder and Director, Teach to Learn
  • Anne Rasmussen, Professor of Music and Ethnomusicology, William & Mary
  • Deborah Wong, Professor of Ethnomusicology, UC Riverside
  • Brian Pertl, Dean, Lawrence Conservatory of Music

Session 3
2:30–3:30 p.m.
Hall of Music, National Museum of American History

How is music a catalyst for community? How does music affect gentrification, changing landscapes, activism?

  • Quetzal Flores, Musician and Activist
  • Ronald Moten, Activist, Go-Go Promoter, #DontMuteDC
  • Dwandalyn Reece, Curator of Music and Performing Arts, National Museum of African American History and Culture
  • Amanda Mackaye, Fort Reno Concert Series
  • Sojin Kim, Curator, Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage

Session 4
4–5 p.m.
SC Johnson Center, National Museum of American History


  • “Guitar Machine” from MIT Media Lab’s Sang-won Leigh & Abhinandan Jain
  • “Star Songs—From X-rays to Music” by Gerhard Sonnert, Center for Astrophysics, Harvard and Smithsonian

Performance: Vijay Iyer and Wadada Leo Smith
7:30–9 p.m.
Meyer Auditorium, Freer Gallery of Art

Advance tickets are $6 each (select your seats) through Eventbrite.com. Remaining tickets are free at the door beginning at 6:30 p.m.