- The Washington Times - Monday, May 3, 2004

The White House will belong to Sen. John Kerry if some of the national musicians groups have any say or sway.

At a panel yesterday at the annual Future of Music Coalition policy summit, music industry representatives worried that too many young voters see no difference between President Bush and his Democratic challenger from Massachusetts.

“Young people do not see any differences between Bush and Kerry and are looking for something that will shake things up,” said Pat Thetic, who plays drums for the pop group Anti Flag. He is also part of a leftist coalition of musicians who are stridently anti-Bush and hope their music can influence young voters to oppose the president.

He said that the Internet has helped his band add to its musical message and that “hopefully, when they do read things on the site, they will see that there is a slight difference between Bush and Kerry and that things [under Kerry] will be different for them.”

The event hosted by the Future of Music Coalition, a tax-exempt, Washington-based group that tracks issues important to the world of music, also addressed other, less-volatile issues, including the increasing price of recorded music and online music purchasing.

The two-day event at George Washington University ends today.

The politicking yesterday, like much of the entertainment industry, was monolithically liberal and left-wing.

Panelist Danny Goldberg, former chairman of Mercury Records and the author of “Dispatches From the Culture Wars: How the Left Lost Teen Spirit,” said at the outset of the discussion — to cheers — that he was “unambiguous about it: I want John Kerry to be the president of the United States.”

He also called CNN personality James Carville a “great hero” as he spoke optimistically of Mr. Kerry’s recent appearance on MTV, which he said yielded a rating three times that of Bill Clinton’s appeal to young voters on the cable music network in 1992.

The panel — titled “This Panel Kills Fascists” — was moderated by music coalition executive director Jenny Toomey, who noted at one point that there are also conservative voices in the music industry, naming Kid Rock, country star Toby Keith, Ted Nugent and Charlie Daniels.

Miss Toomey addressed activism as a possible career impediment, noting the fallout when Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks criticized Mr. Bush from a London stage last year.

“When this is done … some have spoken of a chilling effect,” Miss Toomey said. “And I recall seeing Bill O’Reilly saying that Sean Penn’s going to Iraq would hurt his career.”

Panelists downplayed the idea, and Mr. Goldberg noted that singer and guitarist Steve Earle, who records on his Artemis Records label, wrote a song called “John Walker’s Blues” about Taliban member John Walker Lindh of California.

“It was American folk music, and in no way was he glorifying John Walker Lindh,” Mr. Goldberg said. “It became fodder for a right-wing talk show radio guy in Nashville. I was hoping it would increase sales. It didn’t.”

The panel also discussed the Federal Communications Commission and its recent crackdown on indecency — which, panelist Jay Rosenthal said, could hold the listening public hostage to the tepid tunes of recording artists like Justin Timberlake.

“It is the biggest political issue out there,” said Mr. Rosenthal, a lawyer for the Recording Artists’ Coalition. “Sex is the biggest political issue. It is something that you have to realize has everything to do with your First Amendment rights and what you do.”

He blamed the Republican leadership for the crackdown. “If there were a Democratic presidency … we wouldn’t see these things,” Mr. Rosenthal said.

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