The internet is crucial to creators. Its open structures let all users have a voice on the most important communications platform of our time. It is also a powerful engine for free expression, creativity and commerce. For musicians and other entrepreneurs, the internet this means the ability to compete on a level technological playing field alongside the biggest companies. This is why we need basic rules to ensure that all users can access the lawful content and run the legal applications and devices of their choice.
In 2010, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) took an important step towards keeping the internet accessible to all. Unfortunately, some in Congress want to scrap their authority to enact basic consumer safeguards. FMC and our artist friends think this would have a devastating impact on today’s creative economy of which musicians are an important part.
FMC began this campaign in 2007 to demonstrate the music community’s broad support for an open and accessible internet. As musicians and entrepreneurs, we understand the importance of treating all websites equally — from the busiest online music store to the smallest blog.
Future of Music Coalition has assembled the views and perspectives of musicians who understand the importance of preserving the open internet. “Rock the Net: Artist Voices” is a colorful document featuring such artists as R.E.M., OK Go, Kronos Quartet, stic.man of Dead Prez, Franz Nicolay and more, in their own words. Download the PDF here.
Access and Innovation for Artists: A Brief History
Future of Music Coalition has long advocated for policies that help artists reach potential audiences without the bottlenecks and gatekeepers so common to the original music industry. Our support of the open internet reflects an ongoing commitment to a legitimate digital music marketplace where artists have access and fans can find the music they want.
Imagine logging on to your favorite band’s website, only to have it take forever to load on your computer because they couldn’t afford (or didn’t want) to pay a toll to powerful Internet Service Providers. All artists deserve the right to use the internet to cultivate listeners, and fans deserve to make their own choices of how and where to access legitimate content. That’s why the open internet must be preserved.
In October 2007, FMC launched the Rock the Net Campaign with founding artists R.E.M., Pearl Jam, Kronos Quartet, Ted Leo & the Pharmacists, Boots Riley, OK Go and more.
Rock the Net quickly picked up steam, garnering thousands of musician and indie label supporters. The campaign has also been instrumental in demonstrating to policymakers the importance of access and innovation, with bands such as OK Go visiting Capitol Hill to testify before key decisionmakers about how the open internet benefits artists like themselves.
Rock the Net Founding Supporters
R.E.M. • Pearl Jam • Ted Leo • Boots Riley • Death Cab for Cutie • OK Go • Bob Mould • Calexico • Kathleen Hanna • The Donnas • Jerry Harrison • John Doe • Les Claypool • Kronos Quartet • Jimmy Tamborello • Street to Nowhere • The Locust • Rogue Wave • Guster • State Radio • Matt Wertz • Griffin House • Matt Nathanson • The Wrens
Rock the Net Grows
In the months following the campaign's launch, FMC co-sponsored Rock the Net concerts across the country, with artists including Matt Nathanson, OK GO, Ted Leo and more playing shows and joining teleconferences in support of the open internet.
In July 2008, FMC's Rock the Net CD was released on Thirsty Ear Recordings. The compilation features Bright Eyes, Wilco, Aimee Mann, Guster, They Might Be Giants, The Wrens and more. Each of the disc's 15 artists share the belief that the open internet is key to free expression, creativity and commerce. Rock the Net is available at quality record stores and online retailers such as iTunes, Amazon, the Amazon MP3 store and eMusic.
The RTN CD helped raise awareness about this issue among musicians and fans alike. Rolling Stone called it "the sexiest benefit record in some time," and the album was written about in publications ranging from technology websites to alternative newsweeklies.
A series of events called web.illish.us took place at the Silk City nightclub in Philadelphia from November 2008 to February 2009. With its inspiring mix of live music and guest speakers, web.illish.us proved that preserving the open internet isn't just a lofty policy goal — it's a powerful grass-roots movement.
The Future of the Open Internet
Both the current Administration and FCC leadership have attested to the importance of preserving the open internet, yet there are concerns about how best to accomplish this goal. looks good for those who would protect the open internet from the control of just a handful of powerful ISPs.
In December 2010, the FCC issued an Order [PDF] that went some way towards establishing clear rules of the road for the internet.