Part one of a series by FMC Policy Fellow Rachel Allen
In the past few years, streaming music and video have changed the way artists connect with fans. Popular music services such as Spotify and Pandora, high-quality video sites like Vevo, and a number of other digital platforms and applications have been important tools for fans to discover music and for artists to get paid for their work (even if the business models aren’t uniformly agreed upon). Recent studies have found that applications for music comprise the fastest growing activity among mobile phone users. Moreover, artists like Jay Z and Lady Gaga, as well as smaller acts such as Dan Deacon, are using mobile applications to create new interactive music experiences (but as was the case with Jay Z, not all of these experiments are embraced).
Why do we bring this up now? Well, streaming music and video services would not be possible without access to high-speed broadband. However, as the music and video industries go mobile, the price and quality of connections has become more and more uncertain.
This series will explore how the evolution of the Internet impacts musicians and other creators—whether the connection is on a desktop, a laptop or a mobile device. We’ll explore the ins and outs of how artists connect, and why accessible technology platforms are essential to today’s creative entrepreneurs.
Readers of this blog are probably familiar with the concept of “net neutrality” and why it matters to musicians. But let us remind you anyway.
All of the amazing internet tools that musicians and music entrepreneurs use every day are a result of the open internet, which gives anyone a license to innovate. Without basic protections to preserve this dynamic, the internet we know and love could become extinct. We’ve seen that movie before: just look at commercial broadcast radio to see what happens when just a few powerful companies control access to audiences and what content is even available. read more
I believe the music industry - and specifically the indie music industry - ignores net neutrality at its peril. Losing net neutrality means losing the so-called equal playing field on the internet. What happens to the independent industry is barriers to entry go digital? In any case, Future of Music Coalition does an excellent job of breaking down the Google-Verizon proposal, especially the possibility of tiered internet service in the mobile realm - check it out.
Google and YouTube would apparently be limited to the ‘public’ internet, and mobile broadband falls outside the purview of the proposal. Opposing groups immediately questioned whether the private internet would start to crowd an underfunded, ignored public internet. And what does this mean for artists? Comments are just trickling in, though Future of Music Coalition policy strategist Casey Rae-Hunter pointed to the need for greater regulatory backbone and definition - not a handshake between private companies. “There is some question about how the so-called ‘public internet’ would continue to grow and develop alongside the ‘additional online services’ hinted at in the proposal,” Rae-Hunter offered.
If the FCC does not establish clear rules on net neutrality without “fast lane” exemptions, which lane will music tech innovators be allowed to travel in? “There is also some question about how the so-called ‘public internet’ - described in today’s Verizon-Google conference call - would continue to grow and develop alongside the ‘additional online services’ hinted at in the proposal,” says Casey Rae-Hunter, Communications Director and Policy Strategist for Future of Music Coalition. “Today’s events serve to further highlight the need for an appropriate regulatory framework that would clarify what is and isn’t acceptable online.
Verizon-Google has issued its “regulatory framework” proposal for the internet, which, according to our friends at the Future of Music Coalition, has amplified the dialogue and debate about net neutrality, a subject about which we are all very concerned. FMC took the announcement as an opportunity to reiterate their basic stance on the open internet and musicians which you can read here.
This post was researched and assembled by FMC policy, legal and communications interns Alexandra Wood, Gloria Ho and Rachel Smith.
On Monday, August 9, 2010, Verizon and Google released a joint proposal for a legislative framework for broadband internet service. Although the proposal has no legal effect on its own, it is important to understand because it could serve as a model for future legislation or FCC rulemaking. We weighed in yesterday via a short media statement, which you can read here. read more
WASHINGTON, DC—Today, two of America’s biggest internet companies, Google and Verizon, revealed the terms of a privately-reached proposal intended to serve as a legislative framework for net neutrality. Currently, the FCC is considering ways to reassert its basic authority to regulate broadband and protect the open internet. This afternoon’s announcement from Google and Verizon follows the recent collapse of talks between the Commission and internet stakeholders meant to arrive at a regulatory consensus.
News has just broken about a supposed Google/Verizon agreement regarding how to handle web traffic. This is significant due to the ongoing conversations about preserving the internet as an open platform for innovation, creativity and commerce. read more
When Verizon started rolling out their FiOS fiber-to-the-home service in select areas earlier this year, more than a few folks were excited about the new offering. We can’t say that we blame them — who doesn’t want a faster Internet? Yet if recent developments offer any indication, the price that users pay for speedier service might be more than what’s listed on the bill. FiOS users are reporting that when a URL is typed into their web browser, instead of a run-of-the-mill error message, they’re redirected to Verizon’s own search page. This might seem fairly innocuous on the surface, but it also raises questions about net neutrality. read more