What do terrorists and telco execs have in common? They hate us for our freedoms, naturally. And they especially hate our freedom to roam the verdant grasslands of the Internet as freely as the majestic bison once wandered the fruited plains of the West. A group of mostly-indie rockers from the Future of Music Coalition agree, and they’re releasing a benefit CD later this month to help fund the Coalition’s campaign for a neutral ‘Net.
The Rock the Net disc comes out on July 29, but you can listen to streaming versions of the tracks now. The album features some big-name performers like Wilco, Bright Eyes, Aimee Mann, Guster, and They Might Be Giants. Thankfully, the songs themselves aren’t about network neutrality, unless lines like “the city stepped right back to me” are some kind of hipster code.
The group has already had some success in getting the message out. Damian Kulash, the lead singer of the band OK Go, works with the Coalition and was invited to testify to Congress earlier this year on the subject of net neutrality. He also got a slot in the New York Times to argue his position, and he busted out terms like “common carriage” while making the case that an open Internet was crucial to both up-and-coming bands and to innovation generally.
Even for artists with a following, like Wilco, it can be a crucial tool. The band streamed the seminal Yankee Hotel Foxtrot over the Internet after its Warner Music label at the time refused to put out the album and fired the band; the move eventually led to a deal with Nonesuch, which then released the critically-acclaimed album. (Ironically, Nonesuch is also a unit of Warner Music.)
With songs like “Sleep,” “Timothy Leary,” and “I Won’t Ever Be Happy Again,” this new project may not be the ideal soundtrack for your backyard fireworks display (unless you have some strange holiday traditions), but it’s a solid collection of tunes. The fact that a concept like “network neutrality” has reached even into the world of indie music is testament to the solid public relations work of groups like the Future of Music Coalition and SavetheInternet.com. But it’s also testament to just how important a ‘Net connection has become to everyone from emo rockers to soccer moms.
So as you Americans fire up that ‘Net connection on your day off and munch away on the Internet’s grassy riches like the shaggy bison of the plains, take a moment to appreciate the current Internet… and its fragility.