A short while ago we told you about the FCC's Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on net neutrality. You may recall that we were thrilled to see the Commission was taking a proactive steps to ensure that the internet remains open and accessible to all. Even more encouraging was the fact that the FCC would be soliciting comments from stakeholders and the public, which of course includes musicians and fans.
Net neutrality is the principle that protects the open internet. It means that the smallest bedroom artist can use the same essential technology as the hugest band or label to get their music to potential audiences. The open internet has inspired an astounding array of widgets, applications and services that make it easier than at any other time in history for fans to legally access music, and for artists to engage in direct communication with listeners. All of this is due to the open structures of the web.
But some Internet Service Providers (ISPs) want to charge content creators (like musicians) a higher fee for the faster delivery of their sites and services. Those who couldn't afford to — or didn't want to — pay a "toll" would be stuck in the slow lane of the information superhighway. This would have a hugely negative impact on today's artists, who depend on the open internet to reach fans, sell merchandise, distribute and promote their music, book shows and pretty much everything else that doesn't involve getting on stage and playing. Actually, it helps there, too! Webcasting lets people around the world "tune in" to live performances. Case in point: Erin McKeown's hugely successful "Cabin Fever" concerts, where she played sets from exotic locations around her house, broadcast live to fans around the world.
As we mentioned, the FCC is seeking public input on draft rules that would codify and supplement existing principles to safeguard the internet's openness. This process is intended to secure and protect the many economic and social benefits of the open Internet by preventing anyone from restricting the free flow of lawful content and applications online.
FMC has built an online tool to help musicians, composers and songwriters file public comments in this proceeding. We think it's incredibly important for the Commission to hear from the creative community on this issue. By using this musician-friendly app, all artists — big and small — can make their voices heard on a crucial issue. It's actually kind of fun, too — a great chance to tell a Federal agency about how awesome you are.
You'll be in great company: we've already seen comments from Kronos Quartet, R.E.M., Erin McKeown, Franz Nicolay of The Hold Steady, Imani Winds and more. We've also heard that groups like hip-hop heroes Dead Prez will also be submitting soon. Our comments tool guarantees your views will be submitted as part of the official FCC record. How cool is that?
Why not take a few moments to tell the FCC how you use the internet in your life and career? Check out our FCC Open Internet page to make your voice heard. Comments close on Jan. 14, so step lively!