Broadband. If you've been reading this blog, you know that we think it's pretty important. These days, you need access to the internet for pretty much everything from looking for a job to booking a plane ticket. Yet too many Americans lack a connection to this essential service.
High-speed internet is crucial to the music community, too — particularly artists who depend on the web to do everything from planning tours to selling music and merch to connecting with audiences directly. And fans use it to keep up on and spread the word about their favorite acts in real-time. For all these reasons and more, it's clear that the future of music is online.
Expanding access to the most powerful communications tool of our time will help upcoming generations of artists participate in a legitimate digital music marketplace that rewards creators and fans.
That's why we support the FCC's efforts to develop a National Broadband Plan that gets affordable, quality internet service to more members of the public — including musicians. (Check out what composer Alex Shapiro had to say about at the FCC's Broadband Workshop in September 2009.)
If you think that artists should be able to advance their careers on their home turf, and that fans should be able to discover and access lawful music wherever they live, you should care about making broadband more accessible, competitive and affordable. Currently, the music community an unparalleled opportunity to have a say in how the internet will be shaped in the coming years.
As part of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, the U.S. government has set aside $7.2 billion to expand broadband internet access to unserved and under-served communities across the US. The goal is to increase jobs, spur investments in technology and infrastructure to provide Internet access to those who don't have it and provide long-term economic benefits. Grants will be distributed through two channels:
- The Broadband Initiative Program (BIP), which is managed by the Royal Utilities Service at the USDA, will make loans and grants for broadband infrastructure projects in rural areas.
- The Broadband Technologies Opportunities Program (BTOP), which is managed by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), will provide grants to fund broadband infrastructure, public computer centers and sustainable broadband adoption projects.
This is great opportunity for music and arts groups to partner with larger funders to bring broadband to their communities. To make this happen, you need to put together an application and get in touch with project funders.
Round I of funding applications took place in Summer 2009. Round II funding applications will be accepted on or after February 16th 2010 in anticipation of the final application deadline of March 16, 2010. The application requirements have been somewhat relaxed for this second round, making it an ideal time to get involved.
Here are three steps to learning more about how you can participate.
Establish an Organization Profile
As always, we'll be keeping our eyes (and ears) on this and other internet-related issues, so stay tuned!