It’s easy to take the Internet for granted—we use it every day in practically every aspect of our lives. From our personal calendars to our creative projects to our everyday communications, the Internet is how we conduct our business and engage with the world. For artists, the Internet is the crucial means to connect with potential audiences, as well as a powerful platform for creative expression.
Back in early 1990s, you couldn’t go anywhere without stumbling across an AOL “Internet starter disc.” Whether on an airplane seat, a high school cafeteria tray or tucked inside a pizza box, AOL’s blitz marketing campaign was pretty much unavoidable. As we recall, each individual disc had a big number stamped on it, indicating the amount of hours of free Internet access you had before you had to pay for a subscription (700 hours, 1000 hours, 1025 hours, you get the picture). Back then, the fact that AOL was offering Internet access in terms of hours wasn’t weird. In fact, charging by the hour was the norm. It wasn’t until the mid-’90s, when this all changed. AOL introduced its unlimited plan (along with the Buddy list) and the rest is media history.
Paying for every hour you spend online is a form of usage-based pricing—a model where price is determined by how much of the service you consume. Usage-based pricing is a model that is common in many other industries. For example, when you get on an airplane, you have the option of paying for a first-class ticket in order to get bigger chairs, and more privacy. On the DC Metro, you pay according to the distance you travel.
For the last couple of decades, we’ve gotten used to paying one price for an unlimited number of hours online. Many of us leave our email open all day, watch YouTube videos of our favorite bands for hours, and download albums whenever we feel like it. And when the iPhone was introduced in 2007, it came with an unlimited data plan, upholding the decade-long user expectation of being able to go where you want online without worrying about how much each website visit would cost.
But the days of unlimited data plans may be numbered. Both wireless and wireline providers are now experimenting with usage-based pricing in the form of data caps—limits on the amount of data you can upload or download per month. Most ISPs have instituted some form of hard or soft caps.
As musicians, we know that the internet is awesome. And challenging. And hilarious. And sometimes even infuriating. We also know that, despite its complexities, the internet remains a profoundly powerful way to connect with fans and pursue our creative ambitions.
Imagine what it would be like if just a couple of companies where able to determine how, where and under what conditions you reached audiences. Imagine having to ask permission to sell merch, route a tour or even access the online tools you need to make an impact as an artist.
But not musicians like us. That’s why thousands of artists and independent labels have demonstrated support for a level online playing field where creative expression and entrepreneurism is available to everyone—not just the biggest companies.
Part two of a series by Policy Fellow Rachel Allen
We all know what it’s like to be stuck in traffic at rush hour. We may remember a time when there were less cars on the road, and you could count on getting to where you want to go. But now there are more cars than ever and only a few lanes to travel on. What’s worse is, the tolls for getting on this highway keep going up and up. read more
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.
Today, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski announced that he would be stepping down from his post, which he has held since the 2008 election of President Barack Obama. read more
WASHINGTON, DC—Today, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski announced that he would be stepping down from his post, which he has held since the 2008 election of President Barack Obama.
The following statement is attributed to Casey Rae, Deputy Director of Future of Music Coalition (FMC), a national non-profit research, education and advocacy organization for musicians.
“News of Chairman Genachowski’s departure was not unexpected, and comes at a crucial time for the FCC in terms of its commitments to an accessible media and communications environment for America. read more
For the past twelve years, Future of Music Coalition has worked to inform and engage musicians and the music community on issues that impact artists and creative culture as a whole. Some of our work is very straightforward, such as reinforcing the notion that musicians have a range of views on a host of issues and must be included in discussions about their livelihoods. Some of it is nuanced, such as examining how artists are paid in the emerging digital economy and complex questions around copyright and technology. read more