I can already hear some of you squealing about “leaving politics out of metal.” I hear you, and I get it. I would also rather read the new Napalm Death issue of Decibel while I listen to Scum than read about what Gene Simmons did at Fox News. But that could get harder for you if you’re like me and listen to music via streaming.
To summarize briefly, net neutrality is an open and free internet. It’s one where internet providers can’t determine who can access what content on the internet, and it means providers can’t charge you for faster service or replicate models similar to cable, where you pay extra for channels like HBO. In other words, all internet is equal. On December 14, the FCC will vote on a repeal of net neutrality. This is a big deal for all Decibel readers, because we all support underground music and all underground music would be hurt by a repeal.
Though what exactly could happen is unclear, it isn’t good for the independent musician. If services like Facebook and Twitter are allowed to lobby for faster access, they can charge small musicians significantly more to advertise. Smaller streaming platforms – all-metal internet station Gimme Radio, for example – could have a harder time reaching listeners. Platforms like Kickstarter, often used to launch albums, could have their reach throttled.
Regardless of how you feel about streaming, and its effect on the industry, a closed internet is bad for all of us. It’s not just about Spotify plays; it’s about who sees new music when a small band releases it. It means that your favorite indie label might not have the same funds to reach listeners as a major label.
What can you do? Write to your representatives. Call them. Tell Congress that we want an open internet. Because otherwise, a closed internet could spell doom for independent musicians and labels. For more info and ways you can get involved, check out Battle for the Net.