FEATURE: Net Neutrality: How Its Potential Eradication Will Spell Problems for U.S. Music



Net Neutrality:


PHOTO CREDIT: Press/Getty Images 

How Its Potential Eradication Will Spell Problems for U.S. Music


MAYBE it wouldn’t have been the worst thing to elect…


IN THIS PHOTO: Members of the FCC/PHOTO CREDIT: Press/Getty Images

Hilary Clinton as the President of the U.S.A. I can only imagine how some Trump supporters are feeling after the election of the odious leader! This is a petition and charter you will all want to sign. Maybe this is an issue that will affect the U.S. more but net neutrality is something we are living with at the moment: its tightening and erosion will spell the end of free-speech as we know it. Maybe it is a bloated oligarch unwilling to open his ears to the criticism and common sense being aimed his way – like a petulant child who sticks their fingers in and makes a loud noise; blocking out their parents’ shouting and discipline. We can only hope the hideous Trump is buried under the weight of his own ignorance, bigotry and stupidity before the end of his four-year spell in office. Whilst the President gets in some brilliant-white shag carpeting and commissions ego-boosting portraits of himself – to drape on every white wall – he is also planning on killing net neutrality. In a few weeks; we will know whether net neutrality’s death is signed and destined – or whether there will be a turnaround and cure. It does not mean the shutting down of the Internet as we know it: the aim is to control and monitor websites and information we share online.


PHOTO CREDIT: Press/Getty Images

At the moment; we can access any website we want and have the freedom to share information/content how we see fit – so long as it is not illegal. Protests will take place in the U.S. on 7th December: people will take to the streets and register their disgust on the Internet. If you want to know what neutrality is; how its end will affect us and what comes next for us – here is a useful guide via Save the Internet:

Net Neutrality is the basic principle that prohibits internet service providers like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon from speeding up, slowing down or blocking any content, applications or websites you want to use. Net Neutrality is the way that the internet has always worked.

In 2015, millions of activists pressured the Federal Communications Commission to adopt historic Net Neutrality rules that keep the internet free and open — allowing you to share and access information of your choosing without interference.

But right now this win is in jeopardy: Trump’s FCC chairman, Ajit Pai, wants to destroy Net Neutrality. In May, the FCC voted to let Pai’s internet-killing plan move forward. By the end of the summer, the agency was flooded with more than 20 million comments. The vast majority of people commenting urged the FCC to preserve the existing Net Neutrality rules.

Time is running out: The FCC will vote on Pai’s proposal on Dec. 14. Join the millions who have already spoken out against it.


 IN THIS PHOTO: President Donald J. Trump/PHOTO CREDIT: Alex Wong via Getty Images

What is Net Neutrality?

Net Neutrality is the internet’s guiding principle: It preserves our right to communicate freely online.

Net Neutrality means an internet that enables and protects free speech. It means that ISPs should provide us with open networks — and shouldn’t block or discriminate against any applications or content that ride over those networks. Just as your phone company shouldn’t decide who you call and what you say on that call, your ISP shouldn’t interfere with the content you view or post online.

Without Net Neutrality, cable and phone companies could carve the internet into fast and slow lanes. An ISP could slow down its competitors’ content or block political opinions it disagreed with. ISPs could charge extra fees to the few content companies that could afford to pay for preferential treatment — relegating everyone else to a slower tier of service. This would destroy the open internet.

What would happen if we lost Net Neutrality?

The internet without Net Neutrality isn’t really the internet. Unlike the open internet that has paved the way for so much innovation and given a platform to people who have historically been shut out, it would become a closed-down network where cable and phone companies call the shots and decide which websites, content or applications succeed.

This would have an enormous impact. Companies like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon would be able to decide who is heard and who isn’t. They’d be able to block websites or content they don’t like or applications that compete with their own offerings.


PHOTO CREDIT: Juan Jose Horta 

The consequences would be particularly devastating for marginalized communities media outlets have misrepresented or failed to serve. People of color, the LGBTQ community, indigenous peoples and religious minorities in the United States rely on the open internet to organize, access economic and educational opportunities, and fight back against systemic discrimination.

Without Net Neutrality, how would activists be able to fight oppression? What would happen to social movements like the Movement for Black Lives? How would the next disruptive technology, business or company emerge if internet service providers only let incumbents succeed?

Huffington Post have bluntly explained what an Internet shift and paradigm change will mean for the average internet user:

If the FCC ruling is allowed to stand, a few cable providers will get rich, new Internet ventures will move to other parts of the world, content will shift to places and languages that leave Americans out, and millions of Americans that

Which is why Americans need to voice, loudly, their displeasure with the FCC decision with their elected officials NOW, before the Trump’s television giveaway gets underway.

You can reach the FCC by email, or join one of the many protests to your elected officials by phonetext message to Fax, or petitions on Change.org, the White House, the Free Press, and Sign For Good. Like all regulation changes, we’re in the comment period”.


PHOTO CREDIT: Press/Getty Images

At the moment; we all pay a fee for our Internet service but we are aware of what else we are paying for – subscription fees for media sites and news outlets; for Spotify and Amazon; various other charges. In essence, without neutrality, Internet service providers can block certain contact and imposer stringent censorship. If an artist/figure has an outspoken political view and criticises the regime; that I.S.P. can block their videos/content and impose penalties. It can lead to an all-out block and black-out. Services can be moved to other nations and charges can be levied on the user; everyone will be watched and there will be a greater amount of restrictions and curfews. I mentioned how Trump was a delicate little flower: the bloated birthday-boy who does not want anyone to eat his cake; a stubborn and spoilt brat who spits orders and infantile waffle to anyone who will listen. We are talking about a scenario that would be somewhere between China and North Korea. One can see the Internet and access it: they would be controlled and manoeuvred by the State and there would be intense and rigorous political measures. In theory, if the measure went through, a service provider like AT&T could block or censor an artist who criticises the President. They could block the service, FaceTime, so users would have to look around for other options – more expensive and less user-friendly.


Before I come and drill down to the point – and how it can affect the music and entertainment industry in America – let us look who is behind the movement – and why it is proving controversial. The Daily Beast has provided their views:

The man behind this move is Ajit Pai, the chairman of the FCC, who took up his post on January 23, three days after Donald J. Trump moved into the White House. In March, Trump said that Pai would be renominated to serve an additional five years as FCC chairman, and the Senate confirmed this term in October.

Just a little over a month after his confirmation, Pai is making moves to dismantle freedom in America. (It’s worth noting that Pai previously worked as associate general counsel for Verizon Communications, one of the companies that would benefit greatly if his plan is pushed forward. It’s also worth noting that FCC commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel has spoken out against Pai’s plan.)”.

One hopes there is not such a dictatorial and fascist approach here but, with the U.K.’s close ties with the U.S.; how long will it be until our Prime Minister considers such a movement?! Maybe it is Trump slowly turning into a communist dictator and turning his country into his own, twisted ideal of America. The sheer protest and backlash will make passing the ruling extremely risky. If the FCC’s appointed head – who used to be a successful lawyer – decides to kill net neutrality; it will change the way music is shared and enjoyed. The effect we will see through society will be profound and shocking: who knows how far the ban will go and how many restrictions there will be!


IN THIS PHOTOFCC Chairman, Ajit Pai/PHOTO CREDIT: Press/Getty Images

Over the past few months; we have been hearing about sex scandals and entertainment figures outed and accused. People, women mainly, have been coming through and offer criticism and condemnation to the accused. Their views have been angered and unifying: we are allowed to express ourselves in that way and, as a man, I learnt a lot from what was coming out – feeling shocked at those who shielded the guilty and those who committed the acts. I would not have heard about the extent of the scandals were it not for the Internet; the backlash and feedback would not have been known were it not for the Internet – many people would have been denied their voice and say. We have guidelines and laws at the moment which means, if someone trolls or creates hate, they will be punished. We do not operate in a society where the Internet is inaudible and glides by without judgement. If people access illegal content; if they contravene laws and guidelines, then the site/I.S.P. will take action. Away from that, we have the freedom to say what we want and express ourselves in any manner we feel fit. If someone like President Trump objects to what someone says on Twitter – aimed at him – then he can block them (I can only imagine how sore his fingers are!). He is someone who has turned governance and leadership into an electronic thing: he has little comment and connection with people; preferring to post garbage on his Twitter account and spreading hatred.


PHOTO CREDIT: Press/Getty Images

HE is allowed to say and do as he pleases: the proposed death of net neutrality would prohibit people other than him saying the same things as Trump. It is an irony that seems to be lost on him. The close allegiance and bond between Trump and less-than-popular leaders mean he is turning the country into a business. We all knew this when he took over. Trump does not run a country to benefit the people and moving the nation forward: the reason he wanted to get into the White House was to diversify and expand his business mantras and maxims on a worldwide, political stage. There is no difference between the businessman and President. Because of this; few can be surprised he is supporting and promoting n action that will limit freedom of speech and generate more money for him. If the regular service provider bans certain content and gets strict; people will be at the mercy of other Internet options. They might charge a lot more and, in an effort to have their voice and words heard, people will be spending a lot more money needlessly – that all gets filtered back to the U.S. The President is keen to preserve the Second Amendment. That says, in order to maintain a free state, everyone has the right to bear Arms and protect themselves. This old-age, idiotic hangover from centuries-past has resulted in gun massacres and mass murderers running wild.


IN THIS PHOTO: Eminem/PHOTO CREDIT: Press/Getty Images

The President, in collusion with the gun nuts and those beholden to the U.S. Constitution, will never budge when it comes to guns – it means the nation is exposed to more bloodshed and endless deaths. If that so-called ‘inalienable’ right is stubbornly adhered to; why is someone like Trump so keen to block someone’s right to violate the First Amendment?! He has no respect for those who die due to gun violence; he has no regard for anyone who questions his actions and wants to exercise their First Amendment rights – he is turning the U.S. into a communist state. Whereas the likes of China are becoming less repressive and cruel: the U.S. is going the other way and losing a sense of liberty, freedom and the rights of the people. If there is an end to net neutrality then it can signal the end of musicians being able to talk about what they want. If someone has a comment about the President during a gig; that content could be blocked – and people would not be able to stream that performance. The same could be said of any studio material that is put into the ether. Anything the President deems to be controversial can be blocked or removed. How many musicians are going to be able to express themselves and release material as they always have?! With artists like Eminem gearing up new material; one wonders whether his music would see the light of day anywhere.


PHOTO CREDIT: Stephanie Frey/Dreamstime

It might get exposure on the radio but there is a danger, even if the album does get onto Spotify, Amazon and iTunes: Internet service providers might be able to block certain content or raise prices; make access and availability more difficult. There are some who say the end of net neutrality is more business-minded than it is censorship-based: it will affect tariffs and pricing rather than an arbitrary blocking of content and sites. One cannot say this for sure until it is imposed and rolled-out. I will end things with a piece Digital Music News ran a few days ago - that explains what could happen to musicians:

What does this mean for the music industry?

Imagine this.  As an independent artist, you struggle to get noticed on the internet.  Today, to make a living, you (or your band) may sell, distribute and promote your music.  Streaming platforms like Spotify and Apple Music may offer subsistence, but direct online sales of merchandise and concert tickets may offer a bigger payout.

If (and when) the FCC eliminates net neutrality rules, larger companies could easily lobby for ‘premium prioritization.’  This means that consumers would have to pay more to access their favorite sites.  Your website may not make the list.

Access to the internet could become a two-tiered system based solely on financial success.

American ISPs would likely sell consumers faster access to sites.  Larger companies would quickly divert traffic away from smaller, independent websites that help musicians.  Popular social media networks, including Facebook and Twitter, could easily charge musicians more to promote their music.


PHOTO CREDIT: Press/Getty Images

Independent musicians, DJs, producers, and bands, meanwhile, would face rapid marginalization.  Major music labels (Sony, UMG, and WMG) could pay Facebook to promote big-name artists like Taylor Swift and Adele.  Users on these platforms, and even on video services (YouTube, Vimeo), would constantly see ads for these big names.

Indie artists could face an uphill battle just to get noticed.

That’s on the artist side.  But what about smaller, independent streaming platforms?  Would Spotify, Apple Music, and Amazon Music pay to have faster access to their platforms?  If users pay higher rates for quicker access to more-popular platforms, what would happen to artists on SoundCloud?

Others could also get shorted.  Drip by Kickstarter and Patreon would soon become a less attractive platform for musicians and content creators.  Fans would likely access their favorite music on YouTube, a platform with mostly terrible payouts.  As a result, the value gap would also grow wider.

In the end, musicians would live the worst-case scenario: a lopsided music industry favoring the strong.

According to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, eliminating net neutrality rules would actually promote investment and innovation.  Internet service providers wouldn’t have to worry about “rate regulation and other heavy-handed oversight.”  Pai added that the FCC would “relinquish any authority over Internet traffic exchange.”

With an incentive to provide faster connections to websites, ISPs could form alliances with larger companies.  They could then offer consumers “bundles of services and creative pricing.”  Given the success of these partnerships, international ISPs may quickly follow suit with similar deals.


PHOTO CREDIT: Press/Getty Images

While the FCC would no longer regulate ISPs, the FTC would face the daunting task of protecting the American consumer.  Yet, some groups claim that the FTC would have limited power to enforce fair business practices. The National Hispanic Media Coalition wrote,

There is a lot of confusion and predictions but one thing is for sure: the way we use the Internet will change; what we say and how much we can put online will be endangered. I worry anything deemed anti-Trump or controversial could be deemed unworthy of visibility and oxygen. This could extend to having views about celebrities who commit crimes and limit the amount that can be said again them. As the above article shows; the problems facing independent, new artists could be tire – placing a strain on their future and growth. There is no need to kill net neutrality and it seems like another move for Trump in his zeal to strangle his nation and mould it according to his own vision. There will be limiting of free speech and expression – despite what some commentators are saying! – and the business side of music will turn on acts and make life very unsure for them. There is no real way of saying just how damaging things will be but one thing is for sure: the end of net neutrality will change things for the worse. I hope it does not extend to the U.K. and impact our artists: American musicians and creatives are going to see the way they release music and communicate challenged and changed. At a time when free speech and conversation is bringing justice and much-needed dialogue in the world of entrainment: what Trump and the FCC are proposing will be…


PHOTO CREDIT: Press/Getty Images

A hugely unwise move!