Network Neutrality and Nonprofit Media

Powering KEXP
By Tom Mara, KEXP Executive Director

It’s hard to imagine what independent music would look like without a free and open internet. Instant and unfettered access to a global audience has become a defining feature of our music economy. The internet has allowed independent artists and record labels to bypass traditional gatekeepers and connect directly with fans like never before.

Equally, it’s hard to imagine what nonprofit media would look like. The free and open internet has allowed public media organizations like KEXP to grow to reach a global audience with quality programming that is aligned with a mission rather than profit.

Streaming services, peer-to-peer sharing, and algorithmic playlisting have reshaped and upended the musical landscape, and haven’t always yielded the best results for artists. However, independent artists, media producers, and record labels need and deserve the same access to online audiences that the large corporations enjoy. If net neutrality is dismantled, independent art and independent media will suffer as a result.

For over a decade, musicians and artists have been at the forefront of the fight for net neutrality. From early campaigns for net neutrality like Rock the Net in 2007 to today’s Music for a Healthy Internet, led by CASH Music and Future of Music Coalition, musicians have been effective leaders and organizers on this issue. The FCC board will be voting on Thursday, December 14th on whether or not to dismantle the open internet principles that have allowed online music communities to grow and thrive. The relevance and impact of independent and nonprofit music media organizations like KEXP could be threatened by this decision. If the FCC board votes to end net neutrality, internet service providers like Comcast, Time Warner and Verizon will be allowed to slow down content from independent media organizations who have no affiliation with these large corporations. Consumers could see their online music choices narrow drastically, with mass-media, corporate-owned music becoming much easier and cheaper to consume than independent music.

This doesn’t have to happen.

Unfortunately, the FCC is no longer listening to public comments on this issue, so your representatives in Congress need to take action if net neutrality is going to be preserved at this point. If you want to preserve an open internet and a level playing field for independent artists and nonprofit media, contact your member of Congress now at (202) 224-3121 and tell them to ask the FCC to delay this vote.

For more information, and to stay informed on how net neutrality impacts musicians, please visit