Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Save Indie Music (and the Internet)

Jonathan Migneault


Those of you who follow the news should be well aware of the ongoing debate that has surrounded network neutrality in the United States. You may not be aware, however, of the debate's impact on independent music and blogs (especially those, unlike ours, that are completely independent).

Since its inception the Internet has functioned on a principle called network neutrality. In short, individuals are given full access to any website (more or less) without any interference from their Internet providers. This concept has made the Internet the most democratic medium in all of human history. Unlike television or radio there are no governing bodies to regulate content and restrict individuals' freedom to publish and distribute that content. Restrictions do exist but they are tied to laws that oversee copyright protection and illegal activities.

Cable and phone companies have recently lobbied the US Congress to forgo the preservation of network neutrality. If they get their way the Internet will move in the same direction as television and radio. Multi-million dollar deals will restrict people's access to independent content (or even that of competing multinationals). Let's say that your Internet provider cuts a deal with company X -- that company's online content will run great on your computer -- company Y, however, which has similar (i.e. competing) content may not be accessible at all.

The videos below further explain the consequences what can be called Internet discrimination. The first offers a more informative perspective while the second looks at the issue from a humorous stance.

Video 1
Video 2

Now, what does all this have to do with music? Well, the answer is quite simple. It is no secret that indie music has benefited tremendously from the Internet. Websites, like this one, have given independent artists a platform in which to promote and distribute their music. Many artists have achieved success levels that were previously impossible without major label support. Personally, I can say that without the Internet I would likely have to listen to the shit factory that is Top 40 radio. I think it's safe to say that without the far-reaching platform provided by the Internet, independent music would be effectively doomed. It would become increasingly difficult for indie artists to reach an audience and build a fan base.

Some of you may be saying to yourselves: "Well, I'm not American, why should I care?" Like it or not, the United States happens to be the world's sole superpower and tends to have a strong influence in these matters. If the US scraps network neutrality other countries will surely follow suite. There are several things the average person can do to ensure the Internet's free and democratic exchange of information.

First, if you have a blog write something about the subject and do all you can to get the word out. Even without a blog you can still tell all your friends and spam random message boards with this information.

Second, if you happen to be an American citizen visit the Save the Internet campaign's website. Once there you can sign a petition and send an e-mail to your representative in Congress.

Third, you can add Save the Internet to your MySpace. It's one small step to raise awareness.

Finally, this being Mocking Music, I've posted a few songs that I think are appropriate for this subject matter. The first song, "God Save the Internet", was written by three musicians -- Jill Sobule, Kay Hanley and Michelle Lewis -- who formed a group called The Broadband as part of Save the Internet's campaign. It's kind of corny (in fact it's really corny) but it gets the message across.

Download
The Broadband - God Save the Internet
Neil Young - Rockin' In the Free World
The (International) Noise Conspiracy - Capitalism Stole My Virginity
Warsawpack - Lump of Coal
Greg MacPherson - Bankrobber (Clash cover)

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Anonymous que said ... (14/6/06 1:44 am) : 

Another person, whew

 

Blogger Calum Marsh said ... (14/6/06 2:03 am) : 

Sorry I'm not good enough!

 

Anonymous Anna said ... (14/6/06 11:31 am) : 

Thank you for bringing this to my attention, I never even considered that somethign like this could be possible.

 

Blogger stytzer said ... (15/6/06 10:21 am) : 

Being forced to listen to the radio is probably the worst thing that could ever happen.

 

Anonymous Justhipper said ... (18/6/06 8:21 pm) : 

Net neutrality is one of the most important issues relating to free speech in my lifetime yet this is the first place that I've seen anything about it that wasn't a publication directed at people who work on the web in design or marketing (or SEO). I think the idea that ISP's could make it difficult or impossible to access sites that do not pay them for the privilege of traffic completely defeats the purpose of the internet and the fact that instead of this being a clear issue of free speech it's all about which lobby group has the most money is appalling. It's up to all of us to let as many people as possible know about this travesty and to write our congressmen to tell them just how we feel.

 

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