December 01, 2010

Wednesday News Item

This is another new initiative on my part, to try to share with you one interesting news item each Wednesday and talk about its influence on the industry. Today's is about net neutrality.

You've probably heard this term mentioned at least a few times before. But what is it? Net neutrality is essentially the way the Internet has always operated (in America at least) and it means that service providers, such as Comcast and Verizon, and the government can't control how user's communicate, what they have access to, what equipment they use, etc. It means that you are free to use the Internet as you wish without having sites, content, or anything else blocked or prohibited and that companies can't pay money to make their site load faster or be favored in any other way. The FCC met today and established a day, the 21st, to vote on various issues surrounding net neutrality and most Internet companies are not happy with their most recent proposal.

So, why is this important to the music world?
Well it hard to really forecast what the death of neutrality would really mean, but it could certainly give an unfair advantage to companies with large sums of money who are willing to pay to get attention. Think of it like the difference between looking for a record at Best Buy versus finding it on Amazon or iTunes. The former has limited space so it favors records that sell and already have a track record of success. It is usually difficult to find a new or independent artist's record at Best Buy. On the other hand, iTunes and Amazon are open to nearly anyone, making it easy for you to find exactly what you are looking for exactly when you want it. Right now, the Internet is like Amazon and iTunes, every site is on equal terms and as long as you know how to use a search engine you can pretty much find whatever you're looking for. A lack of net neutrality could make Internet service providers more like a Best Buy by giving them the ability to pick and choose how fast certain sites load, which sites are favored, and which are completely blocked.

There are a lot of great article out there on the subject, but there's an interesting one by OK GO that uses the music industry as an analogy. Check it out here
Here's another one from Billboard about the upcoming vote
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