“The Internet is my platform.”
For independent artists like DAWN (formerly of Danity Kane and Dirty-Money), the World Wide Web provides endless opportunities for her music to travel across the globe, but with the impending net neutrality repeal taking effect on Monday (Apr. 23), it’s time to find a solution before her platform’s foundation falls into jeopardy.
Nearing the latter end of 2017, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) repealed what was implemented by the Obama administration in 2015. The Internet as we knew it protected an open access of free web for all. Spearheaded by the FCC’s chairman Ajit Pai, 2017’s landmark decision will now allow major networks like Verizon to have the unrestricted opportunity to exploit the speed of your broadband, pressure users to pay extra fees for faster ‘Net service to combat that spinning pinwheel of death, or limit access to your favorite websites. Basically, bundle packages will no longer be reserved for cable television.
As noted by Rolling Stone, this new way of navigating the Internet not only affects the everyday consumer but independent musicians who heavily rely on services like iTunes, Apple Music and Bandcamp. DAWN, who has been indie for five years, says those are her “big three” outlets that link her directly to a store system where she can sell her music. While she transitioned from powerhouse labels during her time in two different music groups to becoming an indie entity, the Internet serves as her major label, but its financial backing is under siege.
“That’s how we make our money,” DAWN says. “Everything from merchandise to tours to ticket sales, everything is based off of a free web where we can have access to touch and agree with our fan base. The moment you take that away, we lose half, if not a large amount, of our entire fan base because a lot of people don’t want to do that much effort or take that much time to pay all these different avenues to get to their favorite artists. If you thought it was hard for us now, it would be extremely difficult.”
While indie artists are looking for innovative ways to fund their careers, streaming giants like Tidal, Spotify and Pandora have implemented programs throughout the years to make independent musicians a priority. In 2014, Pandora—which has more than 78 million active users—expressed its interest in making indie artists as much of a priority as major label acts. The streaming service’s founder Tim Westergreen told the New York Post that indie artists can reach a new set of fans each day given the platform’s exposure. “There are artists who were invisible in the music business who now get exposed to an audience that is big enough to support them,” Westergren said. “There’s an opportunity for a really well-run band to take control of their careers.” Spotify also rolled out its RISE initiative last year, which partners with 16 young artists per year so that the “biggest distribution in the world for streaming music” can help rocket launch their careers, Troy Carter, global head of creator services, said to Billboard.
“You have to be on the pulse. It’s your culture, it’s what we’re made of. If we’re not aware of that then shame on us. We have to know our market.”
Although portions of the repeal will soon go into effect, ISPs will hold off for a certain time period before making consumers’ digital lives harder, Inverse reports. But for DAWN, she’s already thinking a step ahead before the analog world as we know it becomes a thing of the past. By tinkering around with algorithms and other technology to make sure her revenue and fan base will not be affected by this revocation, the 34-year-old singer is currently working on a non-disclosed project that’ll keep her indie journey going.
“When they started talking about it last year I started to prepare,” she shares of when talks of net neutrality began. The solution that DAWN believes can soften the blow of this conclusion for indie artists is a hub that continues to preserve their passion–a space that’s not only affordable but accessible to fans. The Redemption artist likens this method to that of crowdsourcing companies.
“I think when Kickstarter and Indiegogo first developed, or GoFundMe, it became a phenomenon because it was a group of people that said, ‘If we’re not going to have a group of people or a company pay for our innovations, we’re going to come together and create a place where people can fund it themselves. They can choose to put their money towards the things that they love,’” she says. That same mentality will have to be applied to the indie musicians’ community, DAWN believes, by “creating a space where we all come together where people say, ‘You know what? It may cost but you’re getting an entire entity of it and supporting an independent artist in the process.’”
Indie acts of today will have to band together to fortify not only this idea, but their passion. “You have to be on the pulse. It’s your culture, it’s what we’re made of,” she points out. “If we’re not aware of that then shame on us. We have to know our market.”