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The AFM has a proud history of managing change rather than being victimized by it. We find strength in adversity, and when the going gets tough, we get creative - all on your behalf.

Like the industry, the AFM is also changing and evolving, and its policies and programs will move in new directions dictated by its members. As a member, you will determine these directions through your interest and involvement. Your membership card will be your key to participation in governing your union, keeping it responsive to your needs and enabling it to serve you better. To become a member now, visit


Home » Legislative Update » What the Loss of Net Neutrality Means to Musicians and the Music Industry

What the Loss of Net Neutrality Means to Musicians and the Music Industry


On December 14, 2017, the Republican majority at the Federal Communication Commission (FCC), led by FCC Chair Ajit Pai, voted to repeal Obama Administration net neutrality regulations put in place in 2015. The three to two vote was divided along party lines, approving a Trump Administration plan to repeal Obama-era net neutrality protections. Those rules were intended to keep the Internet open and fair—in essence treating all traffic the same, halting Internet service providers (ISPs) from speeding up or slowing down Internet traffic from select websites and apps. It also prevented ISPs from charging additional fees for users to access content.

Prior to the December vote, some members of Congress and others in opposition to the FCC move asked the FCC not to force a vote now, but to withhold it. Complaints from some members of Congress have centered on a corrupted comment system that has revealed at least a million comments may have fraudulently used the names of real people. Also, the Commission has not held public hearings on the repeal and some 50,000 consumer complaints have been excluded from the public record, as noted in a letter to Chair Pai from Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH). Further, Representative Ted Lieu (D-CA) expressed concern that many of the fake submissions on net neutrality were linked to Russian email addresses.

Likewise, several attorneys general have threatened to file suit, including the New York Attorney General who is working on a criminal complaint. It is suspected that members of Congress who disagree with the changes will introduce legislation designed to block the new rules.

Under the new regulations, companies would be able to block, slow, or provide fast lanes to any service they so choose. This flies in the face of a free and open Internet concept that would give consumers the choice to access the content they desire on a free and open platform. It would grant ISPs the overarching responsibility to determine what the consumer can and cannot see.

There are competing legislative proposals on this issue, including Representative Marsha Blackburn’s (R-TN) BROWSER Act, or HR 2520, the Balancing the Rights of Web Surfers Equally and Responsibly Act. These proposals would require companies such as AT&T, Facebook, and Google, to get user permission before selling their Internet browser history.

Aside from some of the fundamental changes by the Republican majority on the Pai Commission that give clear advantage to tech companies, the AFM rejects the FCC’s recent changes because of limitations these new rules can possibly place on the free flow of music audio and music opinion content.

AFM International Vice President and President of Local 99 (Portland, OR) Bruce Fife, summarizes net neutrality and its meaning to our industry this way: “The concept of net neutrality is simple. It means that Internet service providers must treat all data the same. They can’t speed it up for some, slow it down for others, or even worse, block access to websites altogether. They need to treat everyone the same, which in our business, creates a level playing field for musicians working to market themselves, their performances, and their recordings.”

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