Our Letter to the FCC about Tejano and Conjunto Music and Net Neutrality

We are watching the developments in Washington DC regarding Net Neutrality very closely. Probably closer than most, because we know how vital a free and open internet is to Tejano and Conjunto music.
Today, we emailed this letter directly to the FCC commissioners and copied our Representative Lloyd Doggett.
 
 
Dear Commissioners:
 
We write to you today to advocate for Net Neutrality on behalf of Tejano and Conjunto music. Rancho Alegre Radio is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Austin, TX that specializes in preserving and promoting these genres and we wanted to give you some insight into how important a free and open internet is for their survival. We believe this fits within the need for "new information" referenced in various publications last week about the effects of your decision.
 
Before we move further, we should explain that these are American music genres born in Texas. The earlier, rootsier form, Conjunto, is the result of German and Czech accordion and rhythms cross-pollinating with traditional Mexican compositions and instrumentation, with Spanish lyrics. Tejano is the next generation of this fusion, an even more complicated blend of traditional roots with mainstream American music like jazz, rock, and country, etc., and even other Spanish language genres. An analogy would be that Conjunto is to Tejano what Blues is to Rock. These genres are deeply important to Mexican Americans all over the country, but especially in Texas. 
 
We know everyone is talking about your upcoming decision and following it closely, but the prospect of this reversal hits home for us and our colleagues in the industry and fans in a different way than it does for most.
 
Simply put, the internet saved Tejano and Conjunto music from fading into obscurity after the genres experienced significant losses of terrestrial radio in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s (due in large part to another FCC ruling about media ownership). 
 
From the mid 2000’s to now, the internet has become the primary medium for Tejano and Conjunto music. The exact number is difficult to ascertain because stations come and go every day, but the number of internet radio stations specializing in these genres likely outnumbers full-time terrestrial radio stations 3 to 1.
 
YouTube and social media (especially Facebook) are leveraged significantly by artists and stations (online and terrestrial) alike to promote events, programming and new projects, allowing them to connect with fans all over the state and beyond.
 
For new artists in these genres, the internet is really their only medium, as it is exceedingly difficult for them to get any attention from the commercial terrestrial stations. Internet stations are friendlier to new artists and often give them their first shot at their dreams. The internet and social media allow them to be entrepreneurial, to network, and to build their careers as artists.
 
These are just a couple of examples, but the only way any of this happens is with a free and open internet, protected by Net Neutrality rules. Experts are predicting that reversing this decision will first affect streaming services offered by apps and websites, which is the life blood of Tejano and Conjunto music right now, most likely by requiring higher fees to access such rich content.
 
Any impediment to access could be catastrophic for this music. 
 
This music is precious to millions of Americans and is an important part of regional identity and culture. Being able to listen to Tejano and Conjunto music on the internet has been hugely important to many folks whose families moved away from Texas years ago and especially for our troops deployed overseas yearning for a taste of home.
 
Though we have not done the research, this is likely not unique to Tejano and Conjunto music. Other genres that do not enjoy extensive commercial radio support will suffer as well.
 
Please consider this effect on various cultures and traditional music when you vote. It's not just about consumer choice. It's not about corporate profits. It's about alternative media and music that deserves to be heard and culture that needs support.
 
We have copied our Representative and longtime supporter of this music, Lloyd Doggett, on this email.
 
Baldomero Frank Cuellar, Executive Director
Piper LeMoine, Communications Director Rancho Alegre Radio
 
Now it’s your turn. Write the FCC or Call them at 1-888-CALL FCC (225-5322)
 
Write the FCC:
Ajit Pai, Chairman Ajit.Pai@fcc.gov
Mignon Clyburn, Commissioner Mignon.Clyburn@fcc.gov
Michael O'Rielly, Commissioner Mike.O'Rielly@fcc.gov
Brendan Carr, Commissioner Brendan.Carr@fcc.gov
Jessica Rosenworcel, Commissioner Jessica.Rosenworcel@fcc.gov
 
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