Why We Closed Our Doors To Defend Net Neutrality

As the music industry descends on New York for The Grammys, we’re taking action to defend the net neutrality policies that culture and creativity need to thrive. Here’s how you can get involved.

Something is different in New York City today. While it may seem like business as usual in Manhattan, you’ll notice that something odd, if you look closely: The windows of the Sonos Store at 101 Greene Street are blacked out. The doors are locked. Sorry, we’re closed.

It might seem counterintuitive—foolish, even—for a music-obsessed company like Sonos to turn customers away on a day when artists are flocking to New York to celebrate the year in music. But that’s exactly the point. While music lovers everywhere are turning their attention to the 60th annual Grammy Awards, we’re using this moment to highlight an issue that deeply affects creativity and culture: Net neutrality.

This is a matter that’s near and dear to our hearts, because Sonos was built on an open internet. Without net neutrality policies like the ones that are currently under threat, the idea of a multi-room home sound system that runs off of WiFi—and streams music from dozens of sources—would not have been feasible when we started building it 15 years ago.

Creative culture itself has also benefited from the open architecture of the internet, free of bottlenecks and slow lanes that could make it harder for artists to reach audiences. Imagine if your streaming service of choice suddenly became slower and less reliable because the company running it didn’t pay an extra fee to get into a post-net neutrality fast lane. Or worse, what if your favorite new artist—dependent as they are on the incubation of buzzy blogs, social media and indie streaming sites—simply never wound up getting heard? Without net neutrality, your internet service provider could influence what music you can listen to.

The net neutrality battle in the U.S. is heating up after the Federal Communications Commission issued new rules in December 2017 which eliminated protections against fast lanes and slow lanes on the internet. The U.S. Senate is very close to passing a motion that could overturn the new FCC rules. Victory in the Senate would need to be followed by the House and then would have to overcome a veto by the president. In the meantime, we can help mobilize people and elevate the issue. Net neutrality has widespread bipartisan support. There are also fights in the courts and at the state level. In fact, earlier this week, New York became the second state to enact an executive order that protects net neutrality locally. But there’s much more work to be done.

Guided by the courageous work of our Listen Better nonprofit grantees — Access Now and the Future of Music Coalition — and activism by Fight for the Future, we decided to launch today’s action in support of net neutrality. This includes the closure of our Greene Street store and outreach across social media, the press, and other channels to help ensure the message gets heard: Music needs net neutrality. And we need music. It’s not too late to tell Congress to listen better to the will of the people and enact meaningful net neutrality protections.

To learn more—and do your part to protect net neutrality—head over to BattleForTheNet.com.