You may have noticed stories about the Copyright Royalty Board’s recent decision to jack the fees it charges Internet radio outlets. The initial response was dire – this move could force most Net radio off the air.
Broadcasters appealed, but to no avail. And if the ruling makes no sense to you, you’re not alone:
The new rates would require Internet broadcasters to pay $.0011 per “performance,” defining a performance as the streaming of one song to one listener; thus a station that has an average audience of 500 listeners will rack up 500 “performances” for each song it plays.
Anil Dewan, director of new media at KCRW, told MP3.com that the rate change would send his station’s royalty payments skyrocketing to $350,000–more than twice the station’s current webcasting budget. N. Mark Lam, the CEO of Live365, told the Associated Press that under the new royalty rules, “there is no industry.” (Story.)
It’s also important to understand that it makes no difference whether the broadcaster is raking in big ad dollars or doing it for nothing – the same rates apply. It doesn’t matter whether the station’s mission is profit or simply a labor of love designed to provide up-and-coing bands an opportunity to be heard. I mean, it’s not like “real” radio is doing that.
So, who does this ruling serve?
- Internet radio? Hardly. They’re out of business.
- Listeners? Well, you now have even fewer options than you did before to find new music.
- Bands? I mean, they get the royalties, right? Bitch, please – the amount of money a hungry young band might realize from Net radio royalties under this plan is nothing compared to the exposure and credibility the stems from getting your music played on the radio. Any radio.
Wow – who’s left? Major labels? (Duh.) Clear Channel and the RIAA? (Ping!)
Perhaps no corporation in the last decade has exerted a more corrosive influence on the American cultural landscape than CC – they haven’t completely killed music, but it’s not for a lack of trying. And the RIAA is perhaps the most morally bankrupt “trade organizations” in the world today. Here’s how they bill themselves:
The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is the trade group that represents the U.S. recording industry. Its mission is to foster a business and legal climate that supports and promotes our members’ creative and financial vitality. Its members are the record companies that comprise the most vibrant national music industry in the world. RIAA members create, manufacture and/or distribute approximately 90% of all legitimate sound recordings produced and sold in the United States.In support of this mission, the RIAA works to protect intellectual property rights worldwide and the First Amendment rights of artists; conduct consumer industry and technical research; and monitor and review – – state and federal laws, regulations and policies.
I count at least one lie in each sentence. I’m especially interested in understanding the Orwellian premise that policies making it harder and harder for a vast majority of the musicians in the country to get their voices heard somehow promotes the First Amendment rights of artists.
Of course, the RIAA and Clear Channel had nothing to do with this decision. Nothing at all. Nope.
This showed up in my e-mail box a few minutes ago:
Because of the Copyright Royalty Board’s recent rate hikes applicable to Internet radio, I’ve decided to shut down Whitsbrain, my Internet radio station that was being broadcast via Live365.com. The royalty rate hikes are just too high and the risks financially are too great to continue on. I’m uncertain what the fate of my website will be, but, whatever.
My station was always an expense to me and was not anything that I ever made a cent on. It was something I created because of my love of the music. I wanted others to hear it.
This rate hike is unreasonable and it is highly unlikely that most of the artists I played on the station will ever see any royalties paid to them. Beyonce, Timbaland and Fergie will probably get paid, but I doubt independents like Class Three Overbite or Wiretree will ever see penny number one.
I don’t know how many of you listened or contributed your music, but if you did, I’d like to thank you from the bottom of my music-loving heart. -Whit (firstname.lastname@example.org)
As I’ve had to shut down my Pure Pop 24/7 stream, I know what Whit is talking about. The rates have been hiked by the Copyright Royalty Board, and they will amount to something like 140 percent over five years.
The new rates went into effect earlier this week, and they are substantial–and retroactive to Jan. 1, 2006. Plus, a $500.00 yearly fee for all webcasters will be due by, I think, May 15. Live365 has a page on their site that talks about having to increase rates for webcasters. They may not do it right away, but they won’t have a choice pretty soon. They’ll probably try to absorb some of the extra cost, but rates are going to go up.
For info, go to http://www.savenetradio.org/. There, you can read the decision handed down by a judge after webcasters pleaded for another look at the issue. The judge turned everyone down flat. Very sad. – Alan Haber
Oh – and this:
I enjoyed running my Worldwide Eclectic broadcast on Live 365, until I just didn’t have the time to keep up with some constant updates. I was half thinking about starting it again, but this kind of puts the stops on it. – Michael Curry
Congratulations, Copyright Royalty Board. Thanks to you there’s less music in the world today.
And by the way – I need help with a math problem here. How many royalty dollars do stations that go out of business generate for all those artists you’re working so hard to represent?
:xpost Lullaby Pit: