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New Webcasting Royalty Rates Mean Trouble for Internet Radio

March 7, 2007

Last Friday, the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) announced its decision for new Internet royalty rates to be paid by all webcasters.

Click here to read about the decision.

To put it mildly, it was not happy news to anyone presently operating an Internet music site. If these rates stand, it will mean certain end to many Internet stations. I’ve read that these new royalty rates put forth by the CRB “will cost most webcasters 100% of their total revenues” – which of course equals death. The new rates pose a real threat to Folk Alley’s survival too, but we’re not sure how immediate it will be and to what degree.

For anyone who loves Folk Alley and Internet radio as a whole, please visit this sites to read more about the new royalty rates, the consequences to Internet radio and what you can do.

This is certainly the time to contact your Congressional representatives in Washington and let them know how important your favorite Internet stations are to you.

Here’s a petition you can sign, too, if you’re so inclined.

Thanks! We’ll keep you informed as this issue unfolds.

Linda

Posted by Linda Fahey at March 7, 2007 5:44 PM


Comments

Intellectual property rights and their implications are always complex. There has to be some recognition of the artist's efforts in creating the work (artist here including writer, producer...?). But if the recognition constrains the opportunity to be "out there" in the public eye, it constrains the artist, instead of rewarding them.

And would it be a "conspiracy theory" to wonder if this (and other similar) ruling was actually intended to protect corporate business rather than the creators of the value?

Posted by: Chris Whitworth at March 8, 2007 6:43 AM

I feared this would happen, but I think the Congress will step in before it's too late. But, it may get scary before that happens. I just do not think they can ignor 50 million listeners to internet radio, which includes Pandora, Folk Alley and lots of NPR stations. Especially at a time when the RIAA paradigm is that record companies pay the big commerical stations to play "selected" artists' songs at the exclusion of non-represented artists.

Posted by: Doug Sligh at March 8, 2007 6:48 AM

Signing a petition isn't a bad idea, but the best bet is probably for each person who cares about diversity in internet radio to write directly to his or her congressperson. It's pretty easy to do - they all have websites that allow you to easily express your opinion, and they all have staffers who keep track of which issues are most important to constituents.

If you are a US citizen, you can write to your Senator from the following website:

http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm

And you can write to your Representative here:

http://www.house.gov/writerep/

This is a good time to make your feelings known on this issue. Keep your note brief and polite, and make sure your Congress knows how you feel.

Posted by: Jimmie Wilson at March 8, 2007 8:22 AM

Actually, the BEST bet is for each person to CALL. One phone call is worth multiple letters! But it's all important...the petition, the letters...all of it. Let them know how important Internet radio is to you. And remind them of the promotion that all the artists get (that lead to record sales) through internet streaming.

Posted by: River at March 8, 2007 9:06 AM

Oh, and check out this link on the SavetheStreams.org website to find addresses and phone numbers for your Reps and Senators
http://www.congress.org/congressorg/issues/alert/?alertid=9461656&content_dir=ua_congressorg&mailid=custom

I also found this one - Save Our Internet Radio
http://www.saveourinternetradio.com/

Remember to spread the word to your friends too. I don't want to lose my Folk Alley!

Posted by: River at March 8, 2007 9:22 AM

I think the best argument against an egregious rate increase (and we do currently pay royalties - in no way would I want artists to be not compensated for their work) is that, especially for artists working in a niche genre like folk or jazz, internet stations are doing the job that independent terrestrial stations used to do and getting the music out there. Internet radio sells CDs and gets butts in seats at concerts - making money for the artists and those that feed on the talented. If webcasters disappear, the music picture in this country becomes a lot more narrow.

Posted by: Ann VerWiebe at March 8, 2007 11:50 AM

Isn't this an economic issue? Why are you trying to make it a legal issue or constitutional issue? I don't want to see Folk Alley, or any of these venues, disappear but please don't give these people in DC any more power than they are already taking from us. Let's come up with a workable solution on our own and work to get it implemented. Why can't the royalties be tiered? I've been exposed to more artists that I would never have known existed thru this "channel"... Certainly there is a benefit to the artist, isn't there. So, let there be way for the artist to give up a bit of $ for increased exposure and let us give up a Mocha Latte a week in order to continue enjoying the best music in the world. I'm sure you come up with other ideas or added angles. Put on your thinking caps people! There's 70,000+ of us! If they kill this goose they (artists, CRB) get nothing. Just don't go off crying to the nanny state. Gov't isn't the solution, it is the problem.

Posted by: Russell Roth at March 9, 2007 1:43 PM

Russell, you are right, government is the problem when they allow a few major corporations to control an entire industry and eliminate free-market competition by legislating unfair rates and setting licensing requirements and limits that put those small businesses, and even not-for-profit organizations out of business. Unfortunately, the Copyright Royalty Board IS a government organization, so if we do not make congress accountable for complicity in allowing industry monsters to step on everyone that gets in their way, then we get the shaft once again from the industry, as well as from our representatives.

Do you believe there is anything fair about the rates that you are willing to concede so willingly?

Posted by: Jack Swain at March 9, 2007 4:01 PM

Allowing what Jack just warned us about regarding letting our government run rough shod over all of us on account of several big corporations, reminds me of something I'd heard. Here's a varience: "Eff me once, shame on you..Eff me twice, then shame on me!"
Has someone set up a petition or something which we could all sign? Would that even be effective, in addition to calling the offices of our congress person? Some sort of
scripted guideline might be helpful here for that call as well. Help!

Posted by: JoLynn Braswell at March 10, 2007 4:22 AM

Quite frankly, I was shocked to learn that Folk Alley DOESN'T pay royalties. How can you claim to support folk music and musicians without it? If Folk Alley's financial health is dependent on exploiting the artists whose works it broadcasts, then I think it needs to take a good, hard look at itself, its purposes, and its budgeting.

Posted by: Beverly Sperry at March 11, 2007 3:43 AM

Years ago, when I presented a live music venue at a festival, ASCAP and BMI each sent invoices demending payment for music played on our stage. I was shocked, since we did not know who were the owners of the songs our musicians played. I could not imagine that ASCAP or BMI knew. Since the musicans themselves were selecting the music, I responded to both organizations that I wanted a song-by-song list of the songs played at our venue to which they had ownership rights. Not surprisingly, I never heard from them again.

I would bet that quite a few musicians would be happy to waive their airplay revenue completely in order to get their name known to a wide audience. Why not have a waiver of rights for this specific purpose and play those artists' music without partnering with RIAA? For the others, demand itemized billing from BMI and ASCAP. If every webstation did the same, I think it would end this nonsense overnight.

Posted by: Doug Sligh at March 11, 2007 9:16 AM

Artists being played on Folk Alley DO get royalties. It's called ASCAP and BMI. There is NO exploiting of artists. If anything, artists are gaining much from being played on Folk Alley. Just ask Abigail Washburn or The Duhks or The Mammals or Nathan or Crooked Still or Tim Van Eyken or............ Why do "major" record companies and devil worshiping media conglomerates think they should own all the media and all the money in the world? It's mind boggling to say the least!

Posted by: Chris Boros at March 12, 2007 12:36 PM

Just to reinforce Chris' point about royalties, Folk Alley always has, and always will, paid all applicable royalties. What's worrisome about the new increases is the level that they will affect small and mid-sized webcasters who, unlike traditional radio, will be charged per listener (thus punishing success). The CRB is using data on online advertising that is questionable (if we were making twice our expenses with ads I'd start the look-out for the four horsemen) to justify raising rates. It's almost like they're saying, "You have more money now and we want it." If we thought the extra cash was going straight to the artists, it would be more palatable, but most of the difference in online and on-air royalties have gone straight to the labels. And online broadcasters in general are more independently minded - we aren't getting payola to feature major label artists (though we won't exclude them either - we judge music on its own merits) and, hopefully, we can offer listeners a wider musical outlook than on a typical "big box" radio station.

Posted by: Ann VerWiebe at March 12, 2007 1:58 PM

If this royalty scam is anything like the current "polling" debacle used by BMI or ASCAP, Folk musicians will see little if any of this royalty money. It will go to the artists on the four major labels, whose air time has been bought and paid for.

Maybe it is time for America's last great unregulated industry to be more closely scrutinized by Congress. Enough is enough.

Posted by: Jim Pipkin at March 14, 2007 9:46 AM

Of course you could always take the whole kit and kaboodle offshore. Cuba might be accommodating, if you can get the bandwidth. Failing that, various South American states would do.

Posted by: Huw Pryce at March 15, 2007 11:41 AM

Isn't Sealand up for sale? That wierd little country right off the English coast, built on an old antiaircraft tower?

Posted by: Jim Pipkin at March 15, 2007 12:56 PM

You know Jim, I believe it is! Was that an abandoned oil rig?

Posted by: JoLynn Braswell at March 15, 2007 3:19 PM

It is a principality, built on an old WWII antiaircrft/early warning fortress that England abandoned after the war. Here is the web link...

http://www.sealandgov.org/

Posted by: Jim Pipkin at March 15, 2007 10:32 PM

I've noticed over the past year that the topics tend to stray a bit off course when Pimpkin, Braswell, and Pryce get involed. I've also noticed that my total number of plays on the open mic, including downloads, has earned me 1.157 cents. (Rounded up, of course.) :)

Posted by: Michael Grady at March 17, 2007 1:07 AM

Pimpkin, Braswell, and Pryce -- sounds like a low-life law firm to me.

Posted by: Richard Schletty at March 18, 2007 3:09 AM

Low-life law firm? That sounds redundant.

Posted by: Doug Sligh at March 18, 2007 10:15 AM

...and Grady, Schletty and Sligh sound like a bunch of Disney villains or possibly a group of unfavourable adjectives as pronounced by Elmer Fudd.

Should my associate Mr Pipkin note the egregious and wilful mispelling of his name, we will be forced to issue a writ of Appellation Controllee against Messrs Grady and Schletty.

Sealand is probably up for sale, it usually is. It' s very inconvenient for the shops and suffers terribly from damp and rust (awful potential structural problems, it can be difficult to get builders to work on-site as the parking situation is untenable). So a mortgage on reasonable terms would be out of the question. Should anyone wish to purchase said real estate (which does have great export potential in the form of guano-derived phosphates), my colleagues and I would be delighted to supervise the conveyancing, search and contract on the transaction.

Interestingly Sealand has functioned as an offshore radio station in the past. During the 60s and up into the 80s radio was broadcast on AM frequencies from various vessels and locations outside the UK. The most famous of these 'Pirates' was probably Caroline. John Peel and Johnny Walker - both prominent DJs on the UK scene, gained their names as a result of working for pirates - you couldn't use your real name for fear of arrest in the UK.

Seriously guys Cuba looks good!

Posted by: Huw Pryce at March 18, 2007 4:15 PM

Of course poor old Peely is famously dead now and is sorely missed. He was a big Fairport fan in his day.

Posted by: Huw Pryce at March 18, 2007 4:17 PM

Hey, Michael Grady - don't forget about Richard Schletty (who I'm certain might take this as a compliment), and a few other excellent brain stormers here as to the off-topic stray factor. We should all be credited for it, and I'd gladly go in to business of most any sort with that bunch of highly focused rabbit-trailers! Thinking outside of the box is a good thing in my book, and remember: all rabbit trails eventually lead back to the carrot patch. (o;
(Isn't that right, "Pimpkin"?)
If it weren't for this crew and a bit of levity, this particular topic might be an awfully scary one to tackle.

I did sign the petition Linda gave link to. Next is calling my Congressman and my Senator, and getting on record with them.

And Jim Pipkin - I checked out that website for Sealand. Fascinating! That is the hardest working 'royal family' I've ever seen - a study in tenacity!

By the way - I am really enjoying listening to Jim Pipkin's albums, of which I may never have become aware, had it not been for Folk Alley and both Jim's hilarity and straight shooting in the blogs, and for his Open Mic submissions and the Folk Alley stream.
I am acquiring so many great albums from artists I really admire through this venue. Web radio is such a wonderful, life enriching resource, and we need to do all we can to protect it.

Posted by: JoLynn Braswell at March 18, 2007 4:41 PM

Hey, Huw - what an absolutely perfect place for an independent radio station!
Okay, so what would "Pryce, Haigh, Mindlin & Stapley" be then?
And, uhm.. few things might have to change re Cuba before anything like that might happen.. It only looks very close to US.

Posted by: JoLynn Braswell at March 18, 2007 5:46 PM

...just going with the flow...in the carrot patch

Posted by: Richard Schletty at March 18, 2007 5:53 PM

I once played Bb horn for an outfit consisting of Dave, Me, Silas and Steve. We called ourselves DHSS which was, at the time, the acronym for the Department of Health and Social Security - or where most of us signed on for unemployment benefit.

Give thought to Cuba - they'll pay a dividend to people who embarrass Uncle Sam. Ann could be persued by latino Lotharios, Jim Blum could extend his cat collection (and pick up old Stalinist era spares for the Theremin).

Living under an outmoded form of despotism has clear advantages when indiginous musicians survivie and continue to perform well into their 80s and 90s. Cuba has a public health service, cane spirit, funky old cars and great cigars. Barring the occasional hurricane, having to make your own shoes, eating mainly beans (actually beneficial, given the standard Western diet) and having to commute to Miami via inner-tube, Cuba is a plum spot.
Of course bandwidth and power outages might affect webcast quality, but FA might qualify for some sort of propaganda dispensation. "These Gringos chose Havana over Iowa..."

Posted by: Huw Pryce at March 18, 2007 6:25 PM

Maize, beans and squash -- the balanced diet of the indigenous peoples of the Americas. And then came the beef industry.

Posted by: Richard Schletty at March 18, 2007 8:04 PM

Sign here also: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/saveinternetradio/

Posted by: Richard Schletty at March 18, 2007 8:05 PM

Hey Micheal - if my last name could be rendered to "Grody" I wouldn't make tasteless attempts at insulting others. You don't know me, I could flip out, show up at your place with a pimpmobile full of bad girls, and have one of them make funny faces at you until you cried.

Er, was that off topic?

Posted by: Jim Pipkin at March 18, 2007 8:46 PM

I don't know, Jim...I'm thinking that wide brimmed purple fur hat wouldn't be very flattering on ya. Could be a mite hot in the desert too for that kind of funky attire. It's a long, long trip from there to NE OH. Besides, I quite like Michael's music. He's got grit, tenderness and soul.

Posted by: JoLynn Braswell at March 19, 2007 12:23 AM

I'm not commenting on Grody's music, just his crappy people skills.

Posted by: Jim Pipkin at March 19, 2007 5:18 AM

Reckon I oughtta feel insulted then, Jim? I so rarely am (insulted), it may have just passed right over my head.
Of course, he didn't mess with my family name..could have had fun with that, but he didn't.
I love Cyrano d' Bergerac's response to being insulted for having a "big nose". He pointed out all of the wonderful insults which could have been said, but weren't because of lack of imagination. And all the bloke could come up with was, "You have a big nose"? Sad really.

Posted by: JoLynn Braswell at March 19, 2007 7:33 AM

Careful, JL, the "Topic Nazis" are watching...we should get back on-string like good little bloggers and lock-step to the subject at hand.

Remember to not suggest any alternatives or possibilities, please. Essentially we are expected to either sign the petition (did that), write to our elected reps (did that too), help raise money for Folk Alley (my personal favorite, my efforts have brought at least $20K into this station in the past three years).

Otherwise, some half-baked nitwit somewhere will get all judgemental, make crass changes to our family names, or otherwise act like a low-budget version of Homeland Security.

So, sign the petition. Write to Congress. Better yet, elect Grody to Congress, at leat he'll stay on topic.

Posted by: Jim Pipkin at March 19, 2007 8:23 AM

How much d'you charge for the face-pulling Jim? Sounds kind of... alluring.

Posted by: Huw Pryce at March 19, 2007 9:00 AM

Oops! No faces which are in copyright obviously...

Posted by: Huw Pryce at March 19, 2007 9:02 AM

Oh my,... I must read these more regularly. I'm pleased that you all found the dry bits of humor in my short comment, but the misspelling of names is not a habit of mine, nore was it intended, really. I shall feel quite "grody" about it for a long time, I'm sure. I'm SO sure. Grody to the max! And Jim, my dad was a school teacher, so by the time I was in Kindergarten, all the good names were already thought up for me. Grody WAS one of them, I liked Gravy Train that best. Sorry, my friend, I't was unintended. I read these things mostly because you in them. I wonder now if I haven't misspelled your name before..? BTW I love the off-topic stuff, that's where the meat is, not to mention the meet. Leave staying on-topic stuff to people who don't make comments in the margins.

Posted by: Michael Grady at March 19, 2007 10:33 AM

Marginalia I believe it's called. Just as well we didn't take you seriously though - because you're supposed to do what Grady says... ; )

Posted by: Huw Pryce at March 19, 2007 12:02 PM

Interesting reference, I had to look it up. It must be more common on the eastern side of the pond. I would surely never profess to be the voice of authority. I'll have to send it to my dad, though.

It's a bit off topic, but here's a link to what I found.
http://www3.iath.virginia.edu/spoons/phillitcrit/amis.htm

Posted by: Michael Grady at March 19, 2007 2:16 PM

Well Googled Sir. I'm glad I actually managed to come up with one you hadn't heard. With my names in an English school I heard the lot! Terrible thing is if I go home (where everyone seems to be called Huw) I get awfully confused.

Posted by: Huw Pryce at March 19, 2007 2:25 PM

Yeah well. I might be the only one here who's still, and repeatedly, asked if I'm Ted's Troubled Ex.

Posted by: Joan Kennedy at March 19, 2007 3:09 PM

Noone's ever asked me that I'll confess!
Has anyone asked JoLynn how to make a bra swell?

Posted by: Huw Pryce at March 19, 2007 3:43 PM

Pimpkin wasn't much used in school - but because we tend to be a rather broad-bottomed lot, I got to hear "Pumpkin" quite a bit...cruel li'l bastages!

At least until I sat on them.

And Joan, I can't WAIT until you hav that Austin Lawyer ballad on a CD. I love that tune!!


Posted by: Jim Pipkin at March 19, 2007 4:10 PM

TO RECAP:

Not being a US citizen (or indeed a citizen of any sort!) I can't vote or sign or pester congressmen. Those who can might look to the following addresses, culled from further up the stream.

If you are a US citizen, you can write to your Senator from the following website:
http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm

And you can write to your Representative here:
http://www.house.gov/writerep/

check out this link on the SavetheStreams.org website to find addresses and phone numbers for your Reps and Senators:
http://www.congress.org/congressorg/issues/alert/?alertid=9461656&content_dir=ua_congressorg&mailid=custom

Save Our Internet Radio:
http://www.saveourinternetradio.com/

Sign here also:
http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/saveinternetradio/

Salut mon braves. Vive la revolution!

Posted by: Huw Pryce at March 19, 2007 5:00 PM

Excellent article/interview of Pandora.com founder Tim Westergren by Aram Sinnreich of TruthDig.com on this very topic:
http://www.truthdig.com/interview/item/closing_the_box_on_pandora/

Posted by: JoLynn Braswell at May 17, 2007 2:46 AM

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