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CARP claims a victim.
July 22, 2002 10:12 AM   Subscribe

CARP claims a victim. KPIG, the first radio station to broadcast on the net says "oink!" and falls silent. One shoe fell on June 20, when the new digital performance royalty rate was established. The other shoe is soon to fall. Internet radio stations now have a whopping bill for retroactive royalties that comes due later this fall. More links: Save Internet Ratio! ... Radio and Internet Newsletter ... more news via Google.
posted by chipr (40 comments total)

 
I just want to say this really frosts me. I really enjoy the eclectic roots and Americana music played by KPIG. This was not the sort of music you are going to hear on corporate radio

I have a conspiracy theory that goes something like this: the RIAA wants an outrageous rate that nobody can afford, and now they have it. Then, they can come in and offer payola to the stations that cooperate, just like they do with broadcast radio. The 'net stations that play what the labels want will get the kickbacks to offset the CARP fees. The independent stations they can't control will be driven into silence. Then the big labels have achieved what at one time seemed impossible: they control what you hear on the net.
posted by chipr at 10:20 AM on July 22, 2002


I've been in mourning for weeks at the death of monkeyradio. I purchased dozens of CDs after listening to his downbeat techno stream and learning of new artists. Such shortsightedness for the lack of a non-profit exemption.
posted by machaus at 10:28 AM on July 22, 2002


There may be an upside to this decision.

You are free to play any non-RIAA artists on an internet radio station without having to pay any royalties. I had toyed with the idea of creating a clearinghouse for unsigned bands that want the promotion of online airplay on niche streams. People running net radio streams could go there and pick out artists and music for their shows, and artists could add themselves to the database with additional info on where you could see them play or how you could buy their own CDs. Think of it as a sort of mp3.com for the people, by the people.

If successful, it could help speed the death of the RIAA. If enough people could stream non-RIAA music, and enough listeners could buy self-published music, there wouldn't be a need for the RIAA control freaks to touch music. We could route around the damage they cause fairly easily and promote a new way of conducting online music business on our collective terms instead of theirs.

I even found a good, available domain for it: fuckyouhilaryrosen.com
posted by mathowie at 10:38 AM on July 22, 2002


I don't see why net broadcasting can't just make arrangements with artists directly, play bands with friendly taping/broadcasting policies, and/or play uncopyrighted material. It's not the death of anything. With licenses similar to what Creative Commons is proposing, there could be an excellent underground internet radio network, especially if Apple were willing to package it with Itunes as they do already. Bands won't need payola, they will need blogrolla, um, or something.

All that stuff the major labels own can be written off if necessary. Much of it will die because the RIAA has made it impossible to broadcast. There's plenty more digital music content to come.
posted by mblandi at 10:41 AM on July 22, 2002


somebody needs to keep an eye on jonmc for this one. anyone near him that can go give him a hug? or maybe a straightjacket?
posted by Ufez Jones at 10:42 AM on July 22, 2002


This was a favorite radio station when I worked in Los Angeles. Streaming audio has been down for at least a year, maybe two. The site claims "once we have received the green light from the unions involved in authorization for radio stations to stream audio, we will be back up and streaming for you. Is CARP something else they will have to worry about, or are there many reasons streaming is leaving us?
posted by RunsWithBandageScissors at 10:46 AM on July 22, 2002


matthowie and mblandi - Others have had the thought about bypassing labels (via Slashdot) and making deals directly with the artists. I'm not optimistic this can scale to the necessary level. If you played one song from every artist listed on that web page, you could keep your 'net radio station running for 157 * 3.5 / 60 = 9.1 hours. And that's ignoring the fact that the listed artists haven't granted permission, they are just saying, "We can negotiate." It's a great idea, but I'm not sure how to make it come together. Maybe we'all need to take out a booth at next year's SXSW.
posted by chipr at 11:01 AM on July 22, 2002


i'm still horribly pissed about losing soma fm. that radio station got me into so much good music i would have never heard of before and now it's up and gone.

hell, i've bought at least two dozen cd's in the past four months because of new things i've found via streaming radio stations. it really saddens me that these wonderful sources of music are pretty much all gone now because of the riaa and their "interests".
posted by boogah at 11:13 AM on July 22, 2002


FWIW, WFMU is promising to stay on the web with their online archives of interesting and ecclectic music, claiming that at least 75% of their programming is exempt from the ruling. (Their online webfeed may temporarily go dark, though.)
posted by crunchland at 11:16 AM on July 22, 2002


Here's something I've been wondering: When the retroactive royalties "bill" is presented to streaming stations, and they can't pay, is the RIAA going to go after them for non-payment?

And does the RIAA have a list of stations they are going to bill, or do they expect these stations just to say "yep, we've been on the air for 3 years, here's our money"?
posted by jazon at 11:37 AM on July 22, 2002


chipr: I think what would help the scale problem would be approaching small, truly independent labels (like Soleilmoon, mentioned on that list) that may be more open to free streaming. I'm sure labels that understand the value of that kind of exposure (and who never got royalties to speak of from radio anyway) are out there.

I'll never understand why people are fighting so hard to keep free access to a tiny pool of musicians selected by the completely corrupt major label A&R and marketing system. Do they really think those are the best musicans out there? Who gives a fuck what the whorish music industry has discovered this week? At best, they're willing to promote only a tiny fraction of the great music out there. Fuck 'em. Find and trade non-major-label stuff instead. What's the big deal?
posted by mediareport at 11:38 AM on July 22, 2002


Interesting typo on the RIAA site with incorrect royalty rates. They list them as $0.0007/performance, when in fact they are $0.07.

mathowie: You are free to play any non-RIAA artists on an internet radio station without having to pay any royalties.

Matt, as far as I know this is not true. Technically, anyway. Going through the RIAA just makes it more (supposedly) efficient for labels.
posted by anathema at 11:44 AM on July 22, 2002


The big deal is that that isn't human nature. The majority of people will always want music made easily available to them. The more hoops you make them jump through, the more of them you'll lose. Which is exactly why most people tolerate crap music NOW. The MeFi demographic has historically been perceived as too small to be worth marketing to, despite the fact that they are voracious consumers. It is difficult to swing an elephant by its tail.
posted by rushmc at 11:51 AM on July 22, 2002


anathema, it's a correct figure, it's 7/100ths of a cent, not seven cents (the carp site uses a cent symbol, not a dollar sign).

Matt, as far as I know this is not true. Technically, anyway. Going through the RIAA just makes it more (supposedly) efficient for labels

I had chatted with live365.com's head of legal counsel a few months ago, talking about worst case scenarios if CARP passed. He assured me if I were running a net radio stream that I would be in the clear if I played a friend's unsigned local band's music, provided I had written permission from the band saying I was allowed to.

What I envision for a website would be an automated way for bands to provide that permission to people streaming music.

And yes, we're hoping that Creative Commons licenses help out in situations like this.
posted by mathowie at 11:52 AM on July 22, 2002


jazon: When the retroactive royalties "bill" is presented to streaming stations, and they can't pay, is the RIAA going to go after them for non-payment?

Yes, they are. But from what I can tell, the true end-game is the continued vertical integration of content/distro/broadcasting etc., so that there is money streaming to the same places during each step of the process.
But on a positive note I think there will be some strong legal challenges to the rate.
posted by anathema at 11:57 AM on July 22, 2002


If you played one song from every artist listed on that web page, you could keep your 'net radio station running for 157 * 3.5 / 60 = 9.1 hours.

Well, that should be fine. It's enough for, what, three or four rotations?
posted by kindall at 11:58 AM on July 22, 2002


The station I've listened to most is Digitally Imported Radio, which has mainly a trance channel but also hard trance, hard house, eurodance, classical (I think this is a partnership). They are one of the bigger stations around I believe, and they're still up and running for now. The trance station is just an amazing source, especially since here in the US trance is still relatively small. Mainstream radio has nothing (well, the new 92.7 in SF... sort of), but this station allows me to hear some newer songs and stuff I otherwise wouldn't even have a clue about.

I actually wrote my final english story around Internet radio, and a certain fictional station failing because of this RIAA stuff. I wrote it around the time that the CARP ruling was initially rejected, so it really was pretty untrue at the time. Funny how things work out...

An automatic form to fax Reps and Senators, takes 30 seconds, send your support!
posted by swank6 at 12:07 PM on July 22, 2002


I should have noticed that. Of course the RIAA site is going to try to make the figure look as small as possible.
As long as the band is unsigned I would think that a writing would cover it. One crappy scenario I could envision is if the band does get signed and transfers their copyrights in previously made sound recordings (happens all the time) to the new label. There's a mess.
posted by anathema at 12:10 PM on July 22, 2002


One crappy scenario I could envision is if the band does get signed and transfers their copyrights in previously made sound recordings (happens all the time) to the new label. There's a mess.

Yeah, I figured that was the biggest hurdle. I suppose you could end your agreement with the band or drop them from your station, but it also might hinder the band's ability to get an RIAA approved contract, since the band would have given rebroadcast rights away (labels like to control any/all rights to their music).
posted by mathowie at 12:34 PM on July 22, 2002


Lemme do one more rant and then I'll shuttup ... it's infuriating that the independent artists aren't going to see squat from the CARP fees, anyway. The organization that collects these fees was created by the RIAA. They, of course, will take their administrative fee off the top. The law allows for half of the monies to be skimmed off by the big labels. Whatever is left is supposed to go to the performing artists, but nobody but Celine Dion and Britney Spears will be seeing any checks. Artists who are signed probably will have to hand the money over to the labels, as part of the "your record never made profits, so you owe us big" accounting scam the labels run. The independent artists won't even see that. So, the outcome is they don't get played, they don't get money, they just get crapped on.
posted by chipr at 1:01 PM on July 22, 2002


since we're tossing in other online broadcasts.. KCRW (a killer, local public station) offers two streams: a simultaneous broadcast (music, NPR shows, news, etc) and a music-only channel. both are worth the listen. [plus, they can both be found in iTunes' Radio Tuner "Public" folder. (;]
posted by sarajflemming at 1:05 PM on July 22, 2002


the outcome is they don't get played, they don't get money, they just get crapped on.

Agreed, chipr. It's too bad they signed the contracts.

According to an article I read at Salon, Sound Exchange will soon be a body completely independent from the RIAA.
posted by Marquis at 1:10 PM on July 22, 2002


I too mourn the loss of monkeyradio, somafm and a dozen others I listened to less often.

I've found a few still on the air that fall somewhere near the same genres as the above mentioned departed:
massinova - allows requests, a little too much like a club for me (am I getting old and mellow or something?)
xanu.ca - close to the monkeyradio, occasionally hear some of the same songs, some great new stuff that I've never heard before, aparantly Canadians aren't subject to the CARP madness?

Anyone else have some new steady listens?
posted by mutagen at 1:44 PM on July 22, 2002


The station I've listened to most is Digitally Imported Radio....

So it seems like Digitally Imported is on a .fm domain name, which makes me think... What exactly is the implication of the current fee system for stations broadcasting from outside the .us? Can stations that have been recently forced to shut down just move to an offshore server to avoid paying fees?
posted by mr_roboto at 1:55 PM on July 22, 2002


I'll never understand why people are fighting so hard to keep free access to a tiny pool of musicians selected by the completely corrupt major label A&R and marketing system.

Because, mediareport, not all major lable music is shit. Those sweet little indy labels you love so much are gobbled up by the majors, or controlled by them. And artists can be bottom-line, too: they weigh their chances of coming out ahead when signing with a major and sometimes plunge in. To say all major label music is shit or irretrievably tainted is just wrong.
posted by TurkeyMustard at 1:56 PM on July 22, 2002


To say all major label music is shit or irretrievably tainted is just wrong.

Try to keep your eye on the ball, TurkeyMustard. I wrote: "At best, they're willing to promote only a tiny fraction of the great music out there." I put the word "great" there for a reason -- hell, I listened to an entire Blink 182 album in a friend's car just last night; I love that sound. I did not make a blanket statement about the relative merits of small vs. big labels.

My point is simply that we know the system that brings major-label music to the masses is 1) subject to the arbitrary whims of company execs and deeply corrupted by payola, and 2) that there are plenty of equally great, if not better, musicians out there in easy reach. If the majors can't see the value in allowing small streaming radio stations, fuck 'em. Crying that you can't play major label stuff when there's a whole world of fantastic music out there waiting for you is like being released from prison and setting up a tent just outside the barbed-wire fence. Use your brain and your imagination, you know?

Psst, rushmc: Last time I checked, I was human.
posted by mediareport at 2:11 PM on July 22, 2002


chipr: I have a conspiracy theory that goes something like this: the RIAA wants an outrageous rate that nobody can afford, and now they have it.

That's not conspiracy, that's strategy. I have to admit I am incredibly impressed at how shrewdly the RIAA has kept broadcast radio alive and relevant in the face of the threat of thousands of potential webcasters. They make Bond villians look like shoplifters.

I'm also waiting for the upside. Will non-RIAA labels consolidate and take over webcasting? Are webcasters courting these labels? Do these labels even care about webcasting as a solution to radio lockout?
posted by skallas at 2:30 PM on July 22, 2002


Anyone else think of this irony?
WKRP(CARP was the mascot) in Cincinnati and their rival station, KPIG, never figured it was a real station north of me.

Also with satellite radio for the car, Dallas being one of the first market cities. It was around this time that the only live broadcast station off the web in these parts changed formats completely, they play heavy metal, most of it made in analog. Is satellite radio part of the scheme of things, with this mess?

RunsWBS, my station down the dial from yours is also not streaming off the net, but I thought it was due to my webmaster at work. And there is no mention of this on their home site, as KLOS did. One reason I love the net and didn't mind relocating as I was able to take some of my home with me anywhere, this sucks.
posted by thomcatspike at 2:59 PM on July 22, 2002


As usual, the RIAA is short-sightedly picking off easy targets without the economic ability to fight them off, using technologically illiterate Congresspeople to push through bills that should (under some circumstances) force evaluations under anti-trust laws...

The reason I don't buy many CD's? I don't like what the major labels are offering. Of course, given the current course of events, in an easily forseeable future, I may not have a choice...
posted by Samizdata at 3:03 PM on July 22, 2002


chipr: ...it's infuriating that the independent artists aren't going to see squat from the CARP fees, anyway.

We don't have an author based system, we have a copyright based system. You can argue policy all you want but we have been under a copyright system in this country since around 1790. The artists do have a choice whether or not to assign their composition copyrights and the sound recording copyrights. If you want your record to come out on a major though, forget it. You make a deal with the devil...
And as for the accounting scam, well, I guess an artist would see it as a scam if they did not have a competent entertainment lawyer explain the terms of their contracts to them. This royalty system may not seem "fair," but everything is contracted for just like Marquis said.
posted by anathema at 4:08 PM on July 22, 2002


I meant the royalties between record label and artist.
posted by anathema at 4:12 PM on July 22, 2002


Mathowie: One way to get around that would be to ensure that your writing stated that the folks were giving you an irrevocable, royalty-free, non-exclusive license to stream their sound recordings. Then, if the band later sold out to a label, you could continue streaming the song(s) covered by the license (although not new songs or new recordings of the old songs made after the license was signed). Lots of ways to do it, but the key is to ensure that the person signing the license owns the copyrights at issue or has authority to license.
BTW, as soon as the Copyright Office sets a schedule, the Satellite Services (Sirius [my client] & XM) will be having their own CARP to determine what they have to pay. Should be quite interesting, to say the least.


posted by IPLawyer at 5:15 PM on July 22, 2002


Mathowie: He assured me if I were running a net radio stream that I would be in the clear if I played a friend's unsigned local band's music, provided I had written permission from the band saying I was allowed to.

Wow, because that is not what i'm hearing from the radio stations that i listen to. For example, GoaBlaze announced that it's shutting off the US stream because "The only way for us to stream in the U.S. is by paying HUGE amounts of cash, with monthly payments of several hundred dollars. With NO guarantee that ANY of the funds will make it to trance artists. Even if we had signed contractual agreements with EVERY artist whose music is promoted on our site, we would STILL have to pay the RIAA, by federal law!" That's seems to be in contradiction to what you're hearing..

On the other hand, Philosomatika is explicitly not pulling down because they feel as though they're covered since it's very little US music, let alone any RIAA music... And i can't quite figure out where my microdots station went, as it disappeared recently. ::sigh::

Frankly, i'm quite confused about what is *real* since there seems to be so much misinformation out there and every story i read has the details slightly different...
posted by zegooober at 7:09 PM on July 22, 2002


Psst, rushmc: Last time I checked, I was human.

Perhaps, but you are also significantly deviant (not that there's anything wrong with that).
posted by rushmc at 7:31 PM on July 22, 2002


Digitally Imported is actually in New York I believe. The .fm is just a shorter URL - you can also go to http://www.digitallyimported.com/, and it will take you to the same site. I think it's just the "FM" radio thing. But it is definitely US-based - the main purpose of its inception was to try and have more European music played in America.
posted by swank6 at 7:33 PM on July 22, 2002


What I envision for a website would be an automated way for bands to provide that permission to people streaming music. And yes, we're hoping that Creative Commons licenses help out in situations like this.

I would be VERY excited to see this - creative commons would be a fantastic avenue for this (as far as I know - LOL)! I'd also love to see a database not just for streaming, but for being able to play CDs in a store or restaurant as well - right now owners are liable to the RIAA (or whomever) for anything they play in their store "for commercial purposes", include the radio, or so I hear. Not that the RIAA is now enforcing this on a grand scale, but I've heard of a few isolated incidents, and as a potential store owner I don't want to have to buy stock 'mixed tapes' that have been pre-approved - for example - I want to be able to play a lot of celtic and folk rock, and the like, not just the approved pop or top 40 stuff. (FYI - I'm not overly well-informed on these points - just talking off the cuff.)

Is there anyplace out there that's encouraging unsigned artists NOT to 'sign' in the usual way, and to try out new ways of spreading their music, officially? And if radio stations now broadcast unsigned artists, is it true that the RIAA (or the other few orgs like them) charges a fee 'in trust' for them anyway? Ugh - anyway - here's to leaving the RIAA behind and creating a system that works! :-)
posted by thunder at 9:28 PM on July 22, 2002


Is there anyplace out there that's encouraging unsigned artists NOT to 'sign' in the usual way, and to try out new ways of spreading their music, officially?

There is nowhere official. What it comes down to is whether a band wants the promotional heft of a major or not. Unless the major is near-literally drooling over the group, they're not going to get away from the standard rights package - the label wants to earn royalties, even if the band doesn't, and as investment bankers (who have signed agreements with their clients), it's their right.

The RIAA is foolish to oppose such online distribution so vehemently - but it's their right (and responsibility) to do that which they think protects their interests. Similarly, they are going to protect their interests in dealing with artists. It's a business - you can't blame them. It's up to artists to refuse to sign, and it's up to the public to try to support those labels who are attempting something different. Only problem is, not everyone digs the more difficult music that's often found on indies.
posted by Marquis at 9:47 PM on July 22, 2002


thomcatspike--If KLOS is off because of CARP, then why can I go here to listen to it? That's why I wondered if it had more to do with on-air personalities and their royalties of some sort. I'm confused! Can someone explain this to me?
posted by RunsWithBandageScissors at 5:38 AM on July 23, 2002


I agree, Marquis. I'd like to think that the package that big labels offer artists is starting to look a little less than ideal to some - the percentage returns, not 'owning' your own stuff, etc. I guess it's a matter of level of awareness there. What would be great would be a place that gives bands either time in a recording studio or a loan to accomplish same, including making CDs and a website, and links with other options for 'spreading the word' in some way. Something so the artists are more ... hiring independent contractors to perform certain jobs for them, so they can sell their own and reap their own profits... I guess. Ahhh, just thinking out loud.

RunsWithBandageScissors, I read a quick news piece from KPIG and I guess they are transmitting some of the LIVE shows they had recorded previously but still had the rights to?
posted by thunder at 8:08 AM on July 23, 2002


Confusing as hell, but maybe so. I just liked to listen to "Mark and Brian", reminds me of LA . . . Oh well. Thanks Thunder, your guess is as good as mine.
posted by RunsWithBandageScissors at 4:26 PM on July 23, 2002


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