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Congress killed the Radio Star
July 3, 2007 10:10 AM   Subscribe

"I've said all along, we are in this together." John Simson, executive director of SoundExchange - the royalty collecting arm of the RIAA - extends an olive branch through 2008 that will cap the advance payments internet broadcasters will have to cough up at $2500 per year. This comes in the wake of the Day of Silence, (it was June 26, did anyone notice?) spearheaded by Los Angeles-based terrestrial/online radio station KCRW (home of the brilliant Morning Becomes Eclectic) and SaveNetRadio, during which some of the biggest names in online radio - include Live365, NPR and Pandora - went dark for 24 hours, airing a one-hour broadcast twice during that day on the history of flat fees in public broadcasting. [direct .mp3, 38mb] Under the much-maligned changes made by our government's Copyright Royalty Board, the top six internet radio stations would have had to pay 47 percent of their total revenue (anticipated to be around $37.5 mil.) to the RIAA, starting this July. The Internet Radio Equality Act [summary, in its entire pdf glory] has been introduced to the House of Representatives, seeking to permanently reverse this decision.
posted by phaedon (69 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
Here's the money shot from Catie Boehmer writing for LA CityBeat, which helps explain why the "per listener" model is a de facto death sentence for smaller broadcasters:

“The royalty boards are mandating that we pay for each listener of each song. So these rates are not based on money, they’re based on the size of the audience – it’s a disincentive to grow,” says Seymour.

For the public radio webcasters, there is a monthly cap on the number of listeners that a station can have to pay the lesser non-commercial rates. KCRW exceeds that cap in two and a half days. Seymour explains, “One of the most egregious statements made by the Copyright Royalty Board was the allegation that stations such as KCRW, stations with large audiences, will compete with commercial entities, and therefore should be charged like commercial entities. We don’t oppose royalties – reasonable ones for artists and their labels. We’re saying we believe the artists and labels should be compensated, but not to the point that we are shut down. We’ve always had to defend public broadcasting against the charge of being elitist, and now we have to defend it against the charge of being populist.”


For an excessively good background link on how the CRB reached its decision, click here.

To encourage your representative to co-sponsor the Internet Radio Equality Act, click here.
posted by phaedon at 10:11 AM on July 3, 2007


My roomate works for Sound Exchange. The amount of music piracy amongst the employees is massive. Talk about your unwinnable battles--the music publishing industry is going under sooner rather than later because they don't add value to the customer anymore like they used to.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:13 AM on July 3, 2007


... online radio station KCRW (home of the brilliant Morning Becomes Eclectic) and SaveNetRadio ...

... not to mention "Le Show"
posted by RavinDave at 10:19 AM on July 3, 2007


... not to mention "Le Show"

Okay, okay, I confess I don't actually listen to MBE much anymore. I'm more of a Chocolate City kind of guy.
posted by phaedon at 10:22 AM on July 3, 2007


It's worth noting that lost in the battle over the rate increase are the insanely difficult reporting requirements also mandated by SoundExchange as part of this decision.

They are so convoluted (and in certain cases actually impossible to implement) that a vast majority of stations are completely incapable of meeting them without throwing out all their equipment and buying a new automation system.

Can't submit the reports? Guess what! There's a fine for that, too. Surprised?

Your roommate, Ironmouth, should go on the record with what he's seen at SE.
posted by bhance at 10:23 AM on July 3, 2007


Even The Economist thinks the CRB rates will hurt music sales.

On a generally-related note it's worth mentioning that the year in which Napster had its highest participation was the best year in history for CD sales. A study at the time also showed that people who used Napster were 45 percent more likely to have increased their CD purchases over the previous year than non-Napster users. When the RIAA killed Napster, CD sales went into their current death spiral. Correlation is not causation, but it is a fact that people need to hear music before they'll buy it, and in today's era of media consolidation you sure as fuck aren't going to hear anything new or challenging on broadcast radio.

Oh, also, SoundExchange keeps 50% of all royalties collected for themselves, the rest being distributed among the record companies, any sessionists who played on the recording and the artists -- who often find it quite difficult to get them to actually write a check. And any check that SoundExchange doesn't write is money they get to keep as well. Bear that in mind as they invoke the name of the artist over and over again.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:45 AM on July 3, 2007 [5 favorites]


Ah, yes -- The Year of The Napster was the year I probably doubled the size of my CD collection; basically because I was discovering all these great artists I'd never had a chance to appreciate before.

These days? Not so much.
posted by Opposite George at 11:03 AM on July 3, 2007


I miss Napster so much.
posted by unknowncommand at 11:10 AM on July 3, 2007


The arrival of the original streaming royalties several years back, and the new reporting requirements almost killed the small, commercial-free, student-run radio station at my university. I can't imagine that they'll be able to stay afloat with these increased royalties after the one year "grace" period, which is especially a shame since the school's incompetence led to the destruction of the station's FM broadcast ability over a decade ago, and concerns over community impressions of what they hear being transmitted by students have prevented its repair. So long, Little Guys of Radio
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 11:35 AM on July 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


Oh, and notice: It doesn't matter whether the music that is being played was originally recorded by an RIAA artist. The royalties are paid to SoundExchange, who distributes them to the RIAA anyway. So it's kind of a double fuck you to independent labels -- not only are they NOT getting paid royalties, but the RIAA is receiving royalties for the work of artists that aren't theirs. And this is mandated by law. Who exactly is being served?
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 11:42 AM on July 3, 2007 [4 favorites]


And I promise I'm going to stop vomiting outrage into this thread, but I just remembered one other thing. As noted in the Economist article linked by George_Spiggott above,
For one thing, America's traditional radio stations pay relatively little in royalties, thanks to a 1909 law that mandates fees for composers but not for performers. (Low royalties, radio stations have argued, are justified because playing songs provides performers with free publicity.)
So now the radio stations, whose broken, independent promoter, "not-payola" system leads them to whitewash the airwaves with the same few major-label hits over and over and over again, are pushing for higher royalty rates and per-channel fees for Internet broadcasters such as Pandora and Last.fm, who are doing far more to actually provide performers free publicity than the majority of terrestrial radio has done in years.
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 11:50 AM on July 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


My roommate sees a bunch of checks going out. That's about it.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:55 AM on July 3, 2007


Hey, great, an eighteen-month reprieve from exorbitant performance royalty charges? Well, huzzah to SoundExchange for doing the right thing! That's like the taxman telling you he's raising our taxes so high that your family will starve to death by next year, and then saying he won't repossess your house for a year and a half and expecting you to be grateful. Internet radio should not have to live or die based on whether the copyright holders are feeling generous that particular year.
posted by chrominance at 11:57 AM on July 3, 2007


"The Year of The Napster was the year I probably doubled the size of my CD collection"

For the most part, I found that to be complete bullshit. Practically everyone I knew that used Napster was just downloading everything that they could and didn't buy a goddamned thing.

I never really bought the "I find new bands with Napster" line. I have actually discovered many new bands through internet radio, though. And Wikipedia. Wikipedia is a great place to find new bands.

Sadly enough, so is myspace sometimes.
posted by drstein at 12:00 PM on July 3, 2007


Man, I was just lamenting the internet when I was in Amoeba on Sunday. I was there to spend my birthday cash, but was afraid to take a chance on a lot of the stuff there that I hadn't heard, because I couldn't quite remember if that $20 Archie Shepp side was one of the good ones. I used to know this stuff out of hand, but with all my music stored on the computer, I felt weird about buying something that I hadn't heard (or couldn't immediately recall).
I used to be adventurous, buying shit left and right, based on titles and covers. Now I'm a coward!

Of course, years of buying $18 albums only to find out they were absolute bullshit probably conditioned my hand away from the new racks too...

(Got a Joe Henderson and a Long Blondes, in case anyone was wondering).
posted by klangklangston at 12:01 PM on July 3, 2007


Actually, I doubled the size of my musical knowledge, but only increased my CD collection by 50%. The discrepancy was due to obscure bands/recordings that I found (this is what Napster ruled at) and awesome songs from mediocre/horrible albums. Napster encouraged me talk to people, in person and online, who shared my tastes and suggested new stuff. It was a godsend for NowhereSuburbia, Texas. < / derail>
posted by unknowncommand at 12:28 PM on July 3, 2007


Oh, but I have to love the RIAA for buying Soundexchange.com from the Houston split of the Sound Exchange record stores. That is the *good* kind of selling out. Long may they reign.
posted by unknowncommand at 12:31 PM on July 3, 2007


DAMMIT. Sound Exchange, Houston, TX. Though the site appears to be down. Double dammit.
posted by unknowncommand at 12:33 PM on July 3, 2007


So it's kind of a double fuck you to independent labels -- not only are they NOT getting paid royalties, but the RIAA is receiving royalties for the work of artists that aren't theirs. And this is mandated by law. Who exactly is being served?

Shit, I didn't know that. Totally insane.


Also, that $2500 cap may constitute an olive branch to those top six internet radio stations that would have been paying 47% of their revenue, but the vast majority of all other broadcasters, such as non-profit college radio stations that thrived under the previous royalty rates (a percentage of advertising revenue and before that flat fees, not per-song per-listener) are still just as fucked.

What's next, royalty rates for public libraries?
posted by Shakeer at 12:34 PM on July 3, 2007


Global music market shrinks by 5% in 2006 - including digital sales.
posted by phaedon at 12:42 PM on July 3, 2007


Also, allofmp3.com has finally died.
posted by phaedon at 1:05 PM on July 3, 2007


Copyrights in their current form are dead. Nobody under 30 gives a damn about copyrights. In ten years, nobody under 40 will give a damn about copyrights. In 20 years, nobody under 50, and on and on, until absolutely no one cares at all. I promise you, there are hundreds of fresh-faced 20somethings working at RIAA companies who all have massive collections of pirated music. This should be the writing on the wall.

The labels are dead. It just hasn't happened yet. They're like a wounded grizzly, commanding an army of lawyers, running amok in a camp full of cub scouts.
posted by mullingitover at 1:26 PM on July 3, 2007


phaedon writes "Also, allofmp3.com has finally died."

...aaaaaand they're back.
posted by mullingitover at 1:27 PM on July 3, 2007


SF Weekly had an article about this last week.

Eventually, Hodge persuaded other small Webcasters not to take the deal from SoundExchange.

That decision may have been costly. Rosenthal threatened small Webcasters in print by saying that seeking a congressional solution will only hurt chances for individual negotiations later.

posted by MiltonRandKalman at 1:34 PM on July 3, 2007


What the hell are you talking about? Most independent labels are either members of or distributed by members of the RIAA. Independent is just another marketing term to get you to buy into something, though in this case it's supposed to make you feel like you're making some kind of moral choice based upon to whom you hand off some cash.

"Oh no, I give my money to Beef Jerky Records, not the RIAA!"

"Yeah, I buy directly from The Trucker Hat Banjo Five!"

Does you a lot of fucking good when both are distributed by or members of the RIAA.

Self-righteous, sanctimonious music snobs annoy the fuck out of me because they're just so damn clueless. Please, just download your music, don't pay the musicians or their labels, and shut the hell up. It would be a lot easier to swallow than the sheer ignorance that gets spouted on the internet at the music industry day in and day out. Chances are HIGH that something you paid for sent money to the music industry's trade association. Even if you buy it at an "independent" retailer or directly from the artist.

Really, just go download it.

Oh, and notice: It doesn't matter whether the music that is being played was originally recorded by an RIAA artist. The royalties are paid to SoundExchange, who distributes them to the RIAA anyway. So it's kind of a double fuck you to independent labels -- not only are they NOT getting paid royalties, but the RIAA is receiving royalties for the work of artists that aren't theirs. And this is mandated by law. Who exactly is being served?
posted by Captaintripps at 1:47 PM on July 3, 2007


So it's kind of a double fuck you to independent labels -- not only are they NOT getting paid royalties, but the RIAA is receiving royalties for the work of artists that aren't theirs.
This isn't true. SoundExchange makes a big deal about the number of indie labels they represent as a way to downplay the fact that they're little more than a front for the RIAA, with RIAA members sitting on their board and everything.
posted by thatswherebatslive at 2:01 PM on July 3, 2007


drstein: A few years ago, I discovered streaming radio on the 'Net... I was a little late to the party. My music purchases increased manyfold, essentially by an infinite multiplier, because I hadn't bought music in many years. I went from $0 to $50ish/mo, which isn't a whole lot for serious music people, but it was a lot for me.

The thing is, I tried a hell of a lot more music than that... I was probably sampling 2 or 3 hundred dollars' worth each month. So the RIAA looks at that and says, "wow! piracy just cost us $250!" In actual fact, at least in my case, piracy netted them $50/mo they wouldn't otherwise have gotten.

Then they started suing their customers. I absolutely refuse to reward that kind of behavior; in buying a new CD, I'd be sending them $5 to go sue someone's grandmother with. My new music purchases have dropped back to 0 as a direct consequence of their thuggish behavior.

In other words, they started attacking exactly the people who spent money on their products. Instead of the real revenue gain, they saw an imaginary revenue loss, and in an attempt to stop it, they made it come true.
posted by Malor at 2:02 PM on July 3, 2007 [2 favorites]


Captaintripps:
I'm not sure where cobra_high_tigers got his information but if it's a matter of a law mandating that royalties be paid to an independent organization (SoundExchange, though created by the RIAA, is now independent of it), regardless of whether that organization actually owns or represents the owners of the intellectual property that the royalties are being collected for, is fucked up. All you're saying is that many independent labels are represented by the RIAA. That doesn't make a law that requires that requires royalties for all music be directed at the RIAA, or this independent organization that represents most of the same labels that the RIAA would represent, any less questionable.

I wish I knew for sure whether SoundExchange collects royalties for all music broadcast on internet radio and how it ensures that these royalties reach the owners of the intellectual property involved. Does anyone know?
posted by Shakeer at 2:09 PM on July 3, 2007


Rosenthal threatened small Webcasters in print by saying that seeking a congressional solution will only hurt chances for individual negotiations later.

And, vice versa.
posted by namespan at 2:19 PM on July 3, 2007


Holding out for Congressional action to reverse the decisions of the Copyright Royalty Board is, in my opinion, a fool's game. Many Congress critters are themselves copyright holders, and as a body, since the passage of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the consistent action of Congress has been to increase copyright protections, and to introduce new classes of rights under copyright. Congress, and presumably the majority of the American people, are solidly behind this.

For most listeners of broadcast media, including over-the-air radio, satellite radio, and Internet radio, the absolute amount of royalties paid makes little difference in commercial broadcasting, as the advertiser's rates are adjusted to compensate for increased royalty costs, in a pass through mechanism. And as I understand it, commercial broadcasters who are also streaming over the Internet are exempt from the raise in performance rights, anyway, on their Internet streams. I suspect that non-commercial Internet broadcasters who want to continue broadcasting, and who have a developed listener base can find ways of monetizing that base, becoming, in effect, commercial operations. The very smallest operations, with very limited audiences, may go towards other, non-network, non-realtime distribution models, virtually without notice to the mainstream public, which is just additional confirmation that they never had the political muscle they would have needed to back the strategy of Rusty Hodge and SaveNetRadio.

In my opinion, Rusty Hodge and the SaveNetRadio crowd have not negotiated in good faith at any point in the rate making process, preferring to try activist tactics, in order to try to hold on to a past in which they got a free ride, and could keep the bulk of their income streams, in exchange for what they saw as their contribution in creating new media. Very well, they have reaped the advantage of that honeymoon period, already. The representations those tactics are built on, going forward, did not sway the Copyright Royalty Board to a reconsideration in April of the royalty rates it promulgated in March, nor, so far, a Federal court to which that decision was appealed. The U.S. Justice Department has now filed with that court, siding with SoundExchange. If the activist tactics advocated by Rusty Hodge et al fail in a further attempt to reverse the expressed intent of Congress, as it appears now that they will, they should not be surprised when the rights administration organizations demand what is legally theirs, after July 15, without willingness to compromise.
posted by paulsc at 2:26 PM on July 3, 2007


Really, just go download it.

Amen. When I visualize the industry, it's sometimes impossible for me to see anything other than a mushroom cloud of bullshit middlemen perpetually trying to negotiate higher and higher rents off of every available avenue.

Sometimes I think the only solution is to completely starve the entire monster of revenue for a decade or two, until the rentiers get frustrated and start playing monopoly on another board. From that perspective, not only is downloading not a bad thing, you're quite possibly part of the problem when you put cash into the system.

Sometimes I'm weak, though.
posted by namespan at 2:42 PM on July 3, 2007


unknowncommand writes "I miss Napster so much."

Wait, what? Did you every try Audiogalaxy in the days prior to its current opt-in system?
It was like comparing the iPhone to a telegraph. Now there's bittorrent and swarms of public and private trackers. We don't get antigravity belts or meals in pill form in the future, but we do have great information exchange systems. Napster was not one of them. It was one of the worst file sharing systems, almost like it was designed by a teenager...
posted by mullingitover at 2:51 PM on July 3, 2007


Captaintripps writes "What the hell are you talking about? Most independent labels are either members of or distributed by members of the RIAA. Independent is just another marketing term to get you to buy into something, though in this case it's supposed to make you feel like you're making some kind of moral choice based upon to whom you hand off some cash.

"'Oh no, I give my money to Beef Jerky Records, not the RIAA!'

"'Yeah, I buy directly from The Trucker Hat Banjo Five!'

"Does you a lot of fucking good when both are distributed by or members of the RIAA.

"Self-righteous, sanctimonious music snobs annoy the fuck out of me because they're just so damn clueless. Please, just download your music, don't pay the musicians or their labels, and shut the hell up. It would be a lot easier to swallow than the sheer ignorance that gets spouted on the internet at the music industry day in and day out. Chances are HIGH that something you paid for sent money to the music industry's trade association. Even if you buy it at an 'independent' retailer or directly from the artist.

"Really, just go download it.

"
Oh, and notice: It doesn't matter whether the music that is being played was originally recorded by an RIAA artist. The royalties are paid to SoundExchange, who distributes them to the RIAA anyway. So it's kind of a double fuck you to independent labels -- not only are they NOT getting paid royalties, but the RIAA is receiving royalties for the work of artists that aren't theirs. And this is mandated by law. Who exactly is being served?"

--------

It doesn't matter if your favorite band is from an RIAA affiliated record label or not (if you want to know, you can check at RIAAradar.com). The RIAA has nothing to do with the distribution of royalties. They're just a trade group that represents the record labels' interests, like increasing the length of copyrights. They, on behalf of the record labels, sue teenagers because they (representing the labels) claim to have lost revenue because you downloaded a music album instead of purchasing it in a store, where their clients get some of that money from the album sale.

This Graphic sums up very concisely (more than what I could write in 30 minutes) the licensing issues.

Why analog (AM/FM) doesn't have to pay as much ? Well, you can thank the lobbyists of AM/FM stations to prevent this from happening. Is this complicated ? Yes. Very. You can thank lawyers for that. Hence, for many people, the status quo appears unfair since AM/FM station owners appear at first glance, to be able to afford payments and remain operating at a profit.


Here's a list of artists whom soundexchange have not distributed the revenues to.

posted by fizzix at 3:06 PM on July 3, 2007 [2 favorites]


Captaintripps: What the hell are you talking about? Most independent labels are either members of or distributed by members of the RIAA... Self-righteous, sanctimonious music snobs annoy the fuck out of me because they're just so damn clueless... Chances are HIGH that something you paid for sent money to the music industry's trade association. Even if you buy it at an "independent" retailer or directly from the artist.

Who shat in your oatmeal? Conflating the use of "indie" to refer to major-label artists who fit into a certain demographic category (i.e., Modest Mouse) with the use of "independent" to mean "labels or bands that don't play ball with RIAA or SoundExchange" is a pretty bonkers rhetorical move. Unless you're trying to imply that NO labels are actually independent of the majors, which is even less sensical.

I don't know exactly what I did to provoke your uninformed indignance, but get this: it doesn't matter what the fuck track is being played on Internet radio. The broadcaster pays royalties per track, per listener, to SoundExchange. In my radio days, I could play a song by a band that I was a member of that was not affiliated with any label, major or independent, and that had not released an album ever, and my college radio station was still required to pay royalties to SoundExchange for it. I never received any royalties from SoundExchange. So who got paid for the airplay of my music?

Or, just rage against trucker hats, like this is 2001 or something. Whatever helps you sleep at night.

thatswherebatslive: I will admit, I spoke out of my experiences with SoundExchange from, at the most recently, two years ago. I assumed that the "independent" labels they referred to were the types that Captaintripps was raging against, that is to say, the major label "independent" imprints. If they are affiliated with more actual independent labels now, then at least that's an improvement. But, as I said above, it's not like they're NOT charging for songs from labels that they don't represent.

Shakeer: You put it better than I did. As for collecting royalties on ALL music, that's what they did at our station, anyway. We received a rather nastily-worded letter when these royalties were first being rolled into place (retroactively, btw) that any omissions in our reporting information would be treated with suspicion, and likely penalties.

On preview: Thanks for the links, fizzix. BTW, I scrolled to the bottom of that list of unpaid artists, and couldn't help but notice Zebrahead, a band who allmusic.com says released three albums on Sony. So these guys aren't even pretending they're paying all the artists on major labels, either
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 3:20 PM on July 3, 2007 [2 favorites]


paulsc: It isn't just activist tactics that they've employed -- there is more than a wiff of activist ideals underlying their campaign, which makes it easier to see one reason why they could behave in a way that could be interpreted strategically sub-optimal manner... depending on the game you're playing.

So, sure, congressional action is a long shot. Is it really that much less likely, though, than the probability net radio will survive in a form its supporters care about under terms dictated by SoundExchange and similar arbiters?

Of course, that may be another way of saying the net radio has little chance to survive in that form at all.

I think it's even possible that the activists understand that, and have simply already arrived at personal conclusions about the terms under which they're interested in the enterprise at all.
posted by namespan at 3:25 PM on July 3, 2007


mullingitover: Audiogalaxy didn't have as much of the stuff that I wanted; I don't know why. Were people scared off by Napster's demise? Did AG have chat? I can't remember. I *was* a teenager, so Napster suited me just fine. I just found Shawn Fanning's myspace. Ick. Hopes dashed. We are so not getting married.
posted by unknowncommand at 3:46 PM on July 3, 2007


Word.
posted by ZachsMind at 7:03 PM on July 3, 2007


Combine this from drstein:

Practically everyone I knew that used Napster was just downloading everything that they could and didn't buy a goddamned thing.

With this from Malor:

The thing is, I tried a hell of a lot more music than that... I was probably sampling 2 or 3 hundred dollars' worth each month. So the RIAA looks at that and says, "wow! piracy just cost us $250!" In actual fact, at least in my case, piracy netted them $50/mo they wouldn't otherwise have gotten.

And you get to the heart of the issue with "Filesharing killing the music industry". Those people you knew who just downloaded everything they could off Napster...do you really think if Napster wasn't there they would have bought everything they could instead? What proportion of the music they downloaded do you think they ever even listened to? I know these sort of people; total leeched, brag about their 140gb MP3 collection. In the old days they got on FTP servers and downloaded ever folder. Then they got on Napster and downloaded everything they could find. Now they get on bittorrent and download everything they can find. But they hardly ever actually listen to any of it, they just somehow feel they need to have it...

In the words of the Buddhist master...if a song is downloaded to your harddrive but no-one is there to hear it, does it make any impact on record company profits?
posted by Jimbob at 7:07 PM on July 3, 2007


And the answer is no.

Those people wouldn't have bought diddly anyway. However, IF the music industry were to actually make stuff that'd be worthy of buying, listening to it via napster or other resources would encourage those who can to do so. Otherwise they may not have known about band X or singer Y.

I think what scares the music industry more than anything is the lack of control. The fact that people can now make copies and distribute them as if they were water causes their previous market models to shrivel. They have to come up with things that can't be downloaded. Things that can't be copied. I don't mean invent artificial ways to make digitized stuff scrambled. That's bogus and anything is hackable given enough time.

They can no longer invent a band outta gimmicks and trickery. The days of New Kids On The Block and Spice Girls are OVER.

People who have money WILL pay money for quality. All the music industry is, with it's "best of the 60s 70s 80s 90s and today" inventory, is quantity, and they've exhausted it. The public is no longer going to buy the same crap in a new package. We did that with vinyl, eight-track, cassette, CD... We're done.

Filesharing is a symptom of the cancer that's killing the industry. It's not the cause. It's an effect.
posted by ZachsMind at 9:52 PM on July 3, 2007


Jimbob:

This isn't about file-sharing. It's about internet radio.

I work for a non-profit college radio station, and have spent each of my semesters and summers in college DJing for that station as well. I know that my experience working for the radio station has nurtured my interest in popular music, exposing me to new artists and keeping me engaged enough in the industry to spend my money on music that I care about. I also know that as a DJ I am actively exposing other fans to new music and directly encouraging them to buy records and attend shows. It's my job. In fact, the radio station also sponsors and hosts shows, further promoting artists and generating revenue for them. Most directly, many college radio stations report their charts to CMJ, and an artist's performance on CMJ charts can very much determine their early success. Record labels know all of this very well, and so radio stations like mine receive dozens of new CDs every week to promote, for free. That, along with donations and a few CDs a year that we buy with fundraising revenue, constitutes the entirety of our library.

If enforced, the new royalty rates would certainly harm my radio station and make an internet broadcast, our primary means of broadcast, impossible to support. We don't make any money, we can't pay any royalties. This sort of effort, as directed against non-profit independent radio stations, constitutes a direct attack on music fans. The only people benefiting from non-profit internet radio stations are those who listen to them and those whose music is played on them. If record labels are sending us free new music to play and thus promote, how does it make any sense that SoundExchange should be collecting revenues on that music? We're given this music by its owners, and told to play it. We don't make any profit from doing this, not even any revenue. Now the government is telling us that we have to pay a royalty on that music?

Imagine if a public library (or a university one) had to pay per-reader, per-book royalties to publishers for all of its books, even if some of those books were donated to it by the owners of the intellectual property.

Now I realize that you may have been speaking only about file-sharing, but the fact that the RIAA and other such organizations would also target internet radio stations in such a fashion suggests that the problem is more as ZachsMind puts it, symptomatic "of the cancer that's killing the industry". The RIAA's relationships of music fans, be they file-sharers, radio listeners, or DJs is fucked up, and needs to be looked at more broadly. This isn't as simple as recovering lost revenue.
posted by Shakeer at 10:23 PM on July 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


Yeah I was speaking only about filesharing, really...was just taking on some filesharing-relevant comments further up in the thread. Comments that really have nothing to do with internet radio, but they always seem to pop up whenever someone mentions the RIAA and evil...

And ZachsMind is completely right. The music industry is fucked. As I've said in previous threads, it's fucked because it is very quickly becoming irrelevant. Artists don't need some monolithic corporate machine to press their vinyl and market it and ship it to record stores worldwide anymore. Their MySpace profiles and online music stores quite often do a better job. And they don't necessarily need hundreds of thousands of record company dollars behind them in order to record their songs. A friend with a copy of ProTools can quite often do a better job. They don't need tens of thousands of dollars to film a video clip and pay to get it played on cable TV to promote their music. YouTube can quite often do a better job. They don't need to buy time on commercial radio. Net radio can quite often do a better job.

And what the industry fears most is the level playing field that this creates. It was easy when they only had to worry about funding and marketing and managing the big-name artists, in the knowledge that they were at the top of the hill and all the little guys couldn't climb that slippery slope. Suddenly, the internet has given them all a ladder (net radio is just one rung). I'll quit with the far-stretched metaphores here and just say that the industry is scared shitless. It's had it's century, now it's time to move on.
posted by Jimbob at 12:20 AM on July 4, 2007


If they thought we were going to stand by while they cold-blood murdered another up-and-coming technology because it threatens the dinosaurs -- guess they were wrong.

All they learned from Napster was to ratchet up the brutality. Yeah, they're that stoopid.
posted by Twang at 2:02 AM on July 4, 2007


"... If enforced, the new royalty rates would certainly harm my radio station and make an internet broadcast, our primary means of broadcast, impossible to support. ..."
posted by Shakeer at 1:23 AM on July 4

Unless your station is logging over 200 simultaneous listeners on its stream, or over 146,000 Aggregate Tuning Hours per month, your contention is factually incorrect, under an offer made by SoundExchange on May 22. Only a handful of college stations, at the largest institutions, could hope to have this problem, and even if they did, the second tier royalties contained in that offer are intentionally lower than commercial rates. Under this proposal, 99% of college stations will pay the same 2002/2004 rates they have been paying. Period. College stations that haven't started streaming can afford to do so, if they wish.

But if your audience swells to commercial numbers, presumably you'll be able to monetize that tremendous interest, through subscription, advertising, or donations, so as to be able to continue your incredibly successful programming strategies. You'll just pay additional royalties, at lower than commercial rates, for ATH over 146,000 per month. What is "unfair" about that?

It's this kind of over-blown, "heard it from Rusty Hodge and KCRW," commenting that is irksome, if not irresponsible. Rusty and KCRW want your station to reject the SoundExchange offer, and hope that Congress will be stampeded into overthrowing the CRB. Doing that is in Rusty Hodge's interest, not your college station's.
posted by paulsc at 6:05 AM on July 4, 2007


What is "unfair" about that?

Mostly that it lets S.E. dictate how stations across the country run their business. They've legislated themselves into the position, sure, but it doesn't mean that stations have to like it.

Most college stations went from a $250 SWSA rate to the $500/year rate - but there are indeed those out there that are gonna hit that 146k ATH cap. Probably more than you think.

Seeing these rates double - or even 'cap' at a tenfold rate - still looks like a pretty excessive change that most people are justified in fighting. Because, hey, once that one's in, what's five years down the road, right?

And as I said above, there's the recordkeeping and reporting issues, which place an entirely new, cumbersome, costly burden on stations where none previously existed.
posted by bhance at 7:44 AM on July 4, 2007


Yes, I wasn't addressing the royalties issue at all, in fact, merely the use of this stupidly amorphous term. But, since you brought up RIAA Radar, that site's so inaccurate it's laughable (just read the last letter and response here. Again, just go download the music.

It doesn't matter if your favorite band is from an RIAA affiliated record label or not (if you want to know, you can check at RIAAradar.com). - fizzx

cobra: You shit in my oatmeal by using an entirely meaningless marketing term that everyone seems to throw around. Everyone's definition is meaningless and usually a shifting-goalpost definition every time at that. The royalties issue is entirely secondary to me (though I agree with you on it).

I'm not implying anything, I'm outright saying that most music businesses are in bed with the RIAA and the majors in one way or another, no matter what the RIAA's member list or RIAAradar.com have to say about it. Labels, distributors, retailers, indies, social networking sites, SoundExchange; they all share a nice cozy bed. Which makes the self-righteous crusades of the RIAA and its opponents so fucking hilarious.
posted by Captaintripps at 7:58 AM on July 4, 2007


So the supply siders infected the new music industry. Another good example of how robust capitalism only works when based on social equality, and never the other way around. The music industry was raised on public airwaves.
posted by Brian B. at 8:51 AM on July 4, 2007


"... Most college stations went from a $250 SWSA rate to the $500/year rate ..."

The base rate of $250 or $500 is based upon the enrollment of the institution, just as it was in 2002, and again in 2004. If you were under 10,000 enrollement in 2004, and still are, you still pay $250, just like you did in 2004. If your institutions enrollment went from under 10,000 in 2004, to over 10,000 now, you'd see an "increase" to $500. But if you dropped enrollment below 10,000, you'd drop base fee, too.

"... but there are indeed those out there that are gonna hit that 146k ATH cap. Probably more than you think. ..."

Don't college students do math any more? The only way you can possibly exceed 146K ATH is to have more than 200 listeners streaming at some point during the month. Because 24 hours/day X 30 days X 200 streams = 144000 ATH. If you've delivering more than 200 streams, you're not really a small scale non-profit operation any more, are you? But you can still stream to thousands, if you want. Just pay the additional, but still-below-commercial royalty rate for additional per-song impressions in additional streams, which you generate from your amazingly popular, and therefore marketable, programming.

Which, compared to asking Congress to institute special price controls by legislative fiat, seems pretty "fair" to me.
posted by paulsc at 9:27 AM on July 4, 2007


Which, compared to asking Congress to institute special price controls by legislative fiat, seems pretty "fair" to me.

It seems unfair for Congress to grant exclusive copyright without balancing the interests involved. If the current scheme limits art or expression, then it violates the original reasoning offered for copyright protection.
posted by Brian B. at 10:20 AM on July 4, 2007


"If the current scheme limits art or expression, ..."
posted by Brian B. at 1:20 PM on July 4

Do you understand what a "compulsory license" is, under copyright? It compels the holder of copyright to grant license for use, in exchange for the lower of A) mutually negotiated fees, or B) statutory fees (in this case, Congress has delegated the setting of fees to the Copyright Royalty Board, to make the rate setting non-political). So, the whole point of compulsory licensing and fair use provisions is to prevent copyright from interfering with free expression.

In other words, you pay the same rates as everyone else, unless you voluntarily negotiate a reduced use fee with SoundExchange or the copyright holder, and in return for that fee, copyright holders have no basis to refuse you the right to use their works to make as much or as little money as you can, or care to make. Regardless of your politics, your associations, your commentary, your attitude, you pay your money, and you get the same right of use as anyone else, and the copyright holder can't refuse to license you, or charge you more than preset statutory rates for licensing, no matter how much they don't like you, or how much more they like your competitors.

Sheesh. What could be more "fair"?
posted by paulsc at 10:57 AM on July 4, 2007


If your institutions enrollment went from under 10,000 in 2004, to over 10,000 now, you'd see an "increase" to $500.

Is there some sort of post-CRB decision or offer on the table from SE that supercedes these mimimums in the CRB's determination? Because the minimums laid out in there say $500, regardless of the enrollment.

SE's own press release also reiterates this $500 min. So if there's some sort of stipulation re: being able to keep the $250 flat fee based on institution size, that'd be great, I could use that.

And yes, I know how to calculate ATH - and I reiterate that there are college and nonprofits out there that exceed the 146k cap. Being forced to 'monetize' their popularity because of rate hikes is exactly the sort of forced meddling in their affairs that they are pissed off about.
posted by bhance at 11:05 AM on July 4, 2007


"... Is there some sort of post-CRB decision or offer on the table from SE that supercedes these mimimums in the CRB's determination? ..."
posted by bhance at 2:05 PM on July 4

Um, that offer would be the one referred to broadly in the June 29 press release you linked (but maybe didn't read), fourth paragraph, where it says:
"SoundExchange is also currently in active negotiations with small commercial webcasters and non-commericial webcasters such as public radio and college stations to provide below-market rates under terms similar to those they enjoyed in previous years under the Small Webcaster Settlement Act."
[emphasis added]

The substance of that offer, which I linked to previously, is remarkably easy to understand, if you take 3 minutes and read it.

"... Being forced to 'monetize' their popularity because of rate hikes is exactly the sort of forced meddling in their affairs that they are pissed off about."

You know, in a "balancing of interests" between copyright holders and people running 200+ stream Internet Radio stations, I've really got to complement the Copyright Royalty Board on the fine job they've done. bhance, if your argument boils down to the possibility that a few Internet radio stations that are clearly providing commercial level services are going to be inconvenienced, I'm thinking you've crawled way out on the rotten tree limb that Rusty Hodge has sold you.

Because, as I hope you understand, if their case is truly dire, they can independently approach SoundExchange with their business case, and have about a 99% chance of making a deal. I think the rub is that folks that can afford the bandwidth for those kinds of stream bases, are going to be hard pressed to look like they're in dire financial straits. And not one of them even tried to make that case, in dollars and cents, to the CRB, either during initial proceedings before the March rate making, or in the April review process.
posted by paulsc at 11:49 AM on July 4, 2007


In other words, you pay the same rates as everyone else, unless you voluntarily negotiate a reduced use fee with SoundExchange or the copyright holder, and in return for that fee, copyright holders have no basis to refuse you the right to use their works to make as much or as little money as you can, or care to make. Regardless of your politics, your associations, your commentary, your attitude, you pay your money, and you get the same right of use as anyone else, and the copyright holder can't refuse to license you, or charge you more than preset statutory rates for licensing, no matter how much they don't like you, or how much more they like your competitors.

Sheesh. What could be more "fair"?


So we are talking about civil rights now, but the public good is also not negotiable in this sense. If we define art as a public good, just like medicine or education, then government enforced "fair" is not merely paying the same as everyone else. Essentially the same argument as progressive taxation where profits are taxed, and not simply flat on income.
posted by Brian B. at 11:53 AM on July 4, 2007


Interesting - so it's in the works/negotiations but not a done deal. For the stations that were already invoiced and paid for the $500 rate, it'll be interesting to see how that gets dealt with if they knock it back.

down to the possibility that a few Internet radio stations that are clearly providing commercial level services are going to be inconvenienced

The argument's much larger than that - but yes, if you've got to stick me in a box with either the SoundExchanges or the Rusty Hodges of the world on this one, yes, I'll take the Rusty Hodges any day of the week.
posted by bhance at 12:06 PM on July 4, 2007


"So we are talking about civil rights now, but the public good is also not negotiable in this sense. ..."
posted by Brian B. at 2:53 PM on July 4

I'm not 100% sure we're talking about "civil rights," at all. But as to your assertion that "the public good is also not negotiable in this sense." please permit me to disagree entirely, and cite the long history of eminent domain in real property rights. Only where a public good can't be provided by any other feasible means, except the condemnation of private property rights, is eminent domain supposed to be excercised. Since the mechanism of copyright combined with statutory licensing inherently protects the public good by enforcing use rights for all in the case of intellectual property we trade as music, within fair use and statutory licensing provisions, the public good is entirely provided for by those exceptions and pricing mechanisms. If you feel otherwise, you're free to try to persuade Congress to enumerate additional copyright exceptions, but nobody involved in pressing for the Internet Radio Equality Act is even trying to do that. The IREA is a pure price fixing measure, to be applied, its supporters hope, despite factual evidence and public hearing processes already conducted by the CRB, at the direction of Congress.

It's crass, in the extreme, in my opinion.
posted by paulsc at 12:13 PM on July 4, 2007


paulsc: Sheesh. What could be more "fair"?

I don't know, how about not forcing Internet broadcasters to pay royalties to three groups that terrestrial radio doesn't have to pay? I mean, unless your definition of "fair" involves charging a smaller, less profitable group of broadcasters several fees that larger, commercial stations on a different medium are not charged.

Also, 200 listeners isn't as many as you seem to think.
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 12:24 PM on July 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


"Interesting - so it's in the works/negotiations but not a done deal."
posted by bhance at 3:06 PM on July 4

From what I understand via public pronouncements by SoundExchange, the offer has been on the table since about the week of May 22, and it can be a "done deal," as soon as your station management picks up the phone and agrees to it with SoundExchange. Bring up the difference in minimums when you call, and I bet they'd send you a refund check.

Or, you can stay out on that tree limb with Rusty, and hope that Congress is going to reverse itself. Because after July 15, if Congress doesn't act, SoundExchange can just withdraw its offers for lack of takers before the statutory rights effective time frame, and collect the statutory license from those that want to continue streaming thereafter. That's kind of how statutory rights are anticipated to work, as I understand it.
posted by paulsc at 12:24 PM on July 4, 2007


fees that larger, commercial stations on a different medium are not charged

For what it's worth, they're gearing up for that one, too.
posted by bhance at 12:30 PM on July 4, 2007


"... I mean, unless your definition of "fair" involves charging a smaller, less profitable group of broadcasters several fees that larger, commercial stations on a different medium are not charged. ..."

It's amazing to me how distorted these viewpoints, all covered in CRB hearings, get. The basic case for the royalty exemption for over-the-air-broadcasters Internet streaming services is that, by nature and program content, those streams, which are to be duplicates of over-the-air-programming, are inherently of limited geographical and community interest. Thus, it makes sense to extend the performance rights limits for over the air broadcasters to their Internet streams. They don't materially market to a worldwide audience, and legally, under their broadcast licenses, bear a burden of community service to local communities, that pure Internet radio stations do not. If those same broadcast stations start streams that don't mirror their air content, those non-broadcast streams are subject to the additional royalty provisions, too.

If you have a worldwide market via an Internet streaming service (Internet radio station), and the means to instantly and reliably verify audience dynamics (a "click stream" product), and have no burden of public service to specific communities, then the CRB seemed to think you had something more valuable than an over-the-air broadcaster's local program stream. I agree, as do many people. I can think of about 100 ways to micromarket the Internet radio stream that are right out the window with the broadcast stream.
posted by paulsc at 12:36 PM on July 4, 2007


Only where a public good can't be provided by any other feasible means, except the condemnation of private property rights, is eminent domain supposed to be excercised. Since the mechanism of copyright combined with statutory licensing inherently protects the public good by enforcing use rights for all in the case of intellectual property we trade as music, within fair use and statutory licensing provisions, the public good is entirely provided for by those exceptions and pricing mechanisms.

I don't think that eminent domain applies to the concept of generating more income by limiting copies with government's blessing (although I'm sure that by confusing the two much can be gained). If free expression is not a public good, then the government doesn't need to be aggressive or proactive in protecting the right of individuals to commodify it. If it is a public good, then we have a dilemma in not helping to widen distribution in public policy. And, I'm only defending a principle, not a particular fee structure.
posted by Brian B. at 12:38 PM on July 4, 2007


"... then the government doesn't need to be aggressive or proactive in protecting the right of individuals to commodify it. If it is a public good, then we have a dilemma in not helping to widen distribution in public policy. ..."

Wow. You've managed to completely invert the concept of compulsory licensing under copyright. Copyright isn't patent. Compulsory license under copyright explicitly exists "to widen distribution." It takes the copyright holder completely out of the loop in determining distribution. Hence the tremendous interest in the last 20 years in patenting intellectual property, where possible, rather than copyrighting it.
posted by paulsc at 12:50 PM on July 4, 2007


As an afterthought, I just realized the absurdity in comparing real property, which is inherently limited in supply, to copies or broadcasts, which can be generated at will. Copies can only turn into a limited supply with government enforcement, and thus the comparison is circular and self-serving.
posted by Brian B. at 12:51 PM on July 4, 2007


Wow. You've managed to completely invert the concept of compulsory licensing under copyright. Copyright isn't patent. Compulsory license under copyright explicitly exists "to widen distribution."

Paul, you are arguing the status quo, which we all know to be a combination of many influences. If by principle, then argue it. If by accident, then it's fair game.
posted by Brian B. at 12:59 PM on July 4, 2007


"... I just realized the absurdity in comparing real property, which is inherently limited in supply, to copies or broadcasts, ..."
posted by Brian B. at 3:51 PM on July 4

You've got to really stretch to say I made that comparison, Brian B. Particularly when I said, explicitly, immediately thereafter:
"... Since the mechanism of copyright combined with statutory licensing inherently protects the public good by enforcing use rights for all in the case of intellectual property we trade as music, within fair use and statutory licensing provisions, the public good is entirely provided for by those exceptions and pricing mechanisms. ..."
My point in raising the specter of eminent domain was simply that the principal of debating public vs. private interest is a long one, and has contained a respect for due process, and a sense of the difficulty in arriving at a balance thereof, for a long time. This, in refutation of your assertion that "the public good is also not negotiable" when it manifestly has been, since shortly after the Magna Carta limited the absolute rights of kings.
posted by paulsc at 1:09 PM on July 4, 2007


Paul, I wasn't accusing you, as it was a general afterthought. In a similar vein, if the public good is negotiable, then it isn't the good we all refer to ideally. It was a proposition, not an assertion, but it's not as if we're on the same page here, metaphorically speaking of course.
posted by Brian B. at 1:13 PM on July 4, 2007


I wish SoundExchange and the RIAA well with their latest pyrrhic victory, and when the only webcasters left standing are those with playlists and business models comparable to the media conglomerates, and CD sales continue their plunge as a result, I'll be listening to European streams and not buying one fucking goddamn CD from any RIAA affiliated label. Enjoy your slow suicide, assholes.
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:27 PM on July 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


They don't materially market to a worldwide audience, and legally, under their broadcast licenses, bear a burden of community service to local communities, that pure Internet radio stations do not.

This argument cannot be used to suggest that we owe them anything extra at all. If the internet is so much more free than radio in terms of distribution, then it demands explanation as to why the government needs to make laws favoring the copyright holders when the laws already seem to imply free distribution as a public right.
posted by Brian B. at 1:47 PM on July 4, 2007


paulsc: point taken about the justification for not charging terrestrial radio stations' Internet streams the same royalties, although I was originally referring instead to the fact that terrestrial radio stations' over-the-air broadcasts are exempt from those royalties while Internet broadcasts are not. That's the part that I find most unfair about the whole situation. Do you disagree about that? (not meant snarkily -- I appreciate many of the good replies that you've written thus far, and I'm honestly curious)
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 5:56 PM on July 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


"... Do you disagree about that? ..."

I don't know that whether my agreeing or disagreeing with a right or an exemption to a right that has been in continuous daily "use" for more than 70 years makes much difference, at this point. Historically, the broadcast exemption from paying the mechanical performance right came about in response to a convergence of a number of factors. Understanding those factors now, and deciding whether to keep or change that right or exemption is another argument. But the broadcast exemption did flow from a number of causes, many of which still make sense today:

1) At one point, all music on radio was "live." When music was desired for broadcast, musicians were hired, or invited, to play on air, period. Without a broadcast performance royalty exemption, it would have been unlikely that radio would have become a medium for recorded music programming.

2) The measurement of radio audiences in the beginning of the performance right exemption was pretty hit or miss. Collecting the appropriate performance royalty per use was technologically infeasible, until well into the 1950s, when reasonably accurate, low cost telephone surveys become practical. As late as the 1970s, both ASCAP and BMI still employed people in listening booths at their field offices to listen to "air checks" and hand note frequency of play, artist, and composition manually, on clipboards, as a means of estimating the publication royalty. An acquaintance of mine could listen to 2 different line sources, one in each ear, keep 2 separate tally sheets going, and write classical music of his own at the same time. This allowed him to make double the normal ASCAP/BMI rates for verification, which at that time amounted to something like $10 an hour, for double tally.

3) It's no secret that recording artists, record labels and broadcast stations have danced a complicated waltz for decades, and it continues to be a symbiotic relationship, that constantly threatens to become parasitic, in either direction. Payola and other scandals have erupted from both sides of those relationships, and I, for one, don't think think one side holds any moral high ground over the other. I think that eventually, the mechanical performance right exemption for terrestrial radio will be withdrawn, but I also expect that terrestrial radio will then de-emphasize music programming even more than it has already. It's just too hard to hold an audience with recorded music these days, and that is going to become constantly a bigger problem as personal music storage and programming options continue to penetrate the market. At some point, the very idea of "broadcasting" stops making sense, because it's not a broadcast if the audience isn't broad enough to be of interest to mainstream advertisers.

4) I view the demise of broadcast music programming, as we've already seen it, as something that is making us culturally poorer, not richer. Like it or not, when the popular "canon" ceases to be canon, the ability of movie makers, television and print media to make broad references to musical tropes drops. In the 1960s, you had to really turn rocks in the Nevada desert to find anybody who could honestly say they'd never heard "I Wanna Hold Your Hand," by the Fab Four. These days, half the people I ask can't name a single tune in the Billboard 100, and the majority of those that can, can't do it except in one or two genres to which they listen constantly. Something that once bound us together culturally, doesn't anymore.

All that said, I think there continues to be a fundemental difference between media where the cost of entry is miniscule and distribution is world wide, and that where there is significant investment cost to setup, and high ongoing operation costs, as well as regulatory burdens and risks to be met. If you want terrestrial, or even satellite radio, as we currently think of it, you have to provide some opportunity for profit, that takes into consideration the economics of the medium. It costs several hundred thousand dollars to put up a broadcast station, and a terrestrial station's power bills can run into the thousands of dollars a month, as can tower maintenance, and re-license engineering activities, such as antenna maintenance, proof of performance studies, repeater stations to overcome terrain problems, etc. If you want to load those outlets with mechanical performance royalty payments, then it is only fair to require Internet streaming programmers to be licensed under similar service and area restriction terms as terrestrial radio outlets, and to be held to equivalent regulatory standards, as well.

If hobbles are our only tool, let's hobble the horse then, as we hobble the donkey and the goat alike. So what if hobbles put an end to progress? At least it will be a scrupulously "fair" end of progress!

Until some geographically distributed wireless network infrastructure like WiMAX is nearly universally deployed, Internet radio simply can't cover the physical ground that remains terrestrial (and to a lesser extent, satellite) radio's niche. So I think there is continuing public interest in broadcast radio, that argues for continuing the current exemption from the mechanical performance royalty, although as music programming continues to recede from the airwaves, the broadcasters may be voluntarily giving up that exemption as a source of cost recovery.

And frankly, I think it's kind of wimpy on the part of Internet radio to fail to see it's unique technological opportunities, and capitalize on them. Internet radio isn't competing against broadcast radio for listener hours, at this point, in any real sense. It's competing against iPods, disk drives, television, movies, and cell phones for listener attention, as is increasingly, broadcast radio. In the main, broadcast radio has picked a few hours in each 24 hour workday to try to make its economic model work, and I think morning and afternoon drivetime is going to be broadcasting's last stand. If local weather, traffic and news can't keep an audience of commuters tuned in, you've lost them altogether. There's a big reason Apple hasn't put a radio tuner in iPods, and won't, although I see that as so heavy handed, I've got no use for an iPod, personally.

But there is so much capability that is included, essentially for "free," in TCP/IP networking as a delivery medium for streaming programming, that I'm kind of astounded that nobody has done a great job of picking up and monetizing those opportunities. Pandora and last.fm are taking baby steps in that direction, but how well they're selling their "audience management" capabilities is broadly unknown (although Googling the phrase "Pandora audience metric products" isn't very encouraging, if you're a forward thinking advertiser with deep pockets). Really knowing your listener, helping that listener to find entertainment, information and products based on that knowledge, measuring the awareness of an audience about a product or concept, and guiding it intelligently through advanced use of network communications are all things that Internet radio can, and should be doing. Because if they don't, eventually, once the cable systems have overrun the telcos in the voice communications business, the cable operators will turn around and clean the clocks of Internet radio operations.

So long as Internet broadcasters think that their battle is with copyright holders, or other broadcast media, they are, in my view, digging their own graves. And I think, over the next decade, the cable companies will extend into wireless metropolitan networks, and eat the opportunities that Internet streaming operations are letting go by. And that might put the last nails in the terrestrial and satellite broadcast business, too.
posted by paulsc at 8:21 PM on July 4, 2007


Since this thread's still kicking, that last discounted S.E. offer looks like it has a few interesting terms that almost guarantee its rejection.
posted by bhance at 9:12 AM on July 5, 2007


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