Going, going, gone.
April 8, 2002 1:13 AM   Subscribe

Going, going, gone. Despite royalty costs that are lower than for commercial stations, numerous college and community radio stations have either shut down their Internet streams or on the verge of doing so. It's not just royalties killing these webcasts -- there are also regulations that require college stations to report every song they play and restrictions that would force college stations to police how often they play any given artist. Stations are trying to unite and fight these restrictions, but is it too little, too late? Nearly twenty webcasts have already gone under...
posted by insomnia_lj (10 comments total)
Another place to go where you can help out is Save Internet Radio -- they have form letters you can send to your representatives.
posted by josh at 1:21 AM on April 8, 2002

This is not at all surprising.

Back in 1998 I attended the CMJ (College Music Journal) conference in New York - one of the panels I attended centered around using the internet as a new means of broadcast.

Under the impression that we would be receiving some useful technical advice, we were instead presented with a panel of internet entrepreneurs. They happily told us of their plans to commodify the usually marginalized programming of college and community radio. In essence, their goal was to present "underground" content in quantities so vast, and to audiences so huge, that it would become a profitable venture.

I asked the panel why we, as college radio people should be at all pleased by what they were doing. They were, after all, pulling the very foundation out from under small, non-commercial stations.

Their response was that there would always be a place for college radio; in the dorms, at the local car wash, etc.

These new restrictions serve only to further undercut the last hope of independent and commercial free radio. To help prevent this, lend your support to your local stations, follow josh's link, and keep yourself informed.
posted by aladfar at 8:14 AM on April 8, 2002

posted by rushmc at 8:35 AM on April 8, 2002

I had my own show for a semester in '99, and I was explained the rules as follows:
  • Play 1 song from the current playlist
  • Play PSAs/Promos a few times.
  • Read the news/bulletins once every hour.
  • Don't curse
  • If you play your own music, make sure you own a copy.
  • Log everything, especially the screw ups
My format was classic rock-ish, so I ended up playing a lot of b-sides, demos, and album tracks from my own CDs. There was no restriction as such as to how many times one could play a song from a particular band in one hour.

I loved it. I had so much freedom, it was amazing. The radio station also used to webcast the shows, so people on campus who used their PCs as their be all and end all multimedia centre could listen to the music. I know a lot of people who didn't have a CD Player or a walkman or a music system in their room because they had their PCs. So it made a lot of sense for the college radio to have webcasts. When you are on a T3+ LAN connection, streaming music is just as fast as listening to music of your own hard drive (well there's no buffering).
So the end of webcasting will mean a loss of target audience.
posted by riffola at 8:49 AM on April 8, 2002

Despite royalty costs that are lower than for commercial stations

That isn't really meaningful. The royalty costs per listener or as a percentage of revenue is MUCH higher than a normal radio station.
posted by McBain at 9:42 AM on April 8, 2002

Fucking bureaucrats. Practically everything I like about music on the Internet has been vanquished by the government and corporate interests. I really hope this thing falls through, as I'd go NUTS at work without my MP3 streams.

Maybe I should just kill myself now and save time.
posted by Down10 at 12:51 PM on April 8, 2002

Everyone knew this day was going to come. Non-commercial stations already pay a fee to artists and they should pay a fee for streaming the same material. All the stations should have known that the fees were retroactive. What I find funny are the stations who have shut their streams down, yet the regulations aren't even in place yet! Ignorance reigns.

That being said, the CARP proposal is terrible. The reporting requirements alone are a huge barrier to someone streaming. If something similar is proposed in Canada, I'll go to the Copyright Board myself.
posted by tranquileye at 1:26 PM on April 8, 2002

There are also regulations that require college stations to report every song they play and restrictions that would force college stations to police how often they play any given artist.

I'm not sure what you mean by this. Would commercial stations NOT have to report every song they play or abide by any "too much of a single artist" restrictions?
posted by aaron at 3:38 PM on April 8, 2002

riffola, your rules are more than mine.

My show's on 2 hours a week right now, and the rule (if there really are any) was:

- No music with indiscriminate swearing

And that's mostly because it's illegal to swear on the airwaves in Canada. Yes, this includes cellphones, TVs and pagers, too.

Fortunately I know some of the unsaid CRTC rules... say the station ID once per hour, and, for a college station, little to no "big name" content (not hard to adhere to anyways, for a techno show), and no more than 3 tracks from a CD in an hour. There's the Canadian content rule, but whaddaya gonna do 'bout it? ;)

I'd say about MP3 use, but I know better.

Heck, they even let us have live dance party radio shows. And this isn't a puny radio station, we broadcast at about 5000 watts (I think... we cover a good 25km - 30km radius).

I really suggest you try it out one day and get involved with a community radio station. You never know what bonuses you might end up with (I was given the priveledge of being part of the BoD -- I still don't really understand why), not to mention the cool experience of being On-Air.

aaron, You're supposed to abide by those rules, but in reality they get broken more often then not. Imagine how crappy a continuous mix or live party feed would sound with constant title announcements over the songs... (we usually just read them off once per half hour for the listener's benefit on our show anyways).

I suggest a day, or week, of no on-air broadcasts as a protest against these regulations. The RIAA et al. will soon give up once a main promotional outlet sends they message.
posted by shepd at 3:54 PM on April 8, 2002

"I'm not sure what you mean by this. Would commercial stations NOT have to report every song they play or abide by any "too much of a single artist" restrictions?"

Commercial stations would also have to abide by the same restrictions, however that is less ornerous, as they are commercial stations and generally pre-format their music anyway using some rather expensive software, as opposed to college stations, who would have to collect all the data and then have the playlists properly formatted, reviewed, and submitted. It can be a very arduous process indeed, that commercial stations can afford to handle better than college stations.

Another part of my point was that such restrictions would kill certain types of shows and specials that college radio stations just do better than commercial stations. Why should non-commercial stations face restrictions that, in effect, force them to operate like commercial stations? Who empowered the RIAA to essentially demand that college stations be formatted, anyway?

All I can say is that I feel sorry for DJs with punk shows. Imagine hand logging every ninety second song you played and still finding time to queue up the next track, slip in those PSAs, grab a smoke, and, hopefully, get a chance to run to the bathroom sometime.
posted by insomnia_lj at 12:56 AM on April 11, 2002

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