The Crack Down on Internet Radio pt 1

The Crack Down on Internet Radio pt 1
by Davey D... 4/26/02

This next story is a bit troublesome and I hope folks take it seriously... Music Industry executives are really trying to make some power moves on all fronts to control what we get to see and hear. As it stands now a lot of underground artists are able to access fans all over the world thanks to Internet and College radio stations that stream music. Many of you on this list either run your own stations or you're on college radio. Hence you clearly understand the benefits.

I'm just getting back after visiting more then 10 different cities and I can honestly say, if you close your eyes, you would be hard pressed to tell what city you' re in based upon you listening to the radio. One is likely to hear the same 20 songs down to the rotation whether you're in Boston, Philly or Madison, Wisconsin. These same 20 artists are usually connected to one of the 4 major record labels. Sure, you may hear a regional artists here or there. For example, you may hear E-40 in the Bay Area but never WC who is out of LA. You may hear Kool G Rap in New York, but you'll rarely hear Twista who is out of Chicago.

In dam near every city from little towns like Madison, Wisconsin to larger cities like Boston, I got bombarded with CDs. Right now, I have more then 100 CDs from local cats who are on small independent labels. Many of them cats have banging material and darn near all of them are dealing with the same challenge-and complaint LACK OF MEDIA ACCESS. They may find themselves in a mixshow here or there..but it's with every little regularity.

For the most part their local stations aren't trying to touch them and its usually for the same lame subjective excuses that has bigger holes then swiss cheese. Cats hear every excuse under the sun from their material not fitting the station's format to the age old 'are you being played in other cities'. When cats go to other cities to try and get airplay, the radio station which is usually owned by the same company wants to know why they aren't being played in their home town. When they go down to smaller markets, their told the PD has his hands tied and he's gotta follow the big boys. When they bounce to the so called Big Boys, they are told the increased competition means they have to play it safe hence they cannot take a chance on new material.

Rather then continously beat their heads against the wall, many have turned to Internet and College Radio. These outlets have always been viable alternatives, but in the age of media mergers and corporate media monopolization such outlets have taken on even more importance. Internet and college radio have provided many of these artists a platform and the opportunity to level the playing field. The fact that Internet radio and college radio which is streaming can be picked up all over the world has helped open doors. But now the industry big wigs are looking at dwindling record sales and placing blame on The Internet and streaming...

This is next article is courtesy of the Riverfront Times.. It explains a little bit of whats going on...


Internet Radio Shaky's Future

by Rene Spencer Saller of Riverfront Times

Air Piracy Internet-only radio faces a shaky future thanks to the grasping hands of the Recording Industry Association of America

Could the Recording Industry Association of America get any more demonic? Wasn't it enough that they shut down Napster and forced the RFT to change the name of our beloved music awards [Radar Station, April 10]? Now those bastards are going after Internet radio -- which, for many people, is the only way to escape the sickening corporate-controlled cesspool that is commercial radio.

It's a long, complicated and depressing tale, but it boils down to this: The RIAA believes Internet radio stations should pay much higher fees than conventional radio stations pay. Currently, regular radio stations pay songwriter royalties, but, because the RIAA considers regular radio a promotional tool, it's off the hook when it comes to performance royalties and additional payments to the labels. For chrissakes, thanks to the miraculous legal loophole known as independent promoters (i.e., bribe-facilitators), major labels routinely pay commercial radio stations to broadcast their artists. That's because they recognize commercial radio for what it is: a way to force-feed their inferior wares to a captive audience.

Internet radio changed all that. People who weren't satisfied with the usual dreck could, through the magic of the World Wide Web, find a station that corresponded to their tastes. Whether it's French cheese-house, Australian punk rock, Laotian death metal or one of the several million other subgenres that aren't represented by Clear Channel or the few other megacorporations that control the airwaves, chances are somebody, somewhere, digs this kind of music enough to want to stream it over the Internet.

Still giddy from their victory over Napster, the RIAA decided to take it one step further and squelch the streaming of music over the Internet altogether. Their official argument boils down to this: Online signals are superior because they are digital and therefore are susceptible to piracy; regular radio signals aren't clear enough for anyone to steal. That's total bullshit, of course, because you can't download music from a Webstream -- moreover, even listeners with high-speed connections often experience glitches and random hiccups. Nevertheless, the RIAA believes it should earn revenues from Internet-only radio that it can't get from land-based radio -- even the ones that simultaneously broadcast over the Web. For this reason, conventional radio stations (commercial and noncommercial) stand a much better chance of surviving in cyberspace.

KDHX (88.1 FM), for example, recently resumed its live Internet broadcasts after a hiatus of several months. KDHX is a member of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which recently came to an agreement with the RIAA. The CPB will pay the fees for all CPB-affiliated stations -- fees that are much more reasonable than those Internet-only radio stations are expected to pay.

Recently the Copyright Arbitration Royalty Panel (believed by many to be unduly influenced by the RIAA) recommended that Internet-only stations comply with a "performance rights" fee agreement. If the copyright office accepts CARP's recommended rates (the deadline is May 21), the decision could kill Internet radio as we know it. According to Wanda Atkinson, co-owner/general manager of 3WK, a Web-only station based in St. Louis, the proposed fee is a whopping 449 percent of the station's annual income. That's right: Despite the fact that 3WK brought in about $10,000 last year, the brainiacs behind CARP think the humble Webcasters should pay four times that amount in performance fees.

"We were totally flabbergasted!" Atkinson exclaims. "It kind of makes you wonder if [CARP's] ultimate goal is to get rid of Webcasters so that major labels can completely control music distribution on the Internet. But I tend to think that they misunderstood the market for Webcasting right now. I think they were under the assumption that we're like most FM stations and we're generating millions of dollars. We want to give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they misunderstood the economics of the situation and not that they want to get rid of us."

3WK isn't going down without a fight. In the company of several other Webcasters, its staffers plan to go to Washington on May 10 to appear before the Library of Congress. Atkinson is optimistic about their chances: "I have so much more faith in American government, going through this process. They really listened to us. If anybody came to me with a grassroots movement, I know how to do it now, and I'd have a lot of faith that we could accomplish what we want."

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