Sunday, May 20, 2007

internet radio

We live in exciting and changing times when it comes to the dissemination of music. I don't know how many of you use internet radio stations like pandora but they and similar internet web stations have recently been going through a bit of legal trouble, specifically artists and recording companies are concerned as how exactly they will be compensated for the plays that their music gets. The new law passed in march increases the royalties and the types of royalties that all of these stations have to pay
(from here)
"RAIN has learned the rates that the Board has decided on, effective retroactively through the beginning of 2006. They are as follows:

2006 - $.0008 per performance

2007 - $.0011 per performance

2008 - $.0014 per performance

2009 - $.0018 per performance

2010 - $.0019 per performance
A "performance" is defined as the streaming of one song to one listener; thus a station that has an average audience of 500 listeners racks up 500 "performances" for each song it plays.

The minimum fee is $500 per channel per year. There is no clear definition of what a 'channel' is for services that make up individualized play lists for listeners."

so for a site like Pandora that allows each user up to 100 stations for free, this could be a tremendous problem. Starting July 15 not only will sites have to start paying these fees, but they will have to retroactively pay for 2006.

The general outcry is "unfair!" for me it begged the question well how do conventional radio stations pay, and would it not behoove companies to simply charge internet stations the same way?

So I continued my research, apparently "Terrestrial radio stations pay composer royalties, but they don't pay performance royalties, under the long-established rationale that record label benefit from the promotional value of songs played on the radio. So if a Clear Channel radio station plays that new Fergie song over the air, it doesn't pay a performance royalty--but if it streams Fergie over the net (or satellite radio), it does. Make sense to you?" (Wall street journal March 12, 2007 Jason Fry)

well no...not really. Lets quickly for the sake of argument decide why it could make sense. I guess that the argument would potentially be that by streaming it on the internet they are assuming the extra risk of people using magical software to rip the streaming file and steal it. Just like when a library buys a CD they pay almost $90 for it because they are lending it out and thus need the rights because it is not merely for personal use. However it is perfectly possible to record music from the radio, even if it is something as archaic as putting in a cassette tape and pushing record (man I did that so much as a kid, sometimes I would record NPR, and play week old news at my parents to see if would catch it) I also imagine that there are more advanced ways to do this...(question: how does Tivo factor into this dilemma if at all?)

so why not say that radio is radio and charge all in the same way? I think that this stands to a great deal of reason, yet those who are advocating for a more equivalent means of paying royalties themselves find internet radio and terrestrial radio to be different genres.

"The internet has changed radio in a profound way. Instead of a business that required investments so huge (millions of dollars for even a small-market FM station) that a programming focus on the lowest common denominator and an extreme aversion to risk or experimentation was an unavoidable consequence, a radio station with a global reach was now within the grasp of anyone with talent and determination to make it happen" again

honestly you listen to terrestrial radio and the options that you have are NPR (some places now only news and no longer a classical music station) clear channel stations (Kiss FM et al) and perhaps an indie station...though that's probably owned by someone like clear channel as well. So while you have tons of stations to choose from (especially if you live in a city like I do) you have classical, classical/news, R & B, hip-hop for white people, hip-hop for black people, hard rock, oldies, soft rock, country, and oh god sooo many commercial and the DJs. Honestly folks just because you're hired to speak on the air does not mean that you are actually funny, or have interesting opinions.

I look at all of this and think to my self, well wouldn't Adorno have a veritable hay day. He was livid at the comodization of music in the 60's. He thought that recordings were in fact destroying music. perhaps I'll save this so that this post is not too epic...

1 comment:

the idiot said...

embly. the npr gag that you played on you folks is the most amazing thing i've heard in a month. maybe all year. i wish i had thought of it....

that is so cool

oh yes, one more thing, do you think pandora is going to go under?