If video killed the radio star then the Copyright Royalty Board is about to kill the online radio star. Essentially, the CRB is about to shake up the music industry with a ruling that will almost certainly force thousands of online stations to close.
The CRB has decided to tax internet radio over that of what regular broadcast radio is required to pay. The fees are in excess of revenue being generated by any internet station today. If the ruling stands, the only stations who will survive will be those large enough to take a financial loss for a few years - a very significant financial loss.
The CRB is either drastically over estimating the amount of money brought in by online stations or truly wants to eliminate small stations in favor of large corporations like Clear Channel. Otherwise, their decision makes no sense at all.
If you want to continue having options like satellite and online radio, please visit www.savenetradio.org and sign the petition. Online radio stations are not trying to avoid paying royalties (the vast majority currently do pay already) but they need to be part of a system that's fair.
If the royalty increase does take happen, how will that affect blowupradio.com ?
It would kill the internet radio station part of BlowUpRadio.com in it's current incarnation. BlowUpRadio.com's webstream is hosted by Live 365, and the increase in rates has led to speculation that Live 365 would either cease to exist, or have to increase their rates to an amount beyond my means. BlowUpRadio.com is something I do for fun, as a hobby. I lose money every month on it, and I've never cared in the past, but there is only so much money I can afford to lose each month doing this. That's why I am in the process of researching interest from bands, in signing a royalty waiver form. If this happens I will continue BlowUpRadio.com and Lazlo's Den, possibly in a streaming podcast format.
Do you anticipate a lot of artists being interested in signing royalty waivers? Do you think it will be enough to keep going 24/7 or will this spur more people into strictly doing podcasts?
I know a good majority of the artists I currently play on both BlowUpRadio.com and Lazlo's Den are independent artists, that will (sadly) never see a penny from the royalty rate increase, just like they have never seen anything from all the spins their tunes have previously received over the last 6 and a half years I've been doing this thru Live 365 which pays money to ASCAP, BMI, SESAC and SoundExchange.
I can't speak for other webcasters, but for me, it is likely Lazlo's Den, which is currently an hour long show I record 5 days a week, will become a podcast I will record 5 days a week. BlowUpRadio.com, on the other hand, may become a larger version of the jukebox that is already at www.blowupradio.com, with several hours worth of local NJ music on it. Of course, that is dependent on artists signing royalty waivers.
What do you think of the overall idea that this will more or less force out independents from online radio and make it more corporate like terrestial radio? How do you see that helping or hurting artists in the long run?
I think it is a sad day for people who wanted to hear something other then what Clear Channel, and the rest of corporate terrestrial radio is doing. They all seem to play the same songs over and over again until you hear it so many times you become brainwashed into thinking you actually like it. Almost every artist I play are ones not getting played on terrestrial radio. I know there are many other internet broadcasters out there like me doing the same thing. I also know that we have exposed people to music they wouldn't otherwise hear, and that in many cases, these people buy the album or go see the band when they play in the area.
Ultimately, the big name artists who get played on mainstream terrestrial radio, will continue to sell albums, and won't be affected much, if any, by the death of internet radio, but for the bands, both major label and indie, that don't get played on terrestrial radio, internet radio was an outlet to get their music out to the people. Take that away, and it becomes that much harder to find out about good music.
Gary Wien has been covering the arts since 2001 and has had work published with Jersey Arts, Elmore Magazine, Princeton Magazine, Backstreets and other publications. He is a three-time winner of the Asbury Music Award for Top Music Journalist and the author of Beyond the Palace (the first book on the history of rock and roll in Asbury Park) and Are You Listening? The Top 100 Albums of 2001-2010 by New Jersey Artists. In addition, he runs New Jersey Stage and the online radio station The Penguin Rocks. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.