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Increased royalty fees may force some internet radio stations to shut down

Over the last year, the online music industry has been in what many call as a major shakeup. Music artists and labels represented by SoundExchange say they are being treated unfairly, receiving less than a fair amount of money being generated by online radio stations. SoundExchange has been lobbying Congress over the last year to force online radio stations to pay for or pay higher royalties for songs played.

Working closely with Congress, SoundExchange has successfully convinced the industry that increased royalties are a necessity. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals has declined to put a stop on increased royalties. This Sunday, Internet radio stations will be slapped with a bill forcing them to pay higher royalties going forward and pay for music aired in 2006. By 2010, royalty rates will nearly triple what stations currently pay. Stations will also incur an annual fee of $500, but the annual fee hasn't been fully worked out. SoundExchange is unsure if it wants stations to pay $500 per station or per channel.

"This is just about the artists getting paid fairly. Artists and labels just want a fair share of the pie," said Richard Ades, a SoundExchange representative.

Late last month, many online stations banded together for a single day of silence, marking their stance against SoundExchange and its demands. Called "Day of Silence," the move created public awareness about how damaging the new proposed royalties could be. Despite the demonstration, SoundExchange chief executive John Simson said, the "rates are fair."

Tim Westergren, founder of Pandora, one of the largest Internet radio companies, said, although his company is able to pay for the new royalties he and his company would not go down without a fight. Pandora along with Yahoo, Rhapsody and Live365 represent the four largest Internet radio companies today. Whether large or small, all types of broadcasters will be affected. SoundExchange said it has taken this into account. Small and non-profit broadcasters will have a royalty cap of $50,000 per year -- still a very large amount.

"Nobody wins when Internet radio gets shut down, including artists who ostensibly are being represented by SoundExchange, the organization pushing for high rates. It's ironic. If SoundExchange gets their way, it means less money for musicians because people will cease to pay royalties all together," Westergren said.

Even with the cap, small broadcasters are still in distress. Michael Clark, owner of two small stations said that after Sunday, he would owe roughly $14,000 USD just for the holiday season of 2007. As for all the music that his station broadcasted during the 2006 year, Clark will owe $8000 on Sunday. One of Clark's stations already closed down because of the new changes and he was unsure of what to do after Sunday, he said.

Jake Sommers, owner of a similarly small station that plays jazz faced similar decisions and consequently closed down his station. Jazzplayradio.com closed on April 30th of this year when Sommers realized he would have to pay $2000 per month to keep his station of 20,000 listeners afloat.

"We never made a dime. It was a labor of love. Everything we made we put right back into radio station. It was a bunch of trumpet geeks playing music for other trumpet geeks," Sommers said.

As Patty Smyth once sang, "sometimes love just ain't enough."


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RE: Chicken little
By Hawkido on 7/16/2007 1:03:07 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
If you compose, play, and record your own music, you're free to play it on your radio station without having to pay anyone anything.


Actually, if you read all the bills the RIAA has in flight. one of them states a universal inescapable royalty fee they wish to charge of anyone who plays any song (their own included) and you have to pay the royalty collection agency they set up (sourceforge?) to get the royalties for the song you wrote, recorded, and broadcast over a medium you paid for.

Keep this in mind: They want independant publications dead. If not dead they want independant publications to pay the established music industry for their own survival. Either you die or you pay them for something they have NO RIGHT to collect from you. Next legislators will use the laws put in effect by RIAA to attack free speech by charging royalties on talk radio, and internet talk-radio (the printing press of the internet age).


RE: Chicken little
By Hawkido on 7/17/2007 2:42:38 PM , Rating: 2
Sound Exchange not sourceforge... LOL Where'd I get SourceForge?


RE: Chicken little
By wordsworm on 7/18/2007 9:45:53 PM , Rating: 2
I see what you're saying. But it's not SoundExchange. The idea that they're putting forth is almost unbelievably reasonable. Certainly the artists should have some revenue from the webcasts. It's not just service providers renting out bandwidth that should be making a profit. The artists deserve something too, contrary to what I've inferred from RaisedinUS. The RIAA is a much different animal. I agree with you 100% about them.


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