Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Stream Police

What did we learn from Tuesday’s’s Day of Silence?

Start with Capitol Hill getting the message loud, clear and without buffering.

Play fair not pay fare.

It should be reason for recording artists to rethink their position on siphoning royalty rates from Internet radio, the majority of which do not turn a profit, but give exposure to artists who would otherwise get little to none from traditional media.

More important - their fans are against it.

Most important to artists – Consider the source. The labels. Do you really believe you’ll ever see any royalties?

It was somewhat disappointing that only half of all U.S. Internet radio streamers participated. Even a few terrestrial radio groups like Greater Media, Saga, Cox, and Lincoln Financial took their streams silent. CBS Radio and Clear Channel didn’t.

Now, for the question that counts. Was this protest enough to influence Capitol Hill to challenge the Copyright Review Board’s royalty rates?

We’ll see.

It’s not like Save the Net has high powered influence peddlers on its payroll. In fact, they don’t even have a payroll.

Wouldn’t it be nice if Congress investigated the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA)? Now, that’s entertainment! There are enough illegalities in that org to keep a bunko squad busy for years.

Even the RIAA’s name is misleading. Only two of the “big four” label groups (which control close to 80 percent of the market) are American owned and operated.

That's a whole lot of foreigners having significant influence on Capitol Hill.

Here’s the dilemma. Satellite and cable channels are already paying the royalty freight. Exempting Internet radio will be a tough call.

Prove me wrong. I don’t see Capitol Hill blocking this deal or doing anything of substance in one direction or another. The House and Senate? They're on their extended July 4th holiday break. By the time they get around to doing something it may be too late.

The RIAA is sanguine that come July 15, they’ll just have to deal with terrestrial, satellite, and cable radio – the three mediums that register chart positions for their product in R&R and Billboard.

Their palms must be raw from high fiving each other when they got the Librarian of Congress to play their game.

Here’s the problem when dealing with the House and Senate. They’re adept at knowing things they don’t know you know so they can’t tell you. Other times they know things they don’t want to tell you. Other times they just lie.

Actually, the labels and the Hill have one thing in common. Both burn through their expense accounts after a tough day of sexually harassing their - depending on preference - male or female interns.

Who knows what terrestrial radio will do? To paraphrase that NRA slogan: If only terrestrial radio can afford the royalties, only terrestrial radio will be on the net. Either that or they’ll play the beauty contest card to please shareholders by telling them how much money will be saved by dismantling their streaming divisions.

To Internet radio operators, all who listen to them, and artists looking for exposure – July 15 is the due date. Between now and then - don’t give up the fight.


Anonymous said...

Never underestimate the radio industry. They ignore the future (Internet) and embrace the impossible (HD radio).

Anonymous said...

The radio industry has embraced the internet. Unfortunately, the brilliant folks at Clear Channel and others have saved and cut themselves to oblivion so now there's nobody left to run things. Sure it's about content, but who's gonna deliver it? 57 (million) channels with nothing on. Clear Channel wouldn't know creative content if it hit them square in the forehead.

Anonymous said...

these losers will converge on minneapolis at the conclave this weekend convincing one another of what wonderful work they are doing in the radio industry. i remember when the company putting this on was a sleazy independent promotion organization. go to minneapolis if you want to see and hear first hand the jokers that destroyed radio for both listeners and employees.

Anonymous said...

I viewed the hearings on You Tube. It was a joke. I will be very surprised if internet radio does get its way. Where were the terrestrial radio stations? Why was the opposition led by someone the labels already hate? It looked like a set up.

Anonymous said...

Gorman: Again you say it best. internet radio gets hearings where no one of any consequence shows. Nothing is explained well and nothing gets resolved. I wonder if the record companies are exchanging front row seats for the hottest summer concerts for keeping the internet royalties where they are? Of course the record companies also know about bribes too.

Anonymous said...

internet radio will not go away. it will now be the tool of only those who can afford it. how soon before payola takes over the internet? will the labels let internet radio get a lower royalty rate if they cut special deals with the labels? i smell an RIAA RAT.

Anonymous said...

i see this as a losing battle for internet radio. they are not well organized and most of the channels are strictly to play for their friends and neighbors.