The Day of Silence

For those that haven’t heard, today is the Internet Radio Day of Silence, where many Internet broadcasters based in the United States have gone silent to protest the new federal royalty rates being imposed by the Copyright Royalty Board. Even large webcasters, such as Yahoo! Launch and Rhapsody are going silent. The new rates are completely ridiculous, easily putting all but the largest Internet radio stations out of business.

It even gets more ridiculous when you consider the fact that terrestrial radio stations aren’t required to pay nearly the same rates. (Although, the recording industry is working to change that as well.) The argument has always been that Internet radio must be charged higher fees, since the #1 enemy of the recording industry — their customers — might save the stream to disk and not buy the CD.

Internet radio stations can’t generate the same level of revenue from advertising, since most companies aren’t convinced that Internet radio has a large enough audience to merit the expense. Most of Internet radio stations’ revenue is generated through textual ads on their web site (which is only peripherally related to the music). The other major income stream? Referrals for CD sales through places like Amazon.

Let me recap. One of Company A’s main revenue streams involves a direct contribution to Company B’s main revenue stream. Thus, Company A’s essential business is to market Company B’s products. To thank them, Company B wants to charge Company A for the privilege. And, they want a cut of all of Company A’s revenue — not just the part that comes from the use of Company B’s products. In fact, Company B wants a cut that, in some cases, amounts to over 360% of the gross revenue of Company A! (See the second chart here.) The government reviews this arrangement, and vehemently is in support!

Give me a break. The only reason that this insanity is even a remote possibility is that the recording industry has a gigantic lobby in Washington.

And before you are deluded by the press, the artists are not receiving this money. It’s been well documented that the recording industry works on a bizarre system of advance payments. At best, the artists receive royalties on public performances of their work — and the RIAA is even trying to lower those.

Honestly, though, with the questionable quality of modern music, does anyone else feel like musicians are paid too much as it is? For example, I defy you not to be moved by what can only be described as the lyrical mastery of MIMS:

This is why I’m hot
This is why I’m hot
This is why
This is why Uh
This is why I’m hot (Uh)
This is why I’m hot
This is why I’m hot Whoo
This is why
This is why
This is why I’m hot
I’m hot cause I’m fly (fly)
You ain’t cause you’re not
This is why
This is why
This is why I’m hot
This is why I’m hot

Or this, from John Lennon T-Pain:

Im’a buy you a drank
Theeen, Im’a take ya home with me
I got money in the bank
Shawty what you think bout that
Find me in the grey cadillac
We in the bed like
Ooh ooh ooh, ooh ooh
We in the bed like
Ooh ooh ooh, ooh ooh

The dominance of ClearChannel assures that only the Billboard Hot 100 is played on the grand majority of terrestrial radio stations. Internet radio doesn’t even pull 1% of the audience of terrestrial radio, and yet it exists as the only alternative to the tripe that’s branded as hot shit by ClearChannel and MTV. The FCC’s continued deregulation of media is not only contributing to a dangerous monopoly of the dissemination of factual information, but of entertainment as well.

Please help to save Internet radio, if for no other reason to save my sanity.