This morning over coffee I read this; ever since the decision came down on March 2, there's been much scrambling about to try and stop internet radio from being transformed overnight from an interesting thing to a dull one, but the day of reckoning now draweth nigh, as the power metal bands might say. Pitchfork does a great job of pointing out that SoundExchange's increased revenue would, or will, go to artists, which is what makes this whole decision kinda tough to think about, although the piece's author also seems to think that "a few hundred bucks oper year" is somehow not a big deal to musicians in this day and age. (It is, actually. Sales are down industry-wide, and that trend is going to continue, and artists are pretty desperate to do as they've been told and locate some non-sales-based streams of revenue.) I applaud them for linking to Save Net Radio and am happy to do so myself; internet radio is a glorious thing. I would further note that the artists who could use the extra few hundred dollars won't get it should the CRB's decision stand, since in the wake of it the only stations left online will be those capable of paying enormous royalty fees; it's an unfortunate correlation, but the businesses with all the money aren't often the same businesses interested in playing old Ash Ra Temple sides. If the decision stands, internet radio will sound like commercial radio: dead and boring and repetitive.
At the same time, I have to be honest: I think the cause is doomed. New legislation introduced by senators Brownback (R-KS) and Wyden (D-OR) would vacate the Copyright Royalty Board's decision to increase royalty rates on internet radio, but as far as I know both the House and Senate are rather more interested in Great Big Mongo Business than in small business, and Great Big Mongo Business won't mind the pending rate increase at all. Last Plane to Jakarta supports H.R. 2060 unreservedly, don't get us wrong. But in case it doesn't pass, oughtn't we have something ready? Like, say, a general Paypal fund that'll help stations offset the fees once they kick in? Sure sure, longtime NPR listeners know that pledge drive is a gigantic bummer, but it beats no NPR at all.
I am not the guy to organize this. I have a hard time organizing my silverware drawer. But it does seem to me that trying to get the House and Senate to do the right thing, if not entirely a lost cause, is at least a basket in which one oughtn't place all of one's eggs; doing it yourself is not a new idea, and while, yes, we want internet radio to remain free, we should be ready - and willing! - to pay for it if it comes to that. If everybody who cares about this issue pledged to cancel their cable or satellite subscription and give the amount of their monthly bill to internet radio instead, H.R. 2060 would receive mysterious and gigantic sudden infusions of cash from the cable companies. Support the bipartisan effort to save internet radio, yes. But let's get some backup plan to take matters into our own hands in case 2060 doesn't pass. It is seldom wise to rely on the goodwill of politicians, and Senators in recent days have not seemed all that internet-savvy.
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