Jul 19, 2002 - opinion    No Comments

Internet Radio: The End Begins

Radio station KPIG, one of the long-time online streaming sources, announced yesterday that they’re pulling the plug on their live webcasts in light of the latest ruling from the illustrious Copyright Office. Sadly, I see this as the beginning of the end … but I don’t think it’s going to turn out the way the record labels and the RIAA expect it to.

I’ve already stated my opinion of the intelligence of Washington when it stumbles into the world of Cyberspace. Sadly, I don’t give the recording industry much more credence … just look at their position on various parts of the issue:

“Webcasters should pay royalties…”
Actually, I can’t argue this … the artist is entitled to a residual when their work is broadcast. Unfortunately, I don’t see the artists getting this money … it goes into the pockets of the record labels and the RIAA.

Besides, it’s never been about whether webcasters should pay or not, it’s been a case of how much, and whatever’s been offered up by the webcasters has never been enough for the labels or the RIAA.

“… and they should pay back royalties to 1998.”
It’s interesting that this business practice exists at all (“tell ya what … we’ll let you exist while we try to pull our heads out and figure out how much we want to milk you for … then when we do, you’ll owe us back to day one…”), but when you’ve got large organizations (think “business sloths”) who can sway Washington to do their bidding … anything’s possible.

Blatant greed is a sad, sad thing.

So … what’s next?
Well, you’ve started seeing it already:

  • KPIG’s hanging it up.
  • Last year, the company I worked at for 2 years (NetRadio.com) closed its doors.
  • Live365.com is now charging a $5/month “Royalty Administration Fee”
  • And these are just a few

I’m afraid you’re going to see more and more of this, as webcasters simply stop webcasting (or go out of business entirely). What I’m afraid will happen is the RIAA, not being happy getting rid of its master’s competition will continue to go after ex-webcasters that haven’t filed for bankruptcy since they used to webcast and still owe royalties for the time they did.

On the flip side, you can expect that the recording industry is tallying up the money it will rake in off either royalties or additional music sales when the webcasters die and the listening public will have to get their music somewhere (meaning the labels). Thing is, the royalty money they’re not gonna get (as companies close or stop webcasting) they’re simply not gonna get (by any means).

It would be interesting to start a tally of the amount of money the RIAA has lost the labels because of what they’ve done “protecting the artist”.

Ya listening, Metallica?

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