[JPL] Free up that radio dial
rwsfin at hotmail.com
Fri Oct 26 18:59:06 EDT 2007
The transformative effect of the Internet on the music industry has opened
up new avenues for musicians and listeners. Independent musicians and labels
can now reach audiences in their own way. Fans can use the Internet to
discover new acts not found on corporate radio, and interact with bands as
All this musical freedom has put the entrenched entities of the music
industry -- conglomerate record labels, corporate radio and network
providers -- on the offensive. Their fight against the Internet now
incorporates a conquest of control.
The attack is multifaceted. Internet radio is in danger because of a
proposed new royalty scheme that would wipe out the budgets of many Internet
stations. The elimination of Internet radio would allow for the big record
labels and corporate radio to continue their cozy relationship without any
What has kept the Internet a creative incubator for music are groups like
the Future of Music Coalition and its Rock the Net campaign. (Rock the Net
is sponsoring a Matt Nathanson concert at the Crocodile Cafe on Tuesday).
The efforts of Future of Music and consumer organizations are gaining notice
in Washington, D.C.
In the Senate, the formidable tag team of Trent Lott, R-Miss., and Byron
Dorgan, D-N.D., is breathing fire over the attempt by the Federal
Communications Commission to weaken cross-ownership rules.
Internet radio has become an issue for Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., and
Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Bainbridge Island. Inslee is sponsoring a bill to help
Internet radio with royalties.
Cantwell is on the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. A
Wednesday hearing on the future of radio gave the committee a chance to hear
from independent record owners and musicians about how important an open
Internet is to communities.
"Commercial radio is about aggregating the largest possible number of
listeners in a targeted demographic. Community-based radio is about serving
its audiences. It has the unique power and the desire to be a conduit for
news and culture, and is essential to the diversity that defines cultural
life in this country," said Mac McCaughan, musician and owner of Merge
Tim Westergren of Pandora Media explained the reach of Internet radio.
Nielson/NetRatings, he said, have shown "that Pandora listeners are three to
five times more likely to have purchased music in the last 90 days than the
average American. Similarly, Pandora is one of the top referral sites for
music purchasing from both Amazon.com and the iTunes Music Store."
He went on to explain that his station would suffer under the new proposed
"Our royalty in 2007 is now likely to reach over $6 million, almost 50
percent of our total revenue. And per-listener, per-track royalty rates for
Internet radio are scheduled to climb an additional 27 percent in 2008, and
29 percent more in 2009."
The demise of Internet radio would be a loss felt not just by musicians and
their fans. The choking of the Internet by a few large companies will stall
American innovation and creativity.
Copyright (c) 2007 The Seattle Times Company
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