[JPL] Free up that radio dial

Bob Rogers rwsfin at hotmail.com
Fri Oct 26 18:59:06 EDT 2007


Full story: 
http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/opinion/2003975275_ryan26.html

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 
never before.

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 
competition.

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 
Records.

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 
royalty rates.

"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."

Ouch.

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

                         www.seattletimes.com




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