Thursday, April 26, 2007

The RIAA and Musical Myopia

The Copyright Royalty Board, pushed by the SoundExchange, recently ruled to change the royalty rates for Internet radio stations. Instead of netcasters paying a small fee plus a percentage of their income, the Board opted for a much higher fee, changed for each listener for each song. The rate's structured to rise each year, eventually doubling by 2010. And this change is retroactive back to the beginning of 2006.

If it go through, these fees will exceed revenue many times over. Most Internet radio stations, even the more successful ones will be simply forced out of business.

So who is the SoundExchange that's been a key player in all this? According to their website, "a dynamic nonprofit performance rights organzation embodying hundreds of recording companies and thousands of artists united in receiving fair compensation for the licensing of their music in the new and ever-expanding digital world."

Members include Sony BMG, Warner Music Group, Universal Music Group and EMI. In other words, the same major labels that as the RIAA wage war against consumers to preserve an outmoded business model have now helped enact a rate guaranteed to kill off most Internet streamers. Want to hear the song? Buy your own copy.

NPR spearheaded an appeal that was denied, so the only recourse left is to have our legislators step in. The major labels have already flexed their political muscle, now it's the public's turn. has organized an e-mail campaign that's picking up steam. If you're a music-lover, then the time has come to do something. Or something will get done to you.

- Ralph

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