Across the U.S. today, thousands of internet radio stations are observing a national Day of Silence to protest new webcasting rates set by the U.S. Copyright Royalty Board. These new rates, which will go into effect on July 15 (and are retroactive to January 1, 2006), will drastically increase the royalties webcasters must pay to SoundExchange, an offshoot of the RIAA responsible for distributing this money to artists.
WFMU believes in compensating artists. We currently pay webcasting royalties to SoundExchange and will continue to do so, but we are protesting the new rate scheme for a number of reasons:
1. Under the new rates, non-commercial webcasters only get a break on the commercial royalty rate if they maintain small listenership numbers. In order to afford the astronomical new rates, WFMU may have to cap online listenership on our streams, limiting the exposure we give to independent artists by blocking our accessibility to music fans.
2. SoundExchange has not been dutifully distributing webcasting royalties to musicians, claiming on their website that they are unable to locate thousands of artists including Kraftwerk, The Replacements, Pizzicato Five, The Muffs, and even Warren G!
Instead of webcasting silence today, WFMU has decided to boycott all music that is registered with the RIAA and/or SoundExchange. Today, you will hear songs from live performances on WFMU, material from the public domain, orphaned works, music from bands and record labels that have signed a waiver releasing WFMU from SoundExchange's unreasonable royalty scheme, and music from artists that SoundExchange has neglected to pay.
We hope that this sends the message that WFMU is fully capable of airing great music that falls outside of the RIAA and SoundExchange's control.
If you would like to protest the new webcasting royalty rates, please call or write to your Representatives and Senators before July 15, and tell them to support the Internet Radio Equality Act (S. 1353 and HR. 2060). Visit SaveNetRadio.org for more information, including a quick way to look up contact info for your elected officials.