Webcasting Royalty Drama Continues
Like the backstabbing villain in a bad soap opera, sneaky SoundExchange has continued offering deceptive, unhelpful, so-called concessions to webcasters after new webcasting royalty rates went into effect on July 15. As a prime example, the latest "deal" offered to webcasters contains a wee little clause requiring DRM on all streams (since when did a technological mandate have anything to do with royalties?). Thankfully, the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) is fed up with these dead-end negotiations, and is now focusing their substantial lobby power on passing the Internet Radio Equality Act. Some groups of indie musicians are opting out of the SoundExchange royalty scheme altogether, recognizing the value of the exposure they get on internet radio.
Meanwhile, Clear Channel and Last.fm have been requiring indie artists to waive their royalties as a condition for netplay. Artist advocacy groups FMC and A2IM were angered and eventually pressured Clear Channel to ditch their waiver. It's easy accuse Clear Channel of screwing indie artists (newsflash: they always have), but think about why these huge webcasters are now requiring waivers. It's the new webcasting rates, people! They are simply too high. I would be totally surprised if Clear Channel hasn't negotiated separate cut-rate webcasting agreements with the big 4 labels already.
Music Industry Gangsters Shake Down Broadcasters Next
Collecting ridiculous fees from webcasters isn't the record industry's only desperate solution to create "alternative streams of revenue" in these times of dwindling CD sales. The next victim in their royalty shakedown is broadcast radio. SoundExchange and the RIAA are both copping a new mantra, that airplay (or webplay) is not an effective promotional tool. Because nobody, and I mean nobody, ever ever purchases CDs, MP3s, or ringtones of songs they heard on the radio. Ever. As such, the RIAA claims (via a front called the Music First Coalition) that broadcasters should have to pay an additional performance royalty. The Music First Coalition believes so wholeheartedly that "corportate radio" is at fault for the decline in record sales that they went out of their way to fabricate a research study that claims so. Interestingly, this study has not motivated Music First Coalition members to discontinue servicing music to radio stations. This will likely turn into a battle of the lobbyists: RIAA vs. NAB. Unless, of course, someone bothers to brief our commander in chief. As an aside, foreign compadres of the RIAA have taken some cues from the good ol' US of A, and now Australian night clubs as well as Canadian dentists and hair salons are in danger of owing big, expensive royalties (thanks to Listener David for the links).
FCC Deals Out Obscene Call Letters
The blissfully ignorant owner of a TV broadcasting company with stations in Hawaii and Arizona requested and was awarded with two golden sets of call letters by the FCC: KUNT and KWTF. They're changing KUNT to something else (insert KTIT, KTWT, KDIK etc joke here). Damn.
Financial Crisis at WFHB
Community-run and listener-supported WFHB in Bloomington, IL is currently in a financial crunch. Just a few months before their fall fundraiser, the station has run out of money and overdue bills are piling up. Visit this page if you'd like to help out.
Media Ownership Issues Resurface
After a series of public hearings that examined media ownership issues (I attended the New York City hearing back in October of last year), the FCC has released 10 studies reviewing various aspects and consequences of consolidation. Consumer groups criticized the studies for being biased. The commission deadline for public comments is Oct. 1.