Imagine opening up iTunes on your computer and seeing the Radio section... empty. No great themed stations from radioio, AccuRadio, or SomaFM. No niche outlets featuring big-band jazz, or industrial, or '80s music, or classical.
Imagine great American audio streams simply drying up. No exclusives from KCRW. No mixes from Indie 103.1. No archives from WXPN. No FolkAlley.
Imagine untouchable tech companies deeming their music offerings business losses. Goodbye AOL Radio. Goodbye Yahoo! LAUNCHCast.
Imagine the music experiences you define online... taken offline. No Rhapsody. No Pandora. No Live365.
On Friday March 2nd, the U.S. government (specifically, the Copyright Royalty Board, or "CRB") announced its determination of the royalty rates Internet radio webcasters must pay the owners of sound recording copyrights to license the music they play for the years 2006-2010. The owners of these sound recording copyrights are, in the vast majority of cases, recording companies ("labels").
While successful webcasters which have built loyal audiences can usually cover most of their costs from their revenue (and sometimes even make a little profit), these new rates will almost certainly destroy the Internet radio industry, as they amount to well over 100% of even the most-successful webcasters' online radio revenues. In other words, these fees are grotesquely disproportionate to any other expense a webcaster would normally face, and certain to bankrupt him or her.
There's absolutely nothing wrong with artists getting their fair share of royalties due them from song performances. However, the structure put in place by the CRB may ultimately be unfair to artists as well as webcasters as it threatens to kill, or put a financial chilling effect on, many online venues where musicians' work might be heard.
Click the graphic above to find out more, to petition Congress against this move, and to help spread the word.