Next week I’ll travel to Washington D.C. to meet with my congressman and senators in an effort to Save Internet Radio.

I will be working with the SaveNetRadio Coalition to make sure our already limited music choices don’t dwindle even further. On May 2, 2007, the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) dramatically increased the amount of royalties that Internet radio services must pay record labels and recording artists.

Now, I’m sure you’re wondering why I would be concerned that the government is telling the Internet radio stations who have been playing my music that they should pay me more money.

The reality is that the major record labels and their royalty collecting agency, Sound Exchange, convinced the CRB to increase royalty rates by 300-1200%. This will increase broadcasting bills for net radio broadcasters to levels that will put many of them out of business. The Internet radio broadcasters who have supported artists like me would be eliminated by the major corporations who have lost their monopoly on the distribution and promotion of music largely because of the freedom of the Internet.

Bay area commentator Davey D cites the following examples of the effect this will have on Net Radio:

Just to give you an idea of how that looks, locally based Soma FM in a recent Eastbay Express article explained that they had an annual webcasting bill for 10 thousand dollars. Under the new rates they would immediately owe 600 thousand dollars. I spoke with owner Rusty Hodge who noted that the high rates are the result of him having lots of people who listen for long periods of time. He also noted that if he manages to stay afloat in 2007 he will owe the labels over one million dollars.

The largest Internet Radio company Live 365-also locally based explained to the Washington Post that their annual 1.5 million dollar bill would increase to 6 or 7 million and bankrupt the company.

What makes this new ruling even more insidious is that all webcasters no matter how big or small would be required to pay 500 bucks annually on top of the increased rates, meanwhile commercial broadcasters who have in recent months been aggressively pushing their own online stations and HD broadcasts along with satellite radio would NOT be paying these increased rates.

Where would this leave us? If the increased royalty rates are allowed to go into effect in July it would put largely independent Internet radio into the hands of the same commercial broadcasters who already refuse to play independent artists unless they are placed in a head lock by regulators.

If this rate increase goes through, the currently diverse and expansive Internet radio landscape could end up sounding like the barren wasteland that is modern commercial radio. Consumers would be left with fewer choices, and fewer places to hear new music.

What can you do to help?

Everybody: Two bipartisan bills are being pushed in Congress, HR 2060 in the House and in the Senate S1353, the Internet Radio Equality Act, in an effort to change the law before the new royalty rates go into effect on July 15. Call or write your congress member and ask them to support it. Click HERE for more information.

Musicians/Artists: You can join the SaveNetRadio Coalition. Click HERE to find out how you can help.

Detroit Area Artists: The SaveNetRadio Coalition is making a special effort to lobby Detroit Congressman John Conyers.

Click HERE to download a letter from Detroit musical performers to Rep. John Conyers.

When you sign the letter include your
Band name
Email address/website

You can send the letter by email to:

International Artists and Listeners: If you listen to Internet radio or if you promote your music on Internet radio, this act will affect you as well. Let your voice be heard! Click HERE to find out how.

Now is the time to act. In just a few short weeks, the many choices that we have grown accustomed to with the power of the Internet may be eroded if you don’t do something to stop it. Independent artists could have a very important marketing and promotional avenue erased.

Blues Talkin' Nadir News

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