Monday, January 25, 2016

The little guys get screwed again

As of January 1st, all internet radio stations must pay exorbitant license fees to music publishers. Most of these stations are one-person operations done as a labor of love. Few, if any, make money. In fact, most lose money. They pay for the equipment, upkeep, formatting software, music libraries, website, any publicity, and a service fee to the provider of the audio streams.

Most of these stations have niche programming. Obscure jazz, oldies, standards – genres that terrestrial radio have abandoned because their appeal isn’t mass market enough and/or the audience for these genres are too old and thus worthless.

At a time when three or four horribly run, close-to-bankrupt conglomerates own 90% of terrestrial radio and has turned it into a cesspool of commercials, automated voice tracks, syndicated programs, and infomercials – the only real variety were these internet radio stations. So guess who lobbied Congress to force these tiny operators to pay a fortune to play Shirelles records for their audience of maybe sixty people.

And this is the result: A vast majority of small internet stations have gone off the air or are going off the air. Live 365, that hosted many such operations went out of business overnight. One of my favorites, had to shut down (although they're working on a way to hopefully return). 

Yes, you could make the argument that the artists deserve to be compensated for their music being played. And I’m a big union man. But two things to consider: If stations are throwing in the towel then these artists receive nothing. Do the math: 1000 stations paying $1000 or 75 stations paying $6000? Artist will lose money in this deal. iHeart radio will benefit.  A modest increase would have been acceptable, but these people are gonifs. 

Number two: For many of these artists, their songs are fading into the mist of time. These internet stations are the only place you can still hear a lot of this music. Silence them and artists’ contributions to popular culture disappear. Poof. They’re not remembered. They’re not celebrated. They’re not even a footnote.  It's like they never existed. 

Over the last few weeks radio stations everywhere have paid tribute to David Bowie. We marvel at the innovation and brilliance of his work. We’d like to think that in fifty or sixty years people will still be appreciating David Bowie. With commerce the way it is today David Bowie could well be sadly forgotten.  Don't we owe our artists more than just an extra $.50 royalty? 

So again, who benefits? Not the artists, certainly not the public, not free enterprise. The winners are the greedy music publishing firms, and the radio folks who have raped and destroyed their own industry.

I hope some small stations stick it out. Very soon now you’ll be able to access internet radio in your car as easily as you get FM and satellite. You’ll be able to set push buttons for your favorite internet stations. And when that day comes, there will be a much more level playing field. And terrestrial stations that corrupt companies like Cumulus paid millions for will be as valuable or less valuable than some station being run out of some kid’s bedroom. The next Howard Stern is going to be some geek in a basement. And when that happens, and it will, you are FUCKED terrestrial radio.

That day can’t come fast enough.

It happened to television; it will happen to radio.

Oh, and when a bedroom station has more listeners than KISS-FM (every city has a KISS-FM) then yes, they should pay the same royalties as KISS-FM.  But not when KISS-FM has tens of thousands of listeners and the bedroom station has fifty.  

Thank you to all the small internet radio stations that provided us variety, memories, and passion. I mourn your passing. Everyone talks about “The Day Music Died.” The phrase should be: “The Day Music Was Killed.”


Doktor Frank Doe said...

EVERYTHING now is about big corporate greed. Follow the money, nothing else matters. Ken, how many studios existed as far back as say 1995, and how many exist now? It's all consolidated into a small group of uber-greedy corps that now control almost everything we see and hear. And that's just media, don't even get me started on every other industry in America.

H Johnson said...

Well said. But I think it's bullshit for the the conglomerates to say that it's because the "artists" deserve to get paid. Most of the artists being played on the niche stations are dead or close to it. And although I am not sure of how the royalties get paid, I'm quite sure that by the time the agencies take their fees, the descendants of Glenn Miller, or Ernest Tubb, or even the poor bastards from Badfinger will get squat.

I love radio, but as you said, the monsters that own most of the stations now can't go down fast enough for me. This news just makes me want to seek out the pirate stations and/or the little internet stations and send them a little support.

Aloha Ken

BullsEye Radio said...

Over 4000 people have posted opposition to this decision by Copyright royalty judges who arent even REAL judges, they were never officially elected into this position ! They were given that title by the coipyright royalty board which in essence makes them hired henchmen doing the bidding of their boss ! Their are bringing shame on the title "JUDGE" Visit here and just read some of the comments by Station Owners, Listeners, Artists and you'll see for yourself NO ONE is happy about this corrupt Greed driven biased decision !
Shame on the United States government for doing NOTHING about this !

Matt said...

What they ought to do is come up with a royalty system based on amount of listeners. The more listeners the higher the rate. We know terrestrial stations keep track of that because they base their ads on that. And it is probably even easier on Internet radio.

Paul Gottlieb said...

The music industry has been engaged in the project of degrading and destroying their product for years now. And now destroying outlets for good music has become even more popular than finding new ways to rob and defraud the artists. The music industry used to be leavened with people who loved the music and were always on the lookout for new talent to champion and nurture. SOmeday there will be a museum where kids can go and learn about people like John Hammond, Jerry Wexler, and Ahmet Ertegun who helped create our musical heritage--and made a nice living at it.

Anonymous said...

100% agree. The *ONLY* reason I allowed myself to be dragged into the modern era with a smart phone was so that I could stream music and Internet programming on the long drive to and from work. Though I always have the choice to tune in to 103.7 KISS-FM here in Milwaukee!

Here's a Friday question that in the many years I've been reading I don't think I've seen you address. What are some of the blogs (in the entertainment industry or otherwise) that YOU find interesting enough to check in and read every day? Every now and then you mention or reference another blog, but I don't think I've seen a full post of some your favorite ones.

Any chance of discussing that some time?

Great show, love the topic, thanks for taking my call. I'll hang up now and listen for a response.

Milwaukee, WI

Barefoot Billy Aloha said...


YEKIMI said...

Bravo! I was in the process of starting up an internet station when these new fees came out. I've given up on it because I cannot afford the rates. Some of the internet stations I listened to have gone dark and it pisses me off. The Cumulus stock price is .24 cents a share; Ifartradio is $1.00. Can't wait for these A-holes to go under, maybe they'll have to sell some of their stations to people who actually know radio and won't wreck the station. I have a feeling just to spite them, they'll let the stations go dark and turn in the licenses to the FCC. Went by the local Ifartradio building one Saturday [a stand alone facility in an industrial area, obviously paying dirt cheap rent] which they run 6 stations out of and only ONE car in the parking lot [meaning one employee, unless they all car pooled] and all the various station promo vans sitting in the lot. I remember when you could see station promo vehicles all over the place on weekends.They don't have many people left to fire anyways and the ones that are left they treat like shit. Yelled at a friend for spending $14,000 for broadcasting school 5 years ago. Still hasn't been able to find work in radio and has given up looking after he was promised a job at a cluster in Texas. He packed up his stuff and moves down there only to find out they wouldn't even open the door for him when he arrived and when he finally got ahold of someone there was told "we changed our mind". Didn't even give him the courtesy of a phone call before he uprooted his life. And I thought it was bad BEFORE the deregulation act of 1996. Don't know what the new royalty fees are going to do to local LPFM stations since they're not allowed by law to air paid advertisements but can engage in getting underwriters. Corporate radio sucks!

Stephen Marks said...

Senario: I start a webcast but I want to do something that is currently not being done on the internet. So, instead of playing music or interviewing the local butcher I gather a bunch of friends at my place and we re-enact tv scripts. The first one is called "The Merchant of Korea" (S6E3) written by Ken Levine and David Issacs. I pick this script because there is a brilliant line spoken by Hawkeye where he says to Winchester "Stick around and we'll talk about all the old times we're going to have."

24 hours after the broadcast I get 10 people from around the world telling me they enjoyed it and could I do another. Okay. I re-enact a script from "Cheers" entitled "The Boys in the Bar" (S1E16), also written by Mr. Levine and Mr. Issacs. This time 100 people respond favourably and my site takes off. After a year of doing Levine and Issacs scripts I have 50,000 subscribers paying $9.99 a month and a revenue stream from ads. I'm raking it in! What happens now? Does Ken use his site to tell people to boycott mine? Does he have his lawyer sue me? Does CBS and NBC sue me? I offer to pay but who do I make the offer to? Do I pay Ken because he wrote it, CBS because they aired it, does it even matter because I'm doing the broadcasts from Canada?

Heres the thing, will Ken be pissed off or will he be glad that someone is putting his stuff out there so it doesn't "fade into the mist of time." Whose the "little guy" in all this, me or Ken? I don't know and I think thats the problem.

Ken Levine said...


Interesting question! If you're making money reproducing my scripts then yes, I feel it's only fair to be paid. But if you're doing it out of love, if it's costing you to get the actors, purchase the equipment, and you're paying some firm to host your podcast that's a different story. It's a labor-of-love.

Do cover bands have to pay royalties to every artist they cover while singing on a street corner and passing a hat? But if you're the Fab Four, you get booked into venue and make a nice living then royalties are due.

If music publishers want to go after Pandora and Spotify they have my blessing. But stay away from who plays obscure oldies and takes a sizable loss every year presenting his totally commercial-free internet station.

David Das said...

I hate to part ways with you on this, Ken, but there's bigger forces at work here. I'm a composer for film and TV. With the coming of the streaming revolution, there is a tremendous fight because all of the rules that applied to broadcast and film don't apply to streaming, and as a result, all the streaming companies (including Spotify, Apple Music, Netflix, Hulu, and so on) are *decimating* my industry by paying thousandths of a penny per stream. If this keeps up, there won't be any more composers or custom music on shows because no one will be able to afford to make it apart from the kid in his bedroom with a $800 laptop who does it for free. (And you can guess what the quality will be like.)

There are big changes afoot in Washington right now with the Songwriter Equity Act which has bipartisan support. I'm not 100% sure where the shutdown of internet radio fits into the overall situation, but it's probably part of these ongoing changes. We can't just work for (virtually) free. If someone wants to build a community and a following by leveraging our creative output, compensation is entirely fair.

On one of my current jobs, I write for a show that's going straight to Netflix. My royalties for that show are under $5 for the quarter. If this was a broadcast show, it should be in the high hundreds (and eventually thousands once more episodes air). You do the math on how long I can compose for Netflix shows...

Jeff P said...

When David Bowie died 2 weeks ago....SiriusXM was not even allowed to go wall-to-wall Bowie, due to the DMCA (Digital Music Copyright Act)restrictions. Something must have shaken out, because they devoted a Bowie channel starting the next day, for almost a week. And it was great.....
With all the great brains of America, we can't work something out that doesn't screw artists, composers, etc....AND services the public?

BullsEye Radio said...

To David Das :
Lets be perfectly honest about something here . . . . .
If it wasnt for internet radio small webcasters playing music from the 40's 50's 60's and all the other obscure genre's that dont get alot of airplay on terrestrial radio, all these artists would have never been heard of again for the last 20 years !

But because small webcasters DO play these artists and spread the word about concerts, appearances and other things , all these artists of yesteryear like Pat Boone , Bobby Vinton, The Mystics, Danny and the Juniors and so many more , too many to mention . . . Are STILL out there with success on their side !

Im not saying webcasting is TOTALLY responsible for their success continuing on , I'm saying webcasters play a big part in it !

As for royalties,
Blame your cut of what you get on the government , not the webcaster ! The webcaster pays their fees every month ! Just as an example, I was paying $100.00 a month in licensing. Times that by 20,000 stations across the USA that NOW have to close their doors because of greedy corporate pigs. That comes to ALOT of money !

If it wasnt for the Music Mafia ( Copyright Royalty Board ) taking 90% of that money, Then you would have your royalties that you deserve !

I and webcasters USA wide are not saying we dont want to pay , what we are saying is look, we promote you, we play your music , we are not rich millionairres like Pandora or iHeart. We are hobbyist's who have a deep love for good music and doint mind paying our fair share , as long as it is FAIR !

What this decision does it take the fairness out of it and kill 20,000+ businesses and if I were an artist, especially an artist from years gone by , I woulkd be damn pissed off that 20,000 stations wont be playing my music anymore !

So please dont belittle the webcasters ! WE DO WHAT is right ! If you wanna belittle someone , then belittle the terrestrial radio stations for looking for every loophole possible to AVOID paying royalties ! There are your scamming thieves right there ! If anyone should get slammed with fee's it should be them ! They have been stealing from artists for 60 years !

auragoneboy said...

As a former owner of a couple of small all-talk radio stations, I experienced the low down tactics of ASCAP, BMI and SESAC. Other than network show themes, we broadcast NO music, yet were forced to send our fees to these music licensing vultures under threats of lawsuits.

Groucho K. Marx said...


Interesting post as I was once a 'DJ' on an Net station with a roster of international hosts.

American citizens already slept-through the biggest corporate 'wake-up' call- the Supreme Court ruling that corporations were people.

I seriously doubt anyone is going to wake-up now.

(BTW- your blog is a great read. Thanks!)

Doktor Frank Doe said...

ALSO, it USED to be that record companies paid radio stations to play records to get artists exposed and to sell records. Why is that business model now so different? I know I for one hear songs on Pandora all the time that I wind up buying on iTunes. I can't imagine there's a tremendous difference, especially considering there's virtually no production costs to an MP3, you produce it once and it turns into a million copies, and with today's technology, there's little copying. No marketing, no shipping, no revenue sharing. Apple being just one source sells these things by the billions. So it seems to me they're gouging revenue from every possible source. The artist probably seeing almost nothing, but that's because of the Corps that are siphoning off every dollar-as they all do-while telling everyone else how bad they're all being screwed. Truth is, they're getting screwed by the corporations as we all are on virtually everything we do.

Juliet Parrott-Merrell said...

Hi Mr Levine, thanks for adding your voice and perspective to this cause. We appreciate your support. 👍

Pat Reeder said...

A friend of mine had several great Internet oldies stations, including one of my favorites, Radio Swing Worldwide ('30s and '40s swing). He had to take them all down. How in the hell that benefits big band musicians, I can't fathom.

I can understand the arguments on both sides. I have a unique perspective on this because I have worked in local and syndicated radio for years (our comedy service began struggling because so many of our client DJs kept getting fired when Clear Channel or Cumulus bought their stations and replaced everyone local), and my wife is a retro-style jazz singer, so we run our own indie label to put her music out. She's gotten great reviews, been played worldwide, and her music is available on major CD and download sites, but we've yet to show a profit on it. Most people don't buy jazz anymore, but they listen on streaming services that send us royalty payments measured in fractions of a cent.

There should be some legal differentiation between the giant streaming companies like Pandora and Spotify (which really are killing record sales and aren't paying artists enough) and the small-time hobbyists who service niche audiences as a labor of love and actually give exposure to artists who would normally never receive any. How much money do they think can be made from a station like one of my favorites, Radio Dismuke, which plays 1920s and '30s music with no commercials? That's music you can't find anywhere else but the Internet. That station actually does what most of the big guys claim they do: it's sent me to Amazon many times to buy songs I've heard on it. What is the likelihood that I would ever have heard the Boswell Sisters or Ruth Etting or the Comedian Harmonists on a Cumulus station and then bought a collection of their songs?

Taking those web stations off the air really does hurt niche artists. But then, protecting niche artists is hardly a top priority of music industry lobbyists.

Terry Slayton said...

Every time the entertainment industry, whether it's movies, TV or music, decides to try and squeeze another dollar out of their intellectual property (that in all likelihood they didn't create, and probably screwed someone else over to gain the rights) to support a crumbling business model, they simply feed more coal into the piracy furnace. When they do stuff like this, they just increase the number of people who start feeling justified in downloading stuff from torrent sites and other venues. The greedier the industry gets, the more people are going to feel okay with stealing from them.

H Johnson said...

I'd like to address David Das.

I am neither a musician or a songwriter, but I am a music lover and have purchased a small army's share of records, CDs and now downloads throughout my life. I attend a lot of concerts and support small local music venues on a regular basis.

I would not have purchased a single thing had I not heard the artist first. When I first started listening to music the radio was fantastic. All about the music. Somewhere along the line radio became... not fantastic. Now we have the internet.

New technology has changed the economic landscape of entertainment, and businessmen have been frustrated in their efforts to continue to profit off the backs of others as they have in the past. These new rules will not solve their problems. And trust me, they have never instituted a single rule for the benefit of the "artist".

We are participants in the new age. We will all be smarter and more informed than any generation before us. We can hear and see so much more than ever before because of the efforts of like minded people around the world. We will soon look back upon the old distribution systems as those before us remember steam engines and the horse and buggy.

Directly to your issue. If you cannot make a living doing what you do, do something else. If the producer wants a soundtrack for his project, charge him what you feel it's worth and move on. If the system is set up so that he can pay you less now on the hope of dividends (royalties) later, than shame on you. That's called investing.

You make music. It's a gift. If you can make a living doing something so joyous, congratulations. But to be bitter or feel you are owed a debt by someone listening to your music may be wrong headed. I think the way musicians make money in the future will be cash on the barrel, possibly by selling their own product or mostly doing live performances.

Best of luck.

PS: I've never understood why someone who makes a record gets royalties anyway. Why isn't he the one getting the lion share and paying a stipend to the suits who sell HIS product? Always seemed backwards to me.


gottacook said...

The genius of J. S. Bach as performer and composer (and improviser) was recognized in much of Europe during his lifetime, but the contrapuntal Baroque style in which he wrote was quite passé by the end of his life (1750). Nearly 100 years later, Bach's music was completely obscure, but it was championed by the composer and conductor Felix Mendelssohn and ultimately regained the stature it was due. And that was in the era of no internet, no broadcast, no recordings, no electricity. If great work can fall into obscurity (and return from obscurity) in that era, it surely can today.

Mike Botula said...

Not content just to kill the industry I grew up in, these goniffs are driving a stake through it's heart!

Kevin Johnston said...

I've been on Live365 for years and the day the new rate structure was announced, I said out loud to myself "Game over". I live in the Binghamton, N.Y. market where corporate owned radio stations have over 90% of the local market. You can guess what the stations sound like.

I did over-the-air radio legally under FCC Part 15 regulations. The state of New York killed that by making all unlicensed broadcasting a crime. I switched to net casting, and now that's been taken away from me. I'm upset, angry, and trying to figure out where to go from here.

swarlock said...

All I know is this. Karma will get back these companies one day. Maybe not right away and it will all come tumbling down on them. Their Hubris will be their undoing.

That is all.

Barefoot Billy Aloha said...

Stephen Marks...

50,000 subscribers x $10/month x 12 months =$6,000,000/year + ad revenue??

R U jus' pullin' our lariats??

I don't know this except from comments Ken has made, but it seems to me that $6,000,000/year just might be $5,999,999 short of what Netflix is paying to air the originals...

Kevin Fodor said...

Though I would love to see a decent agreement for these guys, had they run their stations for profit (which would seem to be a possibility since many spend hours bragging on Facebook how many requests they get on request shows and how a station that gets a million total listening hours a month should qualify as a "small broadcaster"), one would think that someone would sponsor or underwrite them. And it is pure fiction that 50's-80's music doesn't exist on radio. The oldies format, in pure or hybrid form is on air on LPFM stations and even some non-commercial stations are playing does music from the 40's, 50's and 60's. I teach radio at a college with an internet station and it looks as though we will likely pay around $1,000 a year or so for licensing fees. If small netcasters could get that kind of a deal, I would think it was fair. It would just mean you'd have to get serious about getting people to your site and getting backing for your station. Which if there's a demand for the product, shouldn't be that hard to capture.

MikeK.Pa. said...

"The next Howard Stern is going to be some geek in a basement."
The FIRST Howard Stern started out as a geek in a basement. Now, he's a geek in the Hamptons.
Geeks who laugh last, laugh best.

Andy Rose said...

I don't know enough about the minutiae of internet broadcasting to know whether this new royalty structure is fair. That said, I don't understand the argument that this was all arranged by nefarious interests in the recording industry. My understanding is that this was decided by the Copyright Royalty Board (NOT SoundExchange), which consists of three people appointed by the Librarian of Congress, who's not exactly known as a tool of Big Business. What am I missing here?

Howard Hoffman said...

Thanks so much, Ken, for this piece. I looked at about three dozen ways to continue Great Big Radio, and may have found a new home with Belgium-based Radionomy. Through an extremely arduous setup process since the first of the year which would make iHeart give up, we're just about fully functional with this new platform. Let's just say that crowd-sourced tech support sucks ass - but eventually, the answers do come. We have to provide two 2-minute breaks per hour for commercials, but it offsets the royalties dilemma.

We may have found a happy ending, but sadly, too many small broadcasters we sent into the wilderness - people who loved radio so much that they made their own stations and studios. All us radio rats started out as kids with turntables, tape recorders and plastic mics in our bedrooms growing up. Some of us even had very low-power AM transmitters we built ourselves - overjoyed that we might be heard in the house next door. So planet-wide internet broadcasting is just mind-boggling to us.

There are ways, and I hope all my fellow broadcasters find those ways to keep broadcasting their passions. For all its faults - and brother, there are lots - we still love radio and what great company it can be if done right.

I'm still keeping four hours open for the Beaver Cleaver show if you want it.

mdv59 said...

Great post. Here's a link from one of those stations.

An open letter to David Byrne

Storm said...

Even if every radio station in the entire world stopping broadcasting tomorrow, no one will EVER forget David Bowie. His legacy is assured and indisputable. But I gets yer drifts, and I'm glad you wrote this post, because I had no idea this was going on.

As I read this, I'm listening to a webstation devoted to 80's New Wave and synthpop; they play scads of obscure songs by obscure bands that I haven't heard on regular radio in years (Holy cats, they're playing Blancmange!). When a song is playing, they list the name of the artist, song, and album, with links to Amazon. I've bought a bunch of songs because I heard them on SomaFM and remembered that I needed to own them. How can that be a bad thing, for aging British weirdo musicians (that are only remembered by weirdo fans like me) to get such promotion?

If only Dr. Demento had gone to webradio instead of just giving up on broadcasting; he would have had so much more freedom! No censoring for language or content-- old-time doper songs and raunchy blues for days!

@Pat Reeder: I wish I'd heard of Radio Swing Worldwide and Radio Dismuke before now, because I adore 20's-40's music, and I woulda been all over it like a rash!

Cheers, thanks a lot,


Nick said...

Friday (or any day) QUESTION:

Under the new Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences rules regarding eligibility to vote - does this mean you are no longer eligible to vote Ken? I notice that according to IMDB you have two film credits from the 1980's and one from the 1990's. I don't mean this as a criticism - it just occurred to me that you might be one of the members caught by the change in the rules?

Anonymous said...

A "cesspool of commercials"--it sounds like cable TV (in its inception the whole point of cable was to provide an ad-free alternative to the commercial ad-supported networks), which is nothing but reruns and commercials (that subscribers are forced to pay a small fortune every month to watch). Especially egregious in this regard are Chicago--based operations like ME-TV and Antenna--huge blocks of ads.

Save Internet Radio said...

We're bringing everyone together...webcasters, internet radio listeners, independent musicians/music labels, hosting companies, and any other services which will be adversely affected by the CRB Ruling. If we all WORK TOGETHER, change can COME!

Pat Reeder said...

Thought I'd share this reply to my Facebook post on this subject by my "Hollywood Hi-Fi" writing partner George Gimarc, who also programs the 24/7 Comedy radio format:

"This is such an easy fix. Shift the payment of royalties to the USER and not the broadcaster. At the current rate, somebody listening to online streams 4 hours a day (16 songs an hour) would incur a payment due of about $3.50 a MONTH. It could become part of your cell or internet bill. The music is already metadata tagged and ready to be logged for SoundExchange. This is about shutting down the small voices so the big ones can prosper. It's not about valuing music. There are other ways to get payments to artists that keep multiple small streams open and healthy."

And to Storm:

Radio Dismuke is programmed by a friend of mine in Ft. Worth and is great. All pre-swing '20s and '30s music that nobody else plays. Several of the obscure songs my wife Laura has recorded were discovered by us on that station. Listen at

MikeN said...

Billy, that was my fist reaction, but read the post again.

Anonymous said...

Corporations are people-

What the Supreme Court did was rule that the government does not have the power to ban books. This was the position taken by the government's lawyer, as long as it is published by a corporation

Robin said...

Great post, Ken! Excellent points. I'm including it on Net Radio Blog's "Updates on the American Webcasting Crisis:"


Patrick said...

David Das, I completely get your point, but there's a HUGE difference between a service like Spotify or iTunes Radio, and a small broadcaster like Chilltrax, or one of the channels of SomaFM,. Those are two small Internet broadcasters that I frequently play.

Spotify SHOULD pay more in streaming royalties, partly due to the volume, and partly because of the fees they're charging some listeners for access.

The stations I mentioned (and the stations I understand Ken to be talking about) are more niche stations. These are labors of love where fundraising was, before January 1, covering the expenses and maybe getting the DJ's lunch. No one was getting rich from it. But to have a station with 400-800 listeners at one time experience a 500% increase in fees....well, that's going to kill them. And since I'm not fourteen years old, almost none of the music in the mainstream is made or promoted for me, so the music I have bought (yes, I buy music, with money and everything) in the last several years has been music I've heard on stations like the ones I cite above.

The rate system for music is all over the place. I want artists like you to be paid for their work, and paid fairly. But I think applying 20th century broadcasting standards to the NARROWCASTING space we are in now is not fair.

Don K. said...

Jeff P. - FWIW, Sirius DID go wall to wall Bowie. They supplanted The Loft channel for two weeks. I know. I listened.

Kevin Erickson said...

Hi Ken,
Thank you for raising awareness about this issue. Unfortunately there are some inaccuracies here. The new rates don't have anything to do with publishers. These are sound recording royalties, not composition royalties. Sound recording royalties go to the artist and the sound recording copyright owner. Composition royalties go to the publisher and the songwriter. And I've been unable to find any evidence that anyone--labels, PROs, or anyone else asked for the small webcaster tier to be removed. It just expired because the legislation that created it also expired at the end of 2015. It's likely just a function of the CRB process, and the fact that no evidence was presented on behalf of small webcasters in the CRB, so the CRB could not take their needs into account. I am optimistic that a solution will be negotiated. Check out to get involved.

Michael Carr said...

Thank you Ken for writing this. I had five stations, now down to two. I am trying to stick it out. But it is very sad. So many people with great stations quit broadcasting. Some spent years building their stations and audiences. Very sad indeed.

Clark Souter said...

Sorry, but this is very one sided. I had one of my records receive about 45,000 streams in two months. I own everything and self release through tunecore. I get payed also through Sound Exchange and BMI. I received only about $650. I since ALL some artists get is streaming with record sales dieing, how in the hell is it proper for me to receive a few hundredths of a cent per stream? My music in NEW not legacy stuff. And I am a pro who makes my entire living through music. "Greedy publishers" some one said here, wow, how about just surviving. This will destroy all new music money making except for the top few artists. Streaming royalties place us as the lowest paid professionals in America.

Clark Souter said...

Sorry, but this is very one sided. I had one of my records receive about 45,000 streams in two months. I own everything and self release through tunecore. I get payed also through Sound Exchange and BMI. I received only about $650. I since ALL some artists get is streaming with record sales dieing, how in the hell is it proper for me to receive a few hundredths of a cent per stream? My music in NEW not legacy stuff. And I am a pro who makes my entire living through music. "Greedy publishers" some one said here, wow, how about just surviving. This will destroy all new music money making except for the top few artists. Streaming royalties place us as the lowest paid professionals in America.

Smurfswacker said...

Perhaps this seems a bit off-topic, but I don't think so. This whole situation is symptomatic of the increasingly diseased, and increasingly bizarre, system of intellectual property rights. The corporations that pay to pass IP laws bloviate about how they're after a fair deal for creators. Baloney. The only reason creators get royalties at all is because enough of them have kicked and screamed loudly enough to get a few crumbs thrown their way. Sure, some performers become multimillionaires. But for each of them hundreds of performers who've written songs, sold records, and filled auditoriums come away with next to nothing while their labels do just fine. It's not about fairness. It's about removing the creator from the loop as early as possible so that the rights holder can get about the real business: extracting as much money as possible from someone else's work.

That's why making listeners pay royalties is no better than sticking it to broadcasters. In the long run the creator will still get his/her hundredths of a cent while the corporate entity--label, publisher, distributor, rights aggregator--takes home the lion's share of whatever cash is to be had. In a sensible system the "rights" would remain with the creator(s) and couldn't be bought, only rented. An entity making money from a work would have to first pay the people who created it, then fill their own pockets.

Radio Dismuke, my favorite Internet station, plays records from the 20s and early 30s, a niche that interests very few people. It's safe to say that practically everyone with a hand in creating these records is dead. Composers, performers, even record company executives. Yet there are still those who claim the right to dictate who can use them (see the Nina Paley-Annette Hanshaw dispute).

It's ridiculous that copyrights can outlive their creators. A case can be made for spouses/partners sharing the pie because they often play a part in a work's creation, such as paying the rent while the composer composes. But children, grandchildren, aunts and uncles have no more "moral" claim to the music than I do. The fact that they have LEGAL claim demonstrates my point. The goal of copyright "reform" is to make it easier for corporations to acquire, retain, and derive profit from work it had no part in creating. Now that corporations are people, it won't be long before one argues that its copyright should last for the life of the corporation plus a hundred years--in effect, forever.

Anonymous said...

But corporate greed is good and the little guys are moochers, looters and parasites! Ayn Rand said so in her books, which are the Bible of the corporate world.

BullsEye Radio said...

QUOTE : Anonymous Anonymous said...

But corporate greed is good and the little guys are moochers, looters and parasites! Ayn Rand said so in her books, which are the Bible of the corporate world.UNQUOTE

Your a piece of work. You must be one of the Corporate pigs !