Internet radio close to extinction?

Posted on July 3, 2007

Silence never sounded worse than now.

As of today, we have just a few days remaining until Internet radio will pretty much end, as we know it, on July 15. There's a possibility it can be saved, but that remains primarily in the hands of Congressmen, who may or may not even understand what Internet radio is.

Here's a recap of the story: Back on March 6, 2007, the Copyright Royalty Board set new rates for webcasting radio during the 2006-20010 License Period. Yes, you read that correctly ... the change was made retroactive for numerous existing licenses. The fee, which would be set at a per-stream minimum fee of $500, is exponentially higher than the current rate, which charges a flat rate plus a percentage of profits to the radio provider.

This hurts nearly every Internet radio station, but it especially affects smaller stations and specialized services (like Pandora) that have thousands of streams in use at any given moment. Considering that Pandora's business model is to allow users to customize their own radio stations, they have to have nearly unique streams. And I suspect that the end users, the actual listeners, are planning on stuffing $100 bills directly into their computer or PayPal accounts so that they can listen to radio stations that used to be free.

The most amazing thing about this is that Internet radio seems to be faltering without much debate. There is one website that's attempting to do something about it: SaveNetRadio.org. Here you will find additional information and also the phone number of your local U.S. Representative to discuss the Internet Radio Equality Act with them. This act will reverse the March decision and readjust the payments to be based on a flat per-song rate, which would equal out the playing field amongst Internet radio stations. There's only so many songs you can play in a day, right?

If you are an aspiring musician, or you just like to listen to the radio while sitting at your computer at work, take a minute or two and call your state rep. But if you wait until after July 15, your music choice voice could be muted.