Webcasters to protest new royalty rates with silence June 26

Several large and small webcasters will go silent Tuesday, June 26, in protest of the new royalty rates scheduled to go into effect next month unless legislative efforts on Capitol Hill to reverse the rate hikes are successful.

Yahoo!, Pandora, Real Networks’ Rhapsody, MTV Online, Live 365 and Radio Paradise are just some of the webcasters taking part in the National Day of Silence. Even terrestrial radio stations, such as Philadelphia’s WXPN and Santa Monica, Calif.-based KCRW, that have strong webcasting components will take down their streams in protest of the royalty rate schedule announced by the Copyright Royalty Board back in March.

SaveNetRadio.org has a partial list of protest participants in this PDF document.

UPDATE: According to this Philly.com item, WXPN will also observe two minutes of on-air silence on their terrestrial broadcast frequency of 88.5 FM at 4 p.m. on Tuesday. Also, XPN’s Bruce Warren sent out this e-mail to station listeners this afternoon…

Dear XPN Listener:

On Tuesday, June 26th, you will hear something very different on the XPN web streams. Silence. WXPN will join other Internet radio providers in a “Day of Silence” to protest higher royalty rates expected to go into effect on or after July 15th.

Silence is what Internet radio may sound like after that date because of a royalty rate hike scheduled to go into effect. The new rates could cost WXPN more than $100,000 annually; several times the annual funds raised by business support on the Internet streams. The new rates will also be retroactive for 17 months.

XPN will silence the station’s four streams – XPN, Y-Rock On XPN, XPoNential Radio and Folk Alley. A message will be played asking you to sign an online petition to protest this increase. We’re hoping to receive 5,000 signatures. You can add yours here.

What this all means for you is that your listening\nchoices will be reduced if these fees go through. XPN will be forced to at least reduce the number of listeners who can access us online at any given time.

We realize that many of our streaming listeners are Members of XPN and have done their part to support online music. This is not only about XPN.

These rates would not only affect us, but many, many\nother online broadcasters who might not recover. And this will reduce exposure for the artists who need it most.

Thank you for taking time to learn more by clicking here. Please sign our petition.

Sincerely,

Bruce Warren
XPN, Assistant GM for Programming

(T+A #13) Technology and the Arts: 6/20/2007

(T+A #13) Technology and the Arts: 6/20/2007

Marsha Loftis, creator, producer and narrator of the Madie: Life in Bear Country podcast, is interviewed. Other topics of discussion include the passing of television’s “Mr. Wizard,” the ease and efficiency of Google Docs & Spreadsheets, an artist who has taken a picture of himself (almost) every day for 20 years, and the soon-to-be-released Apple iPhone. Hosts: Brian Kelley, John LeMasney. File size: 13.3 MB. Time: 29 min., 00 sec.

Show Notes for Technology and the Arts Podcast #13

Life in Bear Country book coverMarsha Loftis, creator, producer and narrator of the Madie: Life in Bear Country podcast, is interviewed. Other topics of discussion include the passing of television’s “Mr. Wizard,” the ease and efficiency of Google Docs & Spreadsheets, an artist who has taken a picture of himself (almost) every day for 20 years, and the soon-to-be-released Apple iPhone. Hosts: Brian Kelley, John LeMasney. File size: 13.3 MB. Time: 29 min., 00 sec.

Featured Link

  • Madie: Life in Bear Country – This blog/podcast is the brainchild of Marsha Loftis, a working mother of five children married to a member of the U.S. Air Force who lives in Arizona. It is a podcast done in a serialized journal format, which chronicles the life of Madie and her friends as they try to survive in a world without adults.

Other links related to this episode:

  • For this podcast, John joins us via telephone from his vacation in Ocean City, N.J.
  • Brian talks about the upcoming season finale of “Doctor Who” over in the UK, some old recordings of his that he has stumbled across, and his upcoming “one night only” return to the stage as a keyboardist for good friend, Christian Beach, for a July 13 show at The Saint in Asbury Park, N.J.
  • John talks about using Google Docs & Spreadsheets as a vital tool for the graduate course he is taking.
  • In sad news, Don Herbert — TV’s “Mr. Wizard” — passed away recently at age 89.
  • Artist Karl Baden recently held an exhibit in Boston of nearly 7,300 photographs of himself taken every day from February 23, 1987, through February 23, 2007 (well, except for one day when he forgot to do it). He has sold about 350 of the contact print-size photos for $10 each.
  • And, it’s almost time for the iPhone, which gets released to the masses in the United States at 6 p.m. in each time zone on Friday, June 29.
  • To get ready for a star-spangled Fourth of July edition of the Technology and the Arts podcast, check out the “Venus Rises” science-fiction vidcast. VR’s creator/writer/director J.G. Birdsall will be our guest for that show.

Webcasters say they are facing billions in new fees

In addition to the exorbitant royalty fees they would be paying under the new rates mandated by the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB), leading webcasters like Yahoo!, Pandora and Real Networks’ Rhapsody would have to pay billions more dollars to SoundExchange, the music industry’s digital royalty collection arm.

At issue is the vague “per channel” condition of the licensing fee that was part of the CRB’s decision. Services like Pandora and Real Networks offer listeners multiple channels. Real’s Rhapsody service alone offered more than 400,000 unique channels in 2006.

In a letter sent to Capitol Hill, CEOs of the webcasting industry leaders wrote that, based on the CRB’s decision, Yahoo!, Pandora and Real Networks would wind up paying SoundExchange $1 billion just in licensing fees. And that doesn’t include countless other webcasters!

The problems with this? Well, for one, these rates and fees are outlandish. And, for two…just what purpose do these ridiculous fees serve?

Such an amount would far outpace the $20 million in total royalty fees collected by SoundExchange from the Internet radio industry last year, the CEOs note in their letter. And besides, it’s not even clear that those payments would go to artists, as royalty payments do, the companies argue.

“While we don’t imagine SoundExchange would keep this $1 billion all to itself, this lack of clarity is absurd,” RealNetworks spokesman Matt Graves told CNET News.com.

SoundExchange did not respond to requests for comment.

(T+A #12) Technology and the Arts: 6/6/2007

(T+A #12) Technology and the Arts: 6/6/2007

Janie Hermann and Evan Klimpl of the Princeton (N.J.) Public Library’s Poetry Podcast are interviewed, continuing a conversation from the May 16 podcast. Other topics of discussion include the Microsoft Milan Surface Computer, Pandora’s leap from the PC and the latest on webcasting royalty rates. Hosts: Brian Kelley, John LeMasney. File size: 9.6 MB. Time: 20 min., 51 sec.

Show Notes for Technology and the Arts Podcast #12

Janie Hermann and Evan Klimpl of the Princeton (N.J.) Public Library’s Poetry Podcast are interviewed, continuing a conversation from the May 16 podcast. Other topics of discussion include the Microsoft Milan Surface Computer, Pandora’s leap from the PC and the latest on webcasting royalty rates. Hosts: Brian Kelley, John LeMasney. File size: 9.6 MB. Time: 20 min., 51 sec.

Featured Link

  • PPL Poetry Podcast – After hearing from this podcast’s guests, Janie Hermann and Evan Klimpl, visit the Princeton Public Library’s Poetry Podcast site to hear great poetry and the results of their hard work.

Other links related to this episode:

This week’s closing music note: John and I “jammed” a bit before recording this podcast and recorded a not-quite-polished, acoustic version of the theme song. We’ll continue to work on it, and maybe we’ll come up with some new material at some point.