Can Snidely Whiplash Be Stopped in Time?

[See update below] I’ve been neglecting PostClassic Radio, because it’s been difficult, with all the other work I need to be doing, to justify investing time in an enterprise that might be shut down soon. Here’s the message I received from Live 365 this week:

In answer to the top question on broadcasters’ minds: we have no plans to shut down on July 15th when the billions in per channel minimums and significantly higher rates come due, unless forced to by SoundExchange.

We believe Congress and the public share our outrage over the fundamental inequity in performance royalty rates. Why is it that terrestrial radio pays NO royalties and satellite and cable radio pay much lower royalties than Internet radio to SoundExchange? Many artists have also contacted us to voice opposition to new CRB rates that will decimate Internet radio and eliminate their chance to be heard. The momentum of public opinion and business sense is on our side and we plan to continue to fight for artists, webcasters and their audiences until a resolution is found.

In the meantime, let us assure you: webcasters covered under the Live365 SoundExchange license will not be responsible for any retroactive fees. Upon resolution of the new rates, Live365 will honor its obligation to provide advance notice of any change in pricing with the option for you to continue services or not, prior to imposition of any increases.

Awhile back, a Washington insider who seemed to know things told me that internet radio would almost certainly squeak through. Today, however, two days before the deadline for massive rate changes, things don’t look hopeful, but last-minute negotiations are keeping everyone in suspense; at least, everything is apparently not going to change Sunday as threatened. This next week I’m in Boston, teaching a summer course in American music for international students at Northeastern University. When I get back, if internet radio is still alive, I’ll work on a big playlist update.

UPDATE: There’s been a reprieve, and internet radio stations are allowed to continue at the old rates until some kind of compromise is worked out. I think the gist is, Nell’s still tied to the train track, but Dudley Doright has stopped the train, for now. My Washington informant knew this would happen.


  1. Bill says

    This part of the reprieve article seems strange:’webcasters would be required to…make an effort to stop unauthorized copying from streamrippers — software that can turn ephemeral net radio streams into permanent recordings.’
    This is, as far as I can tell, a technical impossibility?

  2. says

    swing by the squealing pig down the street on huntington across from the harvard school of public health. lovely little bar…
    KG replies: Andrea, we’ve *got* to stop meeting like this. My readers are beginning to suspect something.

  3. says

    This is, as far as I can tell, a technical impossibility?
    Indeed. A webcaster can’t control what’s going on at the receiving end. Think of it this way: that will make it extremely easy to make the required efforts.

  4. says

    very funny. i used to live down the street from northeastern. the squealing pig was a favorite locale of mine. just letting you know where to enjoy a scotch. sheesh… =)
    KG replies: Very smooth, very smooth, Andrea, but it’s too late to hide now.

  5. says

    I read encouraging things about the prospects for keeping the old royalty rate in place for Internet Radio. Even so, as a fallback have you considered compiling a list of postclassic material that is specifically royalty-free? Do you think composers would contribute to such a list or would you be considered some sort of 21st century scab?

    KG replies: I don’t *think* many people consider the union vs. scab model relevant in this situation, because everyone knows that, in the internet radio case, the official (though apparently not universal) union position makes money only for the corporations and already-rich rock stars, screwing everyone else. I’m sure everyone whose music I play would gladly forfeit royalties, but I don’t have time for that kind of paperwork, and Live 365 hasn’t exactly held it out as an option.