WTMD is listener-supported radio from the campus of Towson University.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

July 15th: The Day Internet Music Dies!

On July 15th, public radio station's streaming music could start to go dark. Like Don McLean proffered, it could really be the day the music died. Public Radio stations around the country are joining together to encourage our listeners to email their Congress People in support of HR 2060, the Internet Equality Act.

Links to give you More Information and a way to make your voice heard:
Tell Them Public Matters
Radio and Internet Newsletter
Save Net Radio

This Act would ensure that public radio can continue to do what we do best--bring you a wide variety of music that other radio stations just won't play...and to bring to you on line without cost.

The fees the Copy Right Royalty Board wants to impose on public radio will force many of us, including possibly WTMD, to turn our streams off. Please contact your Congressperson Today. Here is a list of Cosponsors--if your Congress person isn't on this list, please email them and ask to help save Internet Music by Co-sponsoring this bill

It's a big issue and our friends at KCRW have produced a very informative podcast to help us all understand what could happen. The Wall Street Journal has also printed an informative story on the situation. Please click on the tags below to see our other posts on Internet Music.

Steve Yasko
General Manager


Anonymous said...

So. The cost of internet music is about to increase. One solution would be to ask the people who use the service to actually pay for the increase, but why do that when we can get the government to bail us out, right? Now that's the spirit that built this country! Selfishness is one of the bedrock virtues of our society, right? I mean, we shouldn't have to pay more for the service just because the value of it is greater, right? Free access to internet radio is a new constitutional right, so someone else should have to subsidize it for me, right? I read somewhere that some Congressmen are getting more letters and e-mails about this issue than about Iraq or immigration (or education, global warming, alternative fuels, Darfur, and so on). It reaffirms my faith in this country to see that WTMD and others have their priorities straight. I mean, ensuring my ability to listen to the Grateful Dead Hour for free is surely more important than these other frivolous concerns, right? Keep up the good work, and God Bless America.

Steve said...

I want to respond your comment. Public radio fully believes that artists should be compensated for their work and that public radio should pay its fair share. That word "fair" of course is what is being debated. Public radio feels the CRB's rate structure is unfair and has asked Congress to intervene.

There is no 'bail out' here because public radio is NOT asking Congress for additional funding under HR 2060 and similar bill in the senate. We are not asking for a subsidy.

This is not a selfish request. Public radio was created to foster the arts for Americans regardless of their ability to pay in a non commercial enviroment. Public radio is paid for, by and large, by listeners who can afford to contribute so that all may enjoy and be inspired.

Anon brings up the point about paying to hook up to WTMD's stream. First the real cost of that--We figure that the cost of a single listener listening to WTMD on line for about three hours a day would be about $24 a week--just in CRB fees. Add in the cost of computers, hardware and staff and you can see that this is an unaffordable service for most folks.

I would also like you to think about our public service mission. WTMD, and public radio exists for all, for free, so that the kid using internet access in a library can be exposed to a variety of music, cultural programming and news free from corporate interests. I think that's crucial to the success of our nation. I do believe fully that arts and culture must be as much a priority for our Government as the other issues the poster cites.

The bottom line for the arts is that these fees will reduce the ability of stations like WTMD to bring local bands to the widest audiences, limit our ability to serve our members and listeners with the programs and services they desire and will force a consolidation amongst media organizaitons using the internet to distribute the works of all artists.

We've seen the consolidation of the commercial radio industry and it isn't pretty. Internet radio should not fall victem to the same thinking.

Anonymous said...

I believe you are asking for a subsidy, indirectly. If the listeners don't pay the full price for the service, then someone is actually subsidizing it, whether it's the government funding it directly, or the artists and labels not getting paid the full price. You question whether the price is "fair". Do you think it's "unfair" because you can't afford it? This seems to contradict your comments later in your post where you describe the "real" costs of providing internet streaming.

I appreciate your attempts to tug at the ol' heart strings by painting the picture of the poor kid in the library who won't be able to stream internet programming, but I think we should worry more about that kid being able to read, write and do math. The typical listener to public radio that would be hurt by this isn't the inner city kid listening in the library. The public radio audience as a whole is predominantly white, better educated and more affluent than the overall population, and many are quite content to have someone else pay for All Things Considered or Sounds Eclectic. How many households in East Baltimore listen to WTMD or WYPR? How many in Roland Park? What percentage of your audience do you estimate actually contributes to the station? Why is your first response to this problem to contact Congress for help? Why isn't the first step to ask your audience to step up to the plate and demonstrate that they really do value public/internet radio?

Steve said...

I do hope that if you choose to comment again, you'll de cloak so I can speak with you more fully. We allow anonymous comments, but they have more impact when a person takes credit for them.

Your comments open the door to a wide range of debate and discussion and I want to point some of them out because these are issues we wrestle with every day.

What is the "full price" of streaming music? How much should an artist be compensated? Should public broadcasters be treated differently than commercial media?

Should the copyright holder be compensated or the performer or both? What kind of record keeping should be required? Should Satellite radio get a different financial arrangement than internet only or radio and internet streamers? ((They do by they way)).

These are all very heady questions.

A couple of other clarifications. Public Radio's first response was to seek a re-hearing of the decision by CRB and the Court that heard the case intially. Asking Congress to intervene was only considered and acted upon when the court refrused to rehear the case.

There are a lot of resources to learn about the process...just click on the tag links below to call up all the blog posts on this subject and you'll many links to news stories and the original source materials.

If you've ever listened to a public radio fund drive..you'll know that we do ask our listeners to support our internet activities. In fact, everytime someone clicks on the streaming link, they are asked to support the station.

As for how many listeners live in Roland Park and the other charecteristics of our audience.....to be sure, WTMD's listeners are community involved educated folks who can afford to support WTMD. I do believe that their support makes it possible for everyone, no matter their financial status or where they live, to benefit from our activites.

While our listeners may live in the upper class neigborhoods, I can tell you that bands and artists who appear on Baltimore Unsigned tend to live outside those neighborhoods. It's those folks who benefit greatly from the air time WTMD is able to provide in developing their careers.

Anonymous said...

The full price of streaming music is the market price as determined by the CRB. You may dispute the CRB's methods, but I'd bet that if they decided that the royalties should be decreased, you'd agree that this is the "fair" price. The reason the CRB didn't hear the appeal is that it didn't introduce any new evidence, just complaints with the decisions. Should the CRB just continue to hear and re-hear appeals until it comes up with a decision with which you agree?

I have listened to your fund drives and actually am a contributor to WTMD and other public stations both here in Baltimore and elsewhere. I have benefited greatly from public radio, and I would be disappointed if internet streaming were curtailed or limited, but this doesn't mean that free or below-market cost access to streaming is some sort of right of mine that should be protected by Congress.

There's no doubt that many other people, such as unsigned artits, benefit from your station and the internet streaming. The question is who should pay to support them. If your listeners care so much about the local music scene, then they should put their money where their mouths are and pay more for streaming, go to shows, buy EPs, etc. If they're not willing or able to pay to support the local scene, then this scene shouldn't be subsidized by others.

Steve said...

Well, the CRB will raise our rates about 300% when this is fully implemented.

Can I count on you to triple your contribution?

Anonymous said...

Only if you give me a really nice T-shirt.

Nick Yeates said...

Earlier, it was said that Internet Radio has received more attention by letters to congressmen than other large political ongoings. This may be true right now, and for a small amount of time. Take into effect how many letters come in OVER TIME about those issues, and you may paint a different picture.

I think the surge in expressed concern of something so miniscule in comparison to large scale wars and events, has something to do with how responsive and self-controlling us citizens feel that we can have over an issue. If we send in letters about iraq and darfur, I hadly feel that it would be a drop in the bucket... no chance my opinion would be heard or change legislation. On the other hand, a smaller, closer to home, and easier to solve topic such as Internet radio can be solved, quickly and surely, by our efforts alone.

I think it says something more about citizens trust and effectiveness in our current government, over how US citizens are worrying about the wrong topics. We worry about them, but what effect do we really have on them?

As for me putting my money where my mouth is.... it just is not going to happen. Sure I have given donations twice, and am going to Sarah Borges, but that is not even close to enough for what they CRB is trying to impose. Someone else, more commercial, WILL figure out how to make it free, that will become the standard, imposing a fully commercialized monopoly of media outlets. I do not want this to happen, but I also cannot afford to PAY for this not to happen. Here in is the dilemna.

Lower them prices!