Internet Radio is increasing it’s listener base by leaps and bounds every year, especially with people at work during the day who tune in on their computers and yet the very diversity of the medium is under threat. In the United States, the organization tasked with collecting royalty payments on behalf of 90% of all artists is putting the screws to Internet radio stations by insisting they pay a massive increase in their royalty rates based on a per-song basis. What that will do is drive out the hobbyist broadcasters, those who are in it more for the passion than the profit, something covered very well in the New York Times article Online and On the Edge.
I shake my head that the mainstream music industry continues to miss the opportunities that new technology presents to them. Hobbyist Internet broadcasters, just like podcasters bring something that no publicity firm can buy and that is passion. Passion for the music they play, passion for the artists they support and passion for wanting to promote them to anybody that will listen, And while the scale may be small, in this Web 2.0 world great things can emerge from small, grassroots movements.
The thing about all of us who write about and broadcast the music we love just for the love of it is that we are in many ways more pro-artist than organizations like Soundexchange and most major labels. The last thing we want to do is screw the artists we are playing and promoting. As a matter of fact, I make it a priority to feature as many ways as possible for people to connect with and buy the music from the artists that I feature because they need the money to keep doing what they do. It is much more of a partnership than anything the mainstream music biz offers mainly because the artist is the one calling the shots.
It would be a real shame if the small-time Internet radio broadcasters are driven out of business due to the complete lack of understanding of this Web 2.0 world that we live in. While music is a business, passion is what leads to profits and short term greed will just result in long term grief. As more and more artists start taking control of their masters and rights and forging partnerships with podcasters, bloggers and small Internet radio broadcasters, mainstream media will only have itself to blame for missing the proverbial boat. Don’t slam the door on the way out!