Tuesday, July 10, 2007

What Will Happen on July 16th? Will the Music Will Die!

The time keeps ticking on the left. D-day is July 15th. Will Internet radio cease on that date? At this point, even I as a broadcaster with Live365.com do not really know. One fellow broadcaster at Live365 has said that it will take a miracle to stop the death of Internet radio. I would be satisfied with another stay of execution. It may not happen this time.

Congress has listened to its constituents, but has decided to try and let the various parties work things out amongst themselves rather than its getting involved by putting through the Internet Radio Equality Act. Considering that many in Congress receive campaign donations from the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America), I'm not surprised by this stance.

Of course, there is always the Federal Court appeal process, but as you know, court hearings and procedures are lengthy processes. I can not really see any miracle coming from this area.

Why is SoundExchange, an arm of the RIAA putting through these royalty rate increases that will more or less destroy the Internet radio industry? When I first heard of SoundExchange's proposed increases a few months ago, I concluded that it was doing this because (1) the people running Sound Exchange were completely stupid and had not a clue what Internet radio was all about, or (2) Sound Exchange was trying to destroy Internet radio. Well, the people behind Sound Exchange, the RIAA, are not stupid.

There is no coincidence about the timing of these new royalty rate increases. The first half of this year was devastating for the RIAA. Music compact disc sales dropped by 20% and even though sales have been declining over the years, never has this large of a drop happened before. Digital sales of music are on the increase but not enough to compensate for the drop in "hard music" sales. With digital sales, a purchaser can choose the songs they want instead of buying a CD wherein they are forced to buy some songs they don't want.

The RIAA controls 90% of the music industry in North America - music copyright, publishing, sales, distribution, etc. It set out on a warpath against music sharing programs and sued every body and anybody they could without much discrimination. It sued dead people, dead people's children, and even disabled people who didn't even have a computer. They were sued for music piracy and other such nonsense. The RIAA will now soon suffer counter law suits for malicious prosecution. The RIAA acts like a fatally wounded beast as it flails around trying to damage and destroy the lives and property of others, whether innocent or not.

Ten years ago, the RIAA viewed Internet radio as a primary source for illegal music downloading and used its power and influence to burden Internet radio with all forms of restrictions. It was also behind the institution of legislation that forced Internet radio to having to pay music royalties, whereas your standard AM and FM radio stations have been exempt from such royalty payments since the beginning.

It looks to me now the beast, the RIAA, is in its death throws. It is now trying to impose royalty rates upon Internet radio that will virtually destroy it, and it's even moving up against standard AM and FM radio trying to lobby for change in legislation that will enforce these industries to pay royalties as well. This beast, in so much pain, now views all forms of radio to be a competition to its CD sales. It has set itself to destroy any and all competition.

The continued call from SoundExchange has to do with recording artists deserving royalty payments for their creative works. Internet radio has always come back and stated that yes, recording artists and songwriters deserve to receive fair compensation for their works. But how supportive is SoundExchange in this matter?

If recording artists and songwriters do not register with SoundExchange and claim their royalties due from Internet radio, SoundExchange takes these royalties for itself. Therefore, we have a situation in which over 8,000 recording artists allegedly can not be contacted by SoundExchange to receive the royalties due to them. These are artists such as Bobbie Gentry and The Delphonics - American icons in music. However, when Internet webcasters can see the list of such notables, they are able to contact these folks in a matter of minutes to let them know that royalties are due to them. Whereas, SoundExchange is not able to contact them for some reason. So don't believe anything that SoundExchange claims. It lies, and has no concern for artists receiving the royalties due to them. Where is the incentive to contact these artists when SoundExchange receives all the royalty payments if the artists don't register and claim their royalties?

In order for Internet radio to be saved, SoundExchange needs to be dismantled and all legislation put through to enforce royalty payments from Internet radio should be repealed. This won't happen, and thus, current Internet radio will die. We will see, in the future, Internet radio but it will be totally controlled by the RIAA. Therefore, you can expect to find maybe 5 genres of music as opposed to the hundreds you can now find. You will find the music stifling and boring, but that is the style of the RIAA.

Time will tell, but it will tell in about 5 days time. The current music will die, but long live the music that the RIAA wants people to hear, but I won't listen to it.

28 comments:

corberlaw said...

Friday, September 21, 2007
Vampires and the RIAA
Ever notice how vampires operate? They suck your blood all the while making you think that they are doing you the favor.

It really does appear that the RIAA and its net representative, Sound Exchange, operate under the same principle.

The RIAA has the Copyright Royalty Board under its thumb and appears to dictate web policy to that board, the RIAA tells webcasters what they will pay or else they go to jail or get sued. This seems to be coercion to me.

So, in effect, the RIAA sets royalty payments unilaterally, sucks the funds from the webcasters and makes them think that the RIAA did them the favor.

If the RIAA had its way, there'd be no webcasting at all. Each note of music would have to be bought from one of the RIAA's constituent members. No more free music of any kind, no more fair use would exist, nothing without payment. Pay through the nose, then give up your nose.

One thing that webcasters forget as victims of this policy, they could put a stop to it fast. Just stop webcasting music. When the public starts complaining to Congress to do something about it, perhaps the RIAA can be controlled by reason and not avarice.

Victimizers often forget that if they destroy the victim, their victimization ceases and they have no source left from which to suck.

Unfortunately, the so-called musical performance artists contribute to this victimization by profiting from the RIAA's activities, whether vicariously or otherwise. You can't take your profits with a clear conscience when the agency collecting for you is known to be set on destroying the source of those profits.

Musicians can create music without an audience, but do they really want that?

Just some thoughts.

BRIAN LEE CORBER, CORBERLAW@AOL.COM, Panorama City, California 91412-4656, 818-786-7133.

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