Internet radio is dead, long live Internet radio?

The Copyright Royalty Board has rejected a request from NPR (and other webcasters) to reconsider its decision over a new pricing scheme for Internet broadcasts. Internet radio stations face the prospect of paying a much higher royalty fee than they have been paying, and what's more, apparently the fee applies retroactively to the start of 2006 and is set to double over the next 5 years.

A similar ruling in the UK from April 2006, which made it prohibitively expensive for UK stations to webcast to outside the UK, has already stopped me from listening to my old UK station.

So, it seems that many Internet-only radio stations will simply cease to exist, and over-the-air stations may decide to drastically cut back on their Internet offerings. But part of me thinks: is there a silver lining here? Media companies struggle to make the Internet a totalitarian state where their content is concerned, yet there is another way. As they lock down more and more, people may simply find alternative content. Perhaps Internet radio stations can switch to free content under creative commons licenses, by artists such as Jonathan Coulton.

The music industry is ripe for a shakeup. Why are bands still signing to record labels? Record labels that, like movie studios, pad the books and dissemble every which way to make out that they are making a loss? It's ultimately the artists that end up footing the bill, not the fans, who will continue to share and enjoy. One can only hope that more artists will realise that they don't have to buy into (haha, quite literally) the dinosaur's business model. The Internet is a great leveller when it comes to marketing your product.

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