As the Rolling Stones began their tour while welching on the more than quarter of a million dollar deal they made with my Friend, I started this e-Blogazine journal to document some of my experience of the fallout, and to create a forum for discussion and resources to reform the Music Industry. May Artists, Musicians, and Free People everywhere find it useful.
Got Something to say? Are You a Musician, Artist, or Person with an opinion about the Music industry, music downloads, contracts or royalties? Are You concerned about the RIAA and other industries' assault on our cyber-Freedoms? Copyright and Intellectual Property law? Well?
Wouldn't it be nice to choose a few tunes while You're here?
Well, You can't.
At least, not yet. I thought about webRadio-enabling Stoned Out Loud. I'd like to have a little drop-down listbox, and Visitors could then choose a station, and enjoy some tunes while they're here, streamed live from their favorite internet radio station.
I found out it's not that simple. The RIAA is out to kill internet radio. I searched around for appropriate providers to do what I want, and found a good result page at PurplePages. I checked the resultant links. Some results: Antenna Internet Radio still exists, but can't offer what I want...to offer Stoned Out Loud's Visitors the choice of many stations and streams.
Netradio.com, http://www.netradio.com/ returns a result from DotRegistrar, informing You "This domain is registered at DotRegistrar.com by a customer and parked temporarily until the owner establishes a permanent site."
Onair.com and a couple others said they were available through iSyndicate. Unfortunately, iSyndicate has been acquired by YellowBrix. Clicking on the link for onair.com brought me to an iSyndicate page with a link to the free radio thing. That page told me:
404: The page you were trying to reach no longer exists In August 2001, iSyndicate was acquired by YellowBrix, Inc. Please visit http://www.yellowbrix.com for more information on how services have been migrated or what compatible services YellowBrix offers to continue to support the iSyndicate customer base, and anyone interested in syndicated content.
Below it, were two dead links to "continued support" for the iSyndicate customer base. This gives You some ideas of where YellowBrix, Inc.'s head is at. ("How can they tell the Brix are yellow when the sun don't shine there?" -Shhhh. not now.)
There were a couple of other links, but I didn't have much luck with them either.
Most Internet radio stations are at risk of bankruptcy, and may be forced off the air by October 20th, because of a Congressionally-imposed royalty they will soon be required to pay to record labels. (You may have heard this called a "CARP" royalty, named for the U.S. Copyright Office's Copyright Arbitration Royalty Panel that held hearings on what the rate should be.)
Here's some quick background:
Congress passed a law in October 1998 called the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which established a new "sound recordings performance royalty" that webcasters must pay to record labels, similar to the royalty that both broadcast radio and Internet radio have to pay to composers of songs. (Note: The composers royalty is about 3% of station revenues.) However, the Copyright Office, following unclear instructions from Congress, set a rate for this new royalty that is currently more than 100% of most webcasters' revenues! (If broadcast radio stations had to pay the same royalty rate, it would cost them billions of dollars and wipe out the entire profits of the industry!)
If the record industry (the RIAA) doesn't offer a compromise "voluntary" license to smaller webcasters and/or if Congress doesn't pass emergency legislation by October 20th, most observers believe that the decision will effectively kill Internet radio. (The retroactive portion of the fees will bankrupt all but the very largest Internet-only webcasters — e.g., AOL, Yahoo!, and Microsoft. The fees will also probably trigger the shutdown of most remaining broadcast stations' Internet simulcasts, including almost all the educational and community stations )
Here is the letter the Voice of Webcasters will fax in Your name when You use that site:
I am writing you to express my strong request that you support immediate legislative relief to save Internet radio and the role it plays in promoting artists and their music on the Internet. I listen to Internet radio and I want to see the current diversity of programming provided by Internet radio preserved.
On July 26, 2002, Representatives Jay Inslee (D-WA), George Nethercutt (R-WA) and Rick Boucher (D-VA) introduced legislation called the Internet Radio Fairness Act (HR 5285) in the US House of Representatives. This vital bill would protect a large number of Internet radio stations from being forced out of business by unfair and unaffordable performance copyright royalties. Please act immediately in seeing that this effort is carried through the House and Senate and made law before it is too late to save Internet radio. Immediate action is required. The enforcement of retroactive royalties based on the currently unaffordable rates is set to commence no later than October 20, 2002.
We want you to understand that this legislative action does not seek to eliminate royalties paid to artists by Internet radio stations. It only attempts to ensure that fair and reasonable royalty rates are set to allow Internet radio stations to survive and continue to develop their nascent industry. In supporting this legislative action, you will be ensuring that artists will receive fair compensation from these stations and retain this valuable resource to promote their music.
This bipartisan effort is already supported by several important members of the US House of Representatives, including Representative Donald Manzullo (R-IL), Chairman of the House Committee on Small Business. We need your help to ensure that this action is passed by the US House of Representatives and joined by similar action in the US Senate. Please act now, there isn't much time left to save Internet radio.
Sincerely, Your Name
Please send this fax. I did.
Earlier I reported about Tara Grubb's run for Congress. She is out to unseat NC Representative Howard Coble, who happens to chair the House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Courts & The Internet, and Intellectual Property. It is under Mr. Coble's leadership that this current assault on our First Amendment Right to peacefully assemble online has been encouraged and brought to its current state.
Universitydaily.net, the online news organ of Texas Tech, ran this editorial August 29 by Rocky Ramirez.
LUBBOCK, Texas -- We have all heard the propaganda. They say piracy is killing music.
You might remember the touching little video Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich put together for the MTV Video Music Awards (or was it the Movie Awards?) a couple of years ago. You know, the one where he went into some kid's room and started stealing crap while the kid on a computer sat there dumbfounded.
It may be the case because of the negative spin piracy has gotten. When Napster shut down, you told yourself, well maybe it was wrong to download MP3s.
I have two words for that kind of sentiment-F*** that!
It disgusts me when I see Dr. Dre looking into a camera with a sad, puppy-dog face and saying, 'yo dawg, it ain't right to be pirating my @#$%!'
The guy who really gets me, however, is Ulrich. Metallica is a band that worked its ass off to get where it is, and now the members of the group are biting the hand that fed them.
I read this incredible column (yes I can read) by a guy named Mark Jenkins, a film and music reviewer for The Washington Post.
Apparently, (and almost all of us are too young to remember this) in 1978 the Recording Industry began to slump in sales.
They began to blame "a larcenous new technology" called cassette tapes. The international music industry even had an outraged official slogan, "home taping is killing music." Sound familiar?
It's obvious why the big labels want to blame their current lagging sales on the Internet.
My question is, why are the artists getting involved too? Why do I have to lose all respect for a Metallica, a band I once considered the greatest in the world?
The answer should be on the tips of all of your lips; it's plain and simple, and it's called greed.
"Oh! We musicians put our heart and soul into or work. We deserve to get our money!" they say. True, musicians do deserve to get paid. But, millions upon millions?
Does Metallica really deserve millions of dollars for their latest and worst album, "Re-Load"?
Maybe they deserved it for "Master Of Puppets," because at least the album influenced every single hard rocker that has ever palm muted an open low E string.
But, unfortunately, that's not how it works. There are bands out there that work just as hard, if not harder than Metallica does now.
The Microphones for instance. The group consists of one guy, Phil Elvrum, recording all of his music on lo- fi equipment, then mixing it together and creating a sound that is so beautiful it doesn't register in your head the first time you hear it.
Let's not even go into his mind-blowing songwriting. If the lyrics are not read in the context of liner notes, they could easily be confused with an upper level lit text.
Have you ever heard of the Microphones? No. Have you ever bought the man's CD? No. Does Elvrum work as hard as Metallica?
Well, his CD took almost a year to complete, and if you've heard it, you know that it is a seminal piece of production work-on lo-fi equipment (which means he isn't recording on the fancy boards that you see on TV, instead he is recording on not much more than a Tascam cassette player) to boot.
So hell yeah he works as hard as Metallica. Do you think Metallica does its own production?
No way, the group has a team of sound guys to do it for them. And you know Elrum doesn't make the big bucks like Metallica does. Hell, I probably have a bigger apartment then he does.
The only reason I know of The Microphones is because of the Internet.
The only way that I could get any of the music was through MP3 swapping. And because of that swapping, I am able to create something that the big label execs fear worse than baldness, word of mouth.
That's how they control the music that you listen to.
They have control over the word-of-mouth advertising. They use their mouthpieces -- commercial radio, MTV and commercial rock magazines.
You see The Vines in Rolling Stone and then hear their single on the radio. To top it off, you see they have a new buzz worthy video on MTV. So you think to yourself "this band must be good."
That's how they get you. The Vines as it turns out, blow pretty hard (Nirvana knock-offs should at least sound like Nirvana).
But I bet you would have never guessed considering all the exposure they get. It didn't work like that before, or at least it wasn't this efficient.
What Napster created was a new forum for word of mouth.
That scares the hell out of the recording industry. What the industry doesn't want is competition from good music. They'd prefer to churn out so-so music and maximize their profits by not having to promote a great new band. It's easier to make a band look great, than it is to make a great band sell.
Competition, as we all learned in high school economics, breeds a better product. And better music betters us.
Lars Ulrich, Dr. Dre and the Industry are trying to tell us that by creating competition for them, we are killing their music.
Well, that's the best argument for piracy that I've ever heard.