standalone.pngPer themiddle’s suggestion, I’m posting a piece that originally appeared on my blog related to the future of internet radio being at stake. It’s an important issue and one that I think deserves a second mention/glance.

As I’ve written previously, I’m a music junkie: an office drone by day and a music PR machine by night and lunch hours. In other words, I’m always scouting out the freshest talent in the pool of indie folk acoustic singer/songwriters to be inspired by. I discovered Joshua Radin a few years back and even interviewed him, which was a blast. For the past six months or six, it’s been Ray LaMontagne and anything I find over at Reg’s Coffeehouse.

What you may not know about me is I’m not only interested in finding new music, but how music is transmitted via the internet. Back in September of last year, I attended a Pandora town hall meeting at MIT hosted by Pandora owner Tim Westergren. I later interviewed Tim and found his commitment to providing his subscribers with free quality music inspiring. As a former musician, Westergren had spent many years as an aspiring musician before founding his company.

Pandora is a free internet music provider and one of the best ways to find new musicians. You input your favorite musicians and it streams not only those musicians, but finds others that you might liked through something called the Music Genome Project. I’ve turned many people on to the site and they are always grateful.

So now comes the sad part. Pandora is in danger of shutting down due to Copyright Royalty Boards which would raise music royalties by 300 to 1200 percent. For most webcasters the new royalties exceed their revenue and they simply will go bankrupt and stop webcasting. Not only is this legislation bad for Pandora, but it’s bad for other companies/local music radio stations and translates to you not getting to sample or hear free music.

Did I mention it’s dumb for the music lobbies too because now people who might actually pay money for an album (whose sales are dropping dramatically) won’t be as inclined to since they aren’t sampling and those who download free music off the internet will continue to do so and cut into label profit. In short, they are punishing the people who might actually spend dollars on music. And these people will react by not wasting money on albums we feel bullied into buying.

As a rule, I’m against petitions and/or pleas for that matter, but I think this one warrants some serious attention on your part.

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  • seriously. take the 5 minutes and write your congresspersons today. it’s fun to vent at them from time to time.

  • (It’s not Human Genome Project, it’s Music Genome Project, and it’s cool.)

    Yes, please act now and contact your representatives. USA should not set a bad example for the rest of the world in this case!

    And as odd as it seems, if all else fails, we can surely rely on our last bastions of freedom, China and Russia, to provide us with Internet radio… Strange world.

  • “USA should not set a bad example for the rest of the world in this case!”

    Finnish, I totally agree with you. (But why should we stop now?) Anyways, another aspect to the unholy alliance of corporate radio and the US Government. Although I’m not sure what the Govt. gets out of it other than continuous Toby Keith spins. 🙂

    Yes, I abhor the Clear Channel-Govt. conspiracy and have no love for the music industry, it’s business formula vis a vis artists, and it’s desperate measures to hold onto it’s viability.

    But I will put it into this context: Many free-market Euro countries (with some exceptions such as the Netherlands) practice restrictive measures on it’s radio programming, state-run or otherwise. For example – although I’ve been told the percentage has changed (and maybe Phoebe if she’s reading this can shed more light), until fairly recently French radio stations were required by law to play 75% music by French artists or with lyrics in French. And I know this does have an effect on American artists trying to make some inroads into the French market.

    Not that one things equals the other… I’m just saying…

  • Yes, the Europeans do it because otherwise their artists would simply not get the same kind of airplay as the big American acts. It’s not a free market policy but it sure is healthy in terms of developing indigenous artistic talent. The same goes to Canada with their airplay requirements and subsidies to movies.

  • TM – I’m going to try and employ thought process here and I’ve got a huge headache so bear with me.

    I’m not buying your rationale that one form of restriction is more warranted than the other. Sounds more like an anti-US culture rant than a support your French/Quebecois musicians argument. Do the French and the Quebecois need protection from an invasion of the Americana of Wilco and Lucinda Williams?

    Also, comparing a discussion about the public’s access to unrestricted radio with the film industry isn’t relevant. Govt. support of filmmakers isn’t protectionism, simply an admirable support of local independent filmmakers. The comparison is more valid if you were talking about what the public is allowed access to in theaters. At least in Europe, where I’ve spent more time than Quebec, American films (to me a better reflection on American culture than music) are easily accessible.

    Why not just call it what it is and say French radio stations are not allowed to play more than 25% of American music (rather than having to play 75% French music)? Since they have no worries about being invaded by Jewish or Arab culture. 🙂

    In the end it’s an unnecessary form of protectionism, especially in France and Spain, where audiences aren’t that interested in English-language music. In Spain it’s not so much out of pride or anti-Americanism but simply a language barrier. One fledgling Spanish band I know decided to record in English. They knew it was commercial suicide. It was and they won’t do it again.

    This is why I bring up France. Their rationale seems to be unique and exactly what you described: Cultural pride and hatred of American culture. Dutch radio, almost exclusively State-run, embraces American artists. Ironically English is so well spoken and comprehended by most Dutch, that it seem Dutch bands would need more help from radio. Scandanavia and Finland the same to an extent. Why France?

    Does this make any sense? I know you’re referring to the “big American acts” but they’re the ones that end up getting the non-local share of airplay. It’s the French and Quebecois publics’ access to the smaller American acts that’s being hindered. IMHO.