Next After Silence

The "Day Of Silence" in support of more equitable copyright royalty rates charged to Internet streamers went off remarkably well yesterday.

Kurt Hanson's RAIN reported that massive listener support crippled servers and switchboards at Congress -- the ultimate target of this protest.

There was significant support for the "Day of Silence" from Internet broadcasters particularly but not limited to the large companies that have the most to lose July 15th when the draconian new rate structure is to be implemented.

I was not impressed that many, many streamers ignored the call for support. This confirms that these folks are not too smart because they ultimately will be paying rates that they probably will not be able to afford. Just as in any movement, the ones who could benefit most from change, remain silent.

Most terrestrial radio groups just looked the other way. Greater Media, Cox, Lincoln Financial and a few independent operators like Jerry Lee's WBEB, Philadelphia got on board. Never forget that these non-participating radio groups are the geniuses who tried to sell you HD radio -- so much for being able to see the future.

So what was accomplished?

Whenever you can rock the servers and switchboards of Congress, you have accomplished something. Many legislators have already signed on to support a bill that would level the royalty playing field. But as July 15th approaches it is unlikely that any type of legislation can ride to the rescue.

Unfortunately the cure may not be possible until the disease spreads. Internet streamers have to wake up and understand that they must fight to the end for equitable rates.

And terrestrial streamers have to understand that the CRB rate hike is also about them.

Radio will have to pay much more to stream music July 15th but worse yet terrestrial radio is next. Greedy music industry groups are not going to let terrestrial radio get away with avoiding performances fees when satellite, cable and Internet radio are subject to such charges.

The record industry is shooting itself in the foot as it always seems to do. Radio is declining, the CD is out of vogue and legal and illegal downloading has become the new access route to music. So why not strangle the one growth area that is a slam dunk for promoting music -- online streaming. It's insane!

The radio industry has botched its future since the late 80's -- consolidation was just its excuse to look foolish in front of Wall Street. Boy did radio show Wall Street that it absolutely could not make radio a growth industry even as a virtual monopoly.

And forget about the Internet. Radio did.

The plight of the large and small Internet streamer may get worse before it gets better. Activists are right to target Congress because only lawmakers can save the most exciting growth industry to hit music media since -- well, radio.

Therefore, I favor any approach that targets Congress. You make the non-supporters of fair royalty rates pay by not supporting them. This takes mobilization that can only happen through that great political tool called the Internet.

This is exactly how our representative form of government works. The great majority of Americans support this growing segment of music media. Congress should enable the ability of these folks to enjoy music entertainment online and allow entrepreneurial businesses to prosper simultaneously.

The next "Day of Silence" should come after election day when the politicians who are not savvy enough to see the urgency and importance of this issue pay for it with the ultimate price -- their silence.

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