Radio's Sounds of Silence

How can so many smart people do so many dumb things.

Take the music industry's move to get radio to pay a performance tax.


Free exposure on the nation's airwaves is what sells music.

The radio industry is up in arms about the possibility of paying such a tax, but they are doing nothing to prevent it from becoming inevitable.

Nothing is what radio has done since the late 1980's -- the Dark Ages of Radio then began.

Radio execs have a hard time seeing the progression of unfortunate events. Satellite and cable radio were forced to pay a fee to broadcast music. And on July 15th the Internet streamers will either be put out of business or will be paying through the nose to the music industry in unfair copyright royalties.

Guess who is next?

But terrestrial radio uses silence in the wrong way aiding their enemies and not helping their brethren Internet streamers. They refuse to get behind the "Day of Silence" this coming Tuesday that would make a huge PR statement to the media and elected officials who are the only ones who can really right the unfairness in the CRB's ruling.

Just one terrestrial broadcaster has agreed to join the protest Tuesday.

Just one. Greater Media according to Tom Taylor's Taylor On Radio Info.

Not even the major consolidators who stream music themselves and who could wind up in harm's way. Maybe they think they'll just let their lobby group -- the NAB -- handle it.

Terrestrial radio broadcasters need to stop their Internet music streams for one day.

Pandora is doing it.

So are the other major online streamers: Live 365, Launchcast, Rhapsody, MTV, Real Networks, AccuRadio among others. These folks will substitute a sound that simulates static instead of playing their streams. Their goal: get people to ask their elected officials to support legislation that would provide fair compensation and avoid the potential end of these music streams as we know them.

Clear Channel is a streamer. Where are they?

How about CBS and the other major consolidators?

Broadcasters have been awfully proficient at talking a good game but now that they're being asked to simply shut up, they can't or won't do it.

Won't? Why not.

Can you say HD radio?

Somehow, someway these terrestrial powerhouses feel that Internet streamers are their enemies and that HD radio is the anointed son of terrestrial radio and therefore immune from such threats. And why wouldn't they think like that? Their lobby group managed to negotiate an exemption for HD radio back in 1995 when it was still a gleam in iBiquity's eye. Nothing sticks to terrestrial radio.

But that's about to change.

The big bad wolf is at the door -- your buddies, the record labels. They're boxed into a corner and when an animal gets cornered they attack. They do the only thing they know how to do -- raise rates or sue (or both). And they're coming after you, too, terrestrial radio.

HD is to radio what the Edsel was to Ford Motor Company -- an ugly failure that consumers never wanted.

Go to radio's fabled retail partner Wal-Mart and see if you can even buy an HD radio. Ask one of their young "sales associates" what an HD radio is and why you should have one? If you buy a new HD radio plug it in try to find an HD station that was worth the investment.

HD radio is not worth it and is not worth withholding radio's support for a unified front against unfair royalties on streaming.

The radio industry is going to wear this mistake on their bottom lines for a long time to come. They are going to have to need a major presence on the Internet through rebroadcasting their terrestrial signals to creating new channels. And when they do, they will be paying the same outlandish rates that are going to force a lot of Internet streamers out of business July 15th.

This is one time when radio wins by not saying anything.

This is one time when Clear Channel can finally put some meaning into "Less Is More".

This is one time when solidarity with the digital world will pay benefits to terrestrial radio companies for years to come.

This is one time when the record labels' march toward performance fees can be halted by taking a unified stand against the CRB inequity.

In other words, actions speak louder than words.

Help Internet streamers help you.

Go silent Tuesday or else stay silent after Tuesday and don't complain when the fate of your Internet future is sealed by your inaction.

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