Declare War on SoundExchange

The "Day of Silence" to attract attention to the unfair treatment of Internet streamers at the hands of the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) is over.

Now, it's time to take off the gloves and hit SoundExchange where it hurts them the most -- in Congress.

That's what those of us interested in promoting fair access to Internet streaming wanted the "Day of Silence" to do. It succeeded to the extent that the protest brought the issue into a more general public discussion, but the execution of many small Internet radio operators is still on for July 15th when a new, draconian rate structure will be implemented that could drive many streamers out of business.

A pardon is out of the question. That is a pardon to the CRB.

SoundExchange, meanwhile, has given us a glimpse of their Achilles heel.

They want to avoid getting Congress involved in this issue. It's their worst case scenario.

How do I know?

While the recent protest was being planned SoundExchange made a lightning fast offer to cap streamer's administrative fee structure at $2,500 per organization with royalties still additional. How cool is that?

Not cool at all.

And the proposal was only an 18-month deal. So, security for streamers would still be out of reach of their business plans. And, by the way, how can you have a business plan when your rate structure is renegotiated in another 18 months?

SoundExchange, the group that collects the streamers royalty money, wants the administrative fee reduction in return for a signed agreement that proponents of lower rates would abandon their legislative efforts to protest royalties in the future. This fact was not immediately transparent when SoundExchange was spinning their offer to Internet radio and Congress.

Congress has shown no interest in pursuing the legislative approach to Internet royalty justice. You've heard the politicians -- and they've heard you (yada yada) but Internet streamers remain on their own with the huge increase in fees only a few days away.

Internet radio is going to have to own up to what's going to happen on July 15th. No sniveling and no pity parties. They also don't have to take it sitting down.

Now it's time to hit SoundExchange and the music industry they represent hard where they've indicated they don't want you to go -- Congress. It's kind of like two parties in a lawsuit threatening each other knowing that over 95% of the cases get settled out of court. And why not? Who wants to hand control over to a third party. After all, it's Congress that helped cause the current dilemma in the first place. SoundExchange doesn't want that.

From July 15th forward lobbying and pressuring Congress should not be one day, one month or a one year event. It should be an ongoing fight. Hire the best lobbyists money can buy (that sounds dirty, doesn't it?). Get the best minds together to do a better job articulating the issue to bring about sustained pressure from the general public.

Our elected representatives understand one thing very clearly -- voters.

If the Internet streaming business is worth fighting for -- and it most certainly is the future -- shrewd lobbying and grass roots, gloves-off political maneuvering is a requirement going forward.

The gun lobby gets stronger and stronger even when children are accidentally killed by handguns that their parents did not responsibly safeguard -- when a nut case opens fire on a university campus and police officers are needlessly killed by automatic weapons the public doesn't need for recreation -- even when public outrage against guns hits the boiling point.

Yet the NRA is a force to reckon with. Elected officials from all sides wish to avoid their ire and many Congressmen welcome their political and financial support.

Internet streaming is not like gun control, but death of a young industry is possible before it takes hold. It's worth no less of a fight. No less of a top notch political machine.

Now, to my friends in the Internet streaming business, get smart and make July 15th the "Day of Reckoning" -- the day SoundExchange and the labels will remember as the day when they went too far.

Don't settle until Internet streamers receive fair and equal consideration in royalty fees.

Don't settle until you win stability -- not just measured in years without having to fight new rate hikes -- but in increased influence that guarantees you'll pay your fair share and not a penny more.

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