Mar 6, 2007

Big Media to TVT: "not in my house!"

Team TVT has long been intrigued by internet webcasting, which empowers every Tom, Dick & Harry (or Wayne & Garth) with the ability to play the part of a Radio DJ with a low-cost means of entry. We all love music, so wouldn't it be cool to own your own radio station? The web hands this wish to us.

In this era of media consolidation -- which has drained any concept of integrity and innovation from the traditional broadcast industy -- the best stations out there today are internet webcasters. If you're not tuned in to this phenomenon, take a listen to Radio Paradise, one of the best known examples.

We've long been planning our own entry into this field, with a locally focused station featuring both regional music and regional business stories. We've reserved a couple domain names, bought the software, assembled an inventory of music and lined up the bandwidth. We're all set to go.

Well, not quite. Nothing's easy in this world, after all.

Before one launches a business -- even a micro business such as a web radio station -- he or she should strive to get a pretty good idea of what the operating costs of the enterprise will be; upfront. That's a Business 101 concept, after all. We'd be ill-advised to go wandering into this thing not knowing such data.

But that's where this whole thing falls apart. We've been in pause-mode for the past two years: we simply do not know what our PRIMARY COST will be to webcast a simple mix of tunes and business-talk segments to an estimated audience of...well, several (if we're lucky).

That's because the question of ROYALTY RATES has been a moving target during that timeframe. How much money should we expect to pay as a means of justly compensating the artists whose music we will be playing on our micro-station? The rate has changed several times, fluctuating wildly between "something reasonable" and "something absurd." Until this issue is settled, we'd be nuts to jump into this potential minefield.

Well, today comes word that a call has finally been made by those in charge of one aspect of these royalties. The U.S. Copyright Royalty Board issued its long awaited decision on this matter: here's a good read on it.

Without getting into the specifics, let me summarize: this new payment structure stops people like us from joining the party and will shut down just about everybody who's already in it. Our venture will never make it online; Radio Paradise will have no choice but to pack it in and turn off the switch.

It's obvious what's going on here: the Music Police (i.e, the recording industry / RIAA) is teaming with its Axis of Evil partner (Big Media) to freeze out what it perceives to be a major threat to their current stranglehold on the music business. The Board's decision, in fact, reflects the exact recommendation offered by the Axis' highly financed legal and lobbying teams.

The result: the same old "lowest common denominator" garbage spewing from radio broadcast towers coast to coast is protected from competitors offering alternative playlists, genres, artists and content. The mind-numbing gentrification of America continues, while creative innovation is shortchanged in its ability to enter the competitive marketplace.

Write your Congressman. Send an email to your Senator. Better yet: boycott Corporate Radio.

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