The Great Webcasting War of 2007 between the burgeoning Internet radio industry and SoundExchange, the rather heinous tool of the RIAA, is turning into a drawn-out, mean-ass event. And since the only people who side with SoundExchange on the matter are label execs desperate for revenue and a few recording artists who haven't figured out that you can't collect royalties from a format once it's been legislated into extinction, public opinion is solidly against the greed-heads. SoundExchange is currently backpedaling a bit, and just offered a reduced royalty rate for small Webcasters. SaveNetRadio, the loudest voice on the Webcasting side, basically told them, "thanks, but fuck you," and plans to keep fighting the egregious royalty rate. Whether the decision to turn down a chance to save at least part of the industry is wise or not will ultimately depend on how the Internet Radio Equality Act does in Congress. But regardless of the outcome, SaveNetRadio's statement goes a long way toward refuting any claims that Webcasters don't care about artists or music. You don't make huge, possibly fatal decisions unless you are absolutely dedicated and in love with whatever it is you're defending.
Here's a big quote from the press release explaining SaveNetRadio's reasoning:
"The proposal made by SoundExchange today would throw 'large webcasters' under the bus and end any 'small' webcaster's hopes of one day becoming big," SaveNetRadio spokesperson Jake Ward said. "Under government-set revenue caps, webcasters will invest less, innovate less and promote less. Under this proposal, Internet radio would become a lousy long-term business, unable to compete effectively against big broadcast and big satellite radio-- artists, webcasters, and listeners be damned.
"Labeling webcasters small or large is a distinction without a difference," continued Ward. "Two of the most prominent webcasters, Pandora.com and Live365, are models of industry success but would be bankrupted by the CRB and by the SoundExchange proposals. Pandora employs 100 people in an enterprise zone in Oakland, California, but its popularity would put it out of business. Similarly, Live365, an aggregate webcaster that provides a platform for more than 10,000 individual webcasters, has a staff of fewer than 40. Though clearly small as a business, Live365's enormous importance and scope among webcasters would force them to shut down."