Internet radio stations like SomaFM have launched bands and influenced what mainstream DJs play. On July 15, they could be gone forever. By David Downs
Currently capturing 72 million listeners per month — versus 280 million for terrestrial radio — Net radio has hijacked the authority of terrestrial radio with one-billionth the resources over the last 15 years.
"Big radio's least-common-denominator approach creates playlists that the least amount of people will ever turn off. There's no personality, no edge," says Hodge. "The challenge here is to do a lot with a little."
Webcasters like Seattle's KEXP and San Francisco's SomaFM are the de facto curators of America's most avant-garde electric art galleries. Their playlists read like Next Big Thing cheat sheets for mainstream DJs, college radio stations, marketers, and advertisers. What was once a cult of hobbyists now encompasses major players like Clear Channel, which simulcasts existing holdings and compete against offerings from National Public Radio, AOL, and Yahoo.
Now this weird radio empire could all come crashing down in less than a month on what people in the industry are calling D-Day, or "the day the music dies."
On July 15, the bill comes due for a whole new set of royalties that will wipe out Net radio as we know it. No more KEXP, no more SomaFM, you name it.
A ruling by the Copyright Royalty Board back in March hiked SomaFM's royalty bill from $10,000 in 2006 to $600,000, retroactively — even though the little radio company's gross revenues were only $125,000 last year.
But SomaFM and other Webcasters are fighting back. David Downs has a good article on SFWeekly and explains the situation very well. Read More »
What You Can Do: Visit Save Net Radio for tips about calling your political representatives.
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