Since I wrote about the threat to Internet radio a few weeks ago, things have gotten worse for music streamers like Last.fm and Pandora. The Copyright Review Board (CRB), which sets the cost paid to content owners, refused to hear an appeal to a rate increase that stands to shut down a lot of music streams.
Net stations have turned their attentions to Congress, which is showing signs of action, but D-Day is July 15. That’s when retroactive hikes, amounting to more that triple the current rates, kick in. It should be noted that these are fees paid ONLY by online radio operators.
When that happens, many web sites will have but one option – to shut down.
This is dire, not only for net radio, but for artists who’ve given up on the mainsteam as a way to build exposure. That’s the reason for next Tuesday’s “Internet Radio Day of Silence.”
Many prominent webcasters have signed up, though participation from big terrestrial players like Clear Channel is not yet forthcoming. This may change, as Sound Exchange, the music industry agency that successfully won the CRB case, is making noises about trying to raise the “performance rates” paid by terrestrial and satellite operators.
I suppose for some readers, this is all a bit esoteric, but then again so were compact discs in 1984. But if the leading edge of technology is destroyed before it has a chance to become mainstream, everybody loses.
For example, what if the movie studios had won their lawsuit against Sony’s VCR and made it illegal to record movies from your television?
So much stands to be destroyed in the name of protecting an industry that has proven time and again to be its own worst enemy. In a few days, you’ll have a chance to witness where this short-sightedness leads.
Cell phone networks are becoming fast enough to support Internet radio streams, yet this ruling, if it stands, means few if any will ever get started. Those that do will probably play it safe to reach the lowest common denominator.
I’ve already got too many of those in my car.
Great music comes from bending rules and breaking barriers. The Internet is the only truly nurturing environment for the few cultural revolutionaries still in our midst.
Shutting it down doesn’t make sense.
So when Tuesday comes, listen to the silence and ponder what it means. In the meantime, check out these live music choices:
Thursday: Tuck Stocking, Gusanoz – Cinco de Mayo is to this place what St. Patrick’s Day is to Salt Hill, an excuse to celebrate all week long. Tonight, one of the best young guitarists in the area steps up. Tuck provided the secret sauce on Syd’s first record, and his work on the Conniption Fits’ latest helped to turn their new album into a regional hit.
Friday: Sol Y Canto, Lebanon Opera House – This Latin-flavored combo will be busy today, performing two educational shows early Friday morning, and playing with the Upper Valley Music Center’s Children and Youth Chorus at 7 PM. Buoyed by Rosi and Brian Amador, the band’s name means “Sun and Song.” With Rosi’s redolent singing and Brian’s expressive Spanish guitar stylings, it’s a sound that’s as hot as good salsa.
Saturday: Joey Leone’s Chop Shop, Claremont Opera House – Will the plaster stay on the walls? Can the old opera house stand the shock of the rock? We’ll see when Leone takes the stage. Over the course of his two-hour set, Joey channels everyone from Zeppelin to ZZ Top. Lonnie Youngblood calls him the best guitarist he’s played with since Hendrix, and fans pack the ski resorts whenever he plays.
Sunday: Ronnie Milsap, Paramount (Rutland) – He established his bonafides with hits like “There’s No Gettin’ Over Me”and “I Wouldn’t Have Missed It For The World.” I was reminded of how talented Milsap is when Joan Osborne recorded his Grammy-winning hit, “Please Don’t Tell Me How the Story Ends” on her most recent album. This, my friends, is the Nashville Sound. If you love it, Ronnie’s your man.
Tuesday: Wailin’ Jennys, Iron Horse – As Pete Townshend said, all the best heroes have Chinese Eyes, and all the best Americana comes from Canada. Rough-hewn and utterly charming, this trio got a nice nudge from regular appearances on “A Prairie Home Companion.” Their music is a mix of Dixie Chicks harmonies, rustic overtones and some seriously sweet picking.
Wednesday: Terry Diers, Canoe Club – Like a lot of area musicians, Diers wears a few hats. He plays with the rock bandk Skinxs and does bluegrass with Celtic hammered dulcimer player Samantha Moffatt. Tonight, he plays solo on several instruments – 6 & 12-string guitar, mandolin, and even a little piano.