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Call it the day the music died, Part 2. On Tuesday, thousands of U.S. webcasters are expected to go silent to protest the planned royalty rate increase by the Copyright Royalty Rate Board.
And although the situation is nowhere near as devastating as Feb. 3, 1959, the day musicians Buddy Holly, the Big Bopper and Richie Valens died in a plane crash, U.S. webcasters say the impending royalty rate increase “would lead to the virtual shutdown of this country’s Internet radio industry.”
“The arbitrary and drastic rate increases set by the Copyright Royalty Board on March 2 threaten the very livelihood of thousands of webcasters and their millions of listeners throughout the country,” said Jake Ward, a spokesman for the SaveNetRadio Coalition, in a
statement. “The campaign to save Internet radio—a genuine grass-roots movement comprised of hundreds of thousands of webcasters, artists and independent labels, and Net radio listeners—has quickly brought this issue to the national forefront and the halls of Congress, but there is still more to be done before the approaching deadline of July 15.”
In an interview, Ward said webcasters are taking this step despite the hit their advertising revenue will take that day.
“Giving up one day of revenue is better than closing their doors forever,” he said.
On Tuesday, some webcasters will shut off access to their music streams, while others will replace their music streams with long periods of silence, or other white noise, interrupted only by public service announcements about the issue, according to the statement.
“Internet-only webcasters and broadcasters that simulcast online will alert their listeners that silence is what Internet radio may be reduced to after July 15, the day on which 17 months’ worth of retroactive royalty payments—at new, exceedingly high rates—are due to the SoundExchange collection organization, following a recent Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) decision,” according to the statement.
Earlier this year, the federal CRB
set rates that would at least
triple the amount of royalties Internet radio broadcasters must pay to copyright holders to play a song.
Under the board ruling, royalty rates will be changed from a percentage of revenue to a per-song, per-listener fee. The entities affected include pure-play Internet radio stations, digital music stations and traditional broadcast stations that also stream their programs. The new rates, which would be retroactive to 2006, would increase until 2010.
have filed legislation that would .
Last month, SoundExchange, the group that collects royalties from Internet radio broadcasters,
offered small Net radio stations more time before they would have to pay the higher royalty rates to stream music online. However, webcasters declined to accept the offer.
“On Tuesday, thousands of webcasters will call on their millions of listeners to join the fight to save Internet radio and contact their congressional representatives to ask for their support of the Internet Radio Equality Act,&38221; according to the statement.
The webcasters participating in the day of silence include Yahoo; Live365 stations; Pandora.com; MTV Online; AccuRadio; KCRW in Santa Monica, Calif.; WGLI in Babylon, N.Y.; WMUK in Kalamazoo, Mich.; KFCF in Fresno, Calif.; LuckySevenRadio.com; RadioMilwaukee; KQLZ in Los Angeles; and KXPR/KXJZ in Sacramento.