I usually tune out Ruth Seymour.
She runs a good station at KCRW (if only for the talents of Raul Campos, Jason Bentley, Harry Shearer and the NPR lineup) but her voice makes my teeth itch.
This morning, though, I snapped to and listened: Seymour announced KCRW will be hit hard by a new federal ruling that would force internet radio stations to start paying royalties for every single song streamed to every single listener.
Whoa. Wired News says it’s fragments of pennies per stream, but the RIAA-sponsored royalty hammer (natch!) carries a $500-a-year minimum fee that would crush tiny guerilla webcasters who get caught in whatever enforcement net the feds toss out – not to mention the more successful ones whose streams might add up to thousands of dollars a year …
Put aside for a second the enforcement questions (How’s it work? Anyone without an RIAA-stamped cookie on every stream gets nailed? Who’s gonna spend time and money enforcing it? How long before someone hacks a perfect cheat?)
But what are the chances that even one cent of the stream fee will make it to the artist’s bank account?
Can we assume the RIAA will spend even a dime of the royalty cash reaped on a tracking system good enough to force megalithic music companies to pass webstream proceeds through consistently to the lower-profile and fringe-y artists that web-radio listeners prefer? Or are the Island Records of the world just gonna slip U2 a little taste while enjoying the rest of the ill-gotten meal themselves.
Are ya, guys?