Of course, all this trouble stems from the money-grubbing pigs at the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), who are claiming that the airing of a CD on an Internet radio station hurts CD sales. The fact is, most stations don't even stream music at CD quality levels, so this argument is pretty much bullshit. In addition, many of the radio stations out there are playing music they love. They aren't charging for it, and sure the hell aren't making any money off of playing it to a handful of listeners. In fact, some figures have shown that the money that the RIAA is hoping to collect is over 100% of the total revenue of all online radio stations.
As a result of the June ruling, many online webcasters (including myself) have decided to take down their Internet radio stations rather than risk having the RIAA nipping at their heels like rabid dogs trying to extort fees from them. What the RIAA doesn't seem to get is that the net isn't just about business. There are tons of people with sites that are (or were) playing music and weren't making a cent. They are playing music because they like to be DJs, or because, like myself, they have a bunch of rare records that they think other people should here, or simply because they think everyone should share their love for Madonna, or whatever...
One thing that I have yet to hear (or read online) is the indie and punk label response to the fees. It would be interesting to hear from labels that would let their music be played royalty-free, at least by stations that are broadcasting without pulling in any cash through subscriptions. As such, I've put up RoyaltyFreeRadio, a website where people can come and give their opinions on the fees. And I've also put up a section for labels to state what side of the fence they are on. If you have something to say on the issue, please visit http://www.royaltyfreeradio.com/ and leave a comment.
My ultimate vision, though it may or may not happen, is a listing of labels that will let their music be played by non-commercial webcasters without those webcasters having to worry about paying royalty fees to anyone. I would think many labels would recognize the wisdom of having their music available to the Internet masses.
Probably the largest website that is working on a way to allow small webcasters to continue broadcasting is SaveInternetRadio.org (http://www.saveinternetradio.org/). They have a petition you can send to Washington DC, as well as updated news on what is happening with Internet webcasting and royalty rates. While you're there, sign up for the Radio and Internet Newsletter so that you can stay informed.
And now, a handful of other sites for you to peruse while you're waiting for the man to take away more of your rights. I first mentioned PunkFix about a year ago, and I recently got e-mail from the Ryan, the webmaster, telling me his address had changed and that I should check out the site again. I did, and I'm happy to report that there is a lot of great stuff at PunkFix, including some pretty decent interviews with members of GI, The Dead Boys, Bad Brains, and a bunch more. They've also got a photo section, including classic pix by Mick Mercer. Check out PunkFix at http://www.punkfix.net/ .
Next up is PunkUpdates at http://www.punkupdates.com/ . PunkUpdates is basically a listing of upcoming releases by bands on various labels, as well as a handful of reviews, sound files, etc. Once cool thing they have is a way to add their listing of new releases to your own website. This feature would be even better if they included smaller labels, but maybe all you need to do is ask.
Somebody e-mailed me about the Scottish band PMX. They have a ska-punk thing going on, and they do it pretty well. Their website includes photos, a message board, and a bunch of mp3 files of their songs. Take a listen at http://www.pmxtv.com/ .
Gonna cut it short this month, but I have to mention the passing of Dee Dee since the last column I cranked out. His recent album on Conspiracy Records (http://www.conspiracyrecords.com/) wasn't vital, but it showed a guy who was still sticking to his punk roots. Fucking heroin took him away. His website has a decent tribute to him, so visit http://www.deedeeramone.net/ before you shut off your computer today.
As always, you can send me your website for possible mention / review
in this column to firstname.lastname@example.org
and you can find all of my columns online at http://www.diehippiedie.com/
in the netpunk section. Later.