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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

A special bulletin

This is from a friend of mine in college radio. While I'm all for IP rights, it irks me when someone steps between me and my rights just to enrich themselves. Not to mention the Kafkaesqe red tape is truly frightening:

WCSB 89.3 FM in Cleveland and other college radio stations across the country may have to give up webcasting their signals due to new rules set up by Sound Exchange and the US Copyright Office. The rules were created to ensure that artists would be paid for their work that was webcast online. It sounds like a noble cause. Paying musicians for the music they make sounds wonderful to me and I’m all for it. WCSB pays royalties to BMI every year for broadcast materials which I don’t have any problem with. Unfortunately the rules from Sound Exchange will guarantee that all but a few bands never receive a dime from getting played and fewer people will know they exist.

The fees for reporting are expensive and more importantly the reporting requirements are prohibitive. The costs are .02 per listener per song and there are 11 data fields that must be tracked for each song played. Bands receive .0007 cents per song played and Sound Exchange will not send out checks until a band accrues at least $10.00 in songs played. A band would have to be played more then 14,285 times before they would receive their first check! And to rub a little more salt in that wound it costs $45 to register a sound recording with the US Copyright office.

Almost all of the money paid in to the system by college radio stations will never reach the artists that these rules are supposed to benefit. It is much more beneficial for college radio to be able to introduce new music to audiences all over the world via webcasts. Most bands played on WCSB would make more money by selling one cd then they will ever see from sound exchange fees.

The new rules will force college stations to either adopt a mainstream radio format (it's a lot easier to report songs when you play the same thing every hour) or in many cases cease webcasting. A few stations might try to comply with the new reporting rules but when you look at the reality of what goes on at college stations it would be difficult. A college radio DJ has to pull their music and cue it up. They need to choose their Station IDs and PSAs and cue up more music. They need to monitor what they play for decency standards or else face the prospect of being fined $325,000.00 by the FCC and cue up even more music. They need to answer phones and pull requests and did my Dead Kennedy’s CD just end?? Oh my god dead air!!! Throw anything on! When is a DJ that does a rock show supposed to enter the 11 data fields required by Sound Exchange? Most rock songs only last 2-3 minutes. It can’t be done during commercial breaks because there aren’t any. College DJ’s would need to get secretaries just to handle the paperwork.

The new rules are not about paying artists. They are about controlling content and limiting competition. The RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) has been hemorrhaging money for years and is trying to make it all back by controlling the information you can access over the web. As bad as this is for college radio it is far worse for the bands that will never be heard by an audience that wants to hear them.

So enough bitching... I do appreciate if any of you are still reading this. Here's what you can do about it.

1. Go to and read the SAVE OUR WEBSTREAM message. If you already feel you've read enough you can skip reading it and go to step 2.

2. Click on the text of the SAVE OUR WEBSTREAM message. This will take you to a page with a form letter that you can send to your elected representatives. If you don't know who your representatives are we have links to help you out. Keep in mind that you don’t need to be 18 years old to write your representatives!

3. Pat yourself on the back for helping to support college radio and making the Internet a better place.

For more information on this issue you can read Michael Gill's "A threat to Your Stream" article from the Cleveland Free Times. Some of the details listed here came directly from his article. Others came out of my own research in to the matter including information from

Feel free to post or send this to anyone you think might be interested in radio, fair competition and free speech.

Thanks for your time and your activism,

Keith Newman
Scruggscorp Syndicated Radio & Crap!
Mondays Midnight-2:00 AM EST
WCSB 89.3 FM, Cleveland