Internet Radio To Go Silent In Protest
SAN FRANCISCO, Jun. 21, 2007 (KGO) (KGO) -- Seventy-two million people who listen to music over the Internet may find it very quiet next Tuesday. A day of silence is planned to protest what webcasters call a huge increase in royalties to artists and labels. However, it's not just a dispute over money.
Next Tuesday, Internet radio is going to turn the music off and observe a day of silence.
Ted Leibowitz is one of tens of thousands of Internet DJ's protesting a 300-percent increase in royalty fees. Like most Internet radio programmers, Leibowitz does this for the love of music -- in his case, independent rock bands that don't get played on mainstream stations.
Ted Leibowitz, BagelRadio.com: "You're going to go from having this multitude of choices to having almost none."
Leibowitz fears that small operators like him can't afford the recent royalty fee hike. He estimates it will cost him tens of thousands of dollars. And his radio station, called Bagel Radio, is not a money maker.
However, the steep hike could force him to hang up his headphones.
Ted Leibowitz: "If my station goes away and all the other stations that play these small subsections of music, all that's going to be left is FM, and clearly there is a market for more than what is on FM."
Ten-thousand Internet radio operators pay royalties currently through Live365. Live365 tracks what the Internet stations play and handles the royalty payments. However, this could cause pirates to spring up.
Rod Hsiao, Live365.com: "What may happen is that webcasters may just feel that it's a lot easier to just not get a license and not pay the royalties, which would hurt everybody."
Every day, unknown bands send in CDs to DJ's like Leibowitz, hoping to get some exposure. That's how listeners learn about new groups and their music. Genres of music number in the hundreds.
Internet radio stations are hoping the day of silence will enlist the support of listeners as the case moves to Congress where two bills have been introduced to lower the royalty fees.
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