First, the US Copyright Royalty Board revised its fee structure for streaming music. It was a compromise between the record companies and the Pandoras and Spotifys - but it completely ignored small independent webcasters. An exemption that had allowed these "personal broadcasters" -- who make little or no money from their stations -- to pay a nominal rate expired at the end of the year.
There are many other platforms for streaming on the web - but to obtain proper licensing, the new rate structure is unaffordable for the music enthusiasts, radio hobbyists and small groups that thrived on Live365.
Radionomy and Vivendi have not yet responded, so it's unclear just what is going on here. Is this a situation that developed under the previous ownership and that Vivendi is working to correct? Or a dispute between record-company giants over how a European service is supposed to pay U.S. copyright fees?
Will this end up in a negotiated settlement between those giants so that all can live happily ever after? Or will it result in another shut-down disaster for independent U.S. webcasters?
Just as this news was circulating, Radionomy suffered a major crash. Apparently triggered by a power failure, its entire system went down Tuesday night and was completely dead for 12 hours. Its tens of thousands of stations were simply unavailable on the web. After the system came back up, it had severe problems that affected many of its stations throughout Wednesday. At this writing (10:30 p.m. Wednesday EST / 0330 Thursday UTC), problems of dead air, looping tracks and disconnects are continuing for at least some stations.
(Luckily, Birch Street Radio has been broadcasting trouble-free since Wednesday morning.)
All we can hope for is that an arrangement can be reached whereby personal webcasters can continue to pursue their passion without being crushed by fees that were designed for major commercial services.
And all we ask YOU, or listeners, to do is to lend us your ears! If you enjoy our station, we hope you'll tune in early and often and build up our audience "ratings." That's how you can help us stay on Radionomy (where low-listenership stations eventually get axed). And if at some point we have to make another move, to yet another platform, we hope you'll follow along. Keep up with our latest news here at birchstreetradio.com, and on Twitter (@BirchStRadio).
Thanks for listening!