In the name of deregulation and Freedom, record companies have hit Internet radio providers with raised royalty fees for songs played. Not only that, the fees are retroactive, and will most likely force most of these providers to shut down.
I’m incredibly sad at this development; Pandora is one of my favorite services, and I have found heaps of new (and old) music there that I love, and – incidentally – have PURCHASED.
And the case against Internet radio is inarguably fucking stupid. I mean, here’s a way to get music out into the ether, based on what people actually like rather than some corporate radio pap. Don’t get me wrong: I have plenty of AOR and MOR music in my collection. You can’t go wrong with Meatloaf, after all. But still: most of us are unable to record songs of the stream anyway. And quite a few of us are actually honest people who would be happy to pay for a track we like. Unless you figure Steve Jobs has been buying all those songs off iTunes himself. Now, I never listen to radio anymore. Radio in Norway is easily as horrible as everywhere else, with cloying jingles and superfluous DJs to ruin the music at any given time, always and forever, ad nauseum and infinitum. (Except the…oh, the irony, state-run channel. But hey, government doesn’t work, right?) Internet radio has been a way to discover new stuff you’d normally have no chance of finding. And if you like a song, you buy it. Can’t find it online? Order the CD. Put simply, Internet radio creates revenue, which is presumably what these idiots are after. And we, the paying customers are happy. So am I missing something here or what?
On the other hand, the free Internet that we know will probably be over soon, at least in the US; no huge surprise. Telcom providers are working to ensure that high-paying websites will receive more traffic than others. It’s the US, after all: Where there’s money to be made, a law will be passed. While these two cases are only tangentially related, they are both symptomatic of the deep-rooted willingness to fuck up a good thing for very short-sighted ends.