by Mike Masnick
Mon, Jul 30th 2007 6:54am
Back in March, when the word came out that the new royalty rates for webcasting were much higher than in the past, we were confused. After all, webcasting helps promote music -- so why would the RIAA (and its SoundExchange spinoff) want to set rates so high that it would kill off this promotional channel? The answer isn't that hard to figure out. Traditional radio, of course, is dominated by a few similarly formated stations that all play RIAA-backed music. 87% of the music you hear on the radio is from an RIAA-member record label. However, when it comes to music on webcasts, the story is quite different. Jon Healy, at the LA Times, points out that only 44% of music on webcasts are from RIAA labels. This, at least, based on the findings of Live365, one of the larger webcasting services out there. So, with more than half the songs coming from non-RIAA labels, no wonder they're less interested in keeping webcasts alive. And, of course, the situation really is a win-win for the RIAA (in the short-term). It either kills off those webcasters who don't contribute to the homogenization of music, or it forces them to pay large sums even if they only play non-RIAA music. Of course, this is a strategy guaranteed to backfire in the long run, as it simply pisses off even more music fans who will simply look elsewhere for music.
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