RIAA, Radio Star

As we’ve seen, RIAA has been pushing for Internet Radio DRM, limitations to the Fair Use Act, and apparently elimination of Internet radio. This may seem counter-productive. Doesn’t the Recording Industry Association of America want to promote its recording artists? And isn’t radio a traditional way of doing that? And doesn’t Internet radio provide even wider reach of marketing for RIAA’s artists’ products?

Well, not really:

The answer is sales. The RIAA isn’t pushing for every artist, it’s pushing a few select products. One star selling a million records is worth a lot more than one hundred stars selling ten thousand records each, even if the end numbers seem to tally up the same.

Can you hear me now? by Brett Thomas, bit-tech.net, Published: 21st April 2007

In other words, apparently RIAA is pushing the fat head and doesn’t care about the long tail; much less about participation.

Brett Thomas explains this in terms of fixed vs. variable costs. Basically, printing CDs is just like vinyl platters or wax cylinders in that you’ve got fixed costs, and you (the big record companies, that is) are better off if you can sell a large number of a few records than if you smell small numbers of many records. That plus the advertising, merchandising, and licensing fees they get from Internet radio are (currently) miniscule compared to those they get from the big traditional radio chains like ClearChannel.

Thomas speculates that the current Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) crunch on Internet radio charges may serve to soften up the few remaining least common denominator Internet radio stations for acquisition by ClearChannel, thus annexing Internet radio to the traditional scheme. In case you haven’t heard, the CRB denied appeal, and Internet radio providers are supposed to pay up by May 15. If you don’t like that, take a look at Savenetradio.org.

RIAA apparently plans to keep hammering wasps.

If they succeed in wiping out Intenret radio as we know it, will they then go after iTunes and the iPod? That could be interesting, seeing RIAA going up against somebody with the wherewithal to fight back.

Meanwhile, it will be most ironic if Internet radio continues to develop in countries that don’t much care for copyright, such as China.