Internet Radio: Live Air?

header_mic.gif Sunday was when Internet radio was supposed to turn into dead air, after even an emergency court hearing had failed. However, during a Congressional hearing Friday,
…Jon Simson, director of SoundExchange – the label-affiliated organization responsible for setting royalty rates – told Congress that the group would not enforce the new royalty rates and would continue to work on negotiating new rates with the Digital Media Association (DiMA), who are acting on behalf of webcasters. “This is definitely a step in the right direction,” Pandora founder Tim Westergren, told us this morning. “At this point, provided there’s good-faith negotiations, they’re not going to go after people.”

Public Outcry Staves Off Destruction of Internet Radio, Evan Serpick, Rock & Roll Daily, Rolling Stone, 7/13/07, 12:54 pm EST

Is this any way to run a regulatorium? All the regulatory bodies stonewalling, the courts not listening, and only one man deciding not to proceed?

Well, maybe, if that’s not all it is:

According to insiders, negotiations are already making progress – the per-channel minimums that would have cost webcasters more a $1 billion a year are off the table – and it looks like, fingers crossed, this whole crisis could be averted before Pandora, Soma, WOXY or any other awesome web outlets are forced to shut down. Three cheers for those in the record industry who might’ve peeked their heads out of their asses on this one, to the webcasters for sparking a loud protest movement and, most of all, to Internet radio listeners for making their voices heard. “One million people called, faxed or emailed Congress since our Day of Silence,” says Westergren. “That’s what happened here: Public outcry equals Congressional pressure equalsa year are off the table – and it looks like, fingers crossed, this whole crisis could be averted before Pandora, Soma, WOXY or any other intervention.”
If that last part is true, this story may have a happy ending after all. Well, if people keep contacting their political representatives.

Meanwhile Meanwhile, SoundExchange says it still plans to charge bigger fish like AOL and Yahoo! the full rates set by the CRB. After all, it’s the money they’re after. Small fish are irrelevant to real money, even though that’s where innovation is most likely to happen. Nevermind that Yahoo! and google used to be small fish.

What does this mean for other Internet services and infrastructure? For anything that is embedded in the regulatorium, neither the current administration nor the incumbents are likely to do anything not to the incumbents’ advantage without pressure from other parties. Both political pressure, and it would be nice to vote with your pocketbook by going to the competition.