As you've probably heard by now, the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) recently approved a royalty rate hike for all internet radio stations that play ASCAP & BMI registered artists on their stations. The general consensus among internet radio station owners & operators is the rate hike will effectively end web stations' ability to stay afloat financially; as a result, internet radio stations will cease to operate, reducing variety and choice in music on the internet.
1. What does all this mean to the indie artist?
For the majority of indie artists who aren't concerned with receiving royalties from radio play, the decision to raise royalty rates might contain a silver lining. Any indie artist seeking radio play, and is willing to waive royalty claims, is actually at an advantage over other artists looking to receive royalty payments. Indie artist looking for the benefits of exposure and not money will most likely receive preference over ASCAP/BMI -registered artists from reviewing web stations.
2. But won't web radio stations go out of business?
Web stations that play strictly indie artists and not major artists are not subject to royalty payments, assuming the station secures a royalty payment waiver from the artist. Of course, no major label is willing to forfeit royalty payments from radio stations - therefore, web stations will be less inclined to play artists from major labels.
3. How will web stations make money, if they don't play major artists that draw all the traffic to their site?
The notion that a web radio station must play known artists to succeed in drawing traffic to their site is false. Many stations are able to draw heavy, consistent traffic to their sites by playing undiscovered new talent for fans looking for fresh, original music. This holds true for every genre, from indie rock to world, soul, hip-hop, new age, jazz, classical, punk rock, metal, electronica, and every other conceivable genre and sub-genre in the music spectrum. Web stations & sites will continually look for new ways to bring traffic (and revenue) to their sites. Some sites offer to sell items for artists, such as CDs, downloads, and T-shirts. Other sites offer premium services to artists, including booking, recording, & representation. Still other sites use royalty-free artists on their stations to promote and develop a non-music businesses & sites.
4. So is this royalty rate hike a good thing for the non-registered indie artist?
Well, no. Many independent web radio stations with modest advertising revenue prefer to play known & unknown artist in their rotations, and any rate increase on royalty payments is a hefty financial burden. Write your congressman at http://www.house.gov/writerep/ in support of keeping down royalties rates for internet radio broadcasters.
So, trying to get airplay on stations that will pay royalties is actually going to hurt you. Internet stations are going to pick artists that waive royalty payments. Paying for airtime is not unmoral or unjust. It's a service, just like anything else you use to promote yourselves.
Submit Music To UnHeard Radio