Folks, the future of Internet Bluegrass Radio is in jeopardy

That is a powerful statement, suggesting an ominous and most unwelcome scenario. It was shared by Clyde Scott, who manages 24/7 bluegrass cybercaster, as a comment to Brance’s post yesterday on the proposed new Copyright Roaylty Board fee structure for internet radio.

These new rates were negotiated with SoundExchange and, if enacted as currently proposed, do seem certain to make licensing of small to mid-sized online broadcasts cost prohibitive. These new fees are in addition to the songwriter royalties already being paid to the various performance rights organizations (BMI, ASCAP, SESAC).

Clyde’s comments included this cost analysis regarding

“Until recently we were averaging about 202,000 listening hours per month. This meant we had to pay Sound Exchange an average of an additional $300 per month. That has been tough for us. Now that we have grown our audience by hundreds, we are approaching 300,000 listening hours per month. The new rates allow us 159,140 hours per month for our annual payment (I have no idea where they come up with that number). Doing the math, we are over by 140,860 allowed hours and will be required to pay the commercial rate for those extra hours. This would average to about $1.50 per hour over the maximum allowed or $211,290.00 per month. WOW, you see where this is heading..??”

If Clyde’s numbers are accurate, this would not only be devastating for online bluegrass radio, but for any niche or alternative music form that has found an audience on the Internet.

Read Brance’s original post about the new rates here, which include Clyde’s comments.

We encourage our readers to share their thoughts about this issue, especially if you are a regular listener to online radio, or work for a station or show that is streamed online.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.