From the front page of soma.fm, formerly the hippest Internet streaming radio station:
“The final decision on webcasting rates have been published on the Library of Congress’s site. To say the results are disappointing is an understatement. While the rates were effectively cut in half, that still means that to stay on the air, SomaFM will have to pay about $500 a day in fees to the RIAA. Just to expose you to new music that you wouldn’t hear anywhere else. Just to help you buy more records. Do they just not get it, or is the RIAA just greedy?”
SomaFM was awesome — they played a wide variety of eclectic stuff, largely ambient techno, trance, jungle, drum n’ bass, and other kinds of nifty electronic music thoroughly ignored by mainstream broadcast radio. My personal favorite was their Secret Agent channel, which played, well, you know, secret agent music — 60’s era mood and lounge pieces, mixed with retro-tinged electronica, and interspersed, of course, with sound bites from James Bond films. Rob Flickenger enjoyed the channel so much that he even sent them a decent chunk of money.
The very worst of it is that I am now that proud owner of a Groove Armada CD that I’d never have purchased if not for having first heard them on soma.fm. How do you like them apples, Ms. Rosen?
So what does this imply for the future of Internet streaming radio? Are we going to be reduced to having Sony and Disney and AOL Time Warner et al. as the only providers of interesting content on the Internet *as well as* in broadcast TV, cable, radio, and most movie theaters? Here in Sebastopol, we’ve been contemplating hosting a streaming radio station on our community wireless network — does the RIAA expect to be able to police that as well?
It’s the RIAA, not SomaFM, that should be put down. It’s clear their sole motivation is thinly disguised greed made increasingly frantic in the face of technology that has already made them obsolete. What a godawful dark day for the Internet.
Is this the end of indie streaming radio on the ‘Net?