Paying for internet web streams is one of radio's problems

Mar 18, 2015 10:37 pm
Paying all the bills at any sort of radio station can be difficult in this multi-media age. The studio of Berkeley Liberation Radio was broken into and robbed, March 2, and now the legendary pirate radio station has a Gofundme campaign to get back on the air. As of March 18 the station had raised $1,250 of the $2,000 it says it needs to get back on the air. The station was founded as Free Radio Berekely in the early 1990s by Stephen Dunifer, the Johnny Appleseed of the microradio movement then. Legal stations also have many costs, especially streaming their signals online. Paul Riismandel at Radio Survivor reports SoundExchange, the non-profit organization that collects so-called “mechanical” royalties for recorded music, just reached a settlement with National Public Radio and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting on the rates that affiliated public and community stations will owe from 2016 to 2020. The details of the agreement have not been made public yet, and the settlement must still be approved by the Copyright Royalty Board. Last October, SoundExchange also reached a settlement with College Broadcasters Inc. Riismandel also reports he spoke with another writer who said that a pirate station had received notice from ASCAP and BMI demanding that the station pay up for its internet stream. Last year, East Village Radio, which began as a pirate station in 2003 and then went just online, closed because “licensing fees and internet costs” were too large for the station to cover. Recently, new apps have emerged that make it easier then ever for anyone to start their own streaming online radio station. Mixlr and Fradio (launched this week) both let anyone use their phones as a transmitter, with just a few touches to start broadcasting. The question is now if BMI and ASCAP will be tracking down each user who is playing music for royalty payments. Already, a quick look through Mixlr's streams show many traditional radio stations using the app to stream their signals. Both apps also make it very simple for anyone to broadcast royalty-free events such as town council meetings, and local lectures or political debates, so not all streams must pay these fees. StoryCorps, an American non-profit organization whose mission is to record, preserve, and share the stories of Americans, launched their own app this week, allowing oral historians and other interviewers to share the audio with the U.S. Library of Congress, on the website, and on social media sites such as Facebook and SoundCloud.
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