do not want broccoli dogA few of my favorite blogs have touched on this topic today (Idolator did twice) and at this point it honestly seems like pretty low-hanging fruit to me to even comment on it, but as long as record companies continue their blind assault on the city walls of common sense, I figure every voice counts.

Forget the moral highground. Nobody is buying it. Everyone knows that the RIAA is comprised of some of the slimiest swindlers in the history of commerce and when Mitch Bainwol (or his latest mouthpiece Ric Keller (R-FL)) open their mouths to reveal several rows of razor-sharp teeth and play the morality card, it's laughable. But I'd rather not waste the keystrokes on moral theory.

The current reality is that Pandora's Box has been opened and nobody, not even if Voltron and Optimus Prime worked together, is ever going to be able to shut it, morality be damned. And here are the record companies, clinging to DRM like that kid in kindergarten whose parents hated him enough to let him bring his "blankie" to school. I know it's a scary new world out there, guys, but DRM is not going to protect you. It just makes you look fucking stupid.

Here's the bottom line: Someone, somewhere, is going to beat your DRM no matter what. They're going to have fun doing it, they're going to brag about it to their friends, and the day after they've posted it on their torrent site of choice, it'll be on every torrent site. The Idolators have an interesting argument today that this might not even be such a bad thing. Your energy and funds would be better spent on something, ANYTHING, other than a battle that you will definitely, without a doubt, not win.

How about artist development? Just a thought.


Endless Mike and The Beagle Club to play Goodbye Blue Monday again

endless mike and the beagle clubLast time Endless Mike and The Beagle Club played there it was an absolute blast. Come on down to Goodbye Blue Monday in Brooklyn this Thursday (3/29) at 9pm and see for yourself why I never shut the hell up about how good this band is. And introduce yourself...I'll buy you a beer. Hope you like PBR.

update: it was awesome. i'll write about it soon.


The Early November announce hiatus

the early novemberAbout a week and a half ago, I was lucky enough to score some tickets to what looks to have been The Early November's final NYC show at Irving Plaza, though I didn't know it at the time. The band issued a statement Tuesday on their website announcing an "indefinite hiatus." But lest the rumor mill grind into motion, the official word is that there are no hard feelings:
We all love and care for one another tremendously. We're as close of friends as we have ever been and, as long as the five of us exist, we will continue to be so. This "hiatus" or "break" is just a result of time and life. As we grow older, priorities change. We've decided we need to take some time and see that life isn't all dirty rock clubs, rest stops at 2 am, and long distance phone calls. We have to be where we haven't been in the past six years; with our friends, family, and loved ones.

It's sad to see a good band go, but it's sadder to watch a good band go bad. Coming off a fantastic 3 CD record and a successful tour, with their last scheduled show at The Bamboozle for their hometown Jersey crowd, I respect their decision to go out on top. And I admire their commitment to their fans. At the show I saw, they played a set filled almost entirely by requests to a crowd that didn't want to let them leave the stage. I'll bet audiences at the remaining shows can expect similarly fond farewells. Especially in East Rutherford.

The Early November's remaining tour dates can be found here.


Save Internet Radio

This is a brain-dump. Please excuse its untidiness.

Perhaps by now you've read in one place or another about the recent decision [pdf] by the US Copyright Office to hike Internet Radio fees. If you have, you surely already know that if this decision is allowed to stand, it puts the kibosh on the ability of any small-time webcaster (like PulverRadio) to remain viable going forward, AND it levels an absurd and crippling retroactive fee for all performances dating back to January 1, 2006. Put bluntly: Internet Radio as you know and love it is F'd.

Here's a quote from SaveOurInternetRadio.com that illustrates with some simple numbers what we're dealing with here:
Under this royalty structure, an Internet radio station with an average listenership of 1000 people would owe $134,000 in royalties during 2007 - plus $98,000 in back payments for 2006. In 2008 they would owe $171,000, and $220,000 in 2009.
I bet if you've ever thought about this you already have a hunch, but the miniscule revenues the banner ads and affiliate links you see on this site don't amount to very much. Certainly not enough to stay afloat with that kind of burden.

In theory, the Copyright Office heard arguments from all sides, and made its decision after carefully considering all the facts. But the decision they made is to comply fully with the proposed solution from SoundExchange, an organization originally spawned from the dank, cavernous belly of everyone's favorite malicious overlord, the RIAA. To be completely accurate, SoundExchange is not officially affiliated with the RIAA any longer, though I hear they still share some villianous personnel high up the food chain. But, as Walter Sobchak once famously said: "Oh, come on Donny, they were threatening castration! Are we gonna split hairs here?"

There's an important distinction to be made between the copyright for the song and the copyright for the recording of the song. The songwriter owns the copyright of the song. The record company usually owns the copyright of the recording. When read about huge artists scoring record deals in which they get to "keep their masters," that's what's being referred to. The reason this is important is that both Internet and terrestrial radio stations pay royalties to the songwriter. But Big Terrestrial Radio doesn't pay a dime to record labels for broadcasting the copyrighted recordings. That's right, the new fees being imposed on Internet radio (and the fees we've already been paying to SoundExchange don't have a counterpart in the terrestrial world. Huge stations owned by huge corporations like ClearChannel don't have to pay the record companies. This can all be traced back to a decision by Congress in the 90's to distinguish between analog and digital broadcasts at the behest of the RIAA.

The RIAA. The myopic, heel-dragging, deep-pocketed, well-lawyered RIAA. Who deem it appropriate to insulate themselves from competition via legislation rather than meet it on a level playing field. Who extort monies from their own customers via bogus lawsuits, since they have so completely lost touch with reality that they're unable to provide a product the consumer wants in a form its willing to pay for. Who are now lashing out at legitimate Internet-based music services in a short-sighted money-grab that might kill one of the last remaining bastions of LEGAL music discovery left on the Web, driving consumers further and further down the rabbit hole of illegitimate file acquisition.

Who benefits from this?

Terrestrial radio? They're already done-for. They're pushing HD Radio, for God's sake. A more expensive product with inferior programming and an imperceivably higher aural definition. Yeah, that's going to make people listen to the radio again.

The Big Four who comprise the RIAA? Nobody could be more clueless. They've abused their customers (and now, their allies) for so long that they will NEVER rebound. And this is another step that will make less of their music available to the law-abiding public (if there even exists such a thing anymore). Sure, there will always be people buying old catalog. Pink Floyd will sell forever. But the major labels slipping further and further into irrelevancy, and everybody knows it but them. The argument that people may be waiting for their favorite song to come on PulverRadio so they can digitally record it, edit it to eliminate station ID's, ID3 tag it, and add it to their music collection is asenine. Your favorite song is only a few clicks away at The Pirate Bay. There, I said it. Go nuts.

The Consumer? If I need to explain to you how this is detrimental to the consumer, I question how you found yourself on this site.

Please, if you have a few minutes, sign a petition, write your congressperson, mailpoop the RIAA, or simply get more informed on this issue (a few links below). It's important.

**UPDATE** Commenter Chris suggested wisely that I include this list of RIAA labels: Sony, Universal, Warner Brothers, EMI (Capitol, Virgin etc). Don't give them your money.

Mikey McClenathan
Program Director

[Save Our Internet Radio]
[Radio and Internet Newsletter (RAIN)]
[Save Net Radio]