Tuesday, July 17, 2018

The Day the Music Died

by V (writer), Venice!, April 28, 2007


Once upon a time, I thought about working in the music industry. Being a music lover, it seemed a sensible move to apply my existing skills in ‘talent’ management to musicians. But one night in early 1996, a girlfriend of mine (also a renown music promoter) and myself were downing a bottle of wine when my stereo serendipitously delivered, Jeff Buckley’s rendition of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah.’ All wined up I felt like the heavens had opened and the skies were pouring light and dark, peace and heartache all over my body all at once. I glanced over at my friend who looked relatively unaffected and I asked her what she was thinking. She said something about how the next time he comes back to Australia to tour they’d have to look at this bigger venue and raise ticket prices this much to make … blah, blah, blah, blah. I decided in that moment, that there was no way I would ever work in the music industry. All my life I want to feel the music, not hear the jingle jangle of change and I want to discover musicians, not sign them up.

I work, a lot. I also love music, a lot. Trying to keep in the know about great, upcoming acts and getting out and seeing good shows is almost a full-time job in itself. Fortunately for myself and many other music lovers out there, there are some music bloggers, pod casters and internet radio stations whose taste I can trust to turn me on to great new stuff. They put in the homework, I benefit from all their hard work. Independent, internet radio is the last bastion of broadcast where we can hear music presented by music lovers for music lovers not by record companies for customers, as with traditional radio.

The joy for the evolution of on-line music isn’t only from the punter’s side of the fence. So too, many brilliant young bands get airplay this way that would normally elude them when not signed to a record label who can buy them airtime. I’m all about musicians being awarded their financial dues (I mean, beer isn’t always free) but it is definitely about finding a balance between the immediate reward of royalties and the long-term rewards of exposure.

On May 15th, this great, young, music medium of internet radio will be silenced unless we do something about it. Sound Exchange – a collective with board members of dubious identity, supposedly ‘independent’ of the RIAA but basically a big fat front for the major labels – wants a whole lot more money. And the Copyright Board has ruled that they will get it. What are they asking? They’re asking for 44% more in royalties and a confusing ‘per station minimum’ with no maximum. And moreover, effective on May 15th, it is also retroactive from January 2006! May 15th will clearly bankrupt almost every internet radio station, and even the more popular big guys like WOXY and KEXP. What you have here is a major-record-label controlled entity with gatekeeper power over Internet Radio.

As a comment from an ‘Outbound Music’ employee put it, ‘It's not really about proper and fair royalties. It's about the major labels deciding who gets airplay on the Internet through the use of unreasonably high statutory royalties to force competition out of the market - many Internet Radio stations working with the majors will have sweetheart deals which reduce their commitment or exempt them completely from paying the fees. There is nothing illegal in what the majors are doing (at least in this case - there is the payola scandal and the for-promotion-only CDs ending up being sold at flea markets with artist royalties being held back to cover breakage). It is a business strategy most MBAs would embrace for companies producing widgets. But it's not good for the music industry. It's bad for the fans, bad for the artists and bad for music diversity.’

This is what they mean by the ‘free world’ right?

i heard there was a secret chord
that david played and it pleased the lord
but you don't really care for music, do you
well it goes like this the fourth, the fifth
the minor fall and the major lift
the baffled king composing hallelujah

If you care for music, find out what you can do to save internet radio. Go to:

And to support a great internet radio station go to:

About the Writer

V is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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5 comments on The Day the Music Died

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By solshine on April 28, 2007 at 04:51 pm
jeff buckley is god...
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By V on April 28, 2007 at 04:57 pm
Great! So you signed a petition I guess then??? The late Jeff Buckley's version of the great Mr Cohen's masterpiece is pretty much the only one I don't consider blaspheme. And when I saw JB do it live ... there aren't even words.
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By Steven Lane on April 29, 2007 at 12:31 am
V., I went to the website and got my local representative phone #. I will call on Monday. However, this guy , Elton Gallegly, is like a 12 term, "good ole boy". I doubt he would start listening to people now, he hasn't for a 100 years...but I will make the call.
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By V on April 29, 2007 at 12:16 pm
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By Ariel on April 29, 2007 at 07:02 pm
Charles Harmison, Glenn T, Shari G and now V! It's the grand comeback!
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