Web Royalty Battle Continues on the Hill
Nate Query, the bass player for the Decemberists, is in town this week because he's worried about the future of Web radio.
The Decemberists are a popular band these days -- and they got that way partly with support from Internet radio stations and online music review sites like Pitchfork Media. Query says these outlets were important to his band when they were starting out, because they couldn't get any attention from terrestrial radio stations.
But thanks to some new, increased royalty rates that are set to go into effect soon, Query -- and a bunch of musicians and Webcasters -- are worried that this whole industry is about to go belly up. ( I wrote about this a month back.) Barring a move by Congess, the due date for paying the new rates goes into effect July 15. Web radio stations like Pandora and Live365 say that the new fees will quickly put them out of business.
I talked to Query for a while yesterday afternoon, in a park next to the Russell Senate office building, where an organization called SaveNetRadio was throwing a concert in an effort to bring attention to the cause. According to the organization, 31 artists are in town today, meeting with more than 50 lawmakers to discuss the issues involved with Internet radio and royalty rates.
Query, who flew straight to D.C. from performing at the Bonnaroo Festival in Tennessee to be here this week, says the issue sometimes isn't the most intuitive thing to explain to his fellow musicians. (Bigger royalty checks are good, right?)
"I feel like their approach is so backwards," he said of the new fees. New bands need exposure, he said, and that's exactly what Web radio stations are offering.
So far, Query has found that the Hill staffers he's met with have been "incredibly well informed" on the issue. But will all this lobbying spur any action from Congress? It's still to soon to tell.
June 19, 2007; 12:55 PM ET
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