Tomorrow, you may logon to your favorite Internet radio station and hear nothing. No music. No bantering and joke-telling from highly caffeinated deejays.
No, you won’t be experiencing technical difficulties. And the deejays are not just stuck in line at Starbucks.
Live365 – a site that hosts 10,000 online radio stations — has declared June 26 a Day of Silence. Live365 stations and other independent stations will go mute tomorrow in protest against a March 2 ruling by the Copyright Royalty Board to increase webcasters’ royalty rates between 300 and 1200 percent over the next five years.
Royalties for webcasters have been on an upward hike the last couple years. In 2005, the rate was 7/100 of a penny per song streamed. On March 2, the board voted to increase the rate to 19/100 of a penny per song streamed.
Webcasters, whose incomes are already meager, are hoping the Day of Silence will help reverse the board’s decision. If the Day of Silence goes as planned, webcasters will have a repeat of the 2002 Day of Silence. That year, the event garnered so much national attention that the Librarian of Congress garnered a rate cut and also created the passage of the Small Webcaster Settlement Act for the period of 1998-2005.
All 10,000 Live365 stations will be redirected to a Day of Silence stream tomorrow that will offer an explanation for the silence and broadcaster testimonials. If the Day of Silence isn’t successful, silence may be heard more prominently on Internet radio stations starting July 15, when 17 months’ worth of retroactive royalty increase payments are due to the SoundExchange collections organization.