Web DJs silenced by royalty fees
From the attic of his condo in Woodbridge, Va., the 38-year-old Web developer ran an Internet radio station that spun his beloved Christmas carols all year long. Then in March, a panel of federal judges sharply increased the royalty charges for playing music online.
Since then, it's been one long, silent night for Clark and his hundreds of listeners at christmasmusic247.com. His site and hundreds of other free Internet radio stations already have shut down, and most others have said they will stop. The new rates became effective Sunday.
"It really isn't fair," said Clark, who pulled the plug when he realized he could owe more than $20,000 in royalties if he continued.
The decision threatens the diversity that webcasters bring to an era of large radio conglomerates and homogenized Top 40 playlists on many over-the-air stations. Each month an estimated 72 million listeners tune in to thousands of Internet radio stations programmed by devotees of every musical genre and subgenre.