Features, Not Bugs

I’ve been seeing a lot of the blog posts about the death of internet radio with the new exorbitant CARP fees, and I couldn’t have been more shocked and surprised. Internet radio wasn’t already dead?

Doc Searls, of course, has been all over this. This post with reactions includes one that mirrors my opinion. Since the early days of podcasting I’ve been arguing that basing your show around RIAA music is not merely legally questionable, but kind of artistically lame. Why not dig a little deeper in finding the music that the musicians actually want you to play?

Apparently there are internet radio businesses that are going to go out of business new under this fee structure, did not see this coming and have no backup plans. Doc has linked to several of them. That seems like some seriously poor risk management. This eventuality is one the music business has been throwing huge resources into for years, so it didn’t take a crystal ball to predict it. So, the idea of switching to music licensed under Creative Commons or from labels that are friendly to internet promotion has never occurred to these internet radio stations? Podcasters have been working on building out various networks of pre-licensed music for years, but these internet radio guys never thought about it? You’ve got to be kidding me. I find it hard to shed a tear for that kind of lack of vision.

Friends, these are features not bugs. The Big Machine Music wants nothing to do with the internet, so let’s have some reciprocity. The internet, in the form of podcasters, internet radio, MP3 blogs and such should have nothing to do with the Big Machine. Fuck those douchebags. Find internet friendly musicians, labels and organizations and play them. 90% or more of the music being produced is not under control of the RIAA. If you can’t find something you like in that vast majority, you just aren’t trying. If your business fails from your lack of effort, don’t come crying to me.

Update: Doc links in to this post. Thanks Doc. I understand where he is coming from but I come from elsewhere. To him, the whole game is not fun unless he can use the music he is familiar with. Music of Big Familiarity (by that I mean something that would be used for nostalgic reason in a TV commercial) is of decreasing value to me. I cited Laurie Anderson the other day. That’s big label music that matters to me. Captain Beefheart, the Flaming Lips, Sonic Youth, John Coltrane, ok. The Beach Boys or the Who or their ilk, not really. To me nowadays, the value is in hearing something that moves me that I’ve never heard before. Discovering Turn Me On Dead Man was way more interesting to me than hearing “Kashmir” for the 17,000th time. I think there is more pop goodness in the music of Paul Melancon than any 10 oldies stations. Doc doesn’t want to dig, but we aren’t talking backhoe work. It’s more like looking at your feet and realizing that you are already standing in it. I’ve been immersed in music my whole adult life and I have access to more of it that moves me today than ever before.

Classic rock terrestrial radio, (apparently) internet radio and Big Music license business all turn on the value of familiarity but to me that’s a hand that’s been overplayed. Now when I walk into the local mall and “Wouldn’t it Be Nice” is playing — like it is 60% of the time — I want to scream. The value of most of the familiar 60’s oldies has sunk below zero for me. They make me want to run out of the building or have the Mrs. Fields kids fill my ears with frosting so I don’t have to hear it. 90% of current music is not under RIAA control. 98% of the music under RIAA control you have never heard. Fighting to the death over the most familiar 2000 songs in a world of millions of them is enough to make Chris Anderson turn over in his grave. Well, to first kill him and then make him turn over.

Doc doesn’t want to dig. Internet radio doesn’t want to shift playlists. Be that as it may, that’s a decision that they have to make for themselves. But, that’s a lot like saying that you are comfortable on the train tracks and taking two steps to the side is just too much work. I’m happy leaving the well graded rail bed for more free-form territory. Was that a whistle I just heard?

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Dave Slusher is a blogger, podcaster, computer programmer, author, science fiction fan and father.

One thought on “Features, Not Bugs”

  1. And batting clean-up for the Braves Dave S…. Well Dave this post very much in my “hot-button zone.” I’ll never forget when I first starting podcasting I had just doen my first podcast with mostly Brian Eno music(removed from circulation as fast as it went up) because I love it and am familiar with it(echoes of Doc), but to my chagrin, CC Chapman informed me of this new concept”podsafe music.” I was crushed.

    I was expecting to take on the podcast “RSS-waves” by storm only to find out that there were legal and moral issues. My initial feelings were very similar to what Doc voiced, but after thinking it through, my podsafe music search adventure beagan. I have to say so much of the music I’ve found and included on my over 200 shows has been as vital and interesting as much of the major label stuff I knew and love(d).

    Yeah it’s more of a hassle but a great feeling of accomplishment. Everytime I get a blog comment or e-mail from one of the gifted indie “unknowns” it played it warms my heart. when a listener tells me ,”hey Mark great mix and so and so is so rawkin I’m gonna buy their stuff”, that makes me feel pretty damn good too.

    You did an excellent jonb of stating the vanity of supporting music from an industry that isn’t there to serve us, just take our money,manipulate and sue us…Hmmm, I dropped Doc from my browser many moons ago, and dropped he remains.

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