How do you see satellite radio and the Internet as vehicles of discovering new and interesting music? Your recommendations, please. —Richard Sheir, Montpelier, Vt.
As a creator and fan, I’m torn. Clear Channel, as part of its FCC-payola settlement, is creating 8,400 half-hour blocks for “indie music.” To take part, artists are required to grant a royalty-free, nonexclusive right and license to Clear Channel. Translation: It gets to use your music in any medium, which presumably includes generic “bed” music for local car dealerships, for free. On July 15, the U.S. Copyright Royalty Board decided that Internet radio stations should be required to pay increased royalties to composers. The new model will calculate payment on a per-song basis, as opposed to the old “percentage-of-revenue” arrangement. There is a powerful movement by many broadcasters, including NPR, to overturn this. Confused yet?
I always enjoy listening to the indie-rock and dance channels on satellite radio when I’m renting vehicles. But to me, MP3 and music-industry blogs are the new store clerks and music critics, and I find them more useful than radio. Beatport and Juno are good places to discover and purchase dance and electronic music. I visit Fluxblog, Stereogum, PopMatters, Coolfer, and Idolator daily, and there are hundreds of other MP3 blogs I visit. Some specialize in new Italo disco, others in ’80s underground punk.
One last note: DRM is not inherently evil. People should pay for music if they are adding it to their permanent collection, whatever “permanent” means these days. Artists should get paid for their work. Artists get hammered down, if not by labels, then by wholesale file sharing. Think of it this way: On Friday, I’ll come over to your workplace and take your check. It doesn’t matter that you did all the work; you don’t deserve to be paid for it.