Internet Radio's Death Rattle

Today is a day of silence for Internet radio. Small broadcasters all the way up to Yahoo are shutting down in protest over the outrageous royalty rates approved by the Copyright Royalty Board. Who’s the CRB? Essentially, they are an arm of Congress, tasked with reviewing and setting royalty rates.

How bad are the rates? Instead of a flat fee, broadcasters will have to pay a per performance, per listener rate with a minimum of $500 per channel per year. Of course, they don’t define a channel in terms of the internet, so no one knows what that clause means. Internet broadcasters had proposed a fee structure that allowed for their continued existence and it was soundly rejected in favor of a proposal from SoundExchange, a fee collection body created by, guess who, the RIAA.

What’s the math on this?

Because a typical Internet radio station plays about 16 songs an hour, that’s a royalty obligation in 2006 of about 1.28 cents per listener-hour.

In 2006, a well-run Internet radio station might have been able to sell two radio spots an hour at a $3 net CPM (cost-per-thousand), which would add up to .6 cents per listener-hour. [source]

Effectively, the CRB has adopted a proposal that makes it cost at least twice as much to run an Internet radio station as what you could conceivably make in ad revenue. Oh, and satellite and terrestrial radio don’t pay this rate. Note that this has nothing to do with RIAA-member bands or acts; this is a fee you have to pay if all you did was broadcast music you created yourself. It’s a hit job by the RIAA, plain and simple.

So, what can you do? Call your representative, write a letter (not an email), urging them to support the Internet Radio Equality Act introduced in both the House and Senate. Internet Radio is not dead yet, but today is a preview of what it will be like come July 15th unless something changes.

Why Don't We Talk

I’ve seen, at a minimum, four posts in the last week about people complaining about people not “conversing” on their blogs. As a member of the sub-M level of bloggers, let me posit this.

It’s not that no one cares, it’s that they’re really not into conversing. The Internet is passive on its prima facie. If you can induce one, maybe two, people to comment on your site, $DEITY bless you.

That said, to those that (hopefully) have sub’d to this minor corner of the ‘nets, keep blogging; I’m reading. Especially you in NOLA.

Social Networking VPN

A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is a network technology that let’s you use public Internet resources to securely use private network resources (such as you work network from an open WiFi access point).

When do we get something like this for social networking. Not my Top 8, not a bit-flip of friend or not a friend, but a set group of my choosing who can see a specific slice of my social network? With the Facebook API in the open, is it long before something like this turns up?

If you had something like that, what would you do with it? Customer channels? Secure communications with certain friends or family (Twitter VPN)? Would it get sued out of existence over fears of file sharing? Would anyone use it?

Web 'Design' on the Cheap

Backstory: J– has decided to start a business. She’s not quitting her day job or anything, but tossing her spare time into a new venture; henna. For those not in the know, henna is the mostly-Indian (as in the sub-Saharan continent) practice of staining the skin with a natural paste. Some of the design are incredibly complicated and complex, but J– has picked it up in an incredibly short time. Despite my family’s, er, chilly reception to her skills, I and everyone else she’s worked on has been impressed and have encouraged her to keep going.

So, with the help of her friend, she’s started booking gigs. As with all entrepreneurial endeavors, J– has to have a web presence, which is about all I can contribute. So, fire up Dreamweaver, Firefox, and TopStyle and start hacking away at her site, Fat Cat Henna.

Three hours into it, and beating my head against my desk over rounded corners in CSS and it occurs to me I’m going at this all wrong. Other far smarter people have tread this ground already and publish a pretty kick-ass product. It’s called WordPress.

So, off to WordPress we go, download, unzip, upload, configure and whadda yah know, we got ourselves a Hello World website. In slightly under 20 minutes. J– digs around the following day and finds a few templates that she likes and brings them home via thumb drive. Download, unzip, upload, configure and whadda yah know, we got ourselves a solid framework, a template that’s 90% to where she wants it (although not enough green yet).

So, aside from this post and some chores, we’ve spent the last 2 hours or so tweaking the site. Change some CSS, alter a couple graphics, copy and paste some content, upload some photos and whadda yah know, we got ourselves an honest to gosh, fully functional website.

The To Do list is short: Need to build and publish a Flickr slideshow, tweak the template a bit more (no blogging going on), and maybe a hack to allow her to publish gig dates without a hassle, but not a heck of a lot.

Did we design the site; I guess not, but I do know this. For a small business (of 1) with a $0 design budget, a $0 web management budget, and 2 days until her first solo gig, WordPress got it done.

Christian Reformed Church lifts barrier to female ministers

I am shocked. Pleased, surprised, curious, but shocked.

Delegates meeting at their annual synod voted Tuesday to remove the word “male” from the requirements for church office.

This is a huge step for one of the most conservative Dutch Reformed organizations in the world. I’m absolutely certain this will cause a split in the church, similar to the Anglican Church. Much applause to the synod for dragging the church out of the dark ages and into modern life in acknowledging equality in the ability to lead a congregation.

First alcohol in Zeeland, now female ordination in the CRC, what’s next? One service a week? Less homophobia? Actual wine at communion? I’m taking bets.

Reformed Church lifts barrier to female ministers

Battlestar Galactica to End After Next Season

It’s official; the coming season will be the last for BSG. Via the LA Times and SciFi Channel itself, season 4 will end the story arc of one of the best shows on television. Producers Ronald Moore and David Eick said via the press release:

And while we know our fans will be saddened to know the end is coming, they should brace themselves for a wild ride getting there: We’re going out with a bang.

Woot. Unlike some other shows, Moore and Eick are taking the show out on the highest note they can sustain. I just hope it doesn’t get too out there (yeah yeah, it’s scifi) as with the season finale from this past season.

I, for one, can’t wait for this fourth and final season to get started.