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ARSCLIST  July 2007

ARSCLIST July 2007

Subject:

Re: 78s, SoundExchange, & SaveNetRadio

From:

Dismuke <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Thu, 19 Jul 2007 02:44:24 -0700

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (319 lines)

--- Sam Brylawski <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> Internet radio may be crucial to promotion of
> historical recordings, but if
> an internet radio station plays only 78s and early
> LPs in their original
> form, i.e. not from CDs, the recent webcasting fees
> do not apply. Pre-1972
> sound recordings have no federal copyright
> protection and digital
> dissemination fees cannot be collected for streaming
> them.


You have just identified what has essentially been my
Plan B if the worst comes to pass with this royalty
situation.  I am fortunate in that I am in a FAR
better position to survive than most webcasters.  But
I am afraid that this Plan B is NOT a particularly
desirable outcome for me or for my station.  I will
elaborate a bit on how this would impact Radio Dismuke
because it has implications for the future of ANY
Internet radio station that promotes historical
recordings.

Until recently, Radio Dismuke relied VERY heavily on
CD reissues for the music in its playlist.  There are
several reasons for this.  First off, the quality of a
professionally restored and remastered product is much
better than my home grown efforts.  Thanks to my
Souvenir VSP, I can touch up my transfers with DCart
and get very nice sounding results - especially if I
am fortunate enough to have an E condition 78 rpm. 
But obviously a professional using much more expensive
equipment and with a better ear than mine is able to
better.

CD reissues also give my station access to hard to
find recordings that I simply cannot afford to go out
and purchase on my own through places like ebay or
Nauck's auctions.  I have a very large collection -
but most of it was acquired through bulk purchases at
pretty low prices which basically means that many of
the records I own are ones that I was lucky enough to
stumble across by chance.

But the MAJOR reason, above all else, why CD reissues
are helpful to a station such as mine is my shortage
of the one asset I lack even more than money: TIME.  
Digitalizing 78 rpms for my playlist is a VERY time
consuming activity.  My station plays, on average, 19
selections per hour - and I certainly cannot transfer
19 recordings per hour.  If I focus on NOTHING but
transferring recordings and do them back to back, the
MOST I can do in an hour is 15.   

And merely transferring the recordings to my hard
drive is not the end of the process.  It is VERY
important to me to make the recordings sound as good
as they possibly can.  The focus of my station is NOT
primarily to serve hard core enthusiasts such as
myself who have a high tolerance for surface noise and
such.  If I can serve such people and they enjoy my
station, I am very happy that I am able to do so.  But
my PRIMARY focus is to introduce the music to a new
generation of listeners - i.e. people who are NOT
already familiar with it and whose modern ears are
most likely not going to have an easy time dealing
with surface noise at first.

Fortunately, my VSP does MOST of the work
automatically while I transfer the recording.  All I
have to do afterwards is apply a very LIGHT
application of noise reduction.  If the record is in
great shape, I can do that in about 4 minutes
including the time I take to listen through just to
make sure.  If the recording is especially noisy, it
takes me a bit longer as I have to make sure that the
noise that I choose to leave in sounds like noise and
not that horrible metallic digital sound. I try not to
spend too much time on any given recording.  I know
that there is a trade off between quality and quantity
and because the VSP does a  pretty good job, I am
usually able to choose quantity without TOO much
sacrifice of quality.  Plus the fact that I compress
everything down to 24 kpbs so that my stream is dial
up friendly also has the effect, oddly enough, of
masking some of the remaining surface defects.

Let's say that am able to work very efficiently and
average 4 minutes per recording for noise reduction. 
That would be about 15 per hour - the same number of
recordings I can transfer an hour.  Using those
numbers, that means that I can transfer and restore
about 7.5 recordings per hour.  Of course, I have more
work to do on top of that.  I have to convert them to
mp3 and add the ID3 tag information, upload them to
the server, etc.  But let's just forget about that for
the moment.

Currently, there are 1,947 selections in Radio
Dismuke's playlist.   At the rate of 7.5 recordings
per hour, that works out to around 259 hours or six
and a half 40 hour work weeks to transfer and restore
that many 78 rpm recordings.

Now, keep in mind, I have a full time job that has
nothing to do with vintage music.  I also commute to
work 45 minutes each way so an hour and a half of each
work day is spent on the road.  I own a house that is
in constant need of cleaning and upkeep and all of the
other dumb errands and hassles that all of you have in
your lives.

In 5 minutes I can rip from a CD the same number of
mp3 files it would take me HOURS to produce from 78
rpms.

In anticipation of the impending doom of Internet
radio, I have spent most of my weekends for the past
few months digitalizing 78 rpms.  It is fun in limited
doses but it can be tedious chore if you HAVE to do
it.

Last week was my low point.  According to news
reports, it looked like Internet radio WAS going to
die on July 15.  I had yet to hear the news that my
service providers Live 365 and LoudCity planned to
stream on regardless and fight it out until they
received a court order FORCING them to shut down.  
During the previous months, I had researched my
options.  I had plans to protect myself - getting
permission from owners of CD reissues, getting an
ASCAP license, and other necessary paperwork.   And
before I know it, this July 15 deadline is less than a
week away and I am NOT prepared for it because I flat
out have NOT had the free time over the past few
months to put all of the pieces together.

There was a point last week when I darned near said to
hell with it all and seriously considered shutting
down the station and my website for good.  I already
own more records than I am ever likely to be able to
listen to.   I have spent thousands of dollars I would
not have otherwise spent on the station and have put
in an ENORMOUS amount of time.  Looking back, had I
used that time to work a second job or to start some
sort of small business, then the money I would have
earned from that plus what I have spent would have put
me in possession today of a rather tidy little nest
egg.   O

bviously, for me, the time and money that was spent
was VERY much worth it otherwise I would not have done
it.   But now, suddenly, the burden on me was going to
INCREASE by an ENORMOUS magnitude.  To pull it off
would by July 15 would have required more time than I
simply had. It looked hopeless - and I felt helpless.

This whole thing has ended up being an enormous TAX on
the one asset that I and my station lacks the most: 
MY TIME.

In the end, I decided to keep going.  I AM NOT about
to surrender to the cockroaches at SoundExchange. If I
close my station down, it will NOT be because of that.
 I also remembered the email I got not long before
from a gentleman who played my station every day for
his terminally ill father who he said got great
comfort from it.  I also remembered how devastated I
was when the radio program on the local public radio
FM station that introduced the music to me when I was
a kid was canceled because the station wanted to
homogenize its format across the week and end
specialty programs.  I was a kid and had no money of
my own for records.  For a couple of years after that,
my ONLY access to the music was the small handful of
78s I owned and the cassette tapes I made of the
program when it was on the air which I played over and
over and over again (note to any RIAA spys in the
crowd: I am old enough that the statute of limitations
ran out on my taping that years ago).  I know very
well that there are people in my audience who depend
on me the way I depended on that radio program when I
was a kid - and I will not allow the cockroaches at
SoundExchange to put them through something similar.  

I now have more breathing room to put something
together in case the worst does come about.  Within
the next couple of weeks, I plan on taking some
vacation days off from work and spend them doing
nothing but digitalizing recordings for 12 hours per
day non stop.

I have no idea how many of the CD reissues I currently
play I can safely continue to use if the worse comes. 
Some of the ones issued here in America do not carry a
copyright notice.  Most are by small labels that are
labors of love in their own right.  They probably do
not carry a copyright notice because they are taking
copyright risk themselves by reissuing them.  Am I
safe continuing to play those CD reissues?  Maybe.  My
understanding is it is the copyright holder and not
SoundExchange that must press charges against me.  I
cannot imagine those labels having the resources to do
so.  And I cannot imagine that they would mind my
playing their stuff considering the business I
undoubtedly bring their way.  But to be legal and
safe, I probably should pull them.  A good percentage
of my CD reissues are from Europe.  Are they protected
by the federal copyright?  If so, would they be in a
position to come after me over here?  Would they even
care to?   At some point, I will need to research each
of the companies and try to find contacts so I can get
their blessing to play their CDs - and for doing so, I
will promote them very heavily to my audience.  But
doing such research and correspondence takes time -
and that is something that I don't have a lot of these
days.

And let's say I get a SoundExchange license to play
those CDs and thereby empty out my bank account by
many thousands of dollars each year.  Who is going to
be the beneficiary of those thousands of dollars?  Not
the artists.  They are all dead - and I doubt that the
heirs of Lee Morse and Helen Rowland are going to be
knocking on SoundExchange's door for royalty money any
time soon.  It won't be the people who did the digital
restoration and transfers - they don't get royalties. 
Most of the copyright holders of the CDs will not see
one penny of my money because SoundExchange will not
cut them a check unless they accumulate $10 in
royalties and one has to get a LOT of plays before one
can build up that much in royalties.  At my station's
present size, maybe one or two of the reissue labels
will end up with enough plays to get a royalty check.
But, if so, it sure as heck won't be much over the $10
minimum.   The rest of the thousands of dollars I
would spend - where would it go?  That's right - into
the pockets of the cockroaches at SoundExchange.

Anyhow, that will give you a small taste of what I
have been going through over the past few months. 
That doesn't describe the hours I have spent
researching this situation through google searches due
to the fact that I am not in a position to afford an
attorney.  That does not account for the time I have
had to spend putting together plans on the assumption
that, if Internet radio is killed, the support
services that I depend on to provide me with bandwidth
and listening slots on shoutcast servers will probably
be bankrupted along with their customers.  I have
spent time and money figuring out how to become my own
stream hosting service.  I have spent time researching
ASCAP licenses and researching how to form a
non-profit organization on my own without an attorney.
 And none of this takes into account that the plans I
have had for expanding the station's programing and
audience have been on indefinite hold for over a year
and a half now because I do not DARE move forward
before knowing what the outcome of this royalty mess
is going to be.

Now, ask yourself the following:  How many people IN
THEIR RIGHT MIND are going to be willing to subject
themselves to such hassle, heartbreak and CRAP just so
that they provide a free public service bringing
forgotten music to new audiences?   I, for one, would
NOT do such a thing in a MILLION YEARS but for the
fact that I ALREADY have a station which has a very
loyal and appreciative audience.   If this was what
was required to get the thing started and off the
ground - there is NO WAY that I would consider doing
it for a single minute.

My guess is if Live365 is shut down, I will be the
ONLY vintage music broadcaster on the entire network
who will continue to stream.  Maybe Andy Senior at
Radiola might continue on - but I am not sure how big
of a 78 rpm collection he has nor if he has the tech
knowledge to be his own stream host.  Ian House's
station will go - the only 78s he owns is an
impressive collection of Lee Morse records.  My guess
is Jay at Weimar Rundfunk will not be able to stream,
if for no other reason, because of the hassle of
having to self-host.  I am not sure if the guy in
Australia who plays swing music has enough 78 rpms and
I am not sure if he will go through the hassle of
self-hosting his stream.  Radio Moscow, a station
which plays 1930s and 1940s Russian recordings  will
definitely close down. It is run by a very good friend
of mine who is a college student and is on a VERY
limited budget both in terms of money and time.  
Live365 makes it VERY easy for a person wanting to
steam vintage music to get started. And there are NOT
very many pre World War II era vintage music stations
out there on networks outside of Live365.  Last I
checked, mine was the only one of the 500 some odd
stations on LoudCity.

So to those who restore vintage recordings, if worse
comes to worse - well, most of the people who would be
interested in giving them airplay and building up a
new audience for them will not be around anymore.  And
I assure you that the RIAA's hand picked direct
licensed stations which take over will not play such
obscure stuff.  And unless your bosses agree to do a
direct license deal with me, I won't be playing them
either.

So, yes, one way or another, Radio Dismuke will stream
on even if the CRB rates go into effect.  But it will
come at a price in terms of time, aggravation, stress
and grief that NOBODY in my position should ever have
had to pay or go through.  Those who think I am a bit
off in the head in the intensity of my tone in this
thread - well, you most likely would be too if you had
to go through similar crap.

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