By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
There is plenty of activity, but there’s a catch: No one is making any money yet. Even Broadcast.com still shows red on the balance sheet. So why are radio stations rushing onto the Internet?
"In terms of immediate revenue, I’m at a loss to come up with the answer to that," puzzles Wharton. "I think it’s more understanding the technology, being ahead of the curve. Not feeling like you’re out of the loop."
Even the legal obstacles that face the growing market for mp3 and other forms of music download ease up when the signal is streamed. Because streaming audio cannot be saved to a hard drive (at least not very easily), it is much more difficult to pirate.
"Any new way of offering people an opportunity to enjoy music is a positive thing, and Webcasting would certainly fit within that," says Steven Marks, senior vice president and director of business affairs for the Recording Industry Association of America.
The RIAA is the trade organization that no one ever heard of before it made headlines with its crusade to crush mp3. Yet when it comes to streaming audio, even the streaming mp3 audio that Shoutcast offers, the RIAA is downright laid-back. The association is currently negotiating with the recently formed Digital Music Association — which represents Spinner.com and other online broadcasters — to come up with licensing fees for Internet radio. Included in the final package, Marks says, will be a "hobbyist’s license" available for a "nominal fee" that will allow bedroom Shoutcasters to continue their avocation without maxing their credit cards on artist-royalty payments.
Even the RIAA realizes, apparently, that the Internet, as corporate as it has become, is still a medium that begins and ends with one person with a mouse and a monitor, searching for connections to a larger world.
"That’s why as a music fan I’ve always liked the Net," says Nullsoft’s Ian Rogers. "It brings you closer to people with similar interests who might not be next door to your house — but they’re out there, and you get to share with them. It’s tremendous."