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
“I give a lot of credit to the musicians I’ve had here,” he says. “Maybe what I responded to in their music is somehow related to who they are as people . . . Maybe it’s not the most comfortable environment physically, but I get them to play in an emotionally comfortable environment.”
The limitations of Kill Radio’s setup have also inadvertently shaped . . . Is Good. As its “studio” is in fact an office, devoid of soundproofing, drums and loud guitars aren’t practical, meaning that bands have to perform with a stripped-down frankness that often spills over into their accompanying interviews.
. . . Is Good’s listenership is modest: Hershfield estimates that 50 folks max catch the show live, with more catching its iTunes podcast or downloading the archived version (via www.myspace.com/thisisgood). Yet he remains enthused about the . . . Is Good format: He’s expanded it into live shows at venues like Molly Malone’s, the Mint and M Bar, and has ambitious plans for IsGoodMusic.com, due to launch later this summer as “an alternative to MySpace for the L.A. music scene.”
As if things weren’t already precarious enough for the likes of . . . Is Good and Kill Radio, in March the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) — the system of three copyright-royalty judges who determine rates and terms for copyright statutory licenses in the U.S. — announced its decision to adopt a “per play” system of Internet-radio royalty rates (replacing the previous revenue-related system), retroactive through the beginning of 2006 and gradually increasing through 2010, which, for most Internet stations, will mean paying out royalties in excess of their total revenue.
“I don’t know what they hope to accomplish from it,” Hershfield sighs. “Even the bigger companies, it sounds like, are going to take a serious hit . . . it’s kind of funny to see organizations like Clear Channel and NPR and Kill Radio all agreeing on one thing!”
While Hershfield confirms that Kill Radio’s members are predictably up in arms about the CRB’s announcement (they participated in the June 26 “day of Internet-radio silence” to protest it), far from having a demoralizing effect, it’s actually galvanized their resolve.
“The difference is the upswing of interest among the more active members . . . It’s given us a sense that Internet radio is something worth saving,” he says. “There’s a bit of a strange distance from the issue because Kill Radio is so small . . . we don’t really have any revenue from which to pay in the first place. So we’re always walking this fine line: We want more listeners, but we don’t want to have to deal with the problems that bigger stations have to deal with — and this is a big one.”
And besides, Kill Radio has always been an act of defiance.
“We’ve been broadcasting progressive news and alternative media since the beginning without wondering ‘Is someone going to say we can’t say this?’ I don’t know that any change will be necessary until we get more attention,” says Hershfield. “Even if Internet radio is destroyed, . . . Is Good will have to find a way to continue — it has to be that way. I still walk out of here feeling that I’ve done something amazing. After 100-plus interviews, I’m not bored of it yet!”