Like many Internet radio fans before me, I woke up one morning and realized there was very little music I had interest in hearing on commercial, terrestrial radio anymore. It was about 3 years ago. Working from out of my home, I became flustered with the haphazardness of college radio and became (natch) comfortably numb to the barrage commercially-hijacked stations that played the same Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and Top 40 songs over and over again... I couldn't take it anymore. I needed relief and fast... and I found refuge in Internet radio. It was peaceful. I learned and grew as an affected music imbiber. Broadcasting from a basement in San Francisco, SomaFM founder Rusty Hodge won me over quickly.
Experimenting with online radio since 1995, Hodge woke up one morning much in the same way that I did. He decided that no one was going to create a radio station he wanted to listen to... and so in a very entrepreneurial way, he started his own. SomaFM.com launched in February 2000 and features 11 different "channels" of programming. I regularly share with you my affinity for Hodge's "Groove Salad," SomaFM's ambient/downtempo/chillout channel. It might seem like space age elevator music to some, but it's absolutely divine to me.
In any case, the recording industry has it's share of problems. We've all read about it. Slow sales, the underperforming stocks from the Big Five recording companies, illegal downloading and piracy, Mariah Carey's midlife crisis meltdown, a crappy Chili Peppers double album... geez, the list is endless. But rather than work with and help new mediums like Internet radio help promote the recording industry's wares, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) enlisted help of the US government and came up with something called the DMCA CARP... DCMA is short for the Digital Millenium Copyright Act. This bit o' legislation was intended to squash the little guys out there, spinning the tunes you're not hearing elsewhere... and it forced SomaFM (and tons of other Internet "webcasters") to either pay $500 A DAY in royalties to the record companies, or suspend their streaming broadcasts indefinitely.
Hodge engaged his listeners and worked tirelessly on behalf of all webcasters with Internet stations to help pass the Small Webcasters Amendment Act, which helped many of these broadcasters return to action after choking down some hefty invoices... but now, a new ruling involving the Digital Millennium Copyright Act is set to wipe out independent online music stations altogether. The RIAA rides again.
Now, I'm not one to give you TOO much to read (bwahahahaha!!!) but I strongly believe you should make yourself aware of this situation by reading some of the links below. Then check out the stations on SomaFM and donate to them (or your own favorite Internet radio stations) if you feel compelled to. Help keep them from succumbing to running commercials. It's not like the RIAA and their accompanying fatcat lobby aren't rich enough already. Force their hand and tell them you're smarter than the average bear that commercial radio takes you for. Don't let them take our pick-a-nic basket.
And thank you for reading what is, by all accounts, a commercial for SomaFM.