Today in Music: KEXP’s response to the CRB decision

Some of you have already responded via email to KEXP’s decision regarding the Day of Silence observed by many webcasters today. I encourage you to read it, consider it, and to respond to it here.

crblogo_dayofsilence.gif UPDATE: June 26, 2007
Facing the Music Royalty Hikes

Webcasters are participating in the June 26, 2007 “Day of Silence” to protest the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) decision regarding streaming music royalties.On July 15, the CRB decision becomes effective and brings an alarming increase in music royalty fees, along with other burdens, to KEXP for its streaming services. KEXP estimates a 6-figure increase in payments in the next year.To carry additional expense — while we already devote our organization to serving the music community — will constrain our ability to pursue our public service mission. KEXP’s core mission of public service — and the nearly $4 million we raise from the community annually in pursuing it — is laser-focused on championing artists, their fans and supporting labels as we serve our listeners.

Carrying this additional expense will likely require us to cut services or let go of projects.

While we applaud the energy that our fellow webcasters are putting towards affecting positive change via the “Day of Silence,” we ultimately feel an obligation to our listeners to not pull away our music services online from them. At the same time, we continue actively participating in efforts to bring about a reasonable solution.

I encourage you to continue to learn more about the CRB decision as the July 15th deadline to increase rates approaches. There are several places online to keep informed on this issue, read press clippings, sign petitions, send emails and contribute comments. Some of these places are listed below.

With appreciation,

Tom Mara
Executive Director

For More Information

The decision by the CRB affects all public radio stations because it:

  • Eliminates the distinction between noncommercial and commercial media
  • Requires complicated record-keeping that will place an excessive burden on stations
  • Penalizes public radio for fulfilling its statutorily-mandated mission of bringing new, culturally enriching programming to the American public
  • Sets a chilling precedent for future rights discussions, negotiations and litigation that may undermine non-commercial public service programming

Tell Them Public Matters

Save The Streams

RAIN: Radio and Internet Newsletter

Copyright Royalty Board

Future of Music Coalition

Save Net Radio

How can you help?

You can contact your representatives on Capitol Hill to alert them to this decision and its potential negative impact on your station and public radio. Use your zip code to search for contact info:

U.S. Senate

U.S. House of Representatives

In addition to the points above, your message(s) to your representative(s) might include that public radio is asking for a reasonable solution to this issue, a solution that:

  • respects the property rights of the artists and recording companies
  • eliminates burdensome bureaucratic recordkeeping
  • reduces costs of the CRB and SoundExchange (the industry recordkeeping agency)
  • ensures that the public is served on the internet as it is served by public radio through broadcasting

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  1. Music Nerd
    Posted June 26, 2007 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

    I feel this is a totally irresponsible thing for a station like KEXP to do. Not only are they separating themselves all those supporting the day of silence, but the weak reasoning is horrible.

    It is supposed to affect the listener guys! The listener is supposed to get a taste of what things will be like if your streams are silenced! And in effect, is supposed to incite the listener a bit more to be active in this fight.

    Thanks for nothing KEXP

  2. Jamie
    Posted June 26, 2007 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

    I’m really disappointed in KEXP’s decision not to participate in the CRB day of silence event. This is a real tangible assault on independent media by commercial interests for all the reasons you state on your site.

    You’re stated reason of feeling an ‘obligation to your listeners’ is completely inadequate explaination at a time when solidarity with other organizations of similar mission is crucial. Your listeners deserve a better explaination. Your brevity smacks of an attitude that you’ve got your asses covered, and it’s every internet radio station for themselves. That is not what I expected from KEXP. Where is the leadership?

    It’s precisely the internet radio services that people desire the most (like KEXP’s) that, when missing for but one day, help to underscore the urgency of this issue.

    KEXP spends so much energy to good effect connecting with the community that the shortsiightedness of your lack of participation in this protest seems out of step with the spirit and mission of KEXP.

    Your listeners deserve a better explaination if there is one.


  3. Troy Sandal
    Posted June 26, 2007 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

    KEXP let it’s listeners down today by not participating in the Day of Silence protest. As one of the most influential radio stations on the web KEXP has the ability to reach an enormous audience of listeners in a short amount of time. Stopping Internet streams for a day and replacing them with either silence or a better utilized public service announcement to educate people as to what the CRB is up to would have been incredibly useful. The listeners of KEXP know better than anyone else just how important public radio is, so much that they fund the station through pledge drives every 3 months. By giving KEXP their money and time they have created a powerful lobby that supports and defends both KEXP and all other terrestrial and Internet stations like it. KEXP has an obligation to these supporters, their constituents, to rally them at a time like this and ask for their help in over turning the CRB decision. Sadly KEXPs management failed to head this obligation, did not act in concert with other stations and I believe missed an opportunity to make a difference.

    Having listened and read KEXPs position on the CRB fee increase it is very clear that they agree it will have a large impact on their operations not to mention other broadcasters. Why they couldn’t join in on this protest to raise awareness is beyond me. As someone, like many others, who has given money and personal devotion to this station it is a great disappointment. I expected them to ask me and every other listener to sacrifice our KEXP radio stream for just one so we could instead focus my energy telling others about the CRB decision.

    Disappointed But Still Faithful

  4. Not Surprised
    Posted June 26, 2007 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

    I couldn’t agree with these other comments more. Your lack of support for the Day Of Silence today really showed us all your true colours.

  5. Dave T
    Posted June 26, 2007 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

    I listen to KEXP and other radio stations online a lot. I switch between them all day and it would suck to not be able to do that. I’m just not sure how I feel about this issue. The assumption is that participating will “raise awareness” and that that awareness will cause people to do what, exactly? Write their congress representatives? Doesn’t this statement tell you how to do that? Will cutting services that some of us cubicle slaves depend on make us more aware? I’m already aware and it sucks! Have I done any thing? Not yet, at least. So what’s the best way to teach me, taking away my radio? Seems a little heavy handed to me. But I guess I really would miss it if it’s gone, or replaced by talk radio!

  6. Posted June 26, 2007 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

    I for one was happy to still get my dose of KEXP on the Day of Silence. Lets not kid ourselves by thinking that the CRB payed any attention to the day of silence. We all know when moneys involved those who matter at the CRB will do what ever it takes to better themselves. Take time to use the links that the staff at KEXP provided for all the listeners. We can make a difference but it will be an uphill battle.
    Thanks again KEXP.

  7. caroline
    Posted June 27, 2007 at 12:37 am | Permalink

    Think about the streaming archive, one day of silence would actually equal 14 days (and how many emails to the streaming support folks that the archive is broken).

  8. Troy Sandal
    Posted June 27, 2007 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    Caroline Says: “Think about the streaming archive, …” – Great point – replace the normal programming with public service announcements explaining why there was no music, another great way to remind people as to how to fight the CRB. There would be no support emails.

    Dave T – This isn’t about being pedantic, it’s about raising awareness and all of us, listeners, KEXP and other webcasters alike, standing up to the CRB by turning our energies away from the music for a day and towards the issue at hand. It’s a sacrifice, a simple and very small sacrifice. If you feel as if someone is teaching you a lesson then I believe you need to look at this act of protest in a different light.

  9. Dave T
    Posted June 27, 2007 at 11:43 am | Permalink

    Troy, isn’t “raising awareness” the same thing as teaching? Regardless of semantics and nuance, you don’t need to shove my hand in the fire to make me aware that it’s hot. You’re acting like this is the only way to raise awareness. I’m down for the cause, but I guess I just don’t like having “sacrifices” made for me. Next time try asking me to turn off my Internet radio stream.

  10. Tom Mara
    Posted June 27, 2007 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

    Hello all,

    I really appreciate all of the comments here. It’s cool to get folks’ views via the blog.

    To some, our decision not to participate in the Day of Silence indicated a lack of support or interest. We have a keen interest in this issue and have spent a lot of time (and travel resources) over the past several months to help effect a positive outcome. It’s a big deal to us — I suspect KEXP would be more injured by the CRB decision than many other non-comm webcasters.

    Despite our own urge to join the Day of Silence, it came down to a philosophical decision. Should we stop serving our listeners as a tactic to solve a business dispute? At the risk of generating negative public perception, we felt it would be more important to keep our programming intact, despite our wish to support our fellows webcasters.

    I would rather have KEXP apply its resources and creativity to bring about a solution that does not require holding back the music.

    Now that it’s the day after, it’s even more important for you to consider getting involved. Read the website links I posted earlier. Get familiar with the issues and develop your opinion. If you have any questions or thoughts for me, feel free to shoot them to

    With appreciation,


  11. megan
    Posted June 27, 2007 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

    If KEXP must decide to not observe the day of radio silence, can you at least commit to discussing the issue on the air during the day? The other commenters are right: if you completely ignore the event, you are failing to support everyone else who IS choosing to take the risk in commiting to radio silence.

    Why not make a 30 second spot and run it every half hour all day? Give us a website (if we’re online listening, we’ll be online to go read up on the topic!) and make us care about the issue.

    If you’re going to be broadcasting anyway, at least give your listeners the courtesy of allowing us the chance to get involved in an issue that affects KEXP and us. What better way to build a community?

  12. Music Nerd
    Posted June 28, 2007 at 6:36 am | Permalink


    Your reasoning is spotty at best. Stop serving your listeners? That is the point! It was a taste of what things would be like should these stations go out of business. I think it is very uppity of you and your station to think that the commitment to this cause by going silent is something you are above.

    You also state that you risked negative public perception. What?

    Name one of the stations that went silent that receive “negative” press as a result?

    Looks like the only negative public perception is the one you created by deciding you were too good to observe the day of silence.

  13. Steve
    Posted June 28, 2007 at 6:53 am | Permalink

    Count in with the commenters above who are extremely disappointed in KEXP’s decision not to take part in the Day of Silence.

    By refusing to take part, you are essentially reinforcing the message that I’ve been getting from KEXP for years — that you believe that you are “above” the rest of Internet radio.

    Perhaps your extensive connections to billionaire Paul Allen and UW will permit you to shrug off the new royalty rates when (and if) they go into effect.

    But don’t come running to me — as my mailbox will attest you do way too often — asking me to give you my money when it happens. You will have made your own bed.

    In fact, even if a reasonable compromise is reach on this issue, I’d ask that you stop asking me for money. You’ve clearly shown that you don’t deserve it.

  14. Dave T
    Posted June 28, 2007 at 7:35 am | Permalink

    I’m getting tired of the Paul Allen comments! Obviously you really haven’t been paying attention, Steve, as KEXP has been fully self-supporting (or member supported as they say) for several years. I’m finding myself drawn even more to the “not participating” side when I hear these demands that everyone participate in a cause in the same way. This sort of if-you’re-with-us-you’re-against-us attitude always kills these “awareness” campaigns. Boy, solidarity can really be a fascist thing! Obviously Music Nerd feels strongly about this issue. I’m with you, man — I also wish that KEXP had more discussion on the air of the issue, and I believe they still can! That was definitely a missed opportunity, but it’s not like the issue is dead now!. And everyone acts like this one day was such a big deal, but if I hadn’t been reading this discussion I wouldn’t even know about the Day of Silence! However, I did know about the CRB decision, so go figure.

    Just curious, how many of you actually listened to KEXP’s stream or any other internet stream that day? And did you listen to any radio stations that have a stream? Because they’re going to be affected too, since they’ll have to cut their budgets for other stuff to pay for increased internet royalties?

    And one more thought, wouldn’t turning off the radio drive people further away? One more reason to go download music since your internet radio isn’t working!

  15. Hilary
    Posted June 28, 2007 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    Okay, guys, everybody: scroll up to the top of this page. You see the orange banner? You see what’s written there, in white type? You see the word in bold? Seriously, scroll up and look, it’ll take you all of two seconds. What does it say?

    where the *music* matters.

    Right. The Music! I thought it was amazing that KEXP kept their stream up on Tuesday. It really hit home to me that this station takes the music seriously, and that it’s really so much more than a slogan.

    Even more than that, though, it told me that they have some faith in their listeners. I can’t see how anyone who listens to ‘net radio could be ignorant of this legislation; it’s been up on the websites for months. Why bash your listeners on the head with information they already have? And while raising awareness is a good thing, but there is a delicate balance between using the airways for entertainment and using them to further a political agenda. Regardless of the politics, can we at least all agree that KEXP plays great music?

    And it’s not that KEXP is ignoring the issue. A link to this decision is front and centre on the website, where it is most likely to be seen by internet listeners. The other thing about the internet is that it is an international beast. This legislation is not. Static with messages to contact your Congressperson on a Day of Silence aren’t terribly well-received when you *don’t have* a Congressperson to contact.

    I say, good for you, KEXP! I’ll be listening online as long as I am able.

    Stay classy!
    ~Hilary in Winnipeg

  16. KEXPFan
    Posted June 28, 2007 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

    I’m a regular donor to KEXP, and listen online at work. I’m super glad KEXP didn’t go dark and join all the petty small webcasters playing top 40 hits on AOL or Live 365 stations. Boring. I want my KEXP! (I bet none of the ‘disappointed’ are donors or even regular listeners)

  17. Music Nerd
    Posted June 29, 2007 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    Hmmm, where the music matters eh? Well, it won’t matter nearly as much if this legislation passes, and those that “do” survive have to cut back staff. This of course will lead to less of “the music” making it onto the airwaves.

    And as for you KEXPfan. The petty webcasters that went dark include the likes of KCRW, WXPN, Pandora, WOXY, and plenty of others that do not land in the top 40 area at all, good call.

    I stand by my argument that KEXP thinks they are better than not only their fellow broadcasters, but also to their listeners, who support the station.

  18. Posted June 29, 2007 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

    Ok. It looks like the argument’s treading water now. Music Nerd, I think you’ve made your point. If you look at KEXP’s record, however, you will see that we are by no means in it for ourselves, but I don’t believe I’ll ever change your mind. I wonder, though, why you’re wasting as much time with a radio station you obviously have little respect for. As many of you know, KEXP has a mission to serve the public, which is no easy task when many viewpoints conflict. We respect the other station’s decisions and we are obviously against the CRB decision. We are a non-profit, public radio station, so it would not make sense for us to wish ill of our fellow broadcasters. We also respect your opinions and we do listen to our listeners. If you would like to still send in your comments, please address them to our Executive Director, Tom Mara, at the address above. Thanks. I’ll be closing this thread tomorrow.

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