Internet radio DJs are replacing their eclectic playlists with a "Day of Silence" today, a protest against new royalty rates they say could decimate the fledgling digital broadcasting industry.
Earlier this year, a congressionally appointed three-judge panel drastically increased the royalty fees the stations must pay for music streamed over the Internet. Critics say the rates, which would be retroactive to 2006, will make it impossible for small stations, public broadcasters and specialty startups that cater to the industry to stay in business. The new rates are scheduled to go into effect July 15.
"For us, the royalties went from $20,000 to $600,000 per year," said Rusty Hodge, whose 11-channel SomaFM Web site was launched in 2000 and operates in San Francisco's Mission District. "That's about three times the total income we made in 2006. We're not getting rich off of this."