Wednesday, 30 December 2015

What to do, what to do?

It's nearly time to go back to producing my radio shows. When I finished before Christmas, I was looking forward to the break, but little did I know what was coming. 

Because of the new ruling by the Copyright Royalty Board on December 16th, my radio operation has been torn to shreds and seven years of hard work has been decimated. 

Rewind Central will close down at the end of New Year's Eve and on top of that, I've lost 65% of the stations taking my shows due to the new ruling, as they too have decided it's no longer viable to carry on.

As I said, I will be continuing the shows in the short term while I decide whether to carry on doing them over the long run, or call it a day and find something new to do.

The obvious situation is that I can't afford to carry on for any amount of time following a self-funding plan. It's just too expensive. Approaching stations isn't really the way to go, as I come from a point of weakness.

The majority of smaller stations these days are only willing to take on new shows if they don't have to pay for them. It's not the way forward for me as I still need to eat each week. Having a station on my CV doesn't feed me too well! Some however, do pay and they generally contact me.

I've already had a few listeners say I should try and monetize my shows via listeners. And it may come down to the fact that if listeners want me to carry on, they will have to pay a small weekly donation in order for me to continue.

It's a plan I'll have to look at, and it means that after 7 years, I will no longer be allowing the shows to be freely downloaded. The way to hear my shows will be that you'll have to either listen to them via one of the stations that still takes them, or pay a small amount and get a link to them from me.

So, how much would I be talking about via ongoing weekly donation? Probably less than the price of a coffee from one of our big coffee shops on the high street. And that would get you the current week's shows. However I would need enough listeners willing to do that.

Someone pointed out that people are willing to pay for Spotify and other streaming sites on a monthly basis, and that my shows were worthy of being paid for in the same way. Time will tell.

I've made no decisions as yet. But one thing's for sure. The events of the 16th December in America have affected what I do. And I fear that narrower playlists and less choice for listeners is going to be around the corner if webcast stations are killed off as they appear to be trying to do.

I wasn't expecting that!

On December 16th, while I was in Weymouth visiting my sons, The Copyright Royalty Board, a group of three judges appointed by the Library of Congress in America, made a decision that had wide ranging implications for many small webcasting radio stations that broadcast there and also stations worldwide that have listeners in America.

In fact, in my opinion, they effectively killed small independent web radio stations in America by setting a new royalty pricing structure that puts licensing far out of the reach of most small broadcasters.

These judges who determine rates and terms for copyright statutory licenses, made a decision which will raise the rates that web radio stations currently pay for the privilege of entertaining you with recorded music, by over 16 hundred percent beginning January 1st 2016.

Why am I telling you this? Quite simply because over the past 24 hours or so, I've seen my radio endeavours impacted greatly. Much of my radio income comes from stations that will be affected by this ruling.

How so? Over 65% of stations taking my shows have announced within the last day that they shall cease broadcasting at 11.59pm on 31st December 2015. Therefore, they will no longer be subscribing to my shows.

The knock on effect of it for me is that as of the same time in the UK, I shall be closing down Rewind Central as I no longer am going to self-fund it.

I am now considering where I go in regard to doing my shows. The fact is, the major radio stations in this country aren't going to take my shows. I don't fit their format and I'm not what they want. The shows that I do certainly aren't. That's fine, I understand that.

The likes of Community Radio stations and with the rare exception, most smaller stations, all want me to donate my shows for free to them (apparently it will look good on my CV). You would not believe the amount of stations that tell me they love my shows, but aren't willing the pay the small amount I charge to air them. But that's the way it is these days I'm afraid. I've also been offered shows on stations, if I'd like to pay them for the privilege.

On 12th January 2009, I did my first radio show and since then I've invested thousands of hours and pounds into building my radio presence. On 12th January 2016, it will be 7 years since it all started for me. I love doing what I do, but I am now deciding where the future lies. As much as it's a great hobby for lots of people, it's not the way I see it. I never have. I've never treated it as a hobby, nor will I in the future. It's always been more than that to me.
For now in the short term I'll carry on, but unless I can find a way of financing the shows, it appears I'll be looking for something new to do in 2016.