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2014 ASF Radio Year End Round Up
Posted on Sun, 07 Dec 2014
Season’s Greetings from Cedar Rapids, Iowa!
I’ve always said it’s never dull running an Internet Radio station and 2014 was no exception. LoudCity, the licensing cooperative we have broadcasted under since the station began operations, closed its doors at the end of February. As some of you know, I worked for LoudCity as an independent contractor providing tech support and web development for the listener portal on the service. When the decision was made to close, over 1,000 small web stations suddenly lost legal coverage.
StreamLicensing, a competitor of LoudCity and founded by a former customer at a time when LoudCity had reached capacity limits under the terms of its licenses with the Performance Rights Organizations, opened its doors and took in hundreds of refugees. They also offered me a position providing tech support and helped make the transition to their service an easy one for the Atlantic Sound Factory.
In the process of moving to what is now the last surviving blanket licensing service in the USA, I also made the decision to explore alternate ways to cover expenses. To that end, after some investigation, ASF Radio joined with Radionomy to run 4 minutes of commercials per hour for listeners who choose to listen for free. Royalties are expensive, and the small additional revenue helps keep the lights on while reducing the burden on those who offer financial support for the station.
Speaking of which, we had a great year of participation on the support front. Currently, over 130 people are eligible for VIP Server access. I’d like to extend special recognition and appreciation to Aurele, Walter, Ken, Makiko, Steve, David, Werner, Peter, Patrick, Debbie, Chris, Mark, Stewart, Carey, Max, Leonard, Donald, Warwick and Stephan for their generous support in 2014. Thank you!!
In October, we had our first hardware upgrade in over 7 years - the station now originates from an eco-friendly Mac Mini (Running VMWare Fusion and Windows) in a transition that lasted about 4 hours one Saturday.
The licensing agreements that StreamLicensing operates under were set as part of the Copyright Royalty Board rates of 2007 and modified by an act of Congress (Webcaster Settlement Act) in 2008. Those rates expire at the end of 2015. Without congressional intervention in 2008 (Which happened in part thanks to our listeners who reached out to their representatives) our station would not be on the air today.
What happens in 2016 has not yet been decided, but the writing may be on the wall. Album and MP3 sales are falling, and the record industry sees streaming as the new revenue stream. Rates will be high, and possibly so high that only industry giants like Beats, Spotify, Pandora and Apple will be able to continue operations. Over 2,000 small stations like the Atlantic Sound Factory could go dark at the end of 2015. Our position is simple… as long as StreamLicensing remains a viable business, ASF Radio can stay on the air. If the new rates don’t allow StreamLicensing to remain open, we will have to close too.
Because of the uncertainty surrounding the royalty rates after 2015, support for the station moving forward will provide 30 days of appreciation benefits as we transition to a month-to-month basis for service. It’s the only way to move forward because I can deliver those benefits without worrying about a bad royalty outcome leaving supporters with unused time on the VIP Streams.
In October of 2015, the Atlantic Sound Factory will have been broadcasting online for 10 years. That’s a great run, and my dream of running a radio station to share my love of music (and sometimes bizarre musical tastes) with all those who want to listen has come true. I hope we get to run in 2016 as well, but in the meantime a big thank you to all our supporters over the past 9 years who have seen the station through some tough times and always offered both friendship and support. Whatever you celebrate at this time of year, make it a good one. I wish you all a very Happy New Year.