Pump It Up for Web Radio

Opinion: Web radio faces extinction pending the outcome of a bill in Congress.

In the classic song "Radio Radio," Elvis Costello sang the words, "They say you better listen to the voice of reason. But they dont give you any choice because they think that its treason."

Of course that song is nearly thirty years old so I doubt that Elvis Costello and the Attractions were talking about Web radio. But much of the anger and contempt that Elvis was directing at commercial radio of the time holds true for the controversy raging today over Web radio.

Heres the history of the problem: As the ability to stream quality audio over the Internet has improved over the years, a huge benefit arose in the form of Web radio. By providing the ability to listen to music over the Internet, it enabled many benefits, including the ability to listen to hometown stations after moving to another area, niche music programming that would never occur on standard radio, and, best of all, the ability for independent and unsigned musicians to easily promote their music to wide audiences.

Now to you, me and pretty much everyone else in the world, this all sounds pretty good. But to the Recording Industry Association of America, anything that lets people listen to what they want to listen to rather than what the RIAA tells them they should listen to—especially anything that lets musicians promote themselves without first signing away their souls to RIAA member companies—is very bad and must be destroyed.

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