If, like me, you're a fan of web-based radio stations like Lastfm and my personal favourite Knac.com, you'll be getting nervous about the looming deadline of July 15 when a hike in royalty rates webcasters must pay artists is likely to put the fledgling players out of business.
This Time article sums up the whole situation pretty well.
The original rate hike called for a 30 per cent increase in royalty rates this year and next and a US$500 fee "per channel" to be paid to royalty collection agency SoundExchange.
With webcasters like Live365.com hosting hundreds of niche radio streams, the per-channel fee alone threatened to destroy their already fragile business model.
Pandora has already had to shut its service to those listeners outside of the US to avoid being hit with crippling international royalty fees.
Many web radio stations participated in a day of silence last week in protest of the rate increases.
That seems to have had some effect. SoundExchange has come up with a compromise that would allow webcasters to pay a flat rate of US$2500 to cover all of their streams.
That seems sensible, but there is dispute over the term this agreement would cover.
This is a difficult situation - we all want to see artists get paid for use of their music but so far, web users have been reluctant to embrace a subscription model for web radio services.
Advertising isn't filling the gap yet. Still, millions of people are discovering new music on Pandora and Lastfm and radio stations are bypassing the need to invest in costly, geographically-limited FM radio licences.
Internet radio is clearly the future of the radio medium, especially as webstreaming to over HSDP and EV-DO mobile data services to mobile phones improves.
The business model needs to be sorted out and it's a bit soon to be strangling an industry before it has even found its feet.
Still, I'm interested to know whether internet radio is of considerable interest to Kiwis.
I know people are downloading Radio New Zealand podcasts in numbers and listening to the live streams of the likes of BFM and Radio Live, but what are your favourite radio station aggregation services?
Would you be upset to see Live365 or Lastfm shut down?
Is this royalty hike excessive or just bringing web radio inline with the commercial realities of the music business?