Start Making Sense


The RIAA hassles David Byrne for streaming too many Missy Elliot songs on his Internet radio show, providing a helpful reminder of just how insane the law is in this area. Comments Byrne:

In my case the law forbids streaming "radio" that features more than 4 tracks by any one artist in a three-hour period….Is there a higher licensing fee I could pay to allow me to do this? (I currently pay a statutory fee to stream this stuff.) Is there a reason a radio station can play Springsteen 'round the clock but I can't stream Missy Elliot? Answer: You CAN pay for this, Dave. However, you would have to license every song separately, and pay for each one too, instead of as a lump sum, as you do now.

For example, KCRW can feature a single artist in their broadcasts, but can't post those shows online. Terrestrial (broadcast) radio pays publishing fees, but not performance royalties—a holdover from radio being viewed as a promotional tool. Streaming radio is not? Huh?