Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Onward and upward, but what about new software ?

Hello all. By now you'll know all about all these regulations hitting the independent Radio Broadcasters who choose to use a server from inside the US, be it via Live365, or anyone else with a similar operation. We here at AZ had a few long chats with 5 separate broadcasters yesterday, all who are affected by this, and seem rather baffled by the one thing which is changing everything, despite the fact that they (and us here at AZ) agree with the first of these new rules. 100%. Absolutely. Does that surprise you ?
Well, we'll explain. Bear with us... The new regulations stipulate that all tracks (Artist, Title, Album) must be displayed in any player, so that not only the listener can see what they are listening to, but in an attempt to ensure the correct royalties go to the correct Artists and Songwriters. And we agree with this, 100%. Moreso than anyone else, in all probability, because we here at the Zone play Artists and Tracks that, remember, are seldom heard anywhere else. The 'blanket fee' for royalties was always a bit dodgy, as we reckon the same people always benefit - but not this way. The seldom heard Artists, many of whom can only be heard on AZ, would benefit from this new ruling, and about time too ! So, what's the problem, you ask ?
Well, it's the software we (and hundreds of other stations) have to use for broadcasting which is changing everything for people who want to do proper presented Radio Programmes (instead of just another jukebox going round and round, calling itself a Radio Station). Why ? Because we, and many others, are not allowed to upload full radio programmes, even when we want to give the Artist/Royalties information, that's why. There is no software available from 365 or anywhere else, that allows anyone to do this, for a whole programme at a time.
What we would all have to do, is, say for a 1 hour programme which contains 14 Songs and 8 DJ links (so, 22 items in all) we'd have to pre-record and send up those 22 links separately (and all separately labelled too).
Then, they would be played in the correct order. So, you see the problem. We tried it here at AZ just 2 nights ago, as an experiment. Doing it this way - just recording 22 links instead of doing a proper programme - took 3 hours and 10 minutes, to record and label up just 1 hour of programming. This new way, means no actual shows, but a bunch of links masquerading as a programme, which could be interrupted by Ads at any point, even between the presenter introducing something and the track itself !
Now, if the powers that be got some software in place so some 'scrolling' info could be seen at the same time as a full programme, then surely it would be solved. Hmmm. I'm afraid this is where phrases like 'Live365, The Radio Revolution' and, God forbid, 'land of the free', do rather turn out as a complete fantasy. What a pity.
It's not 365's fault, of course, far from it - their original ideals were completely sound - good for broadcasters and artist alike, when they began. But they've been pushed into a corner, and can't move. So, what we are left with, is a load of 'Stations' which are mainly pre-programmed jukeboxes. A shame, as there are so many Stations who wish to present Radio Programmes of often unplayed Artists, actively promoting them, and these are Artists who would genuinely benefit from promotion and airplay and royalties, when in effect the new rulings are rather shooting them all in the foot, to coin a phrase. So, often unplayed Artists lose out again.
The answer ? Software which allows radio programmes to scroll all required information, and would be legal to do so. Quite simple really. We'd all be happy with it, and the Artists who would not otherwise be receiving royalties would then get exactly what they are owed, and we, for one, would be very happy with that.
As it is, we will concentrate our broadcasts in other parts of the world, where everyone seems to get a fair deal, and hope at some point technology drags itself up to date, so all can benefit, seldom heard Artists included, in a way that radio programmes are surely meant to be heard. Presented, with all relevant information, be it Band History/Biography, Albums, Tour Dates, whatever.
Not just a song here, and a song there, then another, etc etc till zzzzzz.....
I wonder if it will ever happen ? Let's hope so. So many would benefit - Artists would receive their proper royalties, Broadcasters would be able to promote and play any artist they like legally, the likes of Live 365 and similar radio servers would serve as a base for anyone wishing to play music, and Radio Authorities from all and any parts of the world would be receiving the monies they are rightly owed. We'd all benefit. Fact.
But at the moment, it can't be done this way for Stations who wish to pre-record then present their full range of programmes, and that's a shame, as so many broadcasters are just moving elsewhere because of this, meaning it's not only them who are losing out, but their listeners too, and of course the most important people of all, the Artists and Bands themselves.