(This article will be updated regularly.)
Effective January 1st, 2016 SoundExchange eliminated the small webcaster licensing category for music royalties. This category allowed small family-owned operations such as MountainChill to stream on the Internet with an affordable percentage of revenue rate.
The cost under the only license available in 2016 for our category would have amounted to many times our annual operating budget. Thus, we have been forced to pull or live stream.
In the meantime, we continue to serve our regional Colorado audience with a Class A commercial FM signal at 95.5FM. Recordings of some of our DJ hosted programs are also available via Mixcloud at mixcloud.com/mountainchill, a great third-party service with its own royalty agreements. We are also currently curating the 5-7PM MDT hour (DJ-free) most nights on our non-commercial community radio, KURA in Ouray. KURA’s stream can be found right here.
We are humbled by the outpouring of support from loyal listeners, part-time residents, and many genre-related artists who had listen to our stream from around the globe. When a good, economically sustainable opportunity presents itself again, we are ready to return our stream to the Internet.
The full article from January 2016 and additional updates follow below:
As of January 2016, thanks to the recent decision by the Copyright Royalty Board made on Christmas Eve, SoundExchange has eliminated all small webcaster licenses. As such, our fee for streaming has multiplied by about 15X over the 2015 rate! We have therefore been forced to removed our webstream from the Internet (including iTunes radio and TuneIn) in order for us to stay in business and stay on-the-air. If we were to continue to stream, our royalties due for one year would amount to a minimum of $30,000, more than all other operating costs combined and more than our income; we could not continue to operate.
In the meantime, we emphasize that our 95.5 FM signal in Telluride is completely unaffected, advertiser sponsored, and still 100% on-the-air! In fact, we can’t think of a better time to make great old-skool indy terrestrial radio in this era of otherwise big, impersonal, giant broadcasters who generally refer to their radio stations as “properties.” Your feedback on our programming and presentation is always welcome.
Read more about the new rates and small webcaster reaction in this RAIN article and this article from RadioSurvivor. You can also do you part by signing either of these petitions: change.org | gopetition.com . Net Radio Blog is also keeping a running update on the matter here. You may also want to check into the Future of Music Coalition and what they are doing to help small webcasters though Action Network.
We received a meaningful response from Senator Michael Bennet‘s (Democrat – CO) office, but no meaningful response from either Senator Cory Gardner‘s (Republican – CO) office or Representative Scott Tipton’s (Republican- CO) office. Please contact all of them to let them know how important this issue is to you.
As of these final weeks of January there is no resolution in site. We have contacted our congressional representatives’ offices, but are not optimistic about a resolution. If one does the math, it becomes clear that the amount of revenue required per listener to cover these new Internet streaming royalties is orders of magnitude higher than could be covered by the market rate of in-stream advertising. We believe that some big players and their investors are paying a lot of money to cover the cost of other streams that you may listen to for free. We believe that this is a market bubble (see this Billboard Magazine article) that is not likely to burst anytime soon, certainly not a bubble that small broadcasters like us can wait out.
If you live in Colorado, you are in luck! You can tune us in at 95.5 FM locally in the Telluride area, on much of the Grand Mesa, and en-route between Telluride and Moab, UT. Thanks to our antenna being located at an 11,000 ft. elevation you can also pick us up by manually tuning your car radio to 95.5 FM throughout a large portion of the Western Slope including US 50 from the Ouray County border north to the Mesa County border and on I-70 between the Colorado/Utah border and Green River, UT. See the coverage area graphic above. We are the soundtrack to some of the west’s most spectacular scenic and recreation areas!
We also curate “Mountain Chill Music Discovery,” a noncommercial DJ-free program heard on Ouray’s community radio station, KURA in Ouray. This airs most days from 6-8PM. KURA can be heard in most of Ouray County including Ouray and Ridgway.
Update 2/20/2016- With the release of the full text (less a few redacted portions) of the Copyright Royalty Board decision, the small webcaster dilemma is back in the news with coverage at RAIN and the Broadcast Law Blog. We’ve also continued to contact our representatives in Washington as well and are hopeful that there will be a resolution allowing smaller broadcasters to move ahead with affordable (percentage of revenue) rates.
Additional links and articles: Bloody Sunday Decimates Internet Radio (RAIN), Mountain Chill Restricted to FM signal (OC Plaindealer), The Death of Internet Radio (NJ Stage), Has a Royalty Change Doomed Small Webcasters? (Pitchfork) , An Open Letter to David Byrne (Radio Paradise) [Note: David Byrne is on the Sound Exchange Board of Directors].
1/8/16 – Gopetition.com link added.
1/19/16 – Edits and updates.
1/22/16 – Added links to Sound Exchange and Representative’s Offices.
1/23/16 – Added info and graphic on our FM coverage areas.
1/28/16 – Added link to draft letter and new photo of station staff.
1/30/16- Link to Plaindealer article added under “Additional links.”
2/20/2016 – Links to coverage of CRB’s release of their determination.
3/13/16 – Brief Update.
9/17/16 – Update including the new Mixcloud link to some of our archived programming.