from the Boston here

Don't silence us
by Seth Kroll   |   June 26, 2007

FAMILY JUNCTION is a band made up of five childhood friends. We decided that, after college, we were going to take on the American entrepreneurial spirit, work together, and create music as a living -- a job that is rewarding, but by no means easy.

As listeners of Internet radio, we were able to find new and incredible influences from around the globe.

Once we recorded our first Family Junction songs, Internet radio helped us once again. We were able to have our music played to thousands of people across the United States -- people who were eager to hear our music.

By finding a niche crowd across the United States, we were given the encouragement to continue following our dreams of writing and recording music. We now have songs playing on college radio stations (many of which are web-only), and niche genre stations throughout the United States.

But that could all change.

In March, the Copyright Royalty Board issued catastrophic royalty rate hikes -- increases of 300 to 1200 percent -- which are set to take effect July 15. And some of the increases will be retroactive to January of last year.

The decision by the Copyright Royalty Board to increase royalty rates would drastically restrict these crucial outlets of expression for music creators and the outlets of diversity for music listeners.

Artists like us should be compensated for creative works. This is vital to the way independent artists make a living. But royalties should be collected at fair rates -- certainly not at rates that would bankrupt Internet radio stations. If the balance is disturbed, and the current status quo drastically changes, the diverse Internet radio services will be forced to pay increased royalty rates that are so high (by many estimates, royalties will exceed what some of these stations generate in revenue), they will simply shut down.

The Internet radio stations that Family Junction depends on are among the many that will not be able to afford to pay the royalties required of them.

Royalties are supposed to reward artists, but the new rates will not help us. Quite the opposite. Instead of worrying about generating income from royalty rates, we could basically forget about royalties altogether, because there will be very few stations left who will play our songs. And our experience is the same as so many other bands out there.

If Congress allows these new royalty rates to go into effect, independent artists will have a more difficult time being successful in sustaining ourselves though our creative works. For music fans, the Internet's greatest feature of democracy of thought, action and exchange of ideas around the globe will be limited and online radio will start to sound more like broadcast radio -- a limited number of artists and a limited number of genres. And that translates to bored music fans.

The Family Junction sound may not ever make it onto mainstream terrestrial radio, and that has never been our intention. But we should not be restricted from the markets that have embraced and appreciated our creative works. We aim to create music for this crowd -- and hope that crowd continues to grow. The 50 million people who listen to Internet radio every week are doing so for the diversity of content they find on it.

As musicians and music lovers, we want to preserve the channels that present our music to people who might like it and might otherwise never hear it. Without Internet radio, where do we connect with the fans we are seeking?

Seth Kroll is the lyricist for the band Family Junction. The band's website is