Financial Realities At BlackLight Radio

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belt-tighteningAs many of you know, 2014 has been a year of change for BlackLight Radio. As costs continue to skyrocket and licensing companies close their doors, it becomes harder and harder to keep the 80s hits coming.

The record labels, under the guise of paying the artist, have been working to break internet radio financially. Unfortunately, the congressmen they’ve bought have done their bidding again and again, labeling stations like BlackLight Radio the enemy and raising royalty fees over and over since the implementation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

As April approached, I took a long, hard look at what we’re doing here, and worked to figure out a way to save the station without completely going broke. After many stressful nights of searching the internet, asking my friends, and pulling my hair out, I believe I have come up with a successful way to keep the records you and I love streaming around the world while keeping royalty costs manageable.

To understand this elegantly simple solution, you first need to understand how the copyright office charges us. The rules are that you pay per song, times the number of listeners. The more listeners tuned in to a song, the more you pay. Also, the more songs you play, the more you pay. (SxL=$$$)

Other than shutting down, my first thought was to add more talk content. If we did 30 minutes an hour of talk, we’d cut the songs per hour down to about 7 (from 15). That would cut our royalty bill in half!

Then I realized how much time, energy, and thought would have to go in to, day after day, creating new spoken content. I do, for the time being, have to go to my day job to pay for my night passion. There simply wouldn’t be any way for me to do this, and I didn’t know anyone else I was willing to ask to undertake such an enormous project.

Another thought that occurred to me was to play only the PartyMixes of the 80s hits… you know, the 12″ remixes we play Friday and Saturday night. I immediately shot that idea down, though. First, there aren’t PartyMixes for every hit of the 80s. Second, some of the PartyMixes aren’t much longer than the single version. Third, I didn’t want to be responsible for getting you in trouble at work by causing you to dance uncontrollably every day of the week.

What could be done to control the river of money headed out the door and into the pockets of corporate fat cats? How could we limit the number of songs BlackLight Radio played without putting anything other than the 80s greatest hits on the stream back-to-back? Finally, the solution came to me:


Of course! Why hadn’t it occurred to me before? So simple, so easy to do… we had already been speeding up songs a little to match how top 40 radio stations in the 80s sped up the 45s they got from the record labels… all I had to do was move the speed control the other direction! Every second of every hour would be wall-to-wall 80s hits, but we would significantly reduce the number of songs we play per hour. The result? Happy listeners, and lower royalty rates!

Today, we begin what the business world calls the “Second Quarter” of 2014… and as we start this second quarter, we cut our royalties (and the money going to pay for more yachts for the record label executives) in nearly HALF.

My hope is this idea will spread, and other stations online will begin doing the same thing. This could save the internet radio industry thousands, no, millions of dollars a year that can be better used buying decals to put on their station vehicle / wife’s minivan. The industry can finally break free of the shackles of the DMCA and breathe the sweet, fresh air of broadcasting freedom!

The best part is, if you tune in and listen, the slowdown is hardly noticeable. Chances are if I hadn’t mentioned it, you wouldn’t have ever detected it. No, no change in the hits coming your way, but a big change in the amount of… change… we get to keep each day!

Also: April Fools. We’ll return to normal speed tonight.

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