Daily Archives: November 28th, 2012

The Best Radio Station in the World

Aritaur Communications has announced that it will sell the frequency for WMVY, its Martha’s Vineyard fm station, to WBUR, Boston’s NPR news station. Their plans for the signal do not include continuing to air the local flavored, eclectic-folk-alternative format that generations of islanders (either physically or virtually) have come to love. The staff of the station, headed by highly talented program director and all around great gal Barbara Dacey, are hoping that the community (local and online) will rally and raise enough cash to keep the programming streaming online. 

I met Internet radio for the first time while I was managing Aritaur’s group of radio stations, and spending a lot of time at WMVY. It is, without a doubt, the best radio station, bar none, in the world. On any given day, at the little house at the end of a dirt road that we called an office, any number of fun, folksy, or famous people might stop by to visit. It is one of the few broadcast stations left that doesn’t program for mass appeal, which of course is its magic.

Dacey and others at the station are hoping to raise $600,000 in sixty days to keep the format alive online, which would be a fine place for it to live. While this may seem like a daunting goal, take this little story as an example of the power that a community has to save things that it values. I live in a small village in Connecticut where last year after hurricane Irene, our local market went out of business. For four months our community mourned the loss of our local store, before deciding to form a co-op to replace it. In a few short months the store had over 600 members (at $195 a membership) and had also loaned the store over $300,000 (in more than 200 individual loans). The store is open for business, and doing pretty well, in a village that is a lot smaller than Martha’s Vineyard.

So here’s wishing my friend Barbara and her crew a lot of luck in this next chapter. I’m sorry that WMVY won’t be on the air the next time I head out to the cape, and I know that Aritaur’s founder Joe Gallagher will miss it too; owning that station was his dream come true, selling it can’t have come easy.

In the meantime, you can still listen to the best there is, right here

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When Artists Are Responsible For Their Revenue

There’s an article on DMN from about a week ago about a songwriter Ellen Shipley. She’s complaining about the amount of royalties she receives as co-writer of a song that has been played 3 million times on Pandora recently. The problem is, she’s mad at Pandora, when her gripe is really with SoundExchange and the record companies. They’re the ones that decide what happens to the performance royalties that get paid by Pandora, and how they get parsed out to performers versus songwriters and co-songwriters.

I’ll bet someone from her record company called her right up to explain that to her..

There’s been a line of artists complaining recently about the paltry amounts of money they are receiving from Pandora and other streaming services, prompted by the proposed Internet Radio Fairness Act. I’ve written about that, and would like to leave that debate to one side for the moment and talk more about the responsibility that the musician has to become their own business, and take responsibility for their own income, especially if they are unhappy with the size of the checks that are arriving in the mail.

I started thinking about this after I read an article on NPR’s blog about some musicians that are promoting themselves and getting paid for their performances on Kickstarter and similar platforms. Singer and performer Amanda Palmer was one of the first to use Kickstarter and raised over a million dollars for her new album. Other bands, like A House For Lions, produced a video, as well as t-shirts and other promotional items that they sell online through Ignition Deck. It’s a lot of work, but they consider it part of their business.

Artists like Amanda Palmer and A House For Lions aren’t just sitting around waiting for their check to arrive in the mail, and then complaining about it. They are managing their businesses which happen to be music and asking their audiences to pay for their product which happens to be songs. Here’s the video that A House For Lions made to promote their album and ask their fans to donate:

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