Restaurants and hairdressers in Belgium are complaining because the costs for playing muzak in their businesses (performers’ rights or ‘naburige rechten‘) will rise with 30% to 37% (De Morgen, Dec 4, 2004, p.9).
I wonder: is that the same for people who just play Radio 2 in their shops, those who use a PC with some brand of MP3 player shuffle their CD collections around, and even those who pay for subscription-based digital no-commercials no-talking theme-grouped music?
There is a parallelism between this discussion and the issue of non-RIAA music (in Belgium this would be non-IFPI music) within the podcasting community. Most of the current podcasters use music from sites like garageband.com, studiogeek.org or lonely heroes like Brad Sucks to avoid getting into trouble with (having to pay) the RIAA. Both the RIAA and the IFPI seem to prefer a ‘shoot first, ask questions afterwards‘ attitude.
Now, would the average restaurant owner mind if instead of Elton John and Celine Dion, there are unknown groups playing music that is as easily digested by his customers? If there would be a ‘smooth jazz’ or ‘deep house’ podcast with non-RIAA music, would you still have to pay for playing it? The mechanism of podcast could take care of regularly updated playlists with e.g. 1-hour mixes in 64 Kbps (30 MB/hour), without manual intervention.
Let’s say the only requirement would be that if a listener who wants to know “who was playing that last song”, he should be able to see – on enquire for – it. That’s actually how I discovered Maxwell years ago, before he was … what is he now … semi-famous? I heard “Urban Hang Suite” in a store and asked the manager who that voice was.