I am not sure why I am sitting here with tears streaming down my face, but I am. I was lying in bed reading, listening to Ian sleep beside me, the dogs snoring all around us. I checked a group on Facebook created for "live365 refugees" when I saw the post. I jumped out of bed, walked into the office and unmuted my speakers. All I heard was a tick tick tick and then an announcement that the connection had been lost. I tried to refresh and -nothing. No tick tick tick..no announcement. no music. Just silence. Live365 is no more. Test Track is showing as the last song played.
I knew this day was coming. We were prepared for it. Our stream on shoutcast is going strong, yet I am so sad. I feel like I lost a good friend Live365 gave us the platform to create nearly 13 years of happy memories. It provided us an escape. It helped make those long work days go by a little faster. In those 13 years, 10051 people felt as we did and made Mouse House Radio their favorite station on Live365..
The uncertainty of what will happen moving forward doesn't help squelch the sadness. There is hope the CRB will change their minds and make internet radio friendly for the hobbyist once again. Nothing is certain though and we do not have the power of the large companies like spotify and pandora who are most definitely not shedding any tears tonight. If you haven't done so already, please check our home page and click on the link provided to sign the petition and get more information on how you can help. I hope and pray MHR will stay streaming all of our favorites for a very long time. I also hope that the majority of our fellow fan based Disney music stations are able to continue on as well. Stations going silent is not the way we want to gain more listeners.
One more thing I want to mention. I know of at least one Disney fan site that is now playing music on their webpage because some of their favorite stations had to shut down. I just beg you to be careful. Please go through the process to play the music legally. My plea is not because I don't want the competition. My concern is sincere. There have been enough people hurt by the ridiculous increase in royalties we have to pay. I don't want to see others bury their heads in the sand and end up with huge penalties or law suits. Create your station - join us.. it's fun and there are plenty of listeners and fans for all of us. Just please - do so legally.
This message/email came from Marvin - the heart and soul behind Stream Licensing (how we now pay royalties). Please read through it and help in any way you can. Without a change (as he states) the fees we are paying now will go up to commercial level and there is no way we can afford that. So if there has ever been a time to stand up for small and microbroadcasters now is that time.
Call to Action Newsletter # 1
Please act to help reduce your fee.
(This email is sent to all who were Affiliates as of a few days ago.) The first step in moving forward to regain reduced fees by bringing back the Small Webcasters Agreement is here and the time has arrived. While my attorneys continue to work behind the scenes, we webcasters and providers need to unite and start building momentum. This first phase is primarily to get behind a unified group pushing for success and begin telling our story to all who will listen and especially to those who can ultimately influence the outcome.
Four initial steps:
1) I encourage you to send this email to your stream host providers, to other webcasters, anyone else you think of that would get involved.
2) Sign up yourself and encourage your listeners to sign up at http://www.radiodiversity.org/ I may not always promote this website, John Draper, here at StreamLicensing, has a beta version that has been ready for months. However, at this time I think it is wiser to unite with this already recognized group. If as time moves forward we need to use our own website and action page I'll let you know. So I'm encouraging you to move as many as possible to sign up at http://www.radiodiversity.org/ At least one Affiliate also has a good call-to-action website that I maybe sharing in the future.
3) If you haven't already please read the following two articles for more background information. Once you have digested them, please share them with as many as you possibly can: As you know, legislative action is where it will have to go ultimately. http://www.radioworld.com/…/crb-ruling-is-%E2%80%9Cc…/277856 and the second article:http://rainnews.com/small-webcasters-enter-the-unknown-of-…/ As you read, please note that StreamLicensing fees are not being presently based on the CRB/SoundExchange commercial rate. However, if we don't bring back the Small Webcasters Agreement before the end of the year, our fees will have to increase to the commercial level as shown in these articles.
4)Putting link to the pages referenced in 2 and 3, above on your websites would be a great help as you promote bringing back the Small Webcasters Fee structure.
We' small broadcaster have been hit with two major increases; ASCAP and CRB/SoundExchange. We can't do much about ASCAP other than pay it, but we have the opportunity to bring rates back at least partially to affordable levels. We can do this as we unite and work what is ultimately going to be a legislative process to regain affordable performance fees as administered by SoundExchange. I won't be able to reply individually to your responses to this email but I want to thank you all for all you are doing to help small webcasters have a continued future.
First I want to apologize for the ups and downs we have put you, our listeners through this month. It has been even less fun for us. Finding out information on exactly what was going on, what was going to be happening and what if anything we could do has been incredibly difficult. Both Ian and I have been scouring the net looking for the latest news on what was happening with Live365 as well as any potential progress with the CRB (copyrights royalties board). We initially decided to move from Live365 to Radionomy. After spending an entire weekend trying to not only move tracks over there but get them compliant with Radionomy regulations (tracks must be shorter than 15 minutes. Imagine how hard it was to cut tracks such as the parades, fireworks, shows - we hated that!). Then the user interface was - well just plain goofy (in our opinion). First you needed to make boxes. Then you needed to make clocks. Then you needed to bring these into a daily planner.. I think. We read the manual. We asked questions on the forum - but we still couldn't figure it out. We aren't dense or slow people. Ian has a Phd in business management with a specialty in information systems. He has written, worked on and with software most of us would go running from. I have been working with webpages and such since the late 1990's. It is very rare when there is something the two of us can't figure out. Maybe it was just the frustration of editing down tracks. Maybe it was all the hoops one had to jump through to get Radionomy to work - maybe it was the lack of communication and help. Maybe it was the fact that we would no longer own MHR if we used Radionomy. They would. We would do all the work. If we didn't make the minimum listening hours they could pull the plug on us with little to no warning. We did all the work. They got all the money from advertising through us and we had no control over any of it. Maybe it was all of it rolled into one - but we had enough.
Once again we found ourselves searching for a new home. I found quite a few hosts and most we could afford and would be about the same as what we were paying to keep MHR on Live365. However, if you added in what we would have to be paying for licensing and royalties - it was MUCH higher. At that point we weren't even sure what the royalties would be. Rumors were flying. No one had a real answer. It was all so unsure and confusing.
Then we found Stream Licensing and with a very affordable host we could continue on via Shoutcast. We were so happy. We were so relieved. We were nearly giddy when we found the user interface on the host to be something completely manageable and the broadcaster manual understandable. We didn't have quite as much creative leeway as we did with Live365. We could no longer post when we were going to play certain things. That would be against the licensing rules. We would have to restrict our listeners to no more than 25 at a time - down from 100 on Live365. We knew we may have to even restrict how long someone could listen and bump them off if people seemed to just be having a stream playing forever. However - we were able to stay on the air. Different, but not silent.
Then the axe fell again. More details were coming out. So many small and micro broadcaster who did not want to just turn their station over to Radionomy were (and still are) shutting down left and right. We found out Sound Exchange was going to charge 500.00 a year for a license. Then you still have to pay royalties on top of that. For a very small station with 4k or less listening hours per month it would come out to around 1300-1700 a year. This all had to be paid up front. We still hadn't heard anything from Streamlicensing about what they may be doing, how much they would be charging per month going forward. All we knew was that - we didn't have it. Not up front. Not for a hobby. Not for something that never provided us with one penny in revenue. We don't have sponsors. We never planned on having sponsors. We still are not sure we ever want to go that route. To us - that would turn this into a business instead of a labor of love. We don't want our love for everything Disney to become work. It is our escape and want to keep it that way.
We cried. It is rare when a wife has to see her 6ft 2inch very strong, very proud husband cry - but Ian did shed a few tears. I shed a lot more. Then we started the process of shutting down. We had resigned ourselves to MHR being no more. We were going to just let things play out on Live365 which we found out WILL be closing on Jan. 31st..
Something in me just couldn't let it go and I continued to search discussion forums, Facebook groups for any glimmer of hope. Days went by and nothing. More and more people were coming to the realization we had and seeing what we did about the 500.00 licensing fee and how much royalties would be a month. I saw and read a lot of bitterness as more information was revealed. A very small very local am radio station could stream for as little as 256.00 a year, but small and micro web broadcasters were being taken to the cleaners. The music industry, record labels, artists were NOT happy about the internet radio fiasco and what was happening. It was larger streaming services like Pandora who were (I read - but can not verify) in closed door meetings with the CRB when decision were made that led to all of this. Incredible sadness, a lot of disgust, quite a bit of anger were found in just about everything I read.
Then I found one post about Streamlicensing and a new rate going forward. It was higher than what we were paying before, but with maybe a few cuts at the grocery store, one time less eating out every month we could do it. Ian and I talked - and we talked and we talked. Streamlicensing has restrictions, but we knew that. It won't be like it was before, but we can do it.
I read post after post after post from other small and very small broadcasters who can't do it and they are shutting down. We are very fortunate. We are very thankful. We are very appreciative - and we are still on the air. We don't know what the future holds. We hope this is the end of a very bad chapter and there aren't any more surprises. We can't guarantee that though. Right now we are going on a month to month basis while everything settles down into a new normal. Hopefully this is the new normal though and we all just have to get used to it now. Oh how I hope so. No more surprises. Please, no more surprises - unless they are good of course.
Very happy to say we now have our Wilderness Lodge Resort playlist back up and scheduled in it's new normal weekly times. It will be playing on Sunday. Wednesday and Friday afternoons at 2pm Central time. That is 1pm Eastern and Noon Pacific. We are working on getting our regular playlists back up and running as closely to normal as we can. Please be patient while we continue to work on this as time allows. Question for you - our listeners. Are you interested in a listener request hour/s that would play the tracks YOU have requested? Depending on the response we get we may do this once a month or once a week (or not at all). Please let us know what you think in the comments below. .
What a crazy ride this past weekend has been. We found out Live365 was closing from a listener. Clint - thank you. Apparently Live365 sent an email to broadcasters telling us what was going on. Many, like us, never got that email. It was a complete and utter shock when we found out.
Ian and I (Jennifer) have spent the entire weekend trying to get MHR back up and running on Radionomy. What a horrible nightmare that was. We were ready to throw in the towel completely when we found a server host we liked. Then we had to tackle the licensing issue Live365 had always taken care of for us.
I am so happy to say that all is well and we have most of our tracks up and playing. they are all playing in one huge playlist right now but we will change that as soon as we can.. It will take some time to find a new normal. We can not publish a schedule but eventually we will have some special playlist that will repeat the same time every week (Wilderness Lodge, resort of the week). I am also hoping that in the future we can also set aside a block of time every week or so to have a listener request playlist. So many possibilities and so many other things that are also needing our time and attention. Like the Country Bears said.. "if you just bear with us, we will get on with the show".