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.