I think Public Enemy has been right all along. We need to fight the power. Ironically, the power in this case is essentially the same group of people that made Public Enemy who they are -- the producers and record labels of the music industry.
Congress just released a mandate increasing the royalties that internet radio stations must pay to record companies. Not only are the new royalty levels retroactive for 2006, but they also are set to increase year after year.
Numerous companies, including wonderful Pandora, Real Networks, NPR, and others have already started to fight the power. Pandora's CEO says that they would instantly be out of business if such a royalty hike were imposed. NPR is planning to fight. Many others are too.
I think increasing royalties would be incredibly short-sighted. I discover a lot of new music through Pandora (which I blogged about ages ago) that otherwise I would never know about. And then something amazing happens. I actually go out and buy the CD of the artist (or pay to download via iTunes). If Pandora didn't exist, millions of people would not be introduced to thousands and thousands of artists and albums, and millions of dollars would fail to exchange hands. And I'm only mentioning one of many, many internet radio stations.
Personally, I think the entire music industry needs to rethink the way they do business. They need to embrace the internet, get rid of DRM, and come up with a new marketing plan that works in today's world of iPods, music-playing cell phones, and a generation that shares music one way or another -- legally or illegally.
Who's with me? I know Flava Flav is.