After 11 years of Internet broadcasting, the independent station East Village Radio, physically housed on First Avenue, announced it will end its run on May 23. As reported by EV Grieve, the abrupt silencing of the commercial-free radio broadcast is brought to you by the Congressional Digital Music Copyright Act of 1998, which requires Internet broadcasters to pay a digital performance royalty for each listener. According to general manager of programming Peter Ferraro, East Village Radio draws over 1 million listeners per month.
“It's almost like we are being penalized for our growth,” Ferraro said. He went on to add they also pay higher royalty and licensing rates than “behemoth streaming companies like Pandora.”
EVR's founder and CEO (and neighborhood restauranteur) Frank Prisinzano said projections made the odds of being able to remain breaking even look grim. But this sign-off announcement could be seen as bittersweet. Prisinzano started the eclectic radio station as his way to give back to the neighborhood that treated him and his restaurants so well, and in return he helped launch and nurture thousands of musical careers without ever considering a buy out. Only using personal funds and internet advertising to pay costs.
As Prisinzano told EV Grieve, “I don’t want to give up the integrity of the station. The only way that I really see it continuing is by bringing in another benefactor who would take over part of the station. I really don't want to do that. Pete and I understand the neighborhood. We want to run the station. I don’t want to sell it out.”
For now, I'd say listen while you can, but maybe in a group setting to reduce those royalty fees. What happens after May 23 remains to be seen, though we'd expect some pretty high-profile send offs in the coming days..