RIAA vs. Internet Radio - An Open Letter

By Stan Ruffo - 11/18/99

My name is Stan Ruffo. I am the host and producer of Blues On Tap, which until very recently has been webcast by Yahoo!Broadcast. Blues On Tap started life as a conventional blues radio show in March of 1995 on a small FM station in Visalia, CA.

It gained in popularity quite rapidly. By February of 1996, Blues On Tap was webcast for the first time on Audionet, which eventually became Broadcast.com, and is now known as Yahoo!Broadcast.

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A new 1-hour Blues On Tap was posted every week from September 1996, till about October of 1998, at which time your rules caused the program to be expanded from a one hour format, to a five hour format, and your rules required the webcaster to remove any and all archived shows. Why?

I am confused as to what you are doing at this late time regarding the webcasting of Blues On Tap and other shows like it. I have been to your web site, which doesn't really doesn't explain what or who will benefit from your rules. I have made repeated attempts over the past year, (without success), to contact someone in your organization by phone for some explanation of exactly what you are doing and what you really expect people in my position to do with your "rules".

I would just like to know who it is you think you are protecting or serving. I can't see how anyone could possibly benefit from your actions over the past year or so, with regard to "Internet programming." Just so you know, each and every submission I have received, which is to say, EVERY TRACK selected for inclusion in a Blues On Tap program, has been sent to me by either an artist or record company, with one hope in mind...that at the very, very, least, something from their recording will be included in a Blues On Tap program.

Why don't you just have me I sign a document stating that any and all music heard on Blues On Tap has been submitted for exactly that purpose by either the record company or the recording artist, then the only time you would have to act, is upon complaint by someone who indicated to you that they had not granted permission to me to include their property in one of my programs? Then you can fine me, or kick my butt, or what ever you want.

The way you're going about this is, well, you strike me as a "school bully." I don't believe your actions WILL benefit anyone. I see you taking away, not adding anything to anyone's life. I don't want to hear any more about rules that you are imposing. I want you to clearly spell out to me and all interest parties, just exactly what you are trying to accomplish and for who's benefit. There has been just a little too much pushing around for me sit and listen to you tell me and others what to do without you explaining yourself.

Even when a policeman stops someone, the first thing they do is explain why they stopped them. (And you ain't even the police). I'll be frank. Blues On Tap is no more than my way of giving back to many fine blues recording artists that have provided me countless hours of enjoyment over the years. If Blues On Tap has been heard for the last time on the Internet, it won't be a loss to me. What it will be, is one less place for a blues recording artist to be heard. Is that all right with you? I really mean it when I say, I appreciate you taking the time to read this and THINK about what you're doing.

Stan Ruffo

Editors note: Stan ended his letter with a key point. Since radio - traditional or otherwise - is by far the most potent promotional tool for the artist to be noticed and sell records, how does shutting down Stan's show help the artist? We can't help but be reminded of the payola scandal of the 1950's when A&R men from the record companies would PAY DJ's hundreds of dollars to add their song to the rotation.

Next year, Congress will hold hearings regarding webcasting. Hopefully, the results will allow Stan show to return to the Net.

Copyright 1999 MP3 Newswire. All rights reserved.

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