Well, this post is long overdue, but I wanted to make a formal announcement that the Vinyl Podcast is defunct. A number of factors influenced my decision to cease production of the podcast. I began a masters program this summer in addition to working full-time, and the 2-3 hours required to produce each show were harder to come by. Also, this fall I got a packet in the mail from BMI, informing me of the details of their podcast license. It wasn’t threatening, but I interpreted it as a friendly first warning.
As of this moment, it is nearly impossible to legally podcast major-label music. I give ASCAP and BMI some credit for introducing relatively low-cost blanket licenses for podcasting, but these only solve half of the problem. ASCAP and BMI cover rights to the composition, i.e. the part of a song that you could write down on manuscript paper, but they don’t cover the mechanical rights to the recording, the actual sounds produced by the musicians. In order to license a recording, each song has to be cleared individually through the Harry Fox Agency, at a rate which is determined in part by the number of copies you intend to distribute. This scheme is prohibitively expensive and time-consuming. For example, at Vinyl Podcast’s peak, I had over 5,000 subscribers. Using an example from harryfox.com, a song 4:07 in length would have cost $455.00 to license for use in my podcast.
I took great pains in the design of the Vinyl Podcast to be respectful of the artists whose music I presented. The music I played was not available commercially except for in the second-hand market or, in some cases, via import. Each Mp3 file I distributed included several minutes of commentary, and my voice overlapped the beginning and end of each song. Each recording was made from 20+-year-old vinyl, and was not cleaned up or enhanced, throwing the DMCA‘s notion of a "perfect digital copy" out the window.
That said, I was well aware that the Vinyl Podcast was operating afoul of current copyright statutes, and it became clear that the wild west that was the early months of podcasting would quickly become less Black Rock City and more Las Vegas, and that the inevitable commercialization of podcasting would bring increased scrutiny to the legality of the show.
So, I hope those of you who listened to the show on a regular basis discovered through it some different music, or rediscovered some old favorites that may have been languishing in the attic. I hope a few people dusted off their old turntables, and discovered that the cheapest source of un-DRM‘ed music is your local second-hand record store.
I’m keeping a couple of my shows online for download here, specifically those containing music that, to my knowledge, is not covered by ASCAP or BMI license. As with most early podcasts, the Vinyl Podcast was a money-losing operation. I spent about $20/month on hosting. I racked up about $50 in Google AdSense revenue, which, should Google ever see fit to cut me a check, will be donated to the EFF. Thanks for listening.
P.S. – I intend to blog sporadically at codyhanson.com. Eventually, this feed will be redirected to the feed from that site.