The Day Online Music Died: Muxtape Shuts Down, Pandora Next?

By August 20, 2008

It has been a bad week for music on the internet, as one of the web's most popular music sites was shut down, and another left word that it might be soon to follow. Popular music-sharing site Muxtape, which allows users to create 12-song online mixtapes, has been shut down by the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) for hosting “illegal content.” “Muxtape was hosting copies of copyrighted sound recordings without authorization from the copyright owners. Making these recordings available for streaming playback also requires authorization from the copyright owners. Muxtape has not obtained authorization from our member companies to host or stream copies of their sound recordings,” said a representative of the


Intellectual property attorney Fred Von Lohmann says that Muxtape is protected under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which protects other media-sharing sites like YouTube.

Muxtape doesn't seem too worried. “No artists or labels have complained. The site is not closed indefinitely. Stay tuned,” says a posting on its blog.

Also this week, internet radio service Pandora announced that increasingly high royalty fees might force it to shut down. "We're approaching a pull-the-plug kind of decision," said Pandora founder Tim Westergren. "This is like a last stand for webcasting."

Royalties that internet radio stations must pay are higher than those paid by traditional or satellite radio stations. Fees paid by internet services were doubled the Copyright Royalty Board last year, and will nearly double by 2010.

70% of Pandora’s 2007 projected $25 million revenue will go to paying royalties.

Pandora creates an individualized radio station based on a sophisticated analysis of the musical properties of the songs you like. The site has more than a million daily visitors, and is one of the ten most popular applications for iPhone. It’s a phenomenal service, even if it does have a HAL-like tendency to smother me in symphonic prog.

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