Dear Lovely Listener
Thank you for your support of our station. Whether you listen to an individual show or multiple shows, your continued presence helps keep we DJs sane and happy. Well, sane-ish. In other words, it means a lot to us.
So, given everything that has happened in 2020 and is looking likely to happen in 2021, we thought we would have a candid discussion with you about our plans for the future and how we hope you will join us on the road ahead. This is a long letter, so go make yourself a coffee and sit comfortably before you begin.
Where we are.
The station now finds itself at a crossroads as costs spiral and freedoms are curtailed after dramatic changes from licensing bodies and tech companies alike. It seems big media companies are not willing to share any advertising revenue with small fan based stations like us and things have been changed to make an already uneven battle for ears virtually impossible.
Virtually. But not quite. Despite all the shenanigans RRO has trebled its listener base in the last year, and more than doubled the footfall to our website. You are listening to us via our player page, our apps, on internet radios, from radio directories and, increasingly, via Alexa devices and apps.
This is great news but also a problem, as the additional listeners have increased our licensing costs. Yes, our station remains fully legal. We do not illegally source our music (which is why our tracks sound soooooooooooooooo good!). We pay our license fees. And we try to follow the rules. And as far as problems go, trebling our listeners base is a nice one to have.
But licensing rules were tweaked recently to bring internet stations in line with bricks and mortar broadcasters. It's almost as though the licensing bodies have decided this means we should all sound like the big national stations, but we want to be our usual quirky, fleet footed, rock and roll-oriented selves and just have fun. So we are currently fighting the good fight. But in the meantime, costs have risen.
To give you an idea, our annual running costs just for licensing and web hosting is currently £850. That is a figure that EXCLUDES ELECTRIC, INTERNET AND MUSIC PURCHASES, COMPUTERS AND EQUIPMENT PURCHASES AND MAINTENANCE and all other expenses incurred by RRO and our DJs.
FURTHERMORE WE NOW HAVE TO CONSTANTLY STATE THE FOLLOWING: WE ARE A UK BASED AND LICENSED RADIO STATION. Unless you are listening to us as a special guest (i.e. you are an artist or agent or record label for an artist we are featuring on our shows) you should not listen to our station if you do not reside in a UK territory. If you do so you may be breaking the laws of your own country, as well as cause additional fees for us. We love that you want to listen to us, but sadly, we have to ask you not to.
To be clear, we will never become a pirate station. Nor will we compromise on quality (CD-quality sound for example). But we do need to have a plan for the future and on how we cover the costs, at least so we're not all out of pocket significantly.
Apart from all that, we have used 2020 to really firm up our platform. Outages caused by internal issues are far and few between and our broadcast partner unMUTED (formerly shoutca.st) not only rarely have issues, but fix the ones they do have almost faster than we can raise a ticket (how many of you remember the days of L2MR when we would be off air virtually every week and sometimes for days!?). Our DeePlay server now has 10,000 songs on rotation and will soon be going up to 12,000. And new bands and artists are aware that we will play them if they fit our ethos.
But we're not footloose and fancy free. Read on dear listener.
The Facebook Problem.
We are being hit hard by the tech companies, all of whom are treating organisations like ours as annoying minnows who need to be squashed. Forgetting the efforts from OS and browser companies in 2019 to drive everyone to their own streaming platforms- we have, we believe, sorted that issue out- we have had Facebook hijacking our search points, blocking our links to the Forum, and stopping us appear in FB search for non-members unless we pay for the privilege. It is also increasingly unreliable as a live platform and causes stress during the shows as posts vanish, don't appear in order, won't open and so on. Despite all that, we have tried to keep an active presence for our FB users.
Now they have gone one step further and we need to warn our current FB users about it because it will mean major changes to how we use the platform.
The company is trying to force through changes in its T&Cs that means that the content of any weblink we add to a post in Facebook, must be given over to them for ownership, publication and republication rights and editorial rights. That means everything contained in the links to our player page and our Comment Here posts during show promos will be owned by Facebook to do with as they please.
This, clearly, we will not allow.
We are left with no option but to make plans accordingly that will enable the station to cope with the aggressive stance FB are taking.
We have made our Forum chatrooms the best interactive platform available*, making it more reliable and effective than Facebook and enabling us to present things during showtime that we simply cannot do on FB. To be clear, the Forum is not a Facebook clone, it does not work like FB (when FB even works!) and instead relies on a "chatroom" approach. We now have more Forum members than Facebook members. As it stands at the moment, we are monitoring and resisting the changes, but if FB do push the changes forward, ALL ACTIVITY EXCEPT FOR NEWS (WITHOUT LINKS) WILL CEASE IMMEDIATELY FROM THAT POINT.
We therefore advise all our listeners to add our player page and Forum page to your browser favourites. These are https://www.revolutionradio.online/revolutionone and https://www.revolutionradio.online/forum respectively. The different browsers allow favourites to be added differently- Edge has a little star at the end of the weblink, Opera a heart and so on. Find out how to store your favourites on your chosen browser. We also recommend you store us on your browser bar or banner so one click takes you to us instantly at show time.
We will slowly wind down our activity on Facebook from now in readiness for their attempt to cash in on all our work, meaning that more and more the groups will simply be for news and updates only. This means you should sign up to our Forum now and take time getting used to it, not only if you want to still be part of the live shows, but so you don't miss out of competitions, major news and events and so on. You can sign up using your existing FB account so you don't need new ids or passwords etc. (by the way, we NEVER see these). Just remember, the Forum is a chatroom, not a page. It behaves differently (and better) but once you get your head around that, we think you'll love it. Especially when the Member benefits come into effect later this year.
LICENSING FEES AND RULES
If things stay as they are, we may well just about keep going, covering the costs ourselves. But if the licensing bodies come for still more money, or continue to change what we can and can't do on different levels, then we may be in trouble.
What are we doing about it?
We are in constant discussion with the licensing bodies to try and make them see sense, not just about the way they calculate their licensing fees, but so we can bring back proper Showcases and War of the Worlds type specials. You can all help by adding your comments to any posts you see anywhere about how music licensing is run in the UK.
And, we are asking our listeners for help.
We have a DONATE button on our player page. If all our listeners donated just £5 a year, we would be able to pay for everything and invest in even more equipment for the station and pay our DJs a music purchase fund. We therefore ask you to consider making a small donation when you can. You'll not only get a thank you from Dee, we will also mention you in despatches live on air or in posts (although you can exempt yourself from this).
There are also various ads on our web pages so if you ever see an ad that has any interest for you, please click on the ad and view the page that comes up. Every click adds about 1p to our Google pot. And every penny helps.
Our new shop and the first wave of products, including tees, hoodies, posters and so on, will be launched by the end of February. We will, again, only make a £1 here, 50p there on each of the products, but every purchase again will help.
We also understand that all you have financial constraints of your own, so there are other things you can do too!
BRING A FRIEND
Tell your friends about us, get them to listen with you (when lockdown and safe practices allow) , help us grow our potential merchandise and ad-click revenues. Organise RRO parties on your favourite show nights and we'll try and send goodies to you to hand out on the night!
Be a DJ or tell your friends they should be a DJ.
We need new DJs and shows.
A monthly Saturday rock show (could be genre specific)
A weekend breakfast show
A fortnightly or two monthly Tuesday night rock shows (could be genre specific)
More afternoon shows
All requirements can be found here. But if you just wanna open the discussion, message me (aka Darren) and we'll have a chat.
We are thinking big. We will remain internet only, but we are looking at creating a central bricks and mortar studio which we will use for DeePlay, some live specials, including interviews with artists, and, we hope, a recording studio for a RRO record label. This will not happen this year, and it may never happen, but it is an ambition and we will use this year to explore if and how such a vision is possible to make real, keeping you all updated in the Forum.
So, fully accepting that all that is long term blue sky stuff, in the short term we are also going to do the following more down to earth activities:
Simplify the News chatroom so you know where to go for updates etc
Add more shows
Launch a brand new Music News page
Add more reviews and blogs and invite you to add your own/submit blogs
Launch a new shop
Go Mobile for recorded artist interviews to start with, aiming for LIVE broadcasts later
Add Member benefits to the Forum
Join the Revolution
As you can see, this has been both a challenging and exciting time for RRO, and 2021 looks like being even more so. Nothing is certain except the following fact. Our DJs will continue to bring you the best rock** music by fans of rock music. We're not going to put on airs and graces. We're not interested in competing with others, and we certainly don't want a slice of their advertising revenues (we still intend to keep advertising off the airwaves). We just want to have fun playing our favourite tunes with some dear friends from the comfort of our homes, with the occasional tipple in hand, and cookies in the jar.
We are Revolution Radio Online. All of us, including you, our lovely listener.
Keep on rocking!
* even getting a write up from WIX and significant coding changes from them cos they love what we do.
** of all rock genres