2/14/13: Small webcasters meet with IRFA sponsor Chaffetz

Paul Maloney
February 14, 2013 - 1:10pm

As we reported yesterday (here), representatives of small business webcasters and independent musicians traveled to Washington, DC yesterday and visited with nearly two dozen House representatives and staffs. Their ultimate aim: the passage of legislation that not only would lighten Internet radio's sound recording royalty burden, but would encourage American innovation in this sector.

A dozen of these small webcasters visited with Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) to thank him for his House sponsorship of the Internet Radio Fairness Act (IRFA), and the leadership position he is taking.

Chaffetz spent 20 minutes with the group, making a impassioned and compelling case for the importance of Congress passing laws to encourage — and not discourage — American innovation.

The Internet Radio Fairness Act would change the legal standard by which judges determine the statutory rate for streaming radio. The royalty rates for most other, related uses of copyright sound recordings use the standards set in section 801(b) of the Copyright Act. The 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act made an exception for Internet radio, requiring rates to be set to what the judges felt a hypothetical "willing buyer and willing seller" would agree. The law would bring Internet radio in line with media like cable- and satellite radio, requiring rates to be set along 801(b) guidelines.

The IRFA was introduced into both chambers in the last Congress, and expected to be re-introduced this session.

In addition to webcasting professionals from operations like ShockNet Radio and HD Radio Network, several independent musicians joined the effort: Ivan Trevino of the instrumental rock band Break of Reality (more here), blogger and former member of The Rosenbergs David Fagin (read more from Fagin here), and country artist Bobby Ross.

Yesterday's group also included Liquid Compass CEO Zackary Lewis, Educational Media Foundation (EMF) in-house counsel Brian Gantman, and AccuRadio founder (and RAIN publisher) Kurt Hanson.

Paul Maloney
February 14, 2013 - 1:10pm

Radio broadcasters are beginning to grasp the reality that, despite steady (and high) cume, the amount of time Americans spend listening to broadcast radio is falling, most notably in younger demos.

Arbitron RADAR data reveal broadcast radio reaches about 92% of the U.S. population regularly, but 12+ TSL is off 3.2% from April 2010-March 2012.

Inside Radio writes today that while "there's evidence (growing Internet radio listening) is a factor... The issue may not be whether listening to streaming is cannibalizing broadcast radio but rather how much it is increasing listening to broadcast radio brands."

In other words, is broadcast radio listening falling, or merely shifting to a different platform? How much of this Internet stream listening is to broadcast radio brand content?

Triton Digital says, in December, broadcasters accounted for 22% of the web radio traffic the company measures, which means 78% goes to pureplay Internet radio. And that percentage as dramatically shifted in pureplays' favor over the last three years.

So, the likely answer is: Yes. Yes, some loss of AM/FM TSL to streaming is recovered by broadcasters' simulcast (or supplemental) streams. And, yes, Internet-only radio, satellite radio, online music services, and very nearly any other entertainment option, are taking a toll on broadcast radio listening.

Paul Maloney
February 14, 2013 - 1:10pm

Using its Music Genome Project database of song analysis, Pandora for Valentine's Day shared some of its insight into "The Anatomy of a Love Song."

"We thought it would be amusing to mine the Music Genome Project to identify what makes a love song tick. To do this, I've pored over the musicological data of 100 songs from two of our most popular Valentine's Day genre stations," Pandora music analyst Steve Hogan wrote on the company blog.

He found the use of acoustic instruments very important for love songs ("Over 60% of our top love songs favor acoustic instruments over electric"), while "the electric guitar is king" for heartbreak songs. Harmonically, "over 90% of Pandora's most-played love songs are written in major keys," while almost half of break-up songs are in a minor key, and another third are not clearly major or minor.

And what's the "rhythm of love?" "I recommend a tempo of 82.28 beats per minute, for this is the tempo of love," writes Hogan. Heartbreak songs, perhaps surprisingly, don't fall in tempo, but step it up to nearly 120 bpm, with heavier backbeats and more syncopation.

Read Pandora's analysis of love songs here. Happy Valentine's Day.