3/11/13: RAIN Summit to address royalties matter from vantages of services, labels, and artists

Paul Maloney
March 11, 2013 - 12:10pm

We recently announced that the webcasting industry's foremost expert on legal and royalty issues David Oxenford would moderate the RAIN Summit West panel "The Song Plays On" (in RAIN here). Oxenford and his panel will discuss current issues regarding Internet radio royalties -- from the viewpoints of services, copyright owners, and creators alike.

Joining David will be Ted Cohen (top right), Managing Partner, TAG Strategic, a digital consulting firm for the entertainment, technology, and mobile industries whose clients include the UK's Amazing Radio and Canadian Music Week. Cohen helped craft the licensing agreements that made the Rhapsody subscription service and the iTunes Music Store possible. He formerly served as SVP/Digital Development & Distribution for EMI Music and EVP of Digital Music Network Inc.

Like Ted, SomaFM GM & Program Director Rusty Hodge (left) is familiar to many RAIN readers and RAIN Summit attendees. Rusty first worked in radio in the Los Angeles area, but was soon developing software for broadcasters, multimedia, and founding Hodge Interactive to put radio and TV stations on the web. He first experimented with online radio in 1995, then officially launched SomaFM.com in February, 2000. The listener-supported service boasts over 20 expertly-curated channels of music, and streams over 5.8 million listener-hours a month. SomaFM also offers podcasts -- one recent podcast that may be of industry interest is a discussion on the new financial realities of the digital streaming music business and how to improve indie artists' situation (in two segments, here and here).

Also joining the discussion will be Brad Prendergast (bottom right), who is Senior Counsel for Licensing & Enforcement with SoundExchange. SoundExchange is the recording industry body that collects and distributes most royalties webcasters (and others that make digital performances of copyright sound recordings) pay. Prendergast works to ensure licensees are in compliance with the terms of their licenses. He's a gradutate of the University of Virginia School of Law and Notre Dame.

RAIN Summit West is Sunday, April 7 in Las Vegas. The annual full-day Internet radio conference is a co-located education program of the NAB Show. Now in its 12th year, the Summit focuses on the intersection of radio and the Internet. Keynoting the even will be RAB president and CEO Erica Farber (more in RAIN here) and Rhapsody International president Jon Irwin (more here). Register today, while flights and hotels are still readily available, via the RAIN Summit West page.

Paul Maloney
March 11, 2013 - 12:10pm

Clear Channel today introduced a feature to iHeartRadio that allows listeners to add local news, weather, and traffic content to their "Custom Stations" streams.

The new feature is called "Add-Ins," and uses content from Clear Channel broadcast properties.

"Custom Stations" is the iHeartRadio feature that allows listeners to generate personalized audio streams based on their personal music preferences (a la Pandora).

Once the listener has enabled the feature in Account Settings, "Add-Ins" will automatically pinpoint their location -– or users can set an alternate location by entering a zip code under the manual "Add-Ins" settings.

Paul Maloney
March 11, 2013 - 12:10pm

As powerful and important as computer algorithms have become for any number of problems, The New York Times reports today that human judgement is still integral for nearly any service using them. Since "computers themselves are literal-minded, and context and nuance often elude them," it's still very necessary to have "people evaluate, edit or correct an algorithm’s work... assemble online databases of knowledge and check and verify them... (and) interpret and tweak information in ways that are understandable to both computers and other humans."

Even at Google, "where algorithms and engineers reign supreme," humans are contributing more to search results, writes The Times (Just one example: Type a celebrity's name in the Google search bar, and you'll probably see a summary about that person on the right-hand side of the results page... those are drawn from human-edited databases.).

Read more in The New York Times here.

Firms like The Echo Nest use algorithms to assemble databases of "music intelligence." Leading webcaster Pandora uses its own combination of music analyzed by humans but assembled in playlists by algorithm (though likely with significant influence of the "thumbs up/thumbs down" listener ratings it collects). As a marketing strategy, several other webcasters recently have positioned themselves as "curated by music experts, not algorithms" (more in RAIN here).

Paul Maloney
March 11, 2013 - 12:10pm

Danielle Morrill is a 500 Startups mentor in residence and CEO/co-founder of Referly. She recently decided to change her company's business model when it became a "zombie startup."

"Any company that shows little to no growth in web traffic in the past year that claims to still be operating is probably a zombie," she wrote.

Referly's monthly userbase was growing quickly, but not revenue. So Morrill decided to the company's original idea was the wrong one. It will stop paying users cash rewards for generating purchases and move towards becoming a blogging platform.

She lists several hints to help determine whether your company has entered "zombie mode," like: "You haven’t hit 10% week-over-week growth on any meaningful metric (revenue, active users, etc)," and "You’ve launched a consumer service and have less than 2% week-over-week growth in signups." (She does add: "I’m not saying you need to hit 10% growth every week, but you should have hit it at some point like launch or some other PR event.")

If you come to realize your company is a zombie, don't waste time waiting to fix it, she advises -- get to it! You'll feel paralyzed at first, but you need to plow through.

Read Morrill's blog here.