6/11/13: Greater Media's Smyth is gonna keep on streaming

Paul Maloney
June 11, 2013 - 12:30pm

Greater Media chairman and CEO Peter Smyth has long been known as one of the more forward thinking group heads, embracing new media technology and looking beyond the traditional modes and methods of the radio business. Yesterday he answered some of his colleagues' reluctance to to make a real commitment to streaming.

Putting it in terms of the "short game" versus "long game," Smyth acknowleged that online streaming is not yet where it needs to be for broadcasters looking to shore up every cost and squeeze every penny of revenue out of their assets. But streaming's low revenue and technological imperfections are merely today's "growing pains" through which the industry will need to persevere.

Greater Media owns more than 20 stations total in the markets of Boston, Charlotte, Detroit, New Jersey, Philadelphia -- as well as several weekly newspapers in New Jersey.

Smyth insists his company's dedication to streaming, ad-insertion, and an expanding online presence isn't the easy road, but it's the right one: "There is a greater goal to be attained and that is to keep our local brands viable and relevant to rapidly changing audience habits," he wrote.

"We no longer have the luxury of regulated competition within a defined piece of real estate; we have to make every effort to entertain and deliver to advertisers as many highly targeted listeners as possible, wherever we can acquire them," he continued. "Platforms, geography, delivery, media-buying and media usage are all changing and we have to keep pace. This is the real definition of our competitive landscape."

Read Smyth's "From the Corner Office" column here.

Paul Maloney
June 11, 2013 - 12:30pm

We're written several times about U.S. Register of Copyrights Maria Pallante's efforts to spur Congress to reform copyright law.

The usage, creation, and consumption of copyright material in 2013 is massively different than even 15 years ago, when the Digital Millennium Copyright Act was passed -- the last major update to copyright law. Many of the concepts created even that recently no longer fit today's reality.

Streaming radio legal and royalties expert David Oxenford summarized some of Pallante's thinking today. He wrote of Pallante aims for updated copyright laws:

"Copyright owners must have the meaningful ability to protect the content that they create. But the public must also be able to access that content in a meaningful ways. Both creators and users of content have responsibilities to participate in the larger copyright economy to make sure that it functions properly."

He cited Pallante's call for "a full performance right in sound recordings," which we wrote about here. While we wrote specifically about a potential broadcast royalty obligation for sound recordings, Oxenford points out that Pallante's assertion could potentially mean sound recording royalties for "bars, restaurants, stadiums, and all other venues where recorded music is performed." (Like broadcast radio in the U.S., today these venues pay publishers and songwriters to publicly perform copyright song compositions, but not for recordings.)

There's more, and we recommend reading Oxenford's summary of Pallante's thinking in Broadcast Law Blog here.

Paul Maloney
June 11, 2013 - 12:30pm

RAIN publisher Kurt Hanson is in New York this week for the New Music Seminar conference, and sent along a couple snapshots.

Kurt spoke yesterday on a SoundExchange-presented panel called "The Digital Radio Explosion – The Fuse is Lit." The panel was moderated by Andrew Hampp, Senior Correspondent, Branding, at Billboard. Joining Kurt on the panel were Brian Benedik (Head of U.S. Ad Sales, Spotify), Rick Song (EVP of Digital Sales, Clear Channel), Alex White (CEO, Next Big Sound), John Rosso (President, Market Development, Triton), Steven Kritzman (Sr. VP of Advertising Sales, Pandora), and Sara-Beth Donovan (VP Director of Media Mintz + Hoke).

You can see thumbnail photos of Tommy Boy Records founder Tom Silverman's State of the Industry opening speech; and panel discussions "Music Subscription: Getting To A Billion – Building A Strategy For Success" and "SoundExchange Presents: Radio on the Edge."

Click the thumbnail photos to see the full-size image. Check out the panel descriptions and rosters (so you know who's in the photos) here.

Below: Tom Silverman on stage.

Pictured below: "Music Subscription: Getting To A Billion – Building A Strategy For Success." Pictured left-to-right: Moderator Stephen Bryan (Executive Vice President, Digital Strategy and Business Development, Warner Music Group), Mark Piibe (Executive Vice President, Global Business Development and Digital Strategy, Sony Music Entertainment), Sachin Doshi (Head of Development and Analysis, Spotify), Jim Cady (President & CEO, Slacker), Andy Chen (CEO, WIMP), and Jon Irwin (President, Rhapsody).

Below: "SoundExchange Presents: Radio on the Edge." Pictured left-to-right: Mike Dougherty (CEO, Jelli Radio), Kevin King (Fuzz.com), Stephen Valenta (Reporting/Finance/Ad Ops, 8Tracks), Eric Davich (Co-Founder/COO, Songza), Paul Campbell (CEO, Amazing Radio), and moderator Corey Denis (VP Digital Strategy & Marketing, Toolshed).

Paul Maloney
June 11, 2013 - 12:30pm

We're certainly seeing lots of coverage and reaction to yesterday's unveiling of Apple's new iTunes Radio. You've probably come across a bunch yourself, but we wanted to steer you towards a few interesting pieces:

  • Forbes' take is iTunes Radio will usher in positive expansion and growth for the record industry and Internet radio alike: Increased industry revenue; "mass acceptance" of music streaming; enhanced music discovery; and increased artist/songwriter royalties. Read the details in Forbes here.
  • Music Industry Blog says while it's true Apple has probably taken the "conservative me-too strategic option rather than bringing new transformative innovation," the new service should be seen (mostly) as a way to sell iPads and iPhones. Once all our data is in the cloud, the blog argues, device storage capability isn't as important, and device prices will fall, thus Apple's slow approach. Read more here.
  • A New Music Seminar panel in New York on Monday (which featured RAIN publisher Kurt Hanson, see more in today's issue here) featured several execs from companies who now find themselves in direct competition with Apple. Representatives of Pandora, Clear Channel, Spotify, and others welcomed Apple's entry as a validation of their own businesses, according to Billboard. Read more here.
  • Similarly, Pandora issued a statement yesterday about iTunes Radio, saying it brings Apple "on par with other streaming music services that have added radio into their feature sets." Pandora pointed to its 13-year history with Internet radio as a focus, not a feature. Slacker CEO Jim Cady pointed out Apple's closed ecosystem, saying "Walled gardens don’t benefit listeners and Slacker believes in the importance of giving users true freedom to access their content." Read more in Hypebot here and here.