6/24/13: Lefsetz: Don't look for radio innovation, owners know it's "headed into the dumper"

Paul Maloney
June 24, 2013 - 3:50pm

Music and media critic Bob Lefsetz, as of April, has brought his inimitable style to Variety. Today in his column he harpoons broadcast radio as "Luddites (who) still believe the Internet didn’t happen."

He says the rest of the media world has at least acknowledged that we no longer live in a "monoculture" (for example, look how many television channels there are). And part of the problem, Lefsetz says, is that too many in radio believe that when Internet connections are widely-available, reliable, and easy and convenient-to-use, radio's a goner anyway.

"Insiders believe that there’s no revolution in terrestrial radio because the owners know it’s headed into the dumper," he writes in Variety. "They’re just milking it for all they can before it falls off a cliff."

While he accepts that Internet in every car is coming (and that's when SiriusXM may also be in trouble), he points out an Achilles Heel of online music services: their lack of human curation that is really the best driver of music discovery for consumers. Perhaps it's radio's lifeline.

"The challenge of Spotify/Rdio/etc. is... to tell their subscribers what to listen to. That’s what traditional radio has done best... curation is all about human effort, not algorithms," Lefsetz wrote.

Read his Variety column here.

Paul Maloney
June 24, 2013 - 3:50pm

The three surviving members of rock royalty Pink Floyd attacked leading webcaster Pandora today for its efforts to reduce its music licensing costs in USA Today.

An op-ed from the band seems mostly constructed around oft-repeated talking points from the RIAA and music industry lobby group musicFIRST.

After the record industry corralled recording artists for its campaign to stop the "Internet Radio Fairness Act" (more here) in the last Congress, Pandora began to reach out to artists for support. The webcaster hopes to show Congress that there are recording artists who value Pandora as a promotional vehicle, and understand that royalty relief may be vital to its survival.

Again, using the well-worn tropes of earlier music industry efforts, Pink Floyd characterizes Pandora's efforts as an attempt to "trick artists" in their efforts to "slash royalties." Even the peril of an "85% artist pay cut," and the accusation that Pandora wants "growth of its business directly at the expense of artists' paychecks," are nearly word-for-word rehash of SoundExchange press releases.

One more-interesting sentiment from the band's op-ed: They want Pandora's help to get them royalties from AM/FM radio.

"Artists would gladly work with Pandora to end AM/FM's radio exemption from paying any musician royalties," Pink Floyd wrote, in apparent belief that webcasters' lobby on Capitol Hill could achieve something the record industry's can't.

Read Pink Floyd's op-ed in USA Today here.

Paul Maloney
June 24, 2013 - 3:50pm

The Huffington Post will make Clear Channel's iHeartRadio the exclusive home for its HuffPost Live Radio webcast.

HuffPost Live Radio streams live programming twelve hours daily (10a-10p ET), and repeats during the off-hours, according to the New York Business Journal. Beginning July 1, the stream will be available exclusively on iHeartRadio's website and iOS and Android mobile apps.

Just to be clear, HuffPost Live (here) seems (right now) to be live and archived video content from Huffington Post. HuffPost Radio (here) is the outlet's podcast/on-demand segment.

The Business Journal's Dan Orlando points out, "in May, Clear Channel hired Brian Kaminsky, formerly of the Huffington Post to run its digital radio division."

The New York Business Journal's story is here.

Paul Maloney
June 24, 2013 - 3:50pm

Starting tomorrow, well-known public radio and television personality Tavis Smiley will anchor a weeday show on Blog Talk Radio.

The service provides a platform to allow anyone with a minimum of equipment and tech skill stream live talk radio... a sort of Live365 specifically for talk radio. It's Blog Talk Radio's first partnership with a national media figure, according to The New York Times' report.

Smiley will be paid a fee, and he and Blog Talk Radio will split ad revenue.

Read more in The New York Times here.