RAIN 2/13: CRB appointments a question of constitutionality for Court of Appeals

Paul Maloney
February 13, 2012 - 11:00am

U.S. Court of Appeals D.C.The U.S. Court of Appeals for D.C. is being asked to consider whether the judges who serve on the Copyright Royalty Board, the body that sets the default royalty rates for Internet radio's use of copyright recordings, were appointed in accordance with constitutional law.

Intercollegiate Broadcasting Services, which represents educational institution-based broadcasters and webcasters, is appealing the CRB's final royalty determination for 2011-2015 (specifically, the $500 annual minimum royalty fee). As part of the appeal, the Appeals Court (just a step below the U.S. Supreme Court) this week heard an oral argument on the issue of whether the judges who make up the CRB were properly appointed.

IBSBasically, the Appointments Clause of the Constitution requires "Principal Officers" of the government to be appointed by the president, while inferior officers can be appointed by the head of an executive department. However, the Copyright Royalty Judges were not appointed by the president, but by the Librarian of Congress, who himself is not head of an "executive" department (but a department of Congress).

So, what happens in regards to the CRB's past rulings should they be ruled unconstitutionally-appointed? Industry attorney David Oxenford examines the situation further at BroadcastLawBlog.com here.

Read BroadcastLawBlog's coverage of the Copyright Royalty Board's 2011-2015 webcast royalty determination here, and our run-down of the different specific deals different webcaster groups made with SoundExchange for royalties covering this period here.

Michael Schmitt
February 13, 2012 - 11:00am

Spotify CEO Daniel EkIn a recent interview with Evolver.fm's Eliot Van Buskirk, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek (pictured) discussed royalty issues and the company's future plans -- some of which involve ground usually associated with traditional radio, like publicity and music curation.

"What's needed on top of [our library of 15 or 16 million tracks] is curated experiences," said Ek. That should include friends, he says, but also "trusted sources -- people who tend to be really, really good at music."

Spotify recently unveiled several third-party apps that help curate the service's massive library (RAIN coverage here). Some even create instant radio-like playlists for users.

Ek also said Spotify will delve deeper into breaking new musical acts "and [trying] to promote them as well." He argues that will help address the needs of musicians faced with a difficult marketing challenge: "Today, the media landscape is much more fragmented. MTV’s not about music anymore, and radio is even hard[er] to break through. There are tons of radio channels, and most of them play stuff people already know."

On the topic of royalties -- and artists who have recently pulled their new releases from Spotify -- Ek stressed that "this is a very, very different model than just selling a record.

Spotify"Spotify users are the exact same people [who] used to listen to music every day on YouTube, whose entire music collection was pulled off BitTorrent sites...Do you really want to hold back your album from people who are finally paying for music again? If you think that by doing so you’re getting them to buy your album on a CD, or as an album download, again, there’s absolutely no evidence to back that theory up."

He continues, "When someone creates a Spotify playlist, and they put an album or songs in there, they don’t just play them once...the sales cycle of that record is anywhere from four to 12 weeks in most typical cases. With Spotify, we keep seeing the effect up to 25, 35 [weeks], or even a year...And every time someone plays a song, we pay the music industry."

That argument was seconded by Radical.fm CEO Thomas McAlevey in an email sent to RAIN and other publication (in response to this Billboard article).

You can find Ek's full interview with Van Burksirk at Evolver.fm here.

Michael Schmitt
February 13, 2012 - 11:00am

MySpace RadioAfter a "free fall," MySpace is reportedly signing up new users again and seeing an increase in traffic -- developments one investor attributes in part to new music offerings.

The New York Times reports the social media service has signed up one million new users since December. Additionally, data from comScore reportedly shows "monthly traffic on MySpace rose in January, the first increase in almost a year." 

December saw the launch of a new streaming radio service from MySpace (pictured). It allows users to listen to a continuous stream of music either from a specific artist or for a genre (RAIN coverage here).

One of the investors who purchased the social network service from News Corporation in June 2011 for $35 million, Chris Vanderhook, says the growth is due in part to MySpace's music offerings and its 42 million track library ("several times more than Spotify or Rhapsody," writes NYT).

Vanderhook plans to continue "emphasizing [MySpace's] role as a music and entertainment hub," aiming "to be the conduit for music and other forms of entertainment that can be shared through other networks."

The New York Times has more coverage here.

Paul Maloney
February 13, 2012 - 11:00am

The new Retro-Fi app adds static and tons of compression to whatever you're listening to on your Apple device, to recreate the effects of listening to music on AM radio.

Radio Survivor blogger Paul Riismandel writes, "Maybe Retro-Fi fits into the Instagram/Hipstamatic trend in iPhone photography, where these apps add effects to make your photos look like they came from forty year-old Kodak Instamatic camera... I do understand why an artist or record producer may want to add a AM radio effect to elements of a song, (but) I’m having a hard time seeing why anyone would want to use this app for more than a few minutes."

We'll wait and see if AM radio broadcasters ask the FCC to make this app mandatory on all mobile devices.

Read RadioSurvivor here, and download the app here. H/T on finding this story to Radio World here.