RAIN 3/27: With rate discussions on the horizon, Westergren says UK royalties still too high for Pandora

Michael Schmitt
March 27, 2012 - 11:25am

Tim Westergren, founder of PandoraWith the UK's streaming royalty rates set to expire in June, Pandora founder Tim Westergren tells paidContent: "We’ve seen no indication from PRS [For Music (the UK copyright collection society)] that it is prepared to offer economically viable rates for services like Pandora."

He continues, "The current rate demanded by PRS of 0.065 pence per listener per track equates to 47% of the revenue Pandora achieved on a per listener per track basis in the year we just completed, during which we generated $274 million in revenue and were the clear leader in monetizing internet radio."

Pandora closed its service to UK users in 2008. Westergren said then: "Both the PPL (which represents the record labels) and the MCPS/PRS Alliance (which represents music publishers) have demanded per track performance minima rates which are far too high to allow ad supported radio to operate" (RAIN coverage here).

Currently Pandora is only available to U.S. users.

Westergren argues that Pandora's absence from the UK market hurts artists and consumers. He cites recent Rajar figures that time spent listening to web radio in the UK was 35 million in Q4. "By contrast, Pandora alone streamed 975 million hours in the U.S. in just the most recent month," or roughly 32.5 million hours per day.

paidContentThe current UK streaming rates expire in June and will be reviewed after "informal discussions" between web services and PRS For Music, paidContent reports.

"But, unlike in 2009, when Last.fm and others joined the throngs of services demanding cheaper rates from the royalty agency, so far Westergren’s sounds like the only voice speaking up so loud for a further downward revision," writes paidContent.

You can find paidContent's coverage here.

Michael Schmitt
March 27, 2012 - 11:25am

Political web ad spendingJust before the Iowa caucuses, ads for Texas governor Rick Perry could be heard on Pandora's Christmas-music stations. According to the Wall Street Journal, that's just the tip of the iceberg in terms of how presidential candidates are using the Internet to reach potential voters.

"Spending on online political advertising is expected to reach about $160 million this year, more than seven times what it was in 2008," WSJ writes. "The increased spending reflects the importance campaigns now put on Internet sites and social-media networks."

"It hasn't hurt that technology has gotten so much better since 2008," said Paul Winn of Republican ad-buying firm Smart Media Group. "If you look at smartphone adoption and Wi-Fi, they have really jumped. Time spent online is much higher."

The familar advantages of web advertising -- like the ability to specially target users -- appeal to candidates. For example, users who search for "Newt" on Google see ads from Mitt Romney attacking Newt Gingrich.

Meanwhile, Inside Radio reports that Katz360 "has formed a new strategic partnership to lasso a larger slice of the 2012 political pie."

"We already have a seat at the table... We’re already engaged with consultants, candidates and political agencies that handle the business," said Katz360 president Brian Benedik.

Benedik will discuss more about advertising and Internet radio at RAIN Summit West 2012, where he'll appear on our panel "Charting Digital Ad Dollars." Joining him will be Gordon Borrell of Borrell Associates, Steven Kriztman of Pandora, Jon Mitchell of Spotify, Alexis Van de Wyer of AdSwizz and moderator Robin Flynn of SNL Kagan.

You can find out more about RAIN Summit West 2012 here. Find the Wall Street Journal's article here and subscribe to Inside Radio's daily newsletters here.

Paul Maloney
March 27, 2012 - 11:25am

Through their recently-announced partnership with Triton Digital, NPR Digital Services will offer member stations use of Triton's Webcast Metrics (for online listening measurement) and Ad Injector (for corporate sponsorship management).

"This is an exciting next step in our ongoing effort to embrace and leverage digital media platforms,” commented Bob Kempf, Vice President of NPR Digital Services, in a press release.

Read the press release online here.

Paul Maloney
March 27, 2012 - 11:25am

This sure caught our eye!

It's the Roth K Radio, with an FM receiver, Internet radio tuning (through wifi or ethernet), DAB (digital radio), and an iPhone dock.

The Roth K Radio isn't new, and it isn't even available in the U.S. But they just rolled out this new line of colors for the unit, and we couldn't resist adding this picture to today's issue.

Maybe the next time we're in the UK, we'll snag one!

See more on the Roth K here.