RAIN 6/7: At House hearing, webcasters and broadcasters agree royalty rates "suffocated expansion of industry"

Michael Schmitt
June 7, 2012 - 11:40am

House hearing on "The Future of Audio"Yesterday's "Future of Audio" House hearing, as expected, centered on the debate surrounding radio royalties. You can find our original coverage of the hearing and witnesses' testimonies here.

Common ground was found between broadcasters and webcasters in the "broken" state of digital royalties. "While we [webcasters and broadcasters] might disagree on some points," said Commonwealth Broadcasting CEO/president Steve Newberry, speaking on behalf of the NAB, "we’d both agree the Copyright Royalty Board set a rate structure that has suffocated the expansion of the industry."

He continued, "If we want music streaming to survive, we need to find a better balance between royalty payments and platform growth which at the end of the day will help broadcasters and artists."

Pandora founder Tim Westergren agreed, pointing to Clear Channel's new deal with the Big Machine Label Group as "evidence that even for a company of Clear Channel’s size and business competence, they are realizing that Internet radio is a tough business... I feel like it’s just one more signal that something is broken in the royalty rate setting for Internet radio."

Pandora has reportedly spent more than $50,000 so far this year to lobby Congress to improve streaming royalties.

Legislators in the hearing applauded Clear Channel's deal. "It looks like it could break the logjam that has plagued this space — and best of all it doesn’t require legislation or regulation," said Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI). Former broadcaster Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) said, "This deal shows that radio broadcast stations and record labels can get to yes."

While RIAA CEO Cary Sherman also praised the deal, he said "we need an industry-wide solution not a label-by-label piecemeal solution and we don’t know if other radio groups will feel the same economic motivation to do a deal."

All in all, AdWeek said the hearing "didn’t reveal anything new." It simply gave "the opposing sides in both debates a chance to rehash old rivalries and open old wounds."

You can find more coverage from AdWeek here, from the L.A. Times here and from Billboard here. You can also find the witnesses' testimonies from the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Communications and Technology here.

Paul Maloney
June 7, 2012 - 11:40am

Triton Digital EVP Patrick Reynolds has a column in an upcoming issue of MediaPost's Media Magazine on the "pendulum swinging back" away from our current state of media and social overload.

Not long ago, Reynolds describes, you read a paper, listened to a handful of radio stations, watched a couple TV channels. Digital technology in the form of streaming enterainment options and social media soon made your options -- and info intake -- explode. "You're choking on all your choice," he writes.

"There’s a place between state-controlled and anarchy. New curation services are killing off the first-gen open spigots in favor of Intelligent Design of information flow," Reynolds explains. It's about "fewer trusted resources doing more...

"Spotify is adding more 'stations,' so you don’t have to do all the programming. Google has got its arms around all the information in the known world and has organized it so you can access it (whether or not you know how to spell or type) effortlessly. Next it will begin to parse it out to you before you know you need it in digestible nuggets that won’t give you heartburn. Sit back. Relax." 

Radio critics decry "the same 20 songs, over and over." But does "10 million tracks" serve anyone any better? Go ahead, give your customers the mountain, because you can do it now, and they expect it. But you need to give them a good map to the mountain pass too.

Read Reynolds' column in MediaPost here.

Michael Schmitt
June 7, 2012 - 11:40am

MOG and Ford SyncYet another streaming music service has arrived on Ford dashboards. The on-demand service MOG is now supported through the automaker's Sync system.

Listeners can control MOG playback via voice commands, just like they can already do with Pandora, TuneIn, Slacker, Stitcher, iHeartRadio and other music services. Commands include "Artist only," or "similar artists," or even "shuffle favorites." Users can even create presets like they would for AM/FM stations.

A connected smartphone is required to listen to streaming music services in Ford vehicles. Engadget has more coverage here.

Meanwhile, Mazda will add Pandora to its models later this year. Users will be able to control Pandora playback -- including thumbs-ups and -downs -- via their Mazda dashboard. Pandora-friendly Mazdas are expecting to arrive this fall

Pandora says it now has partnerships with 19 automotive brands. You can find its press release here.

Paul Maloney
June 7, 2012 - 11:40am

Public radio station KCSN/Los Angeles, which is owned by California State University, is now available on Clear Channel's iHeartRadio Internet and mobile radio service.

KCSN (88.5 FM "The Music You Want") is an Adult Alternative format and plays a mix of indie rock, "legacy artists," soul, electronic dance music, Americana, and blues. It's also home for legendary air talent like Nic Harcourt, Jed the Fish, Mark Sovel, Terri Nunn, and more. The station is programmed by veteran Sky Daniels.

Listeners can find KCSN in iHeartRadio's Public Radio section. There are now more than 1,000 broadcast and online-only stations on iHeartRadio, which also offers a Custom Radio personalization feature. Clear Channel says the iHeartRadio platform racks up 100 million listening hours a month.