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Pureplay of the Day: SpacesFM

Wednesday, October 30, 2013 - 12:10pm

If you need some space wedged into the middle of your week, SpacesFM (www.spacesfm.com) provides sonic vistas. Defined as “Redefining Classical radio,” the stream is more about electronica than formal classical music. That said, we have heard a couple of orchestral works today, and the station clearly loves acoustic piano.

The default Play button sounds good to us today. Supplementing the live stream are several on-demand curations, including Cinematic Pianos, a couple of indie label features, an artist stream (Sophie Kazandjian), and many others.

We don’t think of SpacesFM as a musically challenging station, but it’s not straight chillstep comfort, either. The mix is distinctive and intriguing.

A pop-out web player makes the stream easy to control while multitasking.

YouTube announces Music Awards nominees

Tuesday, October 22, 2013 - 9:15am

YouTube, which a music producer recently told RAIN is “the world’s biggest record label,” has announced its nominees for the upcoming YouTube Music Awards presentation.

The point here isn’t the nominated artists, but the often-disregarded reality that YouTube, ostensibly a watching platform, is a massively magnetic listening platform with an immense catalog. The upcoming awards seem to plant a stake in the ground that asserts what millions of young listeners already know -- that YouTube is a music-service gorilla in the room which surreptitiously competes with Spotify, Pandora, Rhapsody, Rdio, Slacker, and the other music-marketed platforms.

Anyway, the nominees are in, user voting will transpire according to a complex viral-sharing scheme described here, and the gala concert will take place on Nov. 3

Pureplay of the Day: Kosmik Station

Friday, October 18, 2013 - 10:25am

Friday is a day to revive one’s energy, both to finish the week with a blast, and to shoot into the weekend. Kosmik Station is a Radionomy electronica station (find it here, or use the Radionomy mobile app) featuring old-school hard-core techno. Sub-genres include Hard Trance and Hardstyle. Get the gist? This is a merciless stream, supportive of desk-bound mental workouts.

The station’s tagline is “Pump up your volume.” The RAIN editorial office is mixing Kosmik’s high-intensity audio with industrial strength French-press coffee for a day of neuron-electrified productivity. We suggest every reader follow our lead.

Radio industry group tries to block licensing rate increase

Thursday, October 10, 2013 - 11:00am

The cost of content is a shared issue in terrestrial, webcast, and pureplay balance sheets. Music licensing costs come as a patchwork of statutory and negotiated agreements. Stakeholders on the music content side include composers, performers, and labels.

Three organizations represent licensing rights and costs for composers and songwriters: ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC. SESAC is different from the others: It is smaller, and accepts creators through an application process rather than open admission to its portfolio. SESAC competes with ASCAP and BMI for clients, and negotiates licensing rates on behalf of its composers and songwriters independently.

Now meet the Radio Music License Committee. The RMLC sits at the other end of the bargaining table, representing radio stations’ right to use music in their terrestrial broadcasts and digital streams. The RMLS negotiates content costs with all three so-called PROs (Performing Rights Organizations). Radio stations may step outside of the RMLC’s purview and negotiate separately with the PROs, but most do not.

Here is one more difference between SESAC and ASCAP or BMI, which relates to a legal action happening this week -- action which could determine whether certain licensing costs rise for all radio, broadcast and Internet. ASCAP and BMI rate-setting processes are governed by a “consent decree,” an antitrust mechanism put in place over 50 years ago. The consent decree enables the U.S. government to arbiter licensing rates when negotiations fail, through an adjudicating committee called the Rate Court.

SESAC, because of its relatively small size, was not (and is not) included in the antitrust consent decree. This independence gives SESAC unique potential leverage in making money for its clients by levying high licensing rates on the radio industry. The most recent multi-year agreements between radio and ASCAP/BMI effected a reduction in licensing costs through 2016, according to David Oxenford’s Broadcast Law Blog. SESAC does not receive downward pressure from any outside arbitrating power.

The Radio Music License Committee filed suit against SESAC one year ago, seeking antitrust remedies applied to SESAC. The case has neither been dismissed nor thrown out, and has not progressed. Now, SESAC is due to deliver a new five-year licensing rate plan to the radio industry. RMLC has filed an injunction to delay the (presumed) rate increase, and negotiations of it, until the lawsuit is resolved. Inside Radio quotes the RMLC’s hyperbolic appeal to the court: “SESAC’s planned five-year rate hike would devastate the industry.” 

RAIN is looking for an Account Manager

Wednesday, October 2, 2013 - 12:45pm

RAIN Enterprises is looking for an industry-savvy sales expert to manage accounts for RAIN Summits and RAIN Publications. We are looking for someone with strong sales skills who can work independently. Knowledge of the audio marketplace, broadcast, digital or both, is a plus. If interested please contact Jennifer Lane: lane.jennifer@gmail.com

Apple reportedly has all finalized deals with all major labels and publishers in time for WWDC

Monday, June 10, 2013 - 12:15pm

[From Monday's early edition:]

Today's the day -- Apple is widely expected to unveil its long-awaited Internet radio product to developers today at its Worldwide Developers Conference. The service is expected to launch for consumers in September, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Launch of the new service was delayed by negotiations with music labels and publishers, and the final deals weren't finalized until late last week (see RAIN here) (the final publishing holdout, Sony/ATV, has apparently reached an agreement with Apple -- see CNet's reporting here).

The Journal reports that two of the tougher matters to settle were "the point at which Apple must begin sharing ad revenue with the labels and the minimum guarantee it would offer as an insurance policy." There was also disagreement over "whether Apple will have to pay for songs listeners skip — it won't under some deals — and how well it should compensate music publishers."

All Things Digital's Peter Kafka writes today that "If Apple wants to generate real ad money for iRadio, then that means it has to try to crack the market for radio ads. And that is a very, very un-Appley business.... It doesn’t really matter what kind of precision targeting the Internet offers — the bulk of that $14 billion comes from local ad sales," he wrote. "And it’s a slog." Read more from Kafka here.

According to the paper's sources, Apple will pay the labels about half of the ad revenues, with publishers getting only 10% (which is actually more most webcasters and broadcasters pay).

Read more from The Wall Street Journal here.

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