broadcast

UK songwriters now earn more from digital players than from b'dcast radio

Thursday, April 4, 2013 - 12:30pm

An article in the UK's The Guardian reveals British songwriters earned a record £51.7m in UK royalties from digital music services in 2012 -- more than their take from broadcast radio.

"Digital music players are now the biggest single source of income for songwriters in the UK, having overtaken radio last year after previously eclipsing live events and pubs, according to the UK royalties body PRS for Music," wrote the paper.

Read the full article in The Guardian here.

Good news/bad news for broadcast streamers in January Net radio ratings

Friday, March 8, 2013 - 6:10pm

While broadcasters' streaming listening largely rebounded to pre-holiday levels in January, Triton Digital's latest Webcast Metrics data raises an alarm for AM/FM radio: just 20% of its online listening is happening on mobile devices.

The January online radio rankings report was released yesterday, and Triton Digital prefaced the rankings by revealing that those who listen to broadcast radio streams listen on desktop computers 80% of the time. While mobile streaming of terrestrial radio programming was indeed up 18% in January, that should give broadcasters pause.

It's generally perceived that the bulk of Internet radio's growth is on mobile devices. Already, pureplay Net radio listeners use mobile devices 70% of the time, and the mobile compenent of Pandora's listening is well over 75% by now. If mobile streaming is where radio listening is headed, broadcasters need to get in the game. 

[Then again, if you want to listen to a local station, in most cases, it's just as easy to flip on the radio... especially if you're in the car.]

Looking at the rankings, January brought significant returns for many AM/FM streams after listening fell off during the holidays (Trition Digital reminds the reader while both December and January were 31 days long, January had two additional weekdays, but December had an extra weekend).

ESPN Radio came roaring back 44% in January, for what looks to be its best month of online listening ever (one might credit the end of NFL season and the Superbowl for that). Cox was also up to pre-holiday form (up 31% over December), Cumulus was up 20%, and even CBS was up 18%. NPR Member stations were up 36%, but as always, that may reflect bringing new streams into the group.

While up just slightly since December, Pandora's year-over-year listening is up an impressive 53%.

See Triton Digital's January 2013 Online Audio Top 20 Ranker here.

Radio lobbies against royalties, labels counter with ad, nothing changes for webcasters

Wednesday, March 6, 2013 - 1:10pm

Lawmakers have made it pretty clear they don't want to hear about webcasting royalties any more -- including the Internet Radio Fairness Act -- before they deal with sound recording royalties for broadcast radio.

Inside Radio reports some radio executives are using the occasion of a conference in D.C. to visit with members of Congress and ask support for the "Local Radio Freedom Act." The non-binding resolution opposes any measure requiring U.S. broadcasters to pay sound recording performance rights (more from RAIN here).

Meanwhile, the record industry group musicFIRST Coalition answered with an ad in Politico (that's the image, full-size here), accusing broadcast radio of being "stuck in the past" (since other forms of radio like satellite, cable, and webcasters pay).

While the record industry publicly cites Internet radio as a paying customer for its copyright licenses, its representatives remain adamantly against measures that would likely bring webcast royalty rates in line with those paid by satellite and cable radio. The IRFA (more here) would require judges to use the same legal standard to determine statutory rates for streaming radio that they use for satellite and cable.

While satellite and cable radio royalty rates are determined using a legal standard known as 801(b), the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act requires Internet radio rates be set using a different standard known as "willing buyer and willing seller." Unlike 801(b), "willing buyer and willing seller" ignores the "real world" ramifications of a rate determination, and all notions of fairness and minimizing industry disruption -- considerations of the 801(b) standard.

So while satellite radio pays about 9% of its revenue to license copyright sound recordings, leading webcaster Pandora pays well over half.

A late-November House Judiciary subcommittee hearing on the IRFA quickly lost focus on the bill as record industry witnesses (and the committee members sympathetic to them) steered the discussion to the AM/FM exemption (our coverage here).

Writing in Huffington Post, musician David Fagin blames the AM/FM exemption for lack of progress on webcasting issues: "Congress is scared to go after big radio and their lobby, and the RIAA is 'just fine' with the status quo. In the meantime, both sides have decided to just kick each other's asses, instead." (More in RAIN here).

Radio faces falling TSL, but how much is due to digital competition?

Thursday, February 14, 2013 - 1:10pm

Radio broadcasters are beginning to grasp the reality that, despite steady (and high) cume, the amount of time Americans spend listening to broadcast radio is falling, most notably in younger demos.

Arbitron RADAR data reveal broadcast radio reaches about 92% of the U.S. population regularly, but 12+ TSL is off 3.2% from April 2010-March 2012.

Inside Radio writes today that while "there's evidence (growing Internet radio listening) is a factor... The issue may not be whether listening to streaming is cannibalizing broadcast radio but rather how much it is increasing listening to broadcast radio brands."

In other words, is broadcast radio listening falling, or merely shifting to a different platform? How much of this Internet stream listening is to broadcast radio brand content?

Triton Digital says, in December, broadcasters accounted for 22% of the web radio traffic the company measures, which means 78% goes to pureplay Internet radio. And that percentage as dramatically shifted in pureplays' favor over the last three years.

So, the likely answer is: Yes. Yes, some loss of AM/FM TSL to streaming is recovered by broadcasters' simulcast (or supplemental) streams. And, yes, Internet-only radio, satellite radio, online music services, and very nearly any other entertainment option, are taking a toll on broadcast radio listening.

Survey indicates Pandora listening not taking away from time with AM/FM

Friday, November 30, 2012 - 1:00pm

Vision Critical's new research indicates Pandora listeners spend more time listening to broadcast radio than non-Pandora listeners. What's more, on average, Pandora listeners' say their time spent with AM/FM radio has held steady over the last two years.

The charts from the research summary show that while non-Pandora users in the U.S. report spending just under 13 hours a week listening to broadcast, the average Pandora user tops 19 hours a week with terrestrial radio -- 50% more than the non-Pandora fan. The second chart shows that even over time, the average Pandora user reports spending slightly more time with AM/FM now than 2 years ago (or at least, is not spending significantly less time with AM/FM).

It's probably not controversial to say the typical Pandora listener is more comfortable with technology than the average person. So, perhaps it's not surprising the survey revealed Pandora listeners as much more likely to listen to AM/FM on digital devices than non-Pandora listeners.

A recent NPD Group study (here) seemed to show Net radio usage is cutting into music listening on more traditional media -- including AM/FM. Note that the Vision Critical study didn't ask about the format of respondents' on-air listening (music, news, talk, sports, etc.).

Pandora listeners in another recent survey (conducted on the webcaster's behalf) strongly favored the service over AM/FM regarding which was more "unique and different," "innovative," "engaging," and "connects me withe the music I love" (study here). But Pandora listeners told Vision Critical AM/FM has the edge in "easy," "convenient," and "helps me feel connected."

Vancouver-based Vision Critical surveyed more than one-thousand U.S. adults for the Canadian Association of Radio Broadcasters, "to better understand the potential impact on Canadian radio tuning in the event that Pandora, or a service like it, is launched in Canada."

See the Vision Critical summary report, "What Pandora Means for Radio," here.

RAIN Analysis: Naturally, we wanted to follow up on this with Vision Critical SVP Jeff Vidler. After all, the results of this study seem counterintuitive in light of Arbitron reports showing radio listening per capita declining -- declines that seem to correspond Pandora's gains.

Vidler suggested three hypotheses:

1. Interest in music is not a "zero sum" game. Flash back 100+ years ago and the consensus was that recorded music would kill live music performance. Then, radio was going to kill the recorded music industry. Then, in-car 8-tracks/cassettes/CDs were going to kill radio. But today, music is bigger than ever. Each new technology and platform simply provides a new way and a new reason for music fans to indulge in music — it’s additive. So it would seem to be for Pandora.

2. The enduring lure of broadcast radio is connection, not music. Pandora listeners, like most other folks, want to feel connected to other people, to what’s going on in their community and elsewhere. Broadcast radio does a great job at that. And, as music fans, they also want to feel connected to the music that other people like. Broadcast radio performs well there too. (The recent success of CHR radio may be the best evidence of this.) So, on this basis, it’s not that surprising that they might be above-average listeners to broadcast radio.

3. Arbitron isn’t capturing the full gamut of online AM/FM tuning. Do PPM meter-keepers, who listen through their headphones on their PC at work, or on the app on their smartphone, always remember to plug in their headphone insert? The study indicates that Pandora listeners are way above-average in listening to AM/FM on digital platforms, so it’s possible that Arbitron may not be capturing all their listening."

All three hypotheses make sense. The third is particularly interesting -- maybe apparent losses in per-capita AM/FM listening in recent years are really just an artifact of increases in headphone-based listening! -- KH

Classical radio fan mines playlist data to see if local station overplaying "plinky" harpsicord

Friday, August 31, 2012 - 12:05pm

Classical radio data miningKING FM (Seattle 98.1) listener Evan Muehlhausen doesn't care for harpsicords. But "over the past few years, I've noticed that when I tune to the station, I always seem to hear the plinky sound of a harpsicord," he writes. He was going to complain to the station, but before he did,  he "wanted to investigate whether my ears were deceiving me."

Muehlhausen collected and analyzed 30 days of playlist data (around 3,000 "playlist items") posted online by KING FM, assigning composer era information to the songs played. The result? "The data shows that KINGFM is innocent of the charge of favoring Baroque music [harpiscord's "heyday"] over other eras. Indeed, they play less Baroque than anything else... Looks like my own bias against harpsicord has affected my statistical judgment. Good thing I actually checked before blaming the station." 

So the next time a listener calls to complain, why not point them to Muehlhausen's blog post here? He helpfully explains in detail how he collected and analyzed the playlist data. Surely, any radio listener who cares enough to call or write would go through the same trouble Muehlhausen did.

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