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Weekend Perspective: Week Oct. 21-25

Friday, October 25, 2013 - 5:10pm

RAIN’s Weekend Perspective summarizes the week’s important events for a weekend catch-up, and revives your blasted synapses for coming week.

 

PARTNERSHIPS

Clear Channel and Black River: The radio group added to its growing portfolio of partnerships with record labels. Details not disclosed, but this one likely follows the template of Clear Channels agreement with Warner Music Group: higher broadcast royalties, lower streaming royalties, artist promotions on radio. [READ]

MUSIC SERVICES & APPS 

iTunes Radio reaches 20M listeners: And media outlets indulge in fuzzy math by comparing iTunes Radio and Pandora audience metrics, which use different standards. [READ

YouTube music service: YouTube is the gorilla in the room when it comes to music services. Not formally set up for music, the platform is nonetheless rampantly used for music search and playback, especially by young listeners. RAIN analyzes whether YouTube would compete with itself by formalizing a music service. [READ]

Sirius XM disappoints subscribers: Unexpectedly and without explanation, Sirius XM dropped several popular Clear Channel stations. The satellite company’s Facebook page swarmed with malcontent. [READ]

...and raises their rates: In its quarterly call to Wall Street investors, Sirius XM (SIRI) showed off steep gains in revenue and subscriptions from a year ago, but also lowered guidance for 2014 and raised rates on subscribers. [READ]

Twitter #Music nearing the end: Not official, but reports have us believe that Twitter’s music no-quite-service, underdeveloped but sometimes fun, and only six months old, will be shelved. [READ]

Microsoft plays the Web: Xbox Music was updated, and one new feature struck us as unique and potentially disruptive: a way of building a playlist from any web site that mentions artists and bands. [READ]

Rhapsody courts CD buyers: The music service gives one-month free subs to CD buyers at Best Buy. It’s an interesting play for consumers who might not be converted from ownership to access. [READ]

Songza updates: The Songza app is prettified for iOS 7. [READ]

“This American Life” goes endless: The public radio program, hosted by Ira Glass, has an 18-year archive of shows. A new TuneIn stream plays them continuously, with zero interactivity, for total saturation. [READ]

British music service sailing for U.S.: That would be Pure Connect, which works seamlessly with Pure WiFi devices. [READ]

ILLUMINATION 

Jim Lucchese: The CEO of The Echo Nest, a music intelligence company, describes how it powers many of the features used by millions of people across hundreds of music services. [READ Part 1] [READ Part 2]

DASH conference: A two-day conference in Detroit scrutinized every aspect of the connected-car movement, from the viewpoint of radio, solution providers, automakers, aftermarket companies, car dealers, and disc jockeys. RAIN was there. [DASH Day 1] [DASH Day 2]

OUTBURSTS 

Dave Allen vs. David Byrne: It’s a blog-debate. Settle in -- each of these gentlemen is voluble on the subject of Spotify. [READ]

 

SiriusXM apparently drops stations; infuriates users

Monday, October 21, 2013 - 11:00am

SiriusXM appears to have modified its channel lineup on Sunday morning, to the acute displeasure of subscribers posting to the satellite company’s Facebook page. One ex-subscriber on the Facebook page who claimed to have canceled his membership remarked, “I’d rather use a crystal set in a thunderstorm” than continue receiving the service.

Affected channels noted in the comments include talk radio programs, Fox sports programming, and some terrestrial stations. RAIN has reached out to SiriusXM for information and comment; there was no response at the time of this post.

In August, RAIN and many other outlets reported that Clear Channel stations might disappear from SiriusXM, corresponding to Clear Channel’s divestment of SiriusXM stock. Indeed, several of the Clear Channel stations mentioned in that reporting (WHTZ/New York, WLTW/Chicago, WSIX/Nashville) do not appear today on the web listing of SiriusXM channels. Each of those stations is available on Clear Channel-owned iHeartRadio.

Likewise, station numbers corresponding to missing talk stations mourned by Facebook commenters do not appear on the channel list.

RAIN will follow up as additional information becomes available. Follow us on @RAINtwitter.

Clear Channel cuts revenue deal with Black River Records

Monday, October 21, 2013 - 11:00am

Adding to its portfolio of custom royalty-payment deals with record labels, Clear Channel reached an agreement with Black River Records, a country label whose roster includes Kelly Pickler, Craig Morgan, and Glen Templeton.

Details were not announced, but this deal could be modeled on previously-struck arrangements with Warner Music Group and smaller labels like Big Machine, Glassnote, Dualtone, Naxos, and Suburban Noize. The template includes new royalty payments to the label for terrestrial airplay, a cost that radio stations are legally exempt from paying under U.S. regulations. In the Warner Music deal, the label agreed to lower royalties for streaming play of its content by Clear Channel webcasts, where the statutory exemption does not hold. There is also a promotional component to that agreement, wherein Clear Channel stations commit to featuring WMG albums and artists.

Revenue-share deals that follow along these lines are sometimes skeptically considered a new form of payola. (See this critical article in Forbes.) The reasoning is that by giving up a portion of streaming revenue, which is bound to grow in the future, the label is essentially paying radio for promotion, plus a royalty for terrestrial play, which might shrink in the future.

Putting aside legal theories, it is deal-making like this which provides the radio industry with a rationale for rejecting governmental attempts to force radio into paying performance royalties to labels and artists for terrestrial play. The most recent proposed legislation is the Free Market Royalty Act, which would force royalty negotiations between broadcast radio and labels. (See RAIN coverage here.) The idea behind the slate of rev-share deals is to stitch together broadcast and webcast into a single royalty-paying framework.

QUICK HITS: Google expansion; iHeart deal

Wednesday, October 2, 2013 - 12:45pm

Google All Access expands to seven more countries: A search for this topic yields over 7,000 versions of a simple announcement: Google’s streaming and music-locker service is newly available in the Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary, Liechtenstein, the Netherlands, Russia, and Switzerland -- in addition to the 12 other countries already enjoying the service. Some portions of the commentariat are grumbling that there is still no Google Internet radio in Canada.

iHeartRadio gets Turner content: Clear Channel-owned iHeart has inked a content deal with Turner Broadcasting which will enhance its Talk offerings. Users can expect to see clips from CONAN (Conan O’Brien’s TBS variety show), as well as select sports and news programming. The Talk portion of iHeart’s app currently includes a strong ABC presence, and the Turner deal could provide some balance. President of Clear Channel Digital Brian LaKamp called the deal “a significant milestone for iHeartRadio Talk.”

iHeartRadio music fest to stream live on Yahoo Music and PS3

Wednesday, September 18, 2013 - 12:40pm

Clear Channel has announced its 2013 iHeartRadio Music Festival will stream live via Yahoo Music and the Playstation 3 gaming console (It will also be broadcast live via Clear Channel terrestrial stations nationwide).

The fest will also be televised as a two-night primetime special on September 30 on The CW Network.

Now in its third year, the festival takes place in Las Vegas this Friday and Saturday. Musical acts booked to appear include Justin Timberlake, Paul McCartney, Katy Perry, J. Cole, Elton John, Muse, Tiësto, and more.

Cumulus acquires stake in Rdio, will launch free, ad-supported music service

Monday, September 16, 2013 - 10:55am

Major broadcast radio group Cumulus and online subscription streaming service Rdio have forged a deal that gives Cumulus a significant online outlet, and not only affords Rdio access to the broadcaster's music programming, but allows it to launch a free, ad-supported service in the U.S.

Cumulus will sell ad inventory for the free service. The new service will likely feature a combination of Internet radio and on-demand listening.

No cash changes hands in the new deal. According to a press statement, "Cumulus will obtain a significant equity stake in Pulser Media, Rdio's parent company, in exchange for exclusive content, media and on-air promotional commitments over a five year period."

"This is our digital play," Cumulus CEO Lew Dickey told The New York Times in a joint interview Friday with Rdio chief Drew Larner.

Cumulus operates 525 AM and FM stations. Cumulus station streams are available on Clear Channel's iHeartRadio platform.

Dickey told the paper, "We’re trying to be much more active in the audio ecosystem than just passively handing our streams over. That has severe limitations in terms of our ability to monetize."

Rdio launched in 2010 by Janus Friis, the co-creator of Skype. It's available in 31 countries. Its most direct competitors are services like Spotify, Google Music All Access, Rhapsody, and Mog.

The New York Times has more here.

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