Digital radio now a third of all UK listening

Friday, February 1, 2013 - 1:30pm

According to new ratings figures, digital radio (broadcast DAB) in the UK now accounts for a third of all listening. That's 14% growth from last year, the BBC reports, "helped by better access to DAB receivers."

All digital stations saw their weekly audiences grow year-on-year, despite several stations losing listening in the last quarter of 2012. Digital Radio UK CEO Ford Ennals said, "Digital radio continues to transform the way people listen to the radio and one third of all listening to digital platforms represents an important milestone."

Figures from ratings service RAJAR show BBC 6 Music has overtaken Radio 4 Extra to become the leading digital-only station, now with 1.9 million listeners a week, 31% more than last year. Smash Hits is the largest commercial digital station, reaching nearly a million listeners. Smooth 70s hits more than 700-thousand.

Read more from the BBC here.

Music publishers not subject to rate court could cause big trouble for webcasters, experts warn

Friday, January 18, 2013 - 11:10am

The royalty rates at which webcasters pay recording copyright owners and performers can be (and usually are) settled by the government. The rates at which composers and publishers are paid -- if administered by ASCAP and BMI -- are settled in rate court (as per government decree). Thus, when the costs of performing copyright music are determined by a third party, webcasters such as Pandora can at least hope their interests are considered.  

But what happens when rights holders like Sony/ATV (which "directly controls an absolutely massive and critical catalog," writes Digital Music News) are no longer subject to government regulation (the group pulled out of ASCAP and BMI for digital uses) and can set any price they want?

We reported yesterday here, Pandora will see its pay-out to music publisher Sony/ATV increase 25% for the next year, according to the terms of a new settlement.

Digital Music News quotes "a source" in the publishing industry as saying, "This is the very tip of the iceberg. The 25% bump in going to get higher after the first year deal." What's more, Pandora's deal could also help rights holders that are subject to government regulation of their rates.

"ASCAP now has a real world, real market rate to point to, one that is substantially higher than what Pandora wants," writes Digital Music News.

The Pandora settlement with Sony/ATV "does establish a market rate," music industry attorney Steve Gordon told the news source. Pandora and ASCAP are in lititgation over rates. "ASCAP is now in the position of counterclaiming." 

Consider the thoughts of investment expert David Pakman (who testified before a House Judiciary subcommittee in support of the Internet Radio Fairness Act -- more here). He recently discussed the power tilt between the world's largest on-demand streaming service, Spotify, and the three major U.S. record labels (to which Spotify pays hefty licensing to peform recorded music). His thoughts have application here. He wrote:

There are now only three major labels. They control about seventy per cent of the world’s music catalogs... The world’s superstars are, for the most part, on major labels. And you just can’t operate a digital music retailer at scale without hit music content... they don’t have a service without the full catalogs from those three majors. If even one of them pulled their catalog, at least twenty per cent of all Spotify’s content would disappear. All the playlists on the service would break. And a third of the hits would be gone. Paying consumers would never stand for it and the service would crumble. The labels know this. They know they have fully concentrated power.

Again, Pakman's talking about labels and recorded music; Pandora and Sony/ATV is about publishing. But his point about unfettered, concentrated power applies.

Read Digital Music News here. More from David Pakman is here. (The photo is Sony/ATV CEO Martin Bandier, who doesn't seem to mind being visually portrayed as a cartoonish mogul.)

Music streaming services like Spotify generated 90% of Sweden's 2012 digital music revenue

Friday, January 18, 2013 - 12:25pm

Sweden "and its Nordic neighbors have long been seen as early adopters and innovators when it comes to tech trends," writes The Wall Street Journal today.

Today's specific tech trend: Music sales in Sweden are showing double digit growth, powered almost entirely by on-demand, subscription-based streaming services.

The Swedish Recording Industry Association says music sales were up 14% in that country last year. "Digital" music sales (that is, not CDs, vinyl, and cassettes) accounted for 60% of all Swedish music sales in 2012. And 90% of the digital music sales came from streaming.

Spotify, the world's largest streaming service, was founded by Swedes Daniel Ek and Martin Lorentzon in 2006 and first launched in Sweden in 2008.

Read more in The Wall Street Journal Tech Europe blog here and in here.

McLaughlin returns to CC/iHeartRadio programming team

Friday, December 21, 2012 - 12:50pm

Clear Channel announced today it's named Rich McLaughlin Director of Digital Music Programming for the CCM+E National Programming Platforms team.

McLaughlin was Digital Program Director for Clear Channel Digital from 2009 to August of last year, when he took a digital programming and marketing position with Merlin Media. Beginning January 2, he is to oversee the Digital Music Programming team and create new iHeartRadio brands.

He'll report to Tim Herbster, VP/Special Programming Projects.

Nominations open for Radio Ink 2013 Digital Awards

Tuesday, December 18, 2012 - 1:30pm

Industry news source Radio Ink has announced it is accepting nominations for the 2013 Radio Ink Digital Awards.

The awards are open to companies, stations, streams, and websites in seven categories. Nominations close January 21, and Radio Ink will announce winners at its Convergence 2013 in March.

Make your nominations here.

RAB shows Q3 growth for broadcasters' digital revenue

Friday, November 16, 2012 - 11:00am

The Radio Advertising Bureau reports digital revenue for broadcasters was up 8% in Q3 2012, a gain of 7% for the year's first three quarters.

"Off-Air" revenues were up slightly, spot revenue was flat for the period (see chart below).

RAB President and CEO Erica Farber said, "It’s most encouraging that advertisers are taking advantage of expanding digital opportunities offered by stations... These expanding platforms afford Radio broadcasters additional avenues to bolster Radio’s growth."

Read the RAB's press release here.

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