licensing

Turntable.fm forgoes hope of statutory licensing, signs direct deals with major labels

Thursday, March 15, 2012 - 11:40am

Turntable.fmInnovative web music service Turntable.fm has reached licensing deals with the four major labels, "allowing it to leave the legal gray zone it had been operating in and expand into international markets," writes the New York Times. We reported in September that such licensing discsussions were underway (here).

"Basically this means we’re legitimate," said the company's chairman Seth Goldstein. Turntable.fm apparently had planned to operate under a DMCA license, like those used by non-interactive webcasters. However, these latest deals, directly with the copyright owners, are likely more similar to deals services like Spotify, Rdio, and MOG have entered.

Turntable.fm allows users to essentailly act like a radio DJ, playing hand-picked music to other users in real-time. It incorporates many social and game-like elements too (RAIN coverage here).

The New York Times has more coverage here.

Canadian rights agency AVLA strikes deal with CBC for on-demand service, and with webcaster Mediazoic

Thursday, January 26, 2012 - 8:00am

Canada's CBC and the international Audio-Video Licensing Agency have announced an agreement that will enable the launch of a new CBC digital music service. The broadcaster plans to increase the online availability of its radio programming, including via on-demand services

Meanwhile, AVLA has also forged a deal with Canadian webcaster and digital music company Mediazoic for "reproduction" rights. (For its webcasting operation, Mediazoic has an agreement with Re:Sound to cover performance rights. Re:Sound is Canada's non-profit that licenses recorded music for public performance, broadcast, and digital.) In addition to their own webcasting operation and record- and radio-production facility, Mediazoic creates software tools for third-party organizations who wish to offer their own customized Internet radio stations. Renowned personality Alan Cross is currently a Mediazoic host.

AVLA represents the copyrights of more than 1,000 record companies and copyright owners, including majors Warner Bros., Sony, and EMI. Mediacaster Magazine reports AVLA members "own or control the copyright to most of the sound recordings and music produced, distributed and heard in Canada. It can license both the broadcasting and reproduction of members' audio and video recordings in Canada...

"Both AVLA deals are seen as clever and imaginative business propositions, and among the first such negotiated collective licenses in Canada for on-line streaming and podcasting of radio and online digital music programming," Mediacaster writes.

Read Mediacasters' full coverage here.

While prohibitive licensing keeps Europe off-limits for most U.S. webcasters, it's a different story for on-demand start-ups

Monday, November 21, 2011 - 1:05pm

Former Live365 exec Rags Gupta suggests the reason we see on-demand music services starting-up in Europe (and not, say, Silicon Valley) is that it's simply easier to license the content there than in the U.S. As such, "investors in Europe aren’t as jaded when it comes to music startups as their U.S. counterparts," writes Gupta. "Index Ventures stands out in this regard. Bolstered by their success with Last.fm, they’ve added Songkick, SoundCloud, and RJDJ to their portfolio in recent years."

This apparent hospitality towards on-demand start-ups doesn't translate to Internet radio, unfortunately. Fragmented licensing regimes from country to country make it a virtually impossibly expensive and complex matter to license music separately for every country. This means many U.S. webcasters (e.g. Pandora) simply don't make their streams accessible outside the United States. 

Last.fm (purchased by CBS for $280 million) and Spotify (now with more than 2 million paying customers across the 8 countries in which it's available) are two obvious examples of music start-ups coming out of Europe. Another is French-based Deezer.

"The minute that I tell the major music labels that I am not interested in signing for rights to the U.S., the negotiations over terms become much, much easier," Deezer CEO Axel Dauchez recently told Reuters. The company apparently has no plans to launch in the United States. 

Read Gupta's piece in GigaOm here.

New York Times talks to SiriusXM, SoundExchange chiefs following licensing uproar

Monday, November 7, 2011 - 12:00pm

Mel Karmazin, CEO of SiriusXMIn late October, artist unions and SoundExchange issued official statements protesting SiriusXM's attempts to directly license music from copyright holders, thus circumventing SoundExchange (RAIN coverage here). Reports of SiriusXM's direct licensing aims first surfaced in August (here).

“We think rights holders should benefit from a more competitive and open environment created by inviting individual labels to set their own value on their content rather than having to follow the industry collective,” SiriusXM CEO Mel Karmazin (pictured right) now tells the New York Times.

The NYT also spoke with SoundExchange president Michael J. Huppe, who said that "at the end of the day, what [SiriusXM is] trying to do is get content for less money." He said SoundExchange would continue to push in the opposite direction, asking for higher royalties from the satellite radio broadcaster. "We believe that content is already undervalued."

Comments the NYT: "Sirius’s move was only the latest example of a gradual shift in the financial infrastructure of music. Many companies, from major labels to providers of background music, have been trying to reduce costs and gain control by circumventing the large organizations that have historically processed licenses and royalties."

You can find the full New York Times article here.

French music streaming service Deezer expanding globally, but not to U.S.

Thursday, October 20, 2011 - 9:00am

DeezerDeezer -- a French music streaming service -- has announced it will expand to more than 100 countries in the coming weeks. It's avoiding the U.S., however, due to "the high costs and intense competition involved," reports Reuters.

Instead, Deezer will launch in nations like Indonesia, Spain, Turkey, Brazil, Korea and Mexico. "The minute that I tell the major music labels that I am not interested in signing for rights to the U.S., the negotiations over terms become much much easier," said CEO Axel Dauchez.

Yahoo has more coverage here.

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