TuneIn "liberal" and "conservative" listening nearly matches swing state results

Thursday, November 8, 2012 - 1:10pm

On Monday, the day before Election Day, radio streaming aggregator and mobile service TuneIn made public a graphic showing "listener engagement" by political leaning across nine "toss-up" states during October.

Interestingly, (as Audio4Cast's Jennifer Lane points out today), the graphic is remarkable in that in all but two of the states won by President Obama, people spent more time, on average, listening to programming classified as "liberal" than to "conservative" programming. (Note, this assumes that Florida ends up in Obama's column.)

Only Nevada and New Hampshire saw slightly more conservative "engagement" (as TuneIn calls it) yet were captured by Obama. North Carolina, which went for Governor Romney (but Obama in 2008), had more listening to liberal programming.

Overall, average daily listening for the month tilted more towards liberal programming (that is, the chart uses the DNC symbol of the donkey, so we assume TuneIn means "liberal = Democratic"): 86 minutes per listener to 76 minutes per listener for conservatives/Republicans. Iowa and Florida, the states with the highest margin of "liberal" listening over "conservative" listening, also had the most overall listening (over 200 minutes daily per listener in Iowa's case).

Pandora's Westergren: Nadler's legislation would only worsen "astonishingly unfair" royalty situation

Thursday, August 23, 2012 - 12:05pm

Nadler's oppositionNew draft legislation from U.S. Representative Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) has sparked backlash from webcasters and broadcasters alike. The bill's opponents say it discrimnates against new technology and would kill jobs.

Nadler's bill, the Interim FIRST Act, would raise streaming royalty costs for AM/FM broadcasters by imposing an extra fee (essentially adding an over-the-air performance royalty to broadcasters' streaming bills; RAIN coverage here). It would also potentially raise royalty rates for satellite and cable radio by shifting those platforms' rate determinations to the "willing buyer/willing seller" model, instead of the 801(b) standard.

"Fairness demands that all music related rate settings utilize the same 801(b) standard," argued Pandora founder Tim Westergren in a statement.

Westergren called the current royalty system "astonishingly unfair," with Internet radio paying substantially higher rates than other radio platforms. Pandora paid nearly 70% of total revenue to royalties (based on its Q1 FY 2013), compared to SiriusXM which pays about 8%.

"Congressman Nadler’s discussion draft would only perpetuate this hypocrisy and worsen an already flawed legislative mistake that is discriminating against new technology and hampering innovation."

Cathy Rought of the Free Radio Alliance (FRA) said Nadler's bill "is misguided and would cause irreversible harm to free and local radio" (more here). The FRA continues on its blog (here): "It's clear that the ultimate objective is a back door attempt at a performance tax."

NAB spokesperson Dennis Wharton agreed, saying the draft legislation "fails to recognize" radio's "unparalleled promotional value" and "would kill jobs" at radio stations.

The National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) also "strongly opposes" Nadler's legislation, writing in a statement that it "would place a new and unwarranted burden on many Christian radio broadcasters" (more here).

Westergren quoteTechDirt's Mike Masnick writes (here), "As it stands now, [royalty] rates are so damaging that Pandora -- the top player in the space -- has made it clear it may never be profitable. Yes, never. Nadler's bill would effectively make sure that no one else in that market would be profitable either. The end result? Many of these services don't exist or never get started. That would actually mean fewer services, fewer listeners and lower royalties."

Nadler's bill has the support of the musicFIRST Coalition, which argues it would implement a system "that treats artists and platforms fairly and equally." Nadler thinks his bill would "both level the playing field for Internet radio and ensure that artists are fairly compensated."

Pandora disagrees, instead supporting legislation from Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT). Chaffetz's bill, the Internet Radio Fairness Act of 2012, would move web radio royalty rate determinations to the 801(b) standard -- the same standard currently used to set rates for radio delivered via satellite, cable and other platforms (RAIN coverage here).

"Congress should embrace the Chaffetz approach," said Westergren. The Hill has more coverage here.

Is political advertising, especially when it's not from "your guy," more intrusive than other marketing?

Thursday, August 9, 2012 - 1:20pm

ProPublica reports "it's not clear why" a pop-up ad for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney appeared on North Carolina resident Crystal Harris' mobile phone screen — "whether she was targeted, because, for instance, she lives in a swing state, or because she was listening to Garth Brooks."

As they announced in November, Pandora is offering its audience targeting capability to political advertisers (see RAIN here). The webcaster can indeed "send ads to particular listeners based on their favorite artist or type of music, as well as by their age, gender and state, county or congressional district." USA Today adds that Connecticut Senate hopeful Republican Linda McMahon and Wisconsin Democrats who had hoped to recall that state's Governor Scott Walker have also used the webcaster's platform for targted ads.

But just because Ms. Harris lives in North Carolina and is a country music fan, that doesn't mean she's interested in hearing from Mitt Romney. "Don't harass me on my email. Don't stalk me on the apps that I use. To me, that just crossed the line," Harris told ProPublica.

"We don’t get it," writes Eliot Van Buskirk in the Evolver.fm blog. "Flip on a television, and you’ll see all sorts of advertisements, assuming you don’t know how to use your DVR. Those are targeted based on where you live and what you’re watching. Why should music apps be any different?"

Perhaps it's indicative of the struggles online publishers and content producers face in trying to monetize their businesses on a medium (the Internet) that taught consumers content is free. Most services are lucky to convert 5% of people who sample to a subcription plan. Free services are left only to run ads, or ask for donations (which often meets with gripes and groans from users as well). Or, do you supposed it's not the presence of advertising, but the nature of it (in this case, sending an ad for a Republican to a registered Democrat)? That politics can be so offensive to our sensibilities that we're far more outraged at being targeted by politicians than by, say, laundry detergent? 

Read more in ProPublica here, USA Today here, and Evolver.fm here.

Stitcher finds smartphone listeners more likely to dial in liberal news/talk content than conservative

Thursday, August 2, 2012 - 11:35am

Podcast aggregator for mobile devices Stitcher recently surveyed listeners who tuned to political content, and published the trends in an interesting set of charts in the Stitcher blog (by the way, please click on the image to see a much larger and more readable version).

It seems 62% of podcast content streamed to iPhones was categorized as "liberal," with just 34% considered "conservative" (4% "independent"). The split wasn't quite as drastic on the Android mobile platform -- 55%/39%/6% -- but still certainly leaned liberal.

It's also interesting to see how different issues dominate the content depending where the listener is: in "Obama" states, "Romney" states, or in swing state (which you can see in the charts).

"Smartphone listeners are also spending more time listening to international news, double the amount compared to terrestrial radio listeners," according to the Stitcher blog. "Android listeners tend to be the most global savvy, spending on average on quarter of all listening time with international content."

Read the Stitcher blog here.



Chaffetz's Internet Radio Fairness Act aims to help streaming broadcasters, not just Pandora

Friday, July 20, 2012 - 12:15pm

Broadcaster streamingYesterday we reported on in-progress legislation from Utah Republican Congressman Jason Chaffetz that would aim to change the way Internet radio royalties are determined (RAIN coverage here).

Other trade publications also covered the story, but some presented the issue as "Pandora's fight," more or less: "Pandora’s in Washington, pushing for a 'level playing field' on its biggest expense – royalties" (here) and "Congress may help Pandora cut royalties" (here), for example.

But this is (or at least should be), broadcasters' fight, too. Broadcasters -- not just Pandora and other pureplay web radio services -- could have much to gain from what Chaffetz is trying to accomplish.

The statutory performance royalty rate for broadcasters' online streams, like pureplay webcasters, is currently determined by the Copyright Royalty Board using the "willing buyer/willing seller" standard. And that arguably led to rates for broadcasters so high for the 2006-2015 period that the NAB had to cut a separate deal with SoundExchange (just like Pandora and other webcasters did, RAIN coverage here).

The lower rates reached by that separate deal are still apparently unattractive, at least for Clear Channel, which recently cut a deal with Big Machine that exchanged a share of on-air revenue for a break on web royalties (RAIN coverage here and here). The company is reportedly hoping to make other such deals, a good illustration that the largest player in radio sees a future online, but recognizes that royalty rates need to change to better realize that future.

Chaffetz's bill, the Internet Radio Fairness Act, would reportedly move streaming radio royalty determinations to the more prevalent 801(b) standard, the same standard used for satellite radio and cable radio royalty rates. You can find more on the pending bill and the 801(b) standard in our earlier coverage here.

One could also argue that somewhat lower royalty rates will most likely benefit copyright owners too, since high rates are currently inhibiting investment in and the growth of the sector. Higher listening levels to Internet radio could mean greater royalties available to composers, artists, and labels.

All that said, it's important to remember that nothing in Chaffetz's bill -- which is still unfinished -- would actually change web radio royalty rates themselves. It would only change the way in which they are determined, opening the potential for fairer rates in the future.

Additionally, though Chaffetz says he's aiming for parity between music platforms, nothing in his bill reportedly deals with a performance royalty for traditional AM/FM broadcasts.

The Utah Congressman says he’ll determine the next steps for his bill by the end of the month. "We’ll probably get disrupted with the August break, but despite the present election, we’ll keep going forward," he told The Hill (here).

Echo Nest launches new tool to connect users to radio stations, and each other, based on their musical interests

Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - 12:00pm

The Echo NestThe Echo Nest is looking to give webcasters and developers more tools that analyze the social (and perhaps even the political) aspects of music.

The company has just announced the launch of Taste Profile Similarity, a tool which gives services (like iHeartRadio and Spotify's radio service, both of which use The Echo Nest) the ability to connect different users based on similar music interests. It can also be used, points out The Echo Nest, to automatically suggest specific streaming radio stations to users based on their taste in music.

"Taste Profiles help us understand which music a listener likes or doesn’t like with precision, so we can make personalized playlists more relevant across a variety of services," The Echo Nest writes at its blog.

To showcase the new tool, the company has launched a web capp called "What's your stereotype?" You can punch in your favorite artists and the site will place you in a musical stereotype category. Try it out here and read more here.

The Echo Nest has also used its Taste Profiles to discover what musical interests say about about users' politics. For example, The Echo Nest found that Republicans appear to have less diverse taste in music than Democrats, that Kenny Chesney fans are most likely to be Republican and that Rihanna fans most likely to be Democrat.

You can read much more in the company's blog post here.

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