Congress won't likely touch Internet Radio Fairness Act until after elections

Monday, September 24, 2012 - 12:25pm

The webcasting industry-backed Internet Radio Fairness Act, introduced to both chambers of Congress on Friday (see RAIN here), made The New York Times this morning, and journalist Ben Sisario presented the complicated manner in as clear and straightforward a way as we've seen.

"Willing buyer, willing seller. Those four words would seem innocuous, but in the world of Internet radio nothing is more contentious," read the opening paragraph.

As we reported, the bill would move noninteractive webcast services from the "willing buyer, willing seller" standard to the one used to determine rates for SiriusXM Radio and cable radio like Music Choice (known as 801(b), which is also the standard that record labels are happy is used when the rates for royalty rates they pay to songwriters and publishers are determined).

"That model would let the panel of federal judges that set the rates consider evidence both on the value of the music and on the effect the royalty rate would have on the industry overall. Pandora and its supporters believe that standard would yield lower rates," according to The Times. "Record labels and artists... believe that the existing rates are fair and accuse Pandora and others of wanting to deprive copyright holders of the income they deserve."

Congress will likely wait to deliberate the issue until after the national elections in November ("and probably into the spring," wrote Sisario).

We highly recommend Sisario's concise and even-handed treatment of the matter, and recommend you share it with listeners and clients. You can see it in The New York Times here. Finally, for a clear and entertaining analogy that demonstrates why "willing buyer, willing seller" can't work, please see RAIN publisher Kurt Hanson's "State of the Industry Address" from last week's RAIN Summit Dallas here (you can also launch the audio from the box in the right-hand margin of RAIN) -- scroll ahead, it's near the end (about 20 minutes in) of the speech.

RAIN's bite-sized news round-up

Monday, September 17, 2012 - 9:00am

Bite-sized newsAs usual when conventions roll 'round, there's a steadily-building flood of news pouring from all sides of the industry. Here's a run-through of some of that news, served up in convenient bite-size chunks:

  • SiriusXM has updated its Android app with the on-demand and offline playback features it introduced back in early August. You can find more from Engadget here and our original coverage of SiriusXM's new interactive features here.
  • A new forecast from BIA/Kelsey pins U.S. spending on web daily deals at $3.6 billion for 2012. That's a 86.9% jump over 2011. BIA/Kelsey expects a further 23% growth next year. Find out more from BIA/Kelsey here.
  • TuneIn has announced new partnerships with more than 20 broadcasters, including Public Radio International (PRI), C-SPAN Radio, ABC Australia, mvyradio, WFMU, the Hearst Corporation and others.
  • Crowdsourced radio service Jelli names Pollack Media Group chairman/CEO Jeff Pollack to its strategic advisory board. Pollack says Jelli's potential to "drive ratings, share and revenue growth is impressive." All Access has more coverage here.
  • Marketron has relaunched its online client portal MyMarketron, which it originally debuted in May 2011. Marketron says more than 3,500 members are using the service, which now includes an extensive support knowledgebase. You can find Marketron's press release here.

SiriusXM, SoundExchange make opening offers for 2013-2017 royalty rates

Friday, September 14, 2012 - 12:55pm

Stock and financial analysis site Seeking Alpha is reporting that, for its upcoming royalty renewal, satellite radio outlet SiriusXM is offering to pay 5%-7% of its gross revenues to use copyright sound recordings, while SoundExchange is asking for 13% -- rising to 20% -- over the 2013-2017 term.

The Copyright Royalty Board set satellite's 2007 royalty rate at 6% of gross revenues, rising each year to 8% this year. 

Note that the CRB's determination (a) concerns SiriusXM's satellite transmissions, not its streams, for which it pays a separate royalty at a dramatically higher rate; and (b) this rate, in stark contrast to online streaming rates, is determined using the 801(b)(1) standard.

"With the survival of (SiriusXM) no longer at stake (as it was during the last determination) and lower capital expenditures required during the next license period, future rates that could be set by the CRB could easily be higher and much closer to, or even above, the 13% rate," predicts Seeking Alpha. Read more here.

While we're on the topic, Internet radio royalty determinations are currently based not on 801(b)(1) standards, but solely on the controversial, DMCA-mandated "willing buyer willing seller standard," which many industry experts agree is the key reason streaming royalties are so much higher than those for satellite and cable radio in the U.S. Congressman Jason Chaffetz in July announced he hopes to introduce to Congress the Internet Radio Fairness Act that would move Internet radio royalty determinations to use the 801(b)(1) standard that's used for most other royalty decisions (see coverage here). Industry legal expert David Oxenford explains the importance of 801(b)(1) here. Oxenford, a D.C.-base partner at Wilkinson, Barker, Knauer will moderate the "Music Licensing Roundtable" panel at RAIN Summit Dallas on Tuesday.

SiriusXM on-demand service allows offline listening, includes "never-aired content"

Tuesday, August 7, 2012 - 12:05pm

SiriusXM On Demand iPhone appSiriusXM has launched a new streaming on-demand feature, offering around 200 programs for instant online listening. That includes recent talk, comedy, sports and music shows, "selections from [SiriusXM's] vast audio archive," and "exclusive, never-aired content."

Though the on-demand catalog doesn't include every show offered by SiriusXM, the company promises it will be updated regularly with new content. 

The new on-demand functionality is available via SiriusXM's web media player and via its iOS mobile apps. (Android support is coming "soon.") Mobile users will be able to download to on-demand programs for offline listening. Users must subscribe to SiriusXM's Internet service (around $15 per month) to stream on-demand programming.

If this new feature sounds familiar, that's because SiriusXM has been teasing on-demand functionality for months (see our coverage from August 2011 here and October 2011 here).

SiriusXM On Demand logo

SiriusXM added more than 622,000 net subscribers in Q2, the company recently announced, up 38% year-over-year. Revenue was up too, beating estimates. SiriusXM now boasts 22.9 million subscribers and expects to reach 24.5 million by the end of the year.

You can find more about SiriusXM's on-demand features from its website here. Reuters has more coverage of SiriusXM's Q2 results here.

RAIN news round-up

Wednesday, June 27, 2012 - 11:55am

There's so much news to cover today! We wanted to make it quick and easy for you to catch up with some of the great coverage from our colleagues, so here are some important news items in brief:

-- Yahoo, Spotify team up: Yahoo and Spotify have announced a global deal, that will have the leading on-demand music service replacing Rhapsody as Yahoo's music partner, and is perhaps the net portal's biggest music move since it shuttered its own on-demand service Yahoo Music Unlimited in 2008. Read more in the Los Angeles Times here and TechCrunch here.

-- TuneIn, Adam Carolla partner: Streaming aggregator and tuning service TuneIn and Carolla Digital have partnered to make the latter's shows (The Adam Carolla Show, ACE On The House, This Week With Larry Miller, Penn's Sunday School with Penn Jillette, and more) available on the TuneIn service. Read the press release here.

-- Slacker, ABC Radio launch lifestyle stations: Webcaster Slacker Radio and ABC Radio have launched "Men's Life" and "Women's Life," gender-targeted online talk radio stations. Read more in PCMag here.

-- Howard on Google TV: Reuters reports SiriusXM will make all of its programming available on Google TV, including Howard Stern's shows, plus live sports. A new app will allow listeners to pause live content and play back up to five hours. Google's I/O developer conference starts today in San Francisco. Read more here.

-- Radio One and a former employee battle over website, Facebook URL: Read Tom Taylor for more on the new "Streetz 94.5" in Atlanta, launched by former Radio One programmer Steve Hegwood, and the battle over the and 94.5. Taylor on Radio-Info coverage is here.

-- Leykis, Lionel on Talk Radio online: At the 2012 Talkers New Media Seminar, talk radio legend Tom Leykis appeared with LionelMedia's Lionel on a panel to talk streaming and podcasting strategy. Watch video (by Art Vuolo) from here.

-- ASCAP, BMI, SoundExchange obsolete, says economist: Stanford economist Roger Noll, at the recent recently asked a group of attorneys at a recent American Antitrust Institute conference, suggests we now have the information technology which has "eliminated the reason for (royalty-collection organizations) existing in the first place. Digital Music News reports here.

Growing audiences for online, satellite radio push quarterly SoundExchange distributions past $100M mark

Monday, June 18, 2012 - 11:15am

SoundExchange today announced it has made $1 billion in royalty distributions to copyright owners since its inception in 2000 (read the press release here). What's more, this year SoundExchnage's quarterly payments have topped $100 million.

Today's New York Times suggests the story is good news for the organization, which "has been criticized for being slow to pay everyone who is owed royalties. At the end of 2010, the last date for which audited accounts are available, SoundExchange was holding $132 million..." for performers it couldn't reach and performances that couldn't be accounted for.

The paper also suggests SoundExchange is now challenged by "direct deals" between major content licensees like SiriusXM (which is suing SoundExchange for allegedly interfering in such deals) and Clear Channel (with its well-publicized Big Machine Records deal) and copyright owners.

Read more in The New York Times here. Also, SoundExchange's 2011 annual report is here

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