8/12: Sirius XM reportedly seeking direct licensing to bypass SoundExchange

Friday, December 23, 2011 - 11:00am

Sirius XM is attempting to reduce the fees it pays for the use of copyright sound recordings by forging deals directly with record labels, and thus bypassing the statutory terms and SoundExchange.

(Read more here).

Artist unions and SoundExchange then protested the move in October. They called the effort "blatantly anti-artist." Read more here.

8/5: New Sirius 2.0 platform to include "Pandora-like" personalization by early 2012

Friday, December 23, 2011 - 11:00am

Satellite radio broadcaster Sirius XM will roll-out Pandora-like personalization features in early 2012 as part of their new Android-powered 2.0 service.

The service — what CNet calls Sirius XM’s “answer to Internet radio products” — will also include on-demand functionality, DVR-like controls and more programming. Details about the personalization features have not yet been released.

(Read more here).

SiriusXM brings its new Internet radio-like features to Apple mobile devices

Monday, December 12, 2011 - 1:10pm

SiriusXM's new iOS appsSiriusXM has updated its iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad apps with interactive capabilities from the satellite radio broadcaster's recently launched 2.0 service.

The new features include the ability for users to jump back to the beginning of a show or song, even if they started tuning in half-way through. The apps also now enable pausing, fast-forwarding through previously aired programming and rewinding.

SiriusXM's mobile apps stream programming via the Internet, rather than through the company's satellites. "This is a big move, as Internet streaming capabilities are becoming an ever growing segment of the audio entertainment sector," writes SiriusBuzz (here).

SiriusBuzz reports that SiriusXM will update its Android app with these features within the next six months.

SiriusXM unveiled its new 2.0 service, along with a new $140 radio receiver, in October (RAIN coverage here).

SiriusXM begins holiday programming today

Monday, November 14, 2011 - 11:00am

SiriusXMSatellite radio broadcast SiriusXM today launches two of its seven holiday radio stations: Holly (featuring contemporary holiday music) and Holiday Traditions.

Other stations launch throughout the holiday season and run until New Year's Day. You can find more information here.

Oxenford: "Music community seemed to favor (and expect) such negotiations" in 2005-2006

Tuesday, November 8, 2011 - 11:00am

David Oxenford, partner at Davis Wright TremaineSiriusXM's much-publicized move to obtain direct music licenses and thereby avoid SoundExchange has caused an uproar amongst artist unions and SoundExchange (RAIN coverage here and here).

But industry attorney David Oxenford (pictured) points out that SoundExchange's own witness in the Coypright Royalty Board proceedings of 2005-2006 expected this move.

"If the price is too high," stated SoundExchange witness Michael Pelcovits, an expert economist, "parties can (and are almost certain to) negotiate agreements for rates lower than the statutory standard. Thus, a rate that is set too high is likely to 'self-adjust' because of the sellers' natural incentive to meet the market."

Yesterday, SoundExchange president Michael Huppe told the New York Times (here), "Our mission is to maximize the value of the content...We believe that content is already undervalued."

Writes Oxenford, a partner at Davis Wright Tremaine: "In other words, the music community seemed to favor (and expect) such negotiations, before they were against them it in their statements today." Oxenford even argues such negotiations for lower rates outside of the CRB have already happened: the web radio royalty deals following the Webcaster Settlement Acts (more here).


So why is SoundExchange upset over SiriusXM seeking lower rates? "One possible difference is the loss of control," reasons Oxenford. SoundExchange was able to decide which webcaster deals would be precedential in future CRB proceedings (making most non-precedential, meaning they could not be considered in future CRB arbitration).

"Deals that are marketplace deals" -- including any direct deals SiriusXM is able to get -- "would not be afforded the non-precedential status." Meaning the CRB could consider any (presumably lower) rates SiriusXM reaches outside of SoundExchange.

You can find David Oxenford's full article and analysis at his Broadcast Law Blog 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.

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