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RAIN 10/4: RAIN Summit East panel surveys challenging royalty landscape

Posted on: 10/04/2010

PANELISTS DISCUSS DIFFICULTIES, PIT-FALLS OF CRB

As David Oxenford joked, discussing royalties is usually a “buzzkill” at gatherings like RAIN Summit East. And sure enough, adjectives used by panelists included “difficult,” “expensive,” “difficult,” “time-consuming” and “difficult.” You get the picture.

And it’s been a long process. Oxenford pointed out that “we’ve been talking about royalties for 12 years..and we’ve really been fighting about them for about that long a time.” While over 95% of webcasters are now covered by negotiated settlements until 2015, the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) process for the 2011-2015 rates are currently underway.

Though fewer than 5% of webcasters will be affected by the 2011-2015 CRB decision (that group notably includes Live365), Oxenford argued that the whole industry should pay attention. “While technically each time the CRB looks at the facts anew…practically speaking they look at what was done in the previous 5 year period and figure out where to go from there.” What happens now may “set the stage” for the 2015 arbitration process and may affect of the industry as a whole, despite current deals.

Denise Leary of NPR voiced complaints at how difficult models like “willing buyer, willing seller” and the CRB process as a whole are for not-for-profits. “When Congress says ‘go out and cut a deal,’ it’s not easy,” what with the large number of independent labels NPR deals with and the variety of delivery methods (streams, on-demand, podcasts, etc.)

“I’d like to think there is some sort of alternative device” to setting royalties, Leary said, like in Europe where there’s platform parity. “What is it about that system that allows royalty rates to be set at a reasonable standard?”

DiMA’s Lee Knife pointed out that the CRB process is so distasteful for broadcasters that the NAB included an exemption from CRB arbitration in their recent proposal for over-the-air performance royalties. If you go back 10 years, Knife said, terrestrial broadcasters and the NAB were “more than happy” to see expensive royalties and a time-consuming process slapped on those “digital upstarts…now all of a sudden what [broadcasters are] desperately trying to avoid” is the very same situation.

The panel was moderated by Radio-Info’s Tom Taylor.

AUDI CONCEPT CAR BOASTS INTERNET RADIO

Audi’s Quattro Concept model packs plenty of features for auto aficionados to drool over, including a Net radio-friendly dashboard. Like other systems from Ford, Mini and GM, Audio uses the driver’s smartphone to connect to the web. CNet reports (here), “There’s no word as to whether the Quattro Concept will go into production, but we’ve got our fingers crossed.”

MANUFACTURERS START REVEALING STEREOS EQUIPPED WITH APPLE’S WIRELESS MUSIC SYSTEM AIRPLAY

AirPlay is Apple’s coming wireless music system that will stream content from iTunes and iOS devices (like the iPhone) to special receivers, including stereo systems. Some third-party manufacturers are already announcing such systems, like Denon and their RCD-N7. Besides boasting AirPlay, the system can stream Internet radio content on its own from Pandora, Last.fm, Rhapsody and other services. The $600 player also has a CD player and iPod dock. Read more here.

AirPlay is an interesting system because it could allow iOS owners to easily stream Internet radio and other app-based content from their devices to receivers around the house (RAIN coverage here). AirPlay arrives in November.

Elsewhere, manufacturer iSuppli is calling AirPlay “revolutionary.” MacObserver reports (here), “iSuppli believes that by being able to offer an easy to set up and use experience with third party vendors supporting something that is controlled through iTunes itself that it could be as disruptive in this space as it has been in other spaces during the last ten years.”



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