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RAIN 02/16: No royalty deals announced yet

Posted on: 02/16/2009

Yesterday’s apparent deadline for SoundExchange to reach a negotiated royalty settlement with webcasters passed last night — with no deals announced as of this morning.

Groups of webcasters that are reportedly or presumably trying to negotiate a deal with SoundExchange for their class of webcasters include NAB-member broadcasters, the Small Commercial Webcasters group, religious broadcasters, various DiMA members (e.g., Yahoo!, MTV, and Pandora), and possibly hobbyists.

According to the terms of the Webcaster Settlement Act that Congress passed last fall, if an agreement can be reached in time between SoundExchange and some representatives of a set of webcasters for a license that would cover that class of webcasters, that license can be submitted to the Copyright Office, where later this spring it would be published in the Federal Register and then be available to all other webcasters of that class.

Both webcasters and copyright owners are said to be hopeful that such agreements would cover both the current 2006-2010 period (overriding the CRB decision for that period) and the upcoming 2011-2015 period (eliminating the need for the parites to hold a multimillion-dollar-expense CRB rate-determination process for that period).

However, one problem that has gotten in the way of productive negotiations in the past is that SoundExchange represents a diverse mix of large labels, small labels, and recording artists, all of whom have different and sometimes conflicting agendas. (See Kurt’s blog here.)


UK-based beta-testers of the BBC iPlayer are now receiving streams from BBC UK-national stations in AAC and AAC+ streaming technology, according to James Cridland’s BBC Radio blog. “They’re much higher quality than we’ve offered in the BBC iPlayer before now; using the AACfamily of audio codecs, we’re offering great audio quality without using all your bandwidth,” Cridland writes here. “And, just as importantly, the streams don’t need any new software — just a recent version of Flash Player. No media players, no Totem or VLC, no plugins for Quicktime.” The streams are now technically higher quality than DAB (digital radio in the UK) signals, and (arguably) equivalent to the slightly higher bitrate MP3 streams BBC Radio is now using for most listeners. (See more here.)


Ad buyers who spoke to MediaWeek seem enthused about Internet radio as an advertising medium. Horizon Media VP/Managing Director of local radio says combining streaming audio with a more traditional ad buy “helps the budget go a little further… I see more clients embracing it.” Advertisers like Orbitz, Match.com and Lending Tree are examples of companies supplementing network buys by spending more in streaming. “Before, streaming accounted for between 2% to 3% of our network radio budgets,” Priscilla Fladger, network radio supervisor at Mullen told MediaWeek, “now it’s grown to between 5% and 7%.” Mikael Gundy is a media strategist at OMD who purchases for the New York Lottery. He said, “It gives us a chance to target people during the day so they can alter their commute to make purchases. We’re shifting budgets from more traditional media to streaming.” There’s more, including details on the double-digit listening growth of TargetSpot’s online radio network, here.

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