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Archive for the ‘DRM’ Category

REWIND #2 – Reporting Music Revolutions

Posted by Molli Fire on Sunday, 17June07

This week was only 7 days long, yet I have 11 excellent posts to rewind today! It’s been a great week for music news! Before I get right down to the nitty gritty, I want to throw out a juicy tidbit of info that I have been mulling over. For awhile now, I have been wanting to move this site to its own domain. It needs to happen at some point, and I want to do it before this site builds up too far. The only huge difference you will notice by coming to this site, is that the posts on the front page will be teasers. You know, the kind that cut off after a paragraph and you have to click the “Read More” to see the entire post. Well, clicking that read more will take you to the full post on the new site. All other buttons on this site will remain active, with internal links pointing to the new site. The biggest difference for RSS subscribers will be that you might need to subscribe to a new feed so that you can continue to get the full posts in your email or feed reader. I will post an announcement when the feed changes.

So just be watching for the switch! And with that out of the way, on to this week’s REWIND! Just remember, this is by no means all the posts for the week. This is merely a roundup of some of the better stories that deserve to be highlighted. The biggest news stories of the week often do not get mentioned here. To see the rest of this week’s news, simply head to the home page and work your way backwards through time. Either way you choose your adventure, HAVE FUN!

My absolute favorite post of the entire week is about the Young@Heart Chorus:

Rockin On Heaven’s Door

These senior citizens are not just sitting around waiting for senility. They are actively embracing it with Rock N Roll attitude! If you look at nothing else this week, definitely watch the video on that post….

Righteous Hip Hop From Rawkus Records

This post brings us all the way back to the beginning of the week, but I wanted to feature it right away. Mr. J Medeiros has taken a detour from his work with The Procussions and has completed a solo album, Of Gods And Girls. It’s not due out until July 16th, but I will be interviewing Mr. Medeiros on Tuesday. I would be happy to include any thoughtful questions from you, so use the comments box under that post if you have any. Read that post, then ask questions, see? This is your big chance! I will post the interview results on Wednesday or Thursday.

Replicating Bjork

Bjork is a universe unto herself. I imagine her as having her own language and her own technology that she runs on faerie magic. I have thought of her making faeries dance on electronic circuits and the result of their dance steps is what we call Bjork music. Well, an article written by her tech director of 10 years, Alan Pollard, completely dispels this notion. She uses all the same fancy hardware and software that other majors in the music industry use and it’s his job to fit it all onto her laptop for tours. If you like to read about that kind of thing, click over to this post for a great profile on the backend of Bjork’s mischief. Also in this post is a link to Dummy mag which is a brilliant color glossy magazine that you read online. It has a mess of great artists featured, and one of them is Bjork looking especially impish, and well, 5 years old. Check it out if you like all things Bjork.

Manic M.I.A.

M.I.A. is still an epileptic’s worse nightmare. She launched an updated website design that probably physically hurt the person who made it, yet has valuable information contained within. Maybe just wear your stunner shades to view it. The big M.I.A. news this week is her new “Boyz” video complete with its own behind the scenes footage. Jump into this post to watch the videos. In the Bjork post ^^ it’s announced that M.I.A. will open 2 Bjork concerts- the ones in Nimes France.

Rockin Fratellis Retain Self-Respect

The Fratellis turned down Golden Balls Beckham in a bold move to retain their self-respect. The result won them the respect and adoration of many newly-impressed fans… Fratellis 1 Beckham 0

Beastie Boys Returning To Root Down

The punk/jazz thing was a return their roots, so this is back to the b-boy thing. Either way, the Beastie Boys have announced a hip hop revival and a small US tour. The rest of the summer will see the trio switching between drums and drummachines. Maybe it’s a midlife crisis thing. US tour dates behind the jump.

Rockin Robot Flick

Speaking of coming to the US, Daft Punk‘s android movie, Electroma, will finally be screened in N. America. Unfortunately, not many places will host the rare, short film. LA and Miami are the only US stops. Miami? Jump in to see more info plus a teaser video.

Reduce Reuse Recycle and ROCK!

I’m actually just jumping all over the past with this REWIND, in no particular order. Here is some particularly great news for NYC: Brooklyn Vegan has teamed up with Solar 1 to create this year’s Citysol event! July12-15th, you can learn how to be more green, qualify for free beer, rock out to wicked bands like Les Savy Fav, and check out super cool art installations. Jump to this post for more info on this excellent event that is entirely solar and biodiesel powered. A big thank you to Brooklyn Vegan for participating!

Restriction Free Music!

EMI is still turning the music industry and RIAA upside down with its DRM-free catalog. In addition to the Apple iChoons store and Amazon’s upcoming music venture, EMI have now added their restriction-free digital downloads to PassAlong which also oversees online stores such as fyi. The best part is that PassAlong will carry 320kbps mp3s which is a higher bit-rate encoding, which means a higher quality download, and better product.

Retired? Not yet!

Wiley is having quite a retirement party, and there is no sign of it slowing down any time soon. His send-off album is out now, and I bet it’s already had some subwoofers working overtime! He has a new video out now for the song “Mistakes” and is having a record release party in London this week. So, I have 2 links instead of one for this last installment:
Grime and Dubstep Parties – which includes some Mary Anne Hobbs curated events, Skream, Vex’d, Ben Sharpa & Konfab, and many more. Plus, the Wiley retirement party I mean record release party with JME, Boy Better Know types rollin deep.
“Mistakes” video – the latest off of Playtime Is Over.

 

 

A’ight, that’s all folks. Jump in and have fun. Fresh news comin atchya tomorrow. Thanks for reading!

This week’s news is brought to you by the letter R

 

 

 

 

 


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Posted in +Greatest Hits+, activism, Beastie Boys, Bjork, culture, DRM, dubstep, electronica, experimental, guitar, hip hop, JA, LSF, mp3, music, music tech, new release, news, Ninja Tune, NYC, pop, robots, rock, shows, tour, UK, Wiley | Leave a Comment »

Wishing For A White Stripes Webcast? Bonnaroo?

Posted by Molli Fire on Friday, 15June07

Bonnaroo is being streamed live right now until midnight tonight! AT&T’s Blue Room has a live webcast of the whole show, all weekend long. Here’s what is still coming up-

Tonight’s Bonnaroo Schedule:

06:15 PM Gillian Welch
07:45 PM The Nightwatchman
09:00 PM Lily Allen
10:00 PM The Roots

Times are CST (GMT -6) Bonnaroo Live Webcast
Now before you run over there, let me just say up front that it wanted me to click to upgrade my Windows Media Player. Next it put something in my temp file that had something to do with Windows DRM licensing. Does anybody know what this is about? I am completely not cool with anything that has DRM, so I almost didn’t report this. But I wanted to use this post as an opportunity to get feedback from you. What happens when you try to watch this? Do you know what Windows DRM is on your computer? Does anyone know how to disable it? Any info you have would be much appreciated. For those who could care less about WinDRM and want to get on with the FREE webcast, here is the lineup for the rest of the weekend:

June 16th Lineup
12:45 PM Old Crow Medicine Show
01:45 PM Spearhead
02:15 PM Regina Spektor
03:30 PM The Black Keys
04:15 PM Damien Rice
05:45 PM Ben Harper & the Innocent Criminals
07:45 PM The Hold Steady
08:15 PM Mago: Billy Martin & John Medeski
09:45 PM TBA
10:15 PM String Cheese Incident

June 17th Lineup
12:30 PM Robert Glasper Trio
01:00 PM John Butler Trio
02:00 PM The Flaming Lips
03:00 PM Bob Weir & Ratdog
04:30 PM Wolfmother
05:30 PM Wilco
07:15 PM The White Stripes
08:45 PM Widespread Panic

White Stripes Live Webcast

Missed Bonnaroo, don’t Live in LA or NYC, but wish you could see The White Stripes perform live? How about from Icky Thump Records on the Strip? Well, you can watch the performance as it is broadcast live from AT&T’s Blue Room. The show starts at 8pm PST on wednesday June 20th. Don’t miss Jack and Meg on stage at Bonnaroo on Sunday the 17th! (That show is also being webcast live in the Blue Room, just go to the Bonnaroo page on Sunday)

WEBCAST LINKS

The White Stripes in the Blue Room.
Bonnaroo Live Webcast
Blue Room Home – pretty cool place for live streams.

More White Stripes Reports

White Stripes news on HearingTest

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Posted in culture, DRM, festivals, free, guitar, hip hop, music, news, pop, rock, shows | Leave a Comment »

PassAlong + EMI = DRM-Free

Posted by Molli Fire on Thursday, 14June07

PassAlong, a digital media company based in Tennessee, has announced a deal with EMI to sell the music company’s entire digital catalog DRM-free.

DRM-Free EMI MP3s On PassAlong

The bonus of this agreement with PassAlong, is that its stores will offer the tunes as 320kbps mp3 format – a higher bitrate than the 128 and 192kbps bitrate that is currently offered by many online stores, including iChoons. This means that downloading a 320kbps mp3 that is free of the DRM restrictions will sound nearly as good as a cd and be even more versatile. You can play DRM-free tracks in any portable player, you can move it from one machine to another, regardless of platform, you can burn a cd of it and play it anywhere. Heck, at 320kbps you can even dj that shizzle to a slammin dancefloor and it will probably go over great! Of course, music of any format only sounds as good as the speakers its played on, so many may never hear the difference between a high quality mp3 and a cd or vinyl copy. The bigger/better the soundsystem, the more of a difference you will hear…

iChoons has plans to offer the premium quality downloads for 30 cents more, and Amazon will likely also offer the premium quality tracks when it launches its digital music store this summer. PassAlong passed the buck on how much it will charge for the higher quality tracks, stating that price is decided by the individual retailers.

LINKS

News from Reuters.
EMI
PassAlong music stores
for your entertainment stores – Trans World Entertainment’s audio/DVD/video game store. Part of the PassAlong media company.

More About DRM-Free Music:

All posts about DRM and DRM-free music On HearingTest

 

 


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Posted in +Greatest Hits+, activism, culture, dj, DRM, free, industry, internet, mp3, music, music tech, news | 1 Comment »

New Album With BSS, DMST + DRM-Free Music

Posted by Molli Fire on Friday, 8June07

Canadian post-rock fans – I bring you reasons to rejoice! Broken Social Scensters/Do Make Say Thinkers/KC Accidentalists have been working on a new album. Kevin Drew (of BSS) wrote the songs and recorded them at his mate Ohad Benchetrit‘s studio. The music is played by Kevin, Ohad, and Charles Spearin, which leads one to wonder – Is this a BSS album, a KC Accidental album, or a DMST album? None of the above. It’s Kevin Drew’s solo album, despite calling it Broken Social Scene Presents Kevin Drew, “Spirit If…”

New Kevin Drew Album

A press release put out by Arts&Crafts (the record label for BSS, Feist, among others) states that the new album is all from Kevin’s musings and favorite activities. Specifically, the album is about “fucking, fighting, fearing and hope.” Broken Social Scene’s other core founding member, Brendan Canning is working on Broken Social Scene Presents… Volume 2 while a BSS Presents tour is in the works for this fall. Watch the Arts&Crafts website for updates, and of course HearingTest news. If all this musical crossbreeding has you completely confused, check the wiki pages in the links to sort it all out. Canadians are just more Social than most, eh?

LINKS

the pitchf*#k report
Broken Social Scene website
Do Make Say Think website
Arts&Crafts
Broken Social Scene Wiki
Do Make Say Think Wiki

One Tour Date Left For DMST

28 JULY 2007 Guelph, ON – Hillside Festival

HIGH QUALITY LIVE RECORDINGS

If you absolutely adore Do Make Say Think AND you’ve always wanted a killer quality digital audio file of one of their live shows, then today is a very lucky day for you!  Here is a link to a fantastic site that archives live show recordings for many bands and offers them FREE for download!  In addition to everything being DRM-FREE, you have your choice of formats: high bit-rate mp3s, plus high quality formats like FLAC, OGG, Vorbis, etc.  Every situation is different so go check it out!
The Live Archive

More News For Arts&Crafts Artists

Arts&Crafts News also has these events to announce:
Stars added to V-Fest in Toronto
On September 9 Stars will join The Smashing Pumpkins, The Killers, Metric, The Hives, Tokyo Police Club and many more at this years V-Fest in Toronto. Tickets are available at all Ticketmaster outlets, ticketmaster.ca, Rotate This, and Soundscapes.

Apostle Of Hustle to play New York and Chicago residencies
Apostle Of Hustle will play a 4-night residency at The Mercury Lounge in New York, and a 3-night residency at Schubas Tavern in Chicago. Visit the Ouija page for all the details.

    
   
   
   
  
  


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Posted in +Greatest Hits+, ambient, avant garde, classical, DRM, experimental, free, guitar, jazz, mp3, music, new release, news, rock, shows | Leave a Comment »

Creativity Through Copyright Allegiance

Posted by Molli Fire on Monday, 21May07

There’s a new copyright group in town…According to Future Music blog:

A new intellectual property advocacy organization dubbed the Copyright Alliance has launched to reform the current state of copyrights n the United States. The group is made up of 29 organizations in the U.S. ranging from entertainment and arts groups to technology and sports coalitions. The alliance estimates that the number individuals it represents totals 11 million.

It dubs itself a “non-profit, non-partisan educational entity” and states its intention “to provide educational resources and promote creativity, jobs and growth through copyright.”
promote creativity through copyright? puhleeeease… Read more at Future Music blog.

Also, hypebot is following every move of WMG as it raises bids to purchase EMI. WMG is confident that the EU will approve the merger, but is that actually likely? EMI seems prepared to remain independent, so the bidding game should remain interesting…

  
  
  

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Posted in CRB, DRM, industry, legal, music, news, piracy | Leave a Comment »

Amazon To Launch DRM-Free Digital Music Store

Posted by Molli Fire on Wednesday, 16May07

EMI has licensed its entire digital catalog to Amazon.com according to Reuters. Amazon, currently the #1 online retailer of CDs worldwide, will launch a digital music store later in 2007 that will sell DRM-free music. While the Beatles’ music is not included in the DRM-free deal, all of Paul McCartney’s solo work will be released in both digital and physical formats by EMI.
Read more at Reuters.
And for additional *exclusive* information about this deal, see what hypebot has to say….

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted in +Greatest Hits+, DRM, internet, mp3, music, music tech, news | Leave a Comment »

How To Live DRM Free In The Digital Age

Posted by Molli Fire on Wednesday, 21March07

Living DRM Free In The Digital Age

Is it possible? It depends on what you do as an individual, and what the manufacturers do with the technology that they make available to the public. You, as an individual, have a say in both cases. The first step needs to be taken immediately, while the second step will improve your stride into the future! Here is a new, more organized installment of “a very detailed report” about what is happening this week with digital media – storage, streaming and sharing as well as some resources for DRM free music experiences. (Feel free to read my previous installment, which is long in the tooth, but pretty widely peppered with links for lots more information about the CRB’s drastic increase in royalty rates for webcasters. You can find it in the archive on March 7th.)

First, if you are not familiar with DRM and its issues, start by reading the Wiki entry for DRM which is thorough in its portrayal of the different opinions and motivations that have polarized the music community.
Next, read Steve Jobs’ “Thoughts On Music” on apple.com which has been a hot topic since its publication February 6th 2007. Jobs basically dumbs down the history of Apple’s involvement with the music distribution companies, explains how hackers are smart enough to crack any protection they implement, forcing Apple programmers to keep up an endless game of “cat and mouse” with hackers in order to keep the big music companies docile enough to not yank its entire catalog from the iTunes Store.

– -if you want to know the punchline from these thoughts right now, then keep reading this section. otherwise skip past the brackets and read the manifesto in full on apple.com- –

[- – SPOILER WARNING – – Jobs outlines 3 options for dealing with DRM, choose one : “The third alternative is to abolish DRMs entirely. … This is clearly the best alternative for consumers, and Apple would embrace it in a heartbeat. …” But then he ends the lesson by leaving this option in the hands of the Big 4 and the EU. It’s too bad he did not make a more clear statement of intent for making changes to Apple’s software and hardware, nor the imposed DRM on tunes and movies that are not under the authority of the Big Boys….]

In the interest of counterpoint, i’d like to know how Apple and Steve Jobs would benefit or be compromised by opening up the DRM restraints. Would it ease legal difficulties arising in courts in EU countries? Would it eliminate obstacles to launching the iPhone with full online and streaming capabilities? Are we to believe that Steve Jobs is a man of the people, and making this statement as a champion of the consumers?

This time last year, CNN reported in their Money section :

The companies – Universal, Warner Music (Research), EMI and Sony BMG – were forced to accept Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ pricing because the iTunes music store has so much influence over the U.S. download market, the report said. The iTunes music store accounts for 80 percent of paid downloads.

The newspaper says that some labels were considering signing short-term contracts with Apple now and then bringing up the issue again in the near future.

Wow, that’s a lot of influence our man Steve Jobs has. If he has this kind of sway over the market and the big music companies, then it seems he would be able to make option 3 in his statement a reality : a DRM free industry, where all media players can play the music that we purchase in all of our listening environments. No more cds bought from best buy that can’t be ripped to play in the car. No more tunes purchased from online stores that cannot be played in mp3 players not made by Apple. Freedom from restrictive micro-management.

How do we the people, who gave Steve Jobs that kind of clout by purchasing 80% of all our downloads from the iTunes Store with millions of our hard earned dollars, let him know that we want DRM free music.? How do we push him into championing the cause of the consumer and putting his ideas into concrete action? It’s simple, and realistic, and it involves those 2 steps i mentioned at the beginning of this episode. First, we tell Steve Jobs that we like his ideas and we want them to become reality. Second, we use our dollars as voting power, and only purchase music that is distributed without DRM. Believe it or not, both steps are very easy, and most likely will not restrict your musical experience at all.

NOW – –*right now*– – If you want to show your support for a DRM free experience and urge Steve Jobs and Apple to lead the way out of DRM and its Digital Restrictions Mafia, then add your signature to the “Open Letter to Steve Jobs” on the Defective By Design website. The letter simply urges him to back up his online pledge with reasonable action, specifically by opening the DRM for all media in the iTunes Store that does not require this impairment. This would cover giving independent musicians and labels the option to decline DRM restrictions being added to their files on iTunes, as well as opening DRM from other products that are not required to use DRM. Jobs also has the authority and corporate standing as a member of Disney’s Board of Directors to have the DRM dropped from Disney’s movies and videos sold in the iTunes Store.

Now for the 2nd step : Starting right now, you can begin living a life free from DRM. you probably won’t want to ditch all the DRM music that you already have and enjoy listening to, but you can make concious choices about the music that you purchase in the future. So much of the music we listen to today will be out of regular rotation in our playlists a year or 2 from now ayway. Making choices about music now could actually convert more and more of our playlists to be free of restrictions. Defective By Design features an online guide to DRM-free Living. The guide features links to record labels, online music stores, software, players and more that provide digital music to the public without the restrictive DRM.
This is where i cheer and jump for joy – Yay!!! Because, there are some great stores on this list that i already frequent, and have been posting links to for you to listen to the great music that i have been writing about! Not only do i vouch for some of these sites, i highly encourage you to go check out their selection! Bleep.com is on there, a great online store for electronic music (Warp Records, Traum, Ed Banger), hip hop and dj music (Ninja Tunes, XL), blues and reggae (Birdman, Trojan) and much much more. The store is vast, and nearly every song on every album has a preview clip to listen to. And yep – eMusic.com and Canada’s Nettwerk is on there as well. When you are checking out this amazing guide, don’t miss page two, because that’s where you will find the link to DRM-free streaming videos like the Decemberists and Postal Service, as well as internet tv and video podcasts.
Oh, and speaking of defective design, many links in the guide were not working for me! but, i was able to locate every website address by hovering over either the site name or the tag name, reading the address and typing it by hand in the location bar. hopefully DbD will have that fixed soon.

Whew! There you have it, an exhaustive report on how to survive as a music lover in the age of music restriction. Consider this your bootleg bottle of prohibition digital music information! i hope you enjoyed the read, and found it helpful. i imagine there will probably be another installment next week, when the industry announces more ways to steal our money.

Posted in +Greatest Hits+, activism, DRM, hacktivism, internet, legal, mp3, music, music tech, news, piracy, RIAA, social, technology, writ | 1 Comment »

A detailed report on the Battle Between Webcasters and the CopyrightRoyaltyBoard

Posted by Molli Fire on Wednesday, 7March07

randall munroe
comic by Randall Munroe

I posted last week about internet broadcasters (webcasters) being charged royalty fees, including retroactively for all of 2006, when the US Copyright Royalty Board announced its decision on the new rates. (See here for that post) Given the obscene nature of these fees : enforced retroactively AND costing 2-5 times more what most stations were able to earn through listener support and advertising, the online community and the legal defense parties are leaping into action, first with an appeal, and simultaneously with awareness and support from people who don’t want to lose internet radio stations.

One internet radio station that will be dramatically affected by this new royalty rate is SomaFM from San Francisco, CA. They are a poster child for the small radio station that played by the rules, but might be forced to shut down due to the enormous disparity between what a station is capable of earning, and what it is expected to pay to all the different music management and licensing companies. SomaFM relates the details of their situation in the latest newsletter :

You may have heard, but once again internet radio is facing huge additional royalties for broadcasting music. These royalties are in addition to the ones that we pay to ASCAP and BMI, and are a royalty that is only paid by internet broadcasters. Over-the-air (AM/FM) broadcasters are explicitly exempt from this royalty; it only applies to internet broadcasters and subscription music services. In the past, we paid royalties based on a percentage of our revenues, in our case 10% of our revenue. But the new royalties don’t allow that percentage of revenue factor, and instead charge us for each song we play times the number of people listening. This works out to about $8 per average concurrent listener per month. In 2006, we averaged over 6000 average concurrent listeners per month, and the royalties we will have to pay for 2006 is about $628,000, over 4 times the amount of money we brought in. And these rates go up drastically each year, until 2010, where they are 2.5 times their initial rate: by then we will have to pay over $1 million dollars a year in royalties if we want to stay on the air. So you can see that this puts us in an impossible position. And to make it even worse, the rates are retroactive to 2006. It doesn’t seem fair that a small radio service like SomaFM has to pay all these additional royalties, when over-the-air stations who reach much larger audiences are exempted from paying them. If you are in the USA, we would appreciate it if you could sign this online petition which will be presented to members of Congress.It’s important for us to let Congress know that independent internet radio is about to be forced out of business. We need to keep our existing “percentage of revenue” royalty rate structure, or better yet, have Congress extend the exemption to internet radio stations as well as terrestrial (over-the-air) stations.

http://www.petitiononline.com/SIR2007r/petition.html

Thanks for all of your support for SomaFM in the past. We will do what we need to do to keep SomaFM on the air and broadcasting. We love you!

Rusty Hodge,
General Manager and Program Director
SomaFM.com

For more information on SomaFM, visit their website : http://somafm.com

This petition is the big deal right now. The website “Save Our Internet Radio” has a page with 6 things you can do to help webcasters in this daunting legal battle, and this petition is at the top of the list.

Mad as hell about the threat to Internet Radio? Do Something!

Posted by
Bill Goldsmith

1. Sign this online petition and open letter to the US Congress.

2. Send an email to your members of Congress. You can use our suggested text, or write your own.

3. Print out the email (you’ll get a copy) and mail it to your Congresspeople. Follow up with a phone call. You can look up their addresses and phone numbers here.

4. Write a letter to the editor of your favorite magazines and newspapers. If you know someone in the media, let them know what’s going on. Have them read my post below, if you like.

5. Don’t panic. Together we can save the medium that we all love. We have the passion to make it happen!

6. Digg this post to help spread the word.

In order to digg that post, you will have to go to the post itself. Just click on the headline, or the word permalink in the quoted text.

Another thing to consider, since Congress is a bit slow to action, is contacting the Copyright Royalty Board directly. Let them know exactly how you feel about this decision, how it affects you personally, and how it affects the existance of internet radio. Let them see that killing this industry may make royalties harder to collect in the future, not only because so many stations went out of business, but also because we, the public, aren’t being exposed to new artists and new music, and therefore are not buying as many albums as we did when we heard it first on internet radio. You can contact the CRB directly at :

Copyright Royalty Board
P.O. Box 70977
Washington DC 20024-0977

(202) 707-7658

Or use the online form on their website : http://www.loc.gov/crb/contact/

For what it’s worth, many organizations, government agencies, and lobbyists count each form of communication as representing more than one person’s opinion. The formula for this type of math counts letters as representing more people than phone calls, which in turn represent more than emails. Doing all 3 counts the most!

Even Wired Magazine is abuzz with updates on the battle between broadcasters and the Board. Today their headlines included :

Royalty Hike Panics Webcasters
08:00 AM Mar, 06, 2007
By Eliot Van Buskirk

Internet radio companies big and small are revving up for a fight with the Copyright Royalty Board that could lead to the halls of Congress and — some fear — the end of streaming music stations in the United States.

The panicked preparation follows last Friday’s buzz-killing bombshell: As 50 million or so online radio listeners geared up for their weekends, the board released new royalty rates representing a potential tenfold increase webcasters would have to pay out.

In the old, percentage-based fee system, webcasters paid SoundExchange — the Recording Industry Association of America-associated organization that pushed the Copyright Royalty Board to adopt the new rates — between 6 percent and 12 percent of their revenue, depending on audience reach. The new system charges all webcasters a flat fee per song per listener; for instance, in 2007, streaming companies would owe $0.0011 per song per listener (rates change based on year).

That amount may not sound like much, but it adds up quickly. Consider, for instance, AOL Music, with its average of 210,694 listeners for November 2006. According to calculations made by the Radio and Internet Newsletter, or RAIN, AOL retroactively owes about $1.65 million in sound-recording royalties for that month alone (and that doesn’t include songwriting royalties). By the end of this year, according to RAIN, the company could owe roughly $20 million — unless the rates are overturned by the board or by Congress, which is still a possibility.

Larger services that offer thousands of channels, such as the free Pandora, are also facing a huge spike in royalty costs. Kurt Hanson, publisher of RAIN and CEO of AccuRadio, went so far as to speculate that Pandora, which is based in the United States, could “disappear” as a result of the new rates. Overseas competitors like Last.fm, which is based in London and removed from the board’s restrictions, could easily claim Pandora’s market share. If Pandora has to pay the annual $500 minimum for each channel, Hanson said, its sound-recording royalty bill for 2006 alone would be capped at about $2 billion (based on the service’s 300 million registered users, each of whom gets to create up to 100 unique channels).

“The rates are disastrous,” says Joe Kennedy, CEO of Pandora. “I’m not aware of any internet radio service that believes it can sustain a business at the rates set by this decision.”

The situation for smaller webcasters isn’t any better. And for the likes of Bill Goldsmith, who runs Radio Paradise, it’s far worse: “This royalty structure would wipe out an entire class of business, small independent webcasters such as myself and my wife. Our obligation under this rate structure would be equal to over 125 percent of our total income.”

The smallest webcasters, who use services such as Live365 for their shows, will likely vanish as well unless the rates are overturned. RAIN pegs Live365’s royalty obligation for 2006 at approximately $4.2 million — and that’s not counting the minimum $500 it could owe annually for thousands of its channels. Again, that’s in addition to other royalty fees. (The site, like most others, already pays songwriter royalties to performing rights organizations BMI, ASCAP and SESAC.)

Live365 did not respond to e-mail and phone queries from Wired News in time for publication, and Yahoo declined to comment. SoundExchange also failed to respond.

Hanson, who testified at the hearings on behalf of small webcasters, said he doesn’t “think the people actually running the record labels want to see internet radio shut down,” but that SoundExchange’s lawyers had planned “an aggressive, win-all-you-can battle in Washington. I think they were more successful than they expected to be.”

Pandora’s Joe Kennedy believes the board’s decision will not stand — it’s simply too extreme. He wrote to Wired News, “The only reason the (online streaming) services are not shutting down today is the belief that rationality will ultimately prevail here, either through appeal or congressional intervention.” (A third option, according to Hanson, is that SoundExchange could choose to continue licensing music as a share of revenue, as it did before the Copyright Royalty Board decision.)

Only webcasters that were involved in the original Copyright Royalty Board decision-making process (Yahoo, AOL, Live365 and a few smaller webcasters including Radioio, Ultimate80s and Accuradio) will be able to file an appeal, and they have 15 days to do so.

The House Commerce Committee’s telecommunications subcommittee is holding a hearing on March 7 to hear testimony on the current and future radio industry. Witnesses will include Mel Karmazin from Sirius, Peter Smith from broadcaster Greater Media and Bob Kimball from RealNetworks.

If the new rates stick, online music fans may come to expect far less innovation, variety and quality when it comes to internet radio. Some industry experts fear that even more users could be driven to illicit services that pay no royalties or those that operate from other countries.

A little more info on SoundExchange, taken from the FAQ on their website :

Who
governs SoundExchange?

The SoundExchange Board of Directors oversees all operations of SoundExchange.
This board approves such things as the distribution methodology and
administrative expenses. It is comprised of one representative from
each of the major label groups (EMI Music Group, SONY BMG Music
Entertainment, Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group); independent
labels (Tommy Boy Entertainment, a large independent, and Matador Records,
a small independent); a designated executive from an independent label
association; a designated executive from the Recording Industry Association
of America (RIAA); and an equal number of artists and artist representatives
from such organizations as AFTRA, AFM, the Recording
Academy, Music Manager’s Forum – U.S. and the Future of Music Coalition.
For a full board member listing, click
here
.

When was SoundExchange founded?
Before its spin-off in September of 2003 as an independent organization, SoundExchange was originally created in 2000 as an unincorporated division of the RIAA.

I’m already a member of ASCAP, BMI or SESAC. Don’t they cover this for me? What is the difference?
No. ASCAP, BMI and SESAC represent a different copyright than SoundExchange. ASCAP, BMI and SESAC collect performance revenue for the owners of the copyrighted musical work (the song), i.e. music publishers, songwriters and composers. SoundExchange collects performance revenue for owners of the sound recording copyright (the recording) and for featured and nonfeatured artists. SoundExchange, therefore, performs a different function and does not compete with ASCAP, BMI or SESAC. In fact, a company with both publishing (“song”) copyrights and recording copyrights should join collecting societies administering both types of rights: one for the song and another for the sound recording copyright.

And, a list of the SoundExchange Board includes :

SoundExchange Board

Alasdair McMullan
– EMI
Andrea Finkelstein – Sony BMG
Cary Sherman – RIAA

Daryl P. Friedman
– Recording Academy*
Dick Huey – Matador Records*
Don Rose – American Association of Independent Music

Jay L. Cooper, Esq.
– Recording Artists’ Coalition (RAC)*
Jay Rosenthal, Esq. – RAC*
Kim Roberts Hedgpeth – AFTRA
Michael Hausman

Michael Ostroff
– UMG
Patricia Polach – AFM

Patrick Rains

Paul Robinson
– WMG
Perry Resnick – Music Manager’s Forum-U.S.*
Steven M. Marks – RIAA*

Tom Silverman
– Tommy Boy Entertainment LLC*
Walter F. McDonough, Esq. – Future of Music Coalition
(FMC)*

*For identification purposes
only

One last thing from SoundExchange, their page on Licensing 101 is very valuable for webcasters. It spells out what a webcaster needs to do in order to obtain licenses and pay royalties….

If you would like to read a more detailed article from a legal standpoint, discussing exactly what and who this decision covers, what is financially expected between now and the appeal, and how the new royalty rates were created, and how they are intended to be distributed between the artists and the copyright holder (record company usually) please see the broadcast law blog.

2 great resources for everyone affected by the CRB and the royalty rates – legal guides in PDF form :


INTERNET RADIO: THE BASICS OF YOUR MUSIC ROYALTY OBLIGATIONS

Copyright Royalty Board Announces Music Recordkeeping and Reporting Requirements for Internet Streaming

If you have any trouble loading those links, try the IWA page that they came from. These legal guides are offered free to all from the Internet Webcasting Association, courtesy of David Oxenford and Davis Wright Tremaine. The IWA website states :

For more information or questions about these or other legal issues related to streaming, please contact David Oxenford.

Contact Info:
David Oxenford David D. Oxenford
Washington, D.C.
(202) 508-6656
davidoxenford@dwt.com

These advisories are publications of the Broadcast Group of Davis Wright Tremaine LLP. Our purpose in publishing these advisories is to inform our clients and friends of recent developments in the broadcasting industry. They are not intended, nor should they be used, as a substitute for specific legal advice as legal counsel may only be given in response to inquiries regarding particular situations.

Both Attached Documents are Copyright © 2006 | Davis Wright Tremaine LLP

Posted in +Greatest Hits+, activism, CRB, dj, DRM, industry, internet, legal, music, news, piracy, radio, RIAA | 2 Comments »

RetroActive Payments? Pay Per Play gone mad.

Posted by Molli Fire on Friday, 2March07

Saw this piece on Hypebot. It discusses song plays on Internet Radio incurring fees retroactively to the beginning of 2006. How can that be fair? If radio broadcasters knew the price per play, isn’t it conceivable that they might have made different choices based on these new prices?
First, here is the article that best sums up the situation from hypebot :

Bad News For Net Broadcasting: Royalty Rates Jump.

It’s a sad day for fans of music on the internet and the creative broadcasters who program it.
Soundexchange_1
The US Copyright Royalty Board has announced new Internet radio royalty rates rejecting the arguments made by webcasters and adopting the “per play” rate requested by digital royalty collection agency SoundExchange. Retroactively through the beginning of 2006 the rates are:

* 2006 – $.0008 per play
* 2007 – $.0011 per play
* 2008 – $.0014 per play
* 2009 – $.0018 per play
* 2010 – $.0019 per play

Radio_10 An analysis from the experts at Kurt Hansen’s Radio And Internet Newsletter concludes, “In 2006, a well-run Internet radio station might have been able to sell two radio spots an hour at a $3 net CPM (cost-per-thousand), which would add up to .6 cents per listener-hour. Even adding in ancillary revenues from occasional video gateway ads, banner ads on the website, and so forth, total revenues per listener-hour would only be in the 1.0 to 1.2 cents per listener-hour range.”

“That math suggests that the royalty rate decision – for the performance alone, not even including composers’ royalties! – is in the in the ballpark of 100% or more of total revenues.”

The link to the Radio and Internet Newsletter link will take you to a detailed and indepth discussion of this deal.

There are plenty of radio and internet broadcasters in this audience, what do you think about this, and how is this affecting you? I am particularly concerned about broadcasting that was ad-free and not generating nearly as much income as this will cost them.

Posted in dj, DRM, internet, legal, music, news, piracy, radio | Leave a Comment »