New Streaming Rates May Kill The Little Guys — An Opportunity For Pubradio?

There’s one thing everyone seems to agree on: The new streaming royalty rates are very bad news for small and medium webcasters. But could this be an opportunity for Public Radio?…

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CRB logoBy Paul Marszalek

What’s interesting about streaming royalty rates is that they work for just about no one.

Artists can’t make a living, streaming companies can’t find profitability. There have been winners, such as the record labels that took lucrative upfront payments from Pandora and pieces of Spotify without cutting their artists in on that piece of the pie.

Let’s be honest, it’s a mess.

And it just got worse for small and medium size webcasters.

This week, the Library of Congress’ Copyright Royalty Board delivered new royalty rates, simplifying the structure. The Pandoras of the world will now pay .oo17 cents per stream, up from .0014 — but SoundExchange, which represents the labels, wanted .0025. Not even close, as far as they’re concerned. Pandora expressed general happiness with the ruling.

But if you want to find unhappy people, just look to the small and midsize streamers. When I mention that the CRB simplified the structure, I mean that the CRB completely eliminated the rate structure for small webcasters.

Under the previous agreement, small webcasters could pay a percentage of their revenue — until they hit $1.25 million. After that, they’d pay what the big boys pay. Now that’s gone, and they must pay the same rate as giants like Pandora and Spotify.

That’s bad on a couple of levels — the most obvious being that many of these smaller services took great care to deliver niche genres ranging from electronic to jazz to classical.

The high rates are also widely seen as prohibitive to new entrants, so don’t expect many new startups — or the innovation they often bring about.

With the niche players now under significant pressure and many likely to fold, pubradio streamers, with a much more advantageous rate structure may find opportunity to build digital audiences with specialty genres.

Filed Under: Actual NewsFeaturedNewsRadio and RecordsSideways Is the New Up


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  1. John Michaels says:

    It is with a deep sadness and a heavy heart that I must inform our wonderful, loyal listeners that have been so good to us , that the time has come for us to close our doors. Not something I wanted to do , but was put in a choke hold and forced to do by the Copyright Royalty Board.
    There would have been music behind this but I’m afraid they will come knocking at my door threatening me for thousands of dollars for playing it being the thugs that they are !

    Explanation :
    The copyright Royalty board along with many other members of the music industry’s thug patrol who we refer to as the Music Mafia, along with The FCC and FM Radio, The internet radio giants, Pandora and congress have passed a bill called HR-1733 which basically cripples all small broadcasters all across the USA. This is a tragedy for many many reasons but most importantly, people in congress really dropped the ball bigtime on this one ! It puts the licensing rates SO HIGH that any small broadcaster anywhere cannot afford to pay the fee. Thus, once again , congress & their henchmen, paving the way for the rich and kicking us poor folk in the balls once again !

    They allowed FM radio to Never pay royalties until this bill came along. FM Radio has never given ONE dime to the artists for playing their wonderful music we so have enjoyed here on BullsEye Radio for the last 8 years ! And they never got fined , sued, jailed , nothing !
    If that had been a small broadcaster like me, i would have been threatned by the music mafia to pay or go to jail ! But FM . . . . .Nothing !
    They rip off the artist for years and get rewarded with total control with the internets airwaves , we pay licensing fee’s for years and we get told pay our outlandish prices or shut down . . . . .and the fairness in this is where ?
    They call it the fair play fair pay bill . . . . . .bullshit ! It’s just another way to scam money from people !

    For years we small broadcasters have been paying licensing fee’s to stay legal on the internet, paying our dues in appreciation for the hobby we so love. We all had a dream of one day climbing that ladder to make a name for ourselves, to achieve success. Some didnt have that dream , they just wanted to enjoy what they loved to do. Now that dream has been stomped on, spat on, and kicked to the curb by the very people we entrust to treat us fairly. It’s shameful !

    They really dont realize that this bill doesnt just cripple the broadcasters, it also hurts MANY other businesses as well !
    Every small internet radio station that wants to look presentable gets other amenities to appear appealing to attract their guests.
    * Streaming Servers
    * Chatrooms and servers
    * Messengers
    * communities and servers
    * Games
    * Webhosting and servers
    and many other services that they PAY for ! Well guess what ? Now those businesses are going to lose too, because with unaffordable rates, why do you need those ammenities ? If you think we are talking small money , think again. This bill put literally THOUSANDS of small internet stations out of business, my costs alone were in the nighborhood of $350.00 per month to keep BullsEye Radio going with all the wonderful things we had.
    Times that by just 1000 stations ! It’s mind boggling how many businesses will suffer with one swipe of a pen ! Your talking literally Millions of dollars in revenue for businesses. Now they get squat !

    As you all know I have had dealings with some major celebrities and I can tell you first hand , the royalties they get, do not match up to what the music mafia is taking ! They are lining their pockets ! They are getting their homes, cars, vacations, expensive restaurant meals, and more all paid for by you and I ! It’s not right that I have done this for 8 years and they dont give one shit about us small people ! They are too busy kissing FM radio’s ass ! Shame on you ! Shame on the people in power that let this happen ! Shame on FM radio for being thieves for 40+ Years !
    If I was an artist, I wouldnt be happy in the least about this ! Now thousands of stations go down , thousands of people will not hear the oldies, the songs of the past, the memories they loved. FM radio is phasing them out and making way for the new music which in my opinion, 50% is nothing but garbage !

    So good for you Congress ! You screwed your constituents once again ! I hope your proud of yourself ! You just made thousands of broadcasters all across the USA hate your guts ! And I am one of them !

    To our listeners :
    I am so sorry ! I will miss you all ! We have so enjoyed the laughs , the fun the good times with you all. I tried so hard to just have a place where we could all go and have fun and if for only a moment, forget about the tragedies going on in the world. I tried to make a place where one could go and hear a song that may trigger a memory of a happier time. I hope I succeeded in doing that in the time we had to enjoy this new technology that was seized by greedy corporate pigs.
    Those of you that have my ID on messenger, stay in touch with me as we will follow the proceedings on this and maybe, just maybe, by some odd miracle, maybe someone whose head ISN’T up his ass or up the ass of FM radio will come to his senses and do whats right !
    who knows . . . . .Until that day know that I love you all and have enjoyed each and everyone of you.

    To My staff :
    My heart is breaking knowing how hard you all worked, how much you loved BullsEye Radio. There are no words to express my deep grattitude for your loyalty, your hard work, your dedication in helping us to become the such loved station and community we have been.
    I love each and everyone of you and will never forget the kindness I have been shown through knowing you all.

    God Bless and let’s hope one day our paths will cross again !

    Forever a Broadcaster at heart,
    John Michaels
    Owner and Proud former licensed internet radio station broadcaster
    BullsEye Radio Broadcasting
    One day we’ll hit that BullsEye Again !

  2. […] In releasing the new rates, the CRB completely eliminated a provision for small webcasters that allowed them to pay a percentage of income versus the statutory rate per song played. We wrote that this change could wipe out perhaps thousands of small specialty players and hobbyists. […]

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