On December 16, a relatively obscure U.S. administrative body issued rules with broad implications for online music. Every five years, the Copyright Royalty Board, or CRB, determines the rates that non-interactive services like Pandora and iHeartRadio will pay to stream sound recordings online. The details are dizzyingy complex, but this time around the bigger Internet radio companies generally cheered the ruling, while SoundExchange, the organization set up to distribute these royalties to artists and copyright holders, expressed disappointment. One set of stakeholders, though, raised existential alarm about the new terms: small, independent webcasters. […] read more
The first panel today "Radio Waves" featured a lively discussion about Internet and satellite radio issues. Given the recent ruling by the Copyright Royalty Board, webcasting rates dominated the discussion with many small webcasters and a couple large ones (Pandora and Live365) saying they would be forced out of business if some kind of compromise on the new rates is not found. Mark Lam, CEO of Live365 — one of the oldest major webcasters — was particularly passionate saying the new rates would eat up 75 percent of his revenues.