Deals Could Be Close on Internet Radio
September 11, 2007 at 5:45 AM (PT)
The music industry and online broadcasters have been duking it out for months over the royalties that should be paid to record labels and artists, but there are signs that the logjam could break as early as this month.
SOUNDEXCHANGE Pres. JOHN SIMSON said he is optimistic about reaching an agreement soon with public radio stations, possibly by the end of SEPTEMBER. Wading through the complex issues, however, has taken longer than many had hoped. The NAB said it's disappointed it hasn't heard back from SOUNDEXCHANGE about its proposals for three months.
We've got to resolve this before the industry can get to the next level.
Public radio stations, which have been able to broadcast music online under better terms than commercial stations, may now be closest to a deal. NPR VP/Government Relations MIKE RIKSEN, said NPR was in the midst of a wide-ranging survey of the online usage habits of public radio listeners that was "very complex and very time-consuming," but he expected to meet with SOUNDEXCHANGE soon to discuss the results.
The talks with NPR are one of several tracks of negotiations that the music industry is pursuing with different groups of Internet radio broadcasters. NPR may be the first large organization to reach a comprehensive agreement with music rights holders.
Last month SOUNDEXCHANGE reached an agreement with a group representing online companies to cap the per-channel fees that broadcasters would pay on top of royalties. Still to be decided is the even larger issue of what the new royalty rates should be.
The copyright judges ruled that online broadcasters must pay higher royalties per song, per listener, for every song delivered. The judges also set out specific per-song rates, but the two sides are talking about setting new rates.
DIGITAL MEDIA ASSOCIATION Exec. Dir. JONATHAN POTTER, whose members include large commercial webcasters such as YAHOO, REALNETWORKS and PANDORA, says he's "cautiously optimistic" about reaching a deal in the next several weeks. POTTER declined to go into details of the discussions, but he indicated that the industry was eager to get the rates issue out of the way. "We're in a holding pattern," POTTER said. "This is obviously not the time for people to be launching new ventures. We've got to resolve this before the industry can get to the next level."