Tag Archives: Taylor Swift

Bob Pittman Is A Bold Guy

Clear Channel’s move to make a direct licensing deal for over the air performances with record label Big Machine is a stunning development for the radio industry. I’ve spent a day or so pondering all the ways this could impact the issues, and have come away marveling at what a forceful move this was by Bob Pittman and his team. (Read excellent coverage by RAIN here.)

The radio industry has been refusing to cut a deal with record companies that would compensate artists for over the air play in exchange for a better deal on streaming royalties. Broadcasters and the NAB have tried and failed to come up with a solution, and the issue is currently headed for Congressional intervention – with Future of Audio hearings that started yesterday on the hill. Hence the incredibly nervy and savvy timing of Clear Channel’s announcement that they had signed up to pay a share of both on-air and online revenues to record label Big Machine, the company behind such big names as Taylor Swift, Rascal Flatts and Tim McGraw.

Bob Pittman is indeed just what the radio industry needs.

The radio industry has been moaning about streaming royalties for years. This has caused them to take a half hearted approach to Internet radio, which in turn has created mediocre offerings that are not competitive with highly developed interactive offerings such as Pandora, Spotify and others. But their unwillingness to pay over the air royalties to artists makes the record labels unwilling to negotiate better digital deals with them.

Meanwhile, online listening is growing exponentially.

“Unrealistic rates on the digital side were choking the ability to expand digitally for radio companies,” said Irving Azoff, a Clear Channel director and chairman of Live Nation Entertainment Inc.. “We’re trying to convince labels to enter into a direct deal because we can’t get legislation passed,”.

“Someone has to go first, someone has to take a risk,” said Clear Channel CEO Robert Pittman. “If digital grows a lot, this will be a good deal. It’s a gamble. But you win nothing if you don’t take a chance.”

So Pittman took a chance. He took a look at the future of radio and decided that digital is it. Reluctant to let Congress determine how his game will be played, he cut a deal with a little record company that has a few big names. By doing that he forced the first brick out of the wall between broadcast radio and performance royalties for artists, and I suspect we’ll see the whole thing come tumbling down. Broadcasters will pay over the air royalties, because their hand was forced, but also because it just doesn’t make sense that other platforms have to and they do not. Playing fields will be leveled, programming will improve and opportunities will grow – for radio stations and for recording artists.

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Internet Radio Stations Play More Artists Than Broadcast Stations

The number of unique artists played on Internet radio stations is more than 32 times the number of unique artists played on broadcast/terrestrial radio. According to data supplied by streamSerf, a company that monitors and reports on music played on terrestrial, Internet and satellite radio stations, last month broadcast radio stations played 25,399 unique artists (US, including public radio stations) while Internet radio stations played 829,971 unique artists in the same time period!

“There is room for a more diverse, less centralized music scene in the world today – and this is being created and facilitated by technology and internet radio.” says Paul Mockenhaupt, Founder of streamSerf. streamSerf is an important tool that enables independent artists who are marketing their music on the Internet to track their success.  “streamSerf.com is the ONLY tool available for these artists to measure their efforts, track their spins, plan their tours, validate their promotional campaigns, find stations that play [similar] music, check their royalty payments, etc.”

It’s not shocking to learn that Internet radio is more diverse. There are more choices for the listener, and more determination by the stations themselves to provide alternative music to the basic cookie-cutter formats and playlists provided on broadcast radio. It is stunning to learn that Internet radio’s list of unique artists is greater than broadcast radio’s by 3600%. (It should be noted that these stats do not even include stations that stream individualized channels, such as Pandora.)

Also interesting is the list of artists that get the most plays on broadcast stations versus Internet radio stations. While some of the top ten artists are the same on either list, others are very different:

courtesy of streamSerf

courtesy of streamSerf

According to Mockenhaupt, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. He says the real story isn’t in the top 10, or even the top 1000…” it’s the new, fresh, undiscovered, local, home grown music that’s filling the internet airwaves!” Internet radio gives voice to the long tail of music, providing entry for many musicians that have never had a platform before. That, he says, is the “magic” of Internet radio…

Visa Signs Up With iheartradio

strippedClear Channel’s on demand channel “Stripped” will now be available as a full time digital radio station, offering archived programming from the company’s collection of live artist performances and interviews. The new 24/7 station is integrated into the iheartradio platform and exclusively sponsored by Visa Signature. Visa’s sponsorship also includes on-air talent endorsements, a “channel takeover” of both the iheartradio application available for iPhone and BlackBerry as well as the stripped player widget.

The station will provide a vast array of live performances, from acoustic to plugged-in, as well as the series’ signature ‘cover tunes’. Between songs, listeners will hear artists share stories ranging from their first concert as a fan to their favorite new music. More than 125 artists have performed for the stripped on-demand series since the program’s launch with John Legend in May 2005. Other participating artists include Taylor Swift, Maxwell, Alicia Keys, Coldplay, Linkin Park, Sugarland, Green Day, Kanye West, The Fray, Lily Allen, Bon Jovi, John Mayer, Silversun Pickups, Rascal Flatts, Leona Lewis, and many more.

iheartradio is Clear Channel’s web and mobile based streaming platform. Other channels include erockster, Pride, White House Brief, 350 streaming broadcast stations, and recently launched artist-programmed channels from Christina Aguilera, Joe Walsh and others. iheartradio has mobile apps for iPhone and Blackberry as well.

This is not the first time Clear Channel has announced a blue chip advertiser as sponsor of their streaming audio offerings. Verizon and Fox Television are among the other big brands that have signed on to sponsorships on the iheartradio platform.


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