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In the new era of small webcasting, StreamLicensing builds tech to survive

streamlicensing logoFour months in the new CRB royalty period, the small webcaster landscape has substantially changed:

  • Innumerable indie stations have quietly unplugged their streams, unable to afford higher label royalties following the expiration of the Webcaster Settlement Act which provided a lower cost of music to low-revenue streamers.
  • Live365, the venerable webcast host and aggregator of thousands of niche stations, lost its investors and dropped abruptly into bankruptcy.
  • Radionomy, the European juggernaut which owns both the ShoutCast platform and digital audio advertising company TargetSpot, blocked its streams from U.S. listening in the TuneIn app (temporarily, the company said).

Last month another webcast provider to small stations, StreamLicensing, sold to Stardome Digital Media, a division of the Hispanic and Latin American market specialist Stardome Media Group. StreamLicensing’s business model pays label royalties for its member stations, funding the business with advertising target to combined audiences. But when that royalty cost dramatically escalated in January, owner Marvin Glass sold to Stardome and warned the new owners that success would be an uphill climb.

New Owner; New Challenge

“StreamLicensing was built on the Webcaster Settlement Act,” said Wes Simkins, Chief Operating Officer of Stardome. “We knew we’d have to either raise rates to stations or find a way to cover the new rates.” We called Simkins when we heard that StreamLicensing had issued a station mandate to use a new player for desktop streaming which would be released in June.

“When they did away with the small webcaster agreement, and we took over StreamLicensing on April 1, we thought it would be devastating to raise the rates,” Simkins said. “We feel for small webcaster. I’m a small webcaster. You can only afford so much.” He described stations whose costs would triple, and more, by applying the new CRB rates.

StreamLicensing charges each station a monthly fee calculated in a formula that includes total listening hours and revenue.

New Money Model

Stardome’s stated mission is to create an enhanced moneymaking engine for StreamLicensing that absorbs the higher cost of music without passing the increased cost to its stations. To do that, an integrated sales and technology plan was developed. “We have a new model.” Simkins said. “We can help small webcasters, and we believe that creators should be compensated.”

An in-house marketing team handles ad sales. The effort is assisted by new technology partnerships which add pre-roll video, full-screen takeovers, and programmatic ad insertion into the player scheduled for June launch. The client stations do have to get on board with the launch, and use the player for their web streams — any that don’t will assume liability for the new CRB per-performance rates which have caused so much pain elsewhere. Wes Simkins mentioned AdsWizz as a key ad-tech partner.

With the paired effort in sales and advertising tech, Simkins thinks StreamLicensing can forge into the new CRB era with a model that supports small stations while remaining legally compliant. “We can obtain fees to cover the per-performance rates,” he told us confidently.

Hope for a Different Future

As to the future, Wes Simkins is holding some hope for structural change in regulation of small webcasters in the U.S. “We will actively participate in the lobbying process. But that will take a long time.”

Currently there is no lobbying process, but there is nothing to stop such an initiative, given resources. When Radionomy implemented its U.S. geo-block, the company emphasized that it is engaged in discussions with music rights-holders about the value of small webcasting. The company’s formal statement expressed confidence in a resumption of U.S. streams via TuneIn “when a positive change with the U.S. rates is applied.”

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Brad Hill

9 Comments

  1. Radionomy has never geo-blocked the USA – they just pulled their streams from TuneIn. You can still hear their station in the USA through any other third party directory or from the Radionomy/ShoutCast directory. They have geo-blocked some other countries such as Japan, Canada and Brazil which you may like to ask them about.

  2. Radionomy did not block its streams from U.S. listening in the TuneIn app. The truth is that Sony asked TuneIn to remove ALL Radionomy stations and TuneIn complied. It was TuneIn’s choice, not Radionomy’s. You should have contacted either Sony and TuneIn for a balanced story as I am sure they would have been happy to confirm this.
    Also, why is RAIN not covering what else is going on with Radionomy?
    -Radionomy blocked listening in several countries without so much as an explanation to its loyal producers.
    These countries are NOT GEO-BLOCKED:
    United States of America
    Mexico
    Most Central American and Caribbean countries (e.g. Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico)
    Argentina
    Peru
    European Union (28 states – includes the Baltic states, but excludes countries that were formerly part of Yugoslavia) except Romania
    Norway
    Australia
    New Zealand
    Africa (mostly)
    China (inc. Hong Kong)
    Malaysia
    Thailand
    Singapore
    Vietnam
    Indonesia

    These countries ARE GEO-BLOCKED:
    Canada
    Japan
    South Korea (partially)
    Taiwan
    Philippines
    Brazil
    Chile
    Colombia
    Venezuela
    Bolivia
    South Africa and some other parts of Africa
    Countries formerly in Yugoslavia (e.g. Serbia, Croatia)
    Luxembourg
    Switzerland
    Turkey
    Romania
    India
    Russia (except a few areas)
    Ukraine
    -Radionomy removed producers’ access to its built-in song library without any explanation.
    -Radionomy changed several sections of its Producers’ Pact and modified its royalty terms to make them more general and ambiguous- producers are now wondering whether or not Radionomy truly covers performance royalties.
    -Producers have been waiting months and in some cases years, for their revenue share payouts and with recent policy changes now in effect (Radionomy no longer compensating for 25K TLH from USA), producers are in doubt as to whether they will ever receive payments.

    • I was with Radionimy since the Beta days an geo blocking Canada forced me to move to a new host. Almost all my listeners are from Canada.

      I’m supprised no matter where you look in the web there is little or almost no news.

    • Bernardo is correct. They are just moving everyone to their SHOUTcast platform. They aren’t going anywhere.

  3. INTERNET RADIO LISTENERS: We NEED your help to have affordable music licensing costs restored. This increase in music royalty costs which has been forced on small webcasters since the beginning of the year has taken its toll on American internet radio, with Live365’s entire 5000 station network going under and hundreds of other internet radio stations being forced offline as well, due to outrageously high music royalty costs. It is a situation which will only grow worse over time and will be very damaging to internet radio if we fail to act. Please contact your local Congresspersons by phone or email, mentioning the information provided in this post. For more info about how the CRB Ruling/elimination of the Small Webcaster Agreement will affect your listening options online, please visit http://video.saveinternetradio.info. The problem isn’t going to go away by itself and Congress MUST intervene to have it fixed. If you appreciate internet radio and want to preserve it, PLEASE get involved. We ALL must come together and petition Congress. We can’t expect someone else to do the work for us if we want Congress to know that listeners are serious about saving internet radio. Follow us at http://saveinternetradio.info and inform other internet radio listeners of what is happening to internet radio and why it is imperative for everyone to get involved. For our latest update, please visit http://bit.ly/sir1733. ty!

  4. Anyone have more details on the Stardome Digital Medias “new player for desktop streaming which would be released in June” It seems like that will be the better option over radionomy,

  5. Congress are a bunch of crooked thieving pocket picking slime ! They are not going to listen to any webcasters at all, This petition may gain a MILLION signatures , it isnt going to do any good ! The music Mafia owns Congress !

  6. I was with Radionomy but switched before the news broke that they are not paying any Royalties. I haven’t seen a update to this story but they do not care much about their “customers” they collect ALL the advertising dollars & give nothing to their stations. They also have poor US support, their servers are located in Belgium & France and my station suffered from many outages. I switched to Securenet/Cirrus and even though my audience is low (partially caused by Radionomy issues) I receive a portion of the monies generated by the ads in their player and on my website. The whole small webcaster industry, which I like to call an incubator for new indie music, was destroyed because of no representation during the CRB proceedings (that actually started in January of 2014) when the Small Webcaster Act was allowed to expire. The original hosting service (LIVE365) died because of this and thousands of stations went dark. I was lucky.

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