Last week we revealed that the year-ago demise of Live365, the pioneering internet radio platform for small webcasters, provided the top articles on RAIN News in 2016 — in fact, the top two articles. The sad fate of Live365 emblemized the disruption caused by new webcaster royalty rates for recorded music, which took effect on January 1, 2016.
“We are elated to announce that Live365 has been rescued.” –Live365 website, January 2, 2017
Now, almost exactly one year after Live365 went dark, sending thousands of small webcasters scrambling for new platforms or giving up their stations, Live365 is back. Details are scarce, but the new owners promise RAIN News information soon. In the meantime, this is what we know now:
The website is live. It’s only a container at this point, without stations, but its framework gives clues to what’s coming. Programmers will be given “easy to learn 24/7 cloud automation. Live support will also be a 24-hour service, evidently. On the front end, players will can carry the station brand, can be embedded in websites, and will permit social sharing an a yet-unspecified way.
On the legal front, Live365 will cover webcast royalty payments (SoundExchange, ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC). While Live365 covers legal payments for music, it offers ad insertion and revenue sharing. The system will involve “easy ad insertion triggers,” which might mean that the station owner determines ad load and placement.
Prices range from $59/month to $199/month in three plans which vary by amount of music cloud storage, and total listening hours (TLH) per month. All other features currently appear to be equal across the three levels — unlimited listeners, unlimited bandwidth, 192Kbps bandwidth (high quality for earbud streaming, though not technically hi-rez audio), and something called Go Live.
We look forward to learning more about Go Live, which sounds as if it could be a live-DJ’ing feature.
“A renewed passion for small webcasters, and fierce dedication to come back stronger.” –Live365 website
The damage to done by last year’s Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) ruling, and the simultaneous expiration of a law which protected small webcasters, cannot be totally undone. The online music sphere was disappointingly thinned and we lost many wonderful stations. Some surviving stations limited their hours or geo-blocked their streams, to reduce the cost burden of serving American listeners. A couple of large platforms likewise revised their operations to protect their businesses, in ways that limited listening or made it less convenient.
For many small webcasters, the thought of Live365 rising from the ashes could stimulate the first really good news for the field in 12 months. Step by step, we’ll soon learn more about what this means, and how it might affect the internet radio landscape.