The final week of the year is a good time to reflect on what was, and look forward to what will be.
Later this week we will publish our month-by-month view of the most important 2016 milestones. Today, the most-read articles, and the #1 story.
Although there is usually some disparity between “most important” and “most-read” when reviewing an entire year, RAIN editors and readers are in massive agreement on the #1 news item of 2016: The Copyright Royalty Board (CRB)’s new webcast royalty rate increase. The rate went up, but more important to small webcasters, they lost the legal shelter from CRB rates when a 2009 law expired, and there was no movement in the rate-setting process to renew it.
The CRB made its announcement in late December, 2015. But the rates took effect on January 1, and the repercussions in the webcast industry, especially for small webcasters who suffered from the expiring protective law, reverberated through Q1 and into Q2.
The most-read story of 2016 was our breaking-news coverage of Live365, a leading online radio provider, which, days after the CRB announcement, abruptly and silently vacated its offices and laid off its staff:
Our industry-leading (if you’ll forgive a justifiable brag) coverage of the new CRB royalty rates resulted in an unprecedented concentration of reader interest, resulting in the top five most-read articles of 2016. In addition to the Live365 blockbuster above, the next four most-read articles were:
- Live365 pulls the plug: In January, Live365 officially dropped out of business and went silent, disrupting the operations of thousands of small webcasters, and burying a venerable online radio brand.
- Radionomy blocks some streams because of CRB rates: Radionomy, one of the world’s largest online radio platforms, incorporating the company’s original Radionomy platform and the acquired ShoutCast platform, blocked access to TuneIn streams in the U.S. This created worry about the company’s health (unfounded worry so far, as Radionomy later was partly acquired by global media giant Vivendi), and fomented turmoil among Radionomy’s client base of small webcasters.
- Kurt Hanson’s “Bloody Sunday”: RAIN News founder Kurt Hanson’s blog post — a pioneer of online radio and founder of AccuRadio took stock of the newly devastated webcasting sphere on February 1. “Internet radio’s landscape looks much different today than it did a week ago.” Dozens of top indie webcasters had pulled their plugs. Among larger enterprises, Songza was absorbed into Google Play Music, iTunes Radio was placed behind the Apple Music subscription wall, and, of course, Live365.
- Live365 announces shutdown: Finally, our coverage of Live365’s official announcement in mid-January was the fifth most-read story of 2016.
Whew. But wait, there’s more! (Shark Tank reference.) The seventh and eighth most-read stories were about the CRB, too:
Stay tuned this week for more review of 2016, including the top news mile-markers of the online audio industry, and a Top 40 story countdown. We’ll publish the annual RAIN Predictions next week.