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Quick Hits: Closer looks at iHeartMedia, SoundCloud, audio advertising, and suing Spotify

Brief news items and worthy reads from around the web:

Will iHeartMedia Survive?: The finances of America’s biggest radio group are discussed in the radio trades quite a bit lately. Never with a more grim prediction of the future as this week’s article in Media Life MagazineComing, the Collapse of Radio’s iHeartMediaIt’s all about iHeart’s staggering $21-billion debt. Author Court Stroud notes that the stock has been crushed since last June ($7.50 to $1.01), but the main issue is what Stroud regards as insurmountable debt due to a leveraged buyout (LBO) in 2008. Stroud compares that action to the merger of Time Warner and AOL, widely thought to be one of the worst mergers in modern American corporate history. The upshot? Imminent dissolution in Stroud’s apocalyptic view. “iHeartMedia is teetering on collapse. It’s not a question of whether it collapses but when, and it’s likely to come sooner rather than later. It could be within months.”

To SoundCloud, Love Dave: But not really a love letter from indie musician Dave Wiskus. More a combination of critique and plea to set things right for creators in SoundCloud’s new SoundCloud GO subscription service. SoundCloud features creator-uploaded music, and Dave Wiskus speaks for many other who think it unfair that their music is not monetized in the new service — this is different from other music services, including YouTube, which can earn money through advertising. “As a perennial supporter of underdogs, I want to see SoundCloud do well. But not by perpetuating the notion that independent art has no value,” Wiskus says.

Audio Advertising Changing the Tune for Advertisers: “We’re in the middle of a new golden age of audio,” starts Tim Sims in this thought piece in AdWeek. The move to mobile (music and consumers), increased personalization of content, and highly engaged audiences combine for what Sims calls a compelling future for audio advertising. “Programmatic, especially, is in a prime position to deliver relevant messages to that global audience of active listeners—without killing the vibe.” The author is a VP at The Trade Desk, a demand-side technology platform for agency buyers and advertisers.

David Lowery talks streaming, royalties, and solutions: David Lowery spoke with Music Ally about his legal action against Spotify over mechanical royalties. He shared some details about how the attempted class action happened, plus his opinions about Spotify’s recent arrangement with the National Music Publishers Association. Lowery said the main point in the lawsuit was finding a solution to problems between streaming and royalty payments. “It’s medicine!” he said. “It’s like the medicine that nobody wants to take, but it’s going to make everybody better.”

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Brad Hill

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