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Radionomy blocks U.S. listening on TuneIn because of CRB rates

radionomy logo august 2014 canvasRAIN News has learned that Radionomy has pulled its stations from TuneIn’s U.S. listening audience, over the cost of music licensing under the new Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) royalty rates. Radionomy told RAIN News that the company asked TuneIn to geo-block the U.S. from Radionomy streams. In an email exchange, Radionomy emphasized that the blocking action is for the U.S. only, and that its streaming business is not challenged by licensing costs in other territories.

Our testing revealed the absence of Radionomy station on the company’s TuneIn page, which shows zero stations available. On the Radionomy site, and in the Radionomy Android app, our U.S. testing played every station we tried. Linking from one of those stations on Radionomy’s web page to the station website, and from there to the station’s TuneIn presence, caused the stream to stop when we hit TuneIn.

Jim Atkinson, who runs the indie/classic rock internet station 3WK, sent us a statement that Radionomy posted in its producers’ forum: “Following the increase of the CRB rates for the royalties in the United States and the absence of specific rates for Small Pure Play Webcasters, we are obliged to modify our streaming policy. The new pricing system multiplies by 6 the royalties that we have to pay.”

Radionomy indicated that its shut-off on the TuneIn platform was a “temporary measure,” and said 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.”

There is a background to this story which goes back to 2009, when “small webcasters” (defined as webcasters earning less than a certain revenue threshold) became entitled to a different, less costly label-royalty system than the one established by the CRB in its 2006 proceeding. That Webcaster Settlement Act held sway until it expired last year at midnight, December 31. At that time, all commercial webcasters became obligated to the same royalty rate system — 17 cents per 100 tracks streamed. The new rate was a meaningful but tolerable increase from the 2015 rate for Pandora and some other large internet-only players, but caused many small-biz and hobby stations to pull their plugs. Live365, a webcast aggregator in a similar business as Radionomy, went bankrupt and shut down in January.

Any music stream which is delivered to a U.S. listener, regardless of where the source station is located, is liable for label royalties at the CRB rate regulated by the U.S. government.

In its memo to producers, Radionomy noted that it would cease revenue-share payments for U.S. listening, starting May 1. Jim Atkinson (3WK) noted a problem beyond whatever lost revenue might impact a station, related to Radionomy’s requirement that stations maintain a certain number of listener hours. “It’s a catch 22 in that streams need to have so many avg hours to stay on Radionomy, and if they’re limiting us, that’s an issue.” (Atkinson indicated that 3WK will stay above the threshold even with reduced U.S. listening.)

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Brad Hill

26 Comments

  1. Nothing will be done as done about the CRB rates and getting the Small Webcaster Agreement restored unless we all come together and ACT. We need Congressional legislation introduced and passed to make it happen…which means we need to be deluging Congress with letters, phone calls, and emails about it. If we don’t make our voice known, nothing will change. We can’t just expect “someone else to do it” for us; EVERYONE needs to pitch in to help. For specific ways you can get involved and help, please visit http://howtohelp.saveinternetradio.info. Follow us too, at http://saveinternetradio.info. Share the post with others, so they may get involved as well.

    • This Congress is a Do-Nothing-Congress. They won’t listen to you.

    • Most people who stream do it from established major music platforms like
      Pandora, Spotify, and Apple Music, rather than small privately run
      webcasters these days. I think that’s a factor into why there’s not a lot of outcry concerning the CRB ruling.

  2. This action of slamming small webcasters by Congress is pathetic !
    Anything to put more money in their own fatcat pockets !
    Im really getting to see these politicians for what they are and it aint a pretty picture !
    Reminds me of the Al Capone days ! Only the government is trying to justify their thieving tactics ! Pretty pathetic !

  3. Killing off small Webcasters hurts emerging artists who need wide exposure more than revenue, and just protects the dominance of established acts. In other words it kills the one outlet that could bring new life to popular music after broadcast radio died as an outlet for new artists.

  4. The battle over online radio royalties is just beginning. It makes no sense for an online radio station to be required to track laws and royalties in 192 countries around the globe. No other web content operates in such a fashion – radio shouldn’t be the first.

    What makes sense is for the service to know the laws where they reside and abide by those including paying royalties in that territory.

  5. As long as royalties are paid in the country where the station comes from. It should be open for all world wide. For example if you locate your studios in England and use US based shoutcast servers Royalties are paid in England! If the same UK radio station is virtualised on a Virtual server in a USA datacentre then yes royalties are paid in the USA. If people are smart this will start up a whole new price war over where to host your internet station…

    • I do agree, but tell that to Capital in the U.K, or iHeart in the U.S. Both operate geofencing to their respective countries.

      It’s insane, that in this digital age the licencing regulations for the entertainment industries still haven’t caught up.

  6. I wonder how this affects American stations that play unsigned music and have approval by all artist/bands? I mean there are many that only support bands and artist that are not well known but still have a fan base.

  7. From what I hear, this was done because of Sony’s lawsuit, not because of the CRB. www(dot)facebook(dot)com/milwaukeesmagic/posts/747064962096844

  8. At my job, many of these streaming services are already blocked due to bandwith. If I want to stream at work, I have to use my personal cell phone.

  9. According to the boards at Radionomy, the Nobex app is being geoblocked as well. board(dot)radionomy(dot)com/viewtopic.php?f=35&t=21423

    Also, I’ve heard that Radionomy’s iTunes app is being geoblocked.

  10. I prefer my phone’s MP3 player over streaming services. You don’t have to pay a costly subscription every month or every year just to listen to music you like. Plus, you don’t have to worry about data connection issues.

    • I agree about that. Streaming has an offline problem.

      www(dot)wired(dot)com/2015/07/streaming-music-offline-problem/

  11. They’d like us to think that any station broadcasting to the U.S. regardless of location is on the hook for paying royalties, but in all honesty, United States law stops 13 miles from our coastline. Only the Berne Convention allows Sony to sue Radionomy at all, and the only reason Sony is trying it is that they smell millions of dollars on the other side of the ocean and they want it.

  12. The latest is that Radionomy stations are being geoblocked in multiple countries around the world. www(dot)facebook(dot)com/milwaukeesmagic/posts/751594761643864

  13. Not only the geoblocking is going on, there’s more under the hood: until now broadcasters were able to use Radionomy’s vast library of music in addition to uploading their own tracks. Since May 4th, that library is gone, only the content already added to stations prior to that date remains there and continues to play. And the geoblocking is rather nasty in that listeners silenty get redirected to a Jamendo station playing royalty-free music.

  14. So you are telling anyone wanting to start.a new station.they have to provide their on music???? Live365 closed up because increased licening fees.

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