The Copyright Royalty Board is still in the throes of its decision-making process of setting webcasting licensing rates for 2016-2020. In the latest development, the CRB has asked the Copyright Office whether it can set different rates for different music suppliers. The query has sent industry leaders into heavy speculation about the intent behind it. Many have predicted that it could be an effort to give major labels and indie labels different rates.
Before today, the most recent news from the deliberations was another Copyright Office involvement that deemed Pandora’s direct deal with the Merlin Network could serve as a valid benchmark for the CRB’s rate-setting decision. It is possible that the inclusion of that deal presented a wide enough spread of royalty fees, especially when compared with the arrangements streaming platforms have with other parties, that the CRB is considering tiered rates. But it’s just as possible that the rates will vary based on genre or nationality. Until the CRB issues a formal statement, we can’t know for sure.