More on SoundExchange/NPR webcast licensing deal: more reporting requirements

npr-hat cavnasAs we reported on March 17, SoundExchange and National Public Radio (NPR) reached an agreement for webcast music licensing in the 2016-2020 royalty period. The deal must be sanctioned by the Copyright Royalty Board by the end of this year, and probably will be. The deal structure resembled the current arrangement (2011-2015 period), with a flat rate providing a blanket license. SoundExchange told RAIN News that NPR agreed to a 17% rate rise for the upcoming period ($560,000/year).

An article in Current describes another rising obligation for NPR: An increase in the number of stations delivering census reporting to SoundExchange. Census reporting is an actual count of song title and number of plays, as opposed to sampling, which surveys playlists for a short period and extrapolates to a longer time frame.

SoundExchange requires census reporting of all commercial webcast entities from which SoundExchange collects record label royalties. The increased requirement in the NPR agreement — from 33% of stations to 50% obligated to deliver census reports — implies a steady march toward full census requirements throughout the network.

Census reporting is sometimes described as burdensome by commercial webcasters, especially stations with small staffs. That describes some NPR stations, some of which are partly staffed by volunteers.

RAIN News asked Rusty Hodge, Founder of pureplay webcaster SomaFM, about the level of effort in creating a census report of streamed music. He said it depends partly on station programming. “For an all-digital broadcaster who only plays back music from an automation system, it’s not really troublesome. For ones that play a lot of syndicated programming that relies on cue-sheets to list the music used, it can be harder to track digital performances as you need to track where in the syndicated program you are and what music is playing when a digital listener tunes in.”

SoundExchange has said that once a census system is set up, those reports are no more difficult to create than sampling reports. That front-end effort will be undertaken by many more stations starting next year.

Brad Hill