Tuesday, 1 March 2016

The War on American Internet Radio Continues

Updated 5 April 2016

Characterising its 50,000 small radio producers as "pirates",  a coalition of US corporate record labels are taking European Net radio provider Radionomy to court over what they contend are unpaid royalties.

Radionomy, whose member stations operate worldwide, supports a vast number of operations devoted to niche music genres. The Radionomy business model entails running paid advertisements for large multinational corporations such as Walmart and GEICO in heavy rotation and applying proceeds to the liability incurred by member stations. In return, those stations must deliver minimum ATH to Radionomy's sponsors; those that fail are unceremoniously deleted.

Radionomy is owned by digital mass-media company Vivendi, which also owns Net radio pioneer Shoutcast and Universal Music Group, the world's largest record company.

Following the January 2016 CRB decision that eliminated the US small webcasting music license, American small businesses and hobby stations flocked to Radionomy in a bid to stay on-stream. Of particular note were refugees from the collapse of Live365, which left an estimated 6,000 American stations without access.

The current action by corporate music interests in the US follows a 2015 Sony offensive to remove small stations, including Radionomy members, from Net radio aggregator TuneIn.

In other news, virtually all Radionomy stations suddenly went silent today at about 2100 GMT. The company's website was also down, as were those of member stations. No word on the origin of the apparently worldwide outage, or whether or not it is related to the American action. As of this writing (0050 GMT), the stations remain offline.

The Shoutcast station database also appears to be inoperative on its website, though Shoutcast stations in the NRB playlist are still up and the database is still accessible for streaming through the Internet Radio Box mobile application.

Update 2016 Mar 1: At 0351 GMT, Radionomy released a statement attributing the network-wide blackout to an unspecified "major Internet issue", and announced that it was working to have service back up soon.

Update 2016 Mar 2: Radionomy seems to be mostly back "up" as of ca. 1600 GMT.

Update 2016 April 5: Word has come from Radionomy that residents of Italy are no longer permitted to produce Radionomy stations. This comes after a protracted take-down campaign by Italian music industry authorities.

An easy way to help: Stream Radionomy stations. Boot up a good station and run it as background music. Maybe have a playlist of several, and remain at least 10 minutes (including adverts!) on each one. This accomplishes two important things: it delivers ATH to Radionomy's advertisers, strengthening their interest in supporting Radionomy, and it demonstrates citizen support; authorities generally insist that Net radio is only a grey-market (or in this case, black-market) medium, frequented by a handful of hipsters. By upping Radionomy's carefully-accounted numbers -- especially in the United States -- we imply that there could be political blowback to anyone who harms it.


Relevant links:

Major Labels Sue Internet Radio Platform Radionomy for Copyright Infringement: "Another major threat to small and medium sized internet radio stations has surfaced."

Record Labels Sue Radionomy Over Diy ‘Pirate’ Internet Radio: "'Defendants operate an online music service through which users can listen to music stations, or create stations, that Defendants stream to listeners worldwide,' the complaint reads."

Sony Music Sues Universal Sister Company Radionomy: "Sony is claiming the maximum US statutory damages amount of $150,000 per infringed track."

Record Labels Sue Radionomy: "The company sent out a press release earlier today announcing its new iOS and Android mobile apps along with smart TV apps for Roku and Samsung TVs which indicates this move came out of nowhere."

27 comments:

  1. Something stinks - is there a play going on here that's not been revealed?

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  2. There's a play going on that's clear as day: Big Music wants to destroy the Internet. Same play they've been at since the Internet happened.

    In this case they want to do away with the burgeoning small-webcaster industry, which has added immeasurably to the ability of fans to discover new artists and promote the latter to greater profits... without shunting a giant chunk of the revenue to the old-economy dons. They can't have this; since they don't produce any product, if systems develop outside their sphere of control, they go out of business. (Or just make less money, which is intolerable to them.)

    First we saw this in January, when they did away with the American small-webcaster licence, then Americans flocked to Radionomy, so now they want to kill that.

    No mystery.

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  3. It’s a headache not just for Radionomy, but also for Vivendi, which owns Universal Music, and has a 64% stake in Radionomy’s ownership. Should be interesting to see what Universal will make of the filing too, given that its catalogue is just as likely to be streamed through Radionomy.

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  4. Because Radionomy owns Shoutcast, what will happen with Shoutcast stations if Radionomy shuts down, specifically those that are based in Europe?

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  5. Right there with you. And yeah, the Shoutcast connection is just one more deeply troubling aspect of this.

    In terms of Universal, I think we're seeing the inevitable: the big record companies turning on each other to duke it out for the big monopoly. That's pretty much been the script for big business since the 80s; you especially see it in the mega-corps that have come up since then (Amazon, Microsoft, Google...) One big company basically owning an entire sector of the economy.

    So I think we have to take this very seriously; "it'll work out" is not an effective response. Remember Napster? These same raiders were entirely successful at stuffing the 21st century right back in the bottle. And so far, they've been just as successful at un-inventing Net radio, especially in the States.

    There is no indication that the courts are the least bit disposed to rule in favour of the public good. We're going to have to force that.

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  6. The battle for internet radio is real big records want to shut them. I wonder how long will internet radio broadcast continue.
    Howcee Productions Gospel
    Blog Talk Radio
    Beatrice, AL 36425

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  7. Here’s the deal:

    Radionomy hosts channels and inserts adverts to pay for revenue and follow licenses. But not all of those 50,000 channels are hosted by Radionomy, but are individuals or other agencies who may not care about licenses being able to appear in the Radionomy search. And that’s when the problem comes in so kill the search provider.

    Hollywood isn’t happy that they index channels that don’t pay licenses but are listed in the search… And instead of going after those channel providers individually, they are going after the main service.

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  8. Here’s some clarifications since so many people are getting confused.

    Radionomy is made up of multiple parts:
    1. Their Hosting Service
    2. Radio Index
    3. TargetSpot (the ad network/technology)
    4. Former Nullsoft\AOL products (Winamp\Shoutcast)

    The lawsuit here is only about #1 and that they:
    1. Haven’t paid royalties since 2014 that their contract states they will and you don’t have to.
    2. Shut down stations that don’t reach 130h (and those don’t get ad revenue, only either the filler time and no ads or the same 5 or so PSAs every ad break)

    The radio index is like TuneIn, iTunes, etc. and lists both Radionomy stations and others.

    TargetSpot is not really an issue (other than the 2nd point above). Heck even some real local stations use them for their online stream ads and aren’t having issues.

    Lastly, Shoutcast has nothing to do with this as Radionomy stations are IceCast actually and this has been an issue for a while before they even bought it. Same with Winamp.

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  9. From what I've heard, Sony Music is having a temper tantrum in their lawsuit with Radionomy. They sent a letter to TuneIn ordering them to remove all Radionomy stations from TuneIn.

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  10. Yeah, that's been going on for a year now. It's part of a concerted effort to destroy small webcasting.

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  11. Simple solution for Radionomy: shut up and pay. From 2007 to 2013, I did a radio show for an Internet station. We paid the requested royalties because it was simply the right thing to do. As for the idea that these small webcasters provide independent labels with their only way of promoting their artists, that is flat-out false, especially in this day and age. I have never listened to Radionomy or any other service that rips off musicians, yet typically purchase 140-150 new releases each calendar year (very few of these are on major labels). The notion that artists should give away their recordings or play free gigs for "exposure" is moronic. The musicians I know aren't interested in becoming stars. They just want to be paid for their work. So pay 'em, for goodness sake.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Marvin Glass, founder of Stream Licensing, explains the dire situation that many small internet stations are facing, showing that paying up is not so simple.

      http://www.radioworld.com/article/crb-ruling-is-%E2%80%9Ccrushingly-bad-news%E2%80%9D-for-microcasters/277856

      Without a new Small Webcaster Agreement from the CRB, small webcasters can't afford the increase in rates that the CRB imposed at the end of December 2015. The small internet stations don't have the finances that large companies like Pandora have.

      Delete
  12. LETS KEEP THE DIALOGUE GOING HERE. MAYBE THERE IS SOMETHING FOR US ALL TO GLEAN FROM all of these comments. LETS HELP US HELP OURSELVES.

    Radionomy user/producer

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  13. I'm with you. One thing about the Net radio community, it's scattered and unorganised, which is probably unavoidable given the sort of skills and personality it takes to succeed at such an individualistic pursuit.

    Less acceptable are the curmudgeons in that community who want to bat others down and break up solidarity. This is unhelpful and unneeded; it's hard enough to succeed in this field without having to confront that kind of envy. I could go awhile without hearing from that crowd and not miss them.

    Radionomy is unique and compelling. It's not without its worrisome sides -- business model, corporate practices, technical failings, etc. But it's a major player in Net radio and something the world would be worse off without.

    People who love Net radio need to keep their priorities clear and get on the team.

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  14. Latest update 4/29/16: Sony Music has has pulled all Radionomy stations from TuneIn and removed the Radionomy App from the US iTunes Store. www(dot)facebook(dot)com/milwaukeesmagic/posts/747064962096844

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  15. Another update: The music industry is battling YouTube as well. http://rainnews.com/the-industrys-battle-against-youtube-gathers-steam/

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  16. I've signed just about every petition there is in regards to the CRB ruling. I'm in doubt about it because of this fact: Most people who stream these days do it from established major music platforms like Pandora, Spotify, and Apple Music, rather than small privately run webcasters, because many such services provide the listener with more control of what artists and songs they want to hear.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm trying to decide on a radio app for my Smartphone. Listener control is a factor I'm looking at.

      Delete
    2. You mean a general listening app? One that you can add your own stations to?

      Delete
    3. Like Pandora, Apple Music, Spotify, etc.

      Delete
    4. Some clarification regarding these services. On-demand services, like Apple Music and Spotify, negotiate royalty rates directly with labels. Pandora, which is not an on-demand service, goes by the rates determined by the CRB. From what I've heard, Pandora's appeal to consumers has waned in favor of the on-demand services.

      Delete
    5. 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.

      Delete
    6. May 3 Anonymous @ 19:57 - I agree about that. Streaming has an offline problem.

      http://www.wired.com/2015/07/streaming-music-offline-problem/

      Delete
  17. Yeah, and tell me what the Esperanto language music station Muzaiko was stealing. What do I plan to do about piggy pigs causing the loss of one of my favorite music stations? I haven't tried to get my drivers license back for several years after the State of Arizona said it wanted $400. Universal Music, okay, now I know what to look for.

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  18. Ahh Radionomy. What Radionomy needs is to have a bit of respect to the producers and a better and more professional tech team. Sadly RN is a chaos nowadays and is going down the cliff.

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  19. Some more issues affecting small webcasters. http://rainnews.com/small-webcasting-rocked-by-licensing-issues/

    ReplyDelete
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