I’m driving around listening to DJ Jeremiah Red on KROQ and it’s 30% static. A great playlist, but I can’t fully take it in. Then I remember I could stream it from my phone. I open iHeartRadio, but unfortunately they don’t carry KROQ. They carry KCRW and KPCC (the NPR stations – my other go-tos on the FM dial), but no KROQ. I find the stream on their website.
Once my iPhone has seamless syncing with my dash and there’s fast LTE internet everywhere, I won’t need to turn on the AM/FM radio again. It will make no difference to us if we turn on the radio or open the streaming radio apps built into the dash.
In 10 years more people will be streaming music into their cars than over the terrestrial air waves – if terrestrial radio even exists.
Remember how they did away with analog TV when everyone said that day would never come?
Getting back to iHeartRadio, these guys (uh Clear Channel) should get every radio station added to the app. They should go to the radio station’s websites (who haven’t opted in) and embed the streaming players to the app. Or at least link to the players from the app. The more helpful iHeartRadio is (as selfless as it may be), the more users they’ll have.
It’s like Spotify, the more artists who aren’t on the service the less attractive it is.
That’s why Spotify worked so hard to get the majors on-board early on – even though it cost them a lot of capital up front. They figured the indies would follow suit. Once word got out that the deals were skewed in favor of the majors, the indies started pulling out. Spotify had to move into damage control to woo the indies back and Spotify Artists was born.
Growing pains. But Spotify overcame this minor hiccup and is moving along so well it is rumored that they are nearing 10 million paid subscribers. Apple is so frightened by Spotify that they had to buy Beats to steal its algorithm. They didn’t buy Beats to reduce the competition. With it’s meager 110,000 paid subscribers, it’s no competition.
But it has built a beautiful, back-end algorithm that obviously gave Apple a hard on. Yes, Beats Electronics is attractive as well and now Apple won’t have to split revenue for all the headphones they sell in store.
But back to radio.
Spotify, Pandora, Sirius/XM, iHeartRadio, YouTube, iTunes Radio (which will improve infinitely with the purchase of Beats and the arrival of iTunes streaming service), and all the other niche streaming sites that will pop up over the coming couple years, will win out over terrestrial radio.
Millennials aren’t obsessed with terrestrial radio like Gen X is. The younger Millennials aren’t turning to AM/FM radio for discovery; they’re turning to Pandora, YouTube and Spotify.
Once all of these services are integrated seamlessly into cars there will be no need for terrestrial radio. When was the last time you turned on the radio at home? Or at the office? Or anywhere other than your car? Now ask the same question to someone under 30.
By the time SoundExchange has successfully lobbied Congress to change the law to get performers and master rights holders paid for terrestrial radio plays, it will be moot.
It’s too bad SoundExchange doesn’t see this soon-to-be new reality and devote more of its resources to work out the data clusterfuck that is its payment system. And it’s horribly incompetent customer service. Stop lobbying congress. It’s going to be irrelevant.
What is relevant, is the thousands of artists and rights holders who cannot get paid what they are owed, no matter how hard they work the SoundExchange system. If SoundExchange isn’t careful, another organization will pop up. SESAC arrived post ASCAP and BMI followed shortly after. Another company will accomplish what SoundExchange isn’t. SoundExchange claims to be there for the artist, but artists are having a hell of a time figuring out how to get paid from SoundExchange (myself included).
Catch Up: SoundExchange is a non-profit organization setup by the US government that pays performers (singers/bands) and master rights holders (labels/bands) royalties for non-interactive streams on digital platforms in the US (Pandora, Sirius/XM, internet streams). SoundExchange does not currently pay royalties for terrestrial radio (AM/FM). It’s a messed up part of the law that’s been around for way too long. Every song has two copyrights: one for the composition (the song) and one for the sound recording (the recording). SoundExchange pays for the sound recording. PROs like ASCAP and BMI pay royalties to songwriters and publishers for the composition.
Despite what it seems, I’m rooting for SoundExchange’s success. It’s to my benefit, as an artist, to see them accomplish what they boast. But the more I try (and fail) to get paid as an artist, the less I can support them. They’re not supporting me. I’ve tried: 3 reps over the phone, 12 emails, and even talking to the VP of communications in person.
Personalized radio and curated playlists will soon takeover. Terrestrial radio will die. Local radio will stay put, but in a streaming, digital form. And your grandparents’ dial will continue to gather dust.
Photo is by Liz West and used with the Creative Commons License