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A few links on music blanket licensing

It’s been a busy week so forgive me if I lean on other sites for content:

Ars has an interesting article about Jim Griffin, a consultant for Warner, talking up “blanket” licensing for digital music. While this would seem to be a huge step in the right direction for a major label – like so many things – the devil’s in the details.

Remember, the creation of a performance rights organization for internet radio in 2000 was considered a huge step for “legitimizing” internet broadcasters, but SoundExchange hasn’t exactly managed to keep that goodwill. In fact, their new royalty rates (which have just started to come into effect) threaten to shut down many internet broadcasters (such as Pandora).

For example, Griffin makes it very clear in the article that he’s against compulsory (ie: government mandated) blanket licensing. But is he against a consumer having an automatic surcharge tacked on to (say) their ISP bill, instead of opting in to a blanket licensing program? Or is he against all labels and artists to automatically participate with rates set by someone other party? I’d hazard a guess he’d have more problems with the latter than the former (and for the record, I think both would be equally problematic).

I had a lunch meeting with a gentleman a few weeks back involved in changing the format of a radio station… in chatting I asked about licensing rates, and was shocked at how little traditional radio has to pay to rights collection agencies (and unlike internet and satellite radio, their fees are a percentage of total earnings, not the dreaded “per listener” royalty).