A few weeks ago Bob Lefsetz posted a letter (his style) about Spotify. In it he lists the reasons Spotify is the future of music.
There's plenty of times I disagree with Lefestz but I concur with nearly this entire list of reasons regarding the future of streaming music. Here's his bullet points but to understand the statements you'll need to read the letter, Spotify Rules.
1. You will delete your MP3s.
2. Plays will be the metric.
3. Media will promote spins.
4. Payouts will be high.
5. It'll be mobile.
6. Discovery will be in the Spotify app.
7. Pandora survives.
8. iHeart Radio stalls.
9. Passive listening.
10. You will share Spotify playlists.
11. Sound quality will improve.
12. Data charges are irrelevant.
13. It's not about Spotify.
14. Exit strategy.
15. Bottom Line.
The precipitous drop in music piracy with the presence of streaming music services like Spotify has left the RIAA with no one to shake down. Leave it to them to play villain once more.
Now they're going after RealRadio or Real Top 40 Radio Repository, a website dedicated to preserving radio airchecks and recordings. The website has been in existence for nearly 20 years, since 1996. I've been a subscriber since the early 2000s.
The recordings are either, what are known in the industry as, airchecks or full recordings. Airchecks or scoped recordings are made by the DJs to capture their work. When the microphone is turned on the recording would start. When the mic went off the recording stopped. Thus most of the music is missing. Full recordings were usually made by fans who would simply record from the radio. The ReelRadio archives, with over 3,000 recordings, is a fascinating time machine for fans of radio and music. The quality of these recordings is often sketchy but it adds to the vintage feel. It's hardly the place you'd come to listen to music. So it's rather absurd that the RIAA has told them to turn off these unscoped recordings.
The music thugs have allowed them to set up loop streams. I guess the idea is that since you don't know where you're coming into a broadcast you're less likely to record (steal) the music. Are you kidding me?! Let's hope that ReelRadio wins this poorly aimed attempt by the RIAA.
Here's the first letter (July 7) from ReelRadio to their subscribers explaing the RIAA complaint.
This message explains why 1,147 unscoped airchecks are currently unavailable. On July 7, 2014, REELRADIO, Inc. received notice from the Recording Industry Association of America regarding non-compliance with conditions of our statutory license. The statutory license allows REELRADIO to stream music sound recordings heard in our "unscoped" airchecks. However, the statutory license requires licensees to observe specific conditions as to the transmission of musical programs online.
The RIAA has determined that our service fails to meet the requirements for "archived programs", which must be at least five hours in duration and may not be made available for more than two weeks. The service must also display the Title, Artist and Album of each featured song, but only while the recording is being performed. You have probably seen this type of "online radio station" elsewhere on the Web.
Obviously, we have no single airchecks with a duration of five hours, and our exhibits are permanent. Our current method for streaming content does not allow real-time metadata, such as artist and title, to be included in the media file.
We have been asked to remedy these violations to continue operating under the statutory license. Further, the RIAA insists that we obtain permission from the copyright owners of these old radio broadcasts. Many broadcasters understand the difficulty of this requirement, since nearly all radio stations have changed ownership, format, and call letters, many times over. Nevertheless, we are expected to provide the RIAA with an explanation of how we have permission from radio stations that no longer exist and copyright owners who have no interest in historic recordings of their property. The law is too narrow and should obviously be amended to include genuine "historical archive" sites, like REELRADIO.
It may be possible to meet the requirements for archived programs, though available technology necessitates that existing airchecks be cut into smaller pieces. Sometimes, there will be an audible "skip", but every time a record plays, you'll know the title and artist, even if there is no album! Further, a system can be devised so that new exhibits and favorites are combined in a five-hour program that disappears after two weeks. Unfortunately, you will not be able to move around in such a file, and you won't be able to select what you want when you want it. While this might meet the requirements of the statutory license, it's not the way you have listened to REELRADIO. It also requires significantly more time to prepare, and has a greater chance of technical failure. It's not ideal, but it would work.
We believe we can continue to feature our 'scoped content, from which the music has been removed, as we did for the first six years of our existence. These airchecks are not streamed under terms of our statutory license, they are streamed under provisions of "fair use." Of course, anyone can do that, and if we can't stream 'scoped airchecks, it would seem that airchecks will be gone from the web entirely.
We have suspended streaming of unscoped airchecks on demand to show our intention of meeting the requirements of the law. Because this situation took nearly all subscribers by surprise, we did not offer renewals or new subscriptions from July 9 until July 15. The RIAA needs our response by August 8, and they can suspend our license entirely, in addition to other penalities as specified in the Copyright Act. Those who subscribed recently are likely to be unhappy about this unforeseen circumstance. Those who have supported this site and organization for years are probably deeply saddened by this turn of events. Please note that our tax-exempt status has not changed. It is our intention to continue with 'scoped airchecks, if we can find a business model that supports continued operation. We will offer unscoped airchecks if we are licensed to do so.
Please excuse the lack of new exhibits while we address this problem. We are greatly appreciative of your support and will be working to resolve these issues.
Here's ReelRadio's required response to the RIAA complain, written on July 24.
The RIAA notification delivered via e-mail on July 7th, and postal mail on July 9, requested a written response by August 8. The response was written on July 17, submitted to our lawyer for review, approved and set for delivery via FedEx on Tuesday July 22, by 10:30AM local time. Following is the text of that letter.
Thursday, July 17, 2014
Sacramento, CA. 95834-08893
c/o Recording Industry Association of America
1025 F Street NW, 10th Floor
Washington, DC 20004
RE: Notice Concerning Non-Compliance with Statutory License Conditions
Dear Music Licensing:
In response to your July 7, 2014 notice of non-compliance with the Statutory License , I am writing to tell you that we have corrected the noted violations to the best of our ability. In reference to your follow-up email message of July 14, 2014, we are not a "music" website and do not care to be listed on your "WhyMusicMatters" website.
Because of the threatening tone of your first message, we believed it was necessary to stop exhibits with music from streaming on-demand. To facilitate music reporting, our exhibit database includes a count of all reportable music performances in every exhibit. Access to all exhibits in our repository is controlled by server software that verifies a valid subscription. On July 9, 2014, this software was modified to refuse requests for exhibits with more than "0" musical performances. Users are directed to a message explaining the compliance issue. Only requests for exhibits that do not contain reportable music performances are sent to the listener.
We had to re-design our service to meet your definition of "archived programs." None of our exhibits comes anywhere close to the five-hour minimum duration required for an "archived program." Most exhibits are about one hour. We have therefore created a program with a minimum length of five hours that features multiple exhibits. It runs continuously and interested listeners can join it wherever it is at the time. However, the element of selection, which they previously enjoyed, has been lost. It's important to note that they were able to select exhibits based on date, station, location, length and disc jockey, but not by the music played on the recording.
We have changed the delivery system for exhibits that contain music. All existing audio file technologies are limited as to the amount of textual data that can be stored in a single audio file. Our exhibits are large, continuous files, and contain multiple music performances, typically as many as 16 in an hour. It is not technologically possible to include all the required information in one file, and no stand-alone technology can display information synchronized to a position in a file. It is also not often possible to know if any song on a radio station recording was played from an album, or a single. Considering the age of the recordings and the radio format we archive, it's highly likely the vast majority of music was played from singles. Also, our existing technology only allows display of Title and Artist. Therefore, our compliance under 17 U.S.C. §114(d)(2)(C)(ix) must be limited to only Title and Artist.
In order to provide the service as described, it is necessary for us to edit each exhibit and break it into smaller files, which are then played back in sequence. The title and artist information can be stored for each individual song on an individual file. In this manner, an exhibit can play while displaying the Title and Artist for each song included in an exhibit. This procedure is time-consuming and requires full-time use of a computer-based "playout" system, but it is our best effort to comply with your notice.
Finally, we do not rely on 17 U.S.C. §114 for rights to the original radio station recordings. We believe these recordings to be "fair use". Our policy has always been to remove any exhibit if a copyright owner requests we do so. We have operated REELRADIO for 19 years, and we have received only one such request, with which we immediately complied. Please keep in mind that the initial audience for the site had a high percentage of current and former broadcasters, and that makes the lack of any claim of infringement all the more remarkable. In general, to be included in our Repository is an honorable thing, and not infringement of any sort.
Should you find additional violations, or have any specific complaint of infringement, please inform me immediately so the issues can be corrected, if possible.
REELRADIO is a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation and presentation of "Top 40" radio station recordings, primarily from 1955 to 1988. It is intended to honor deceased and living legends of the radio community, the memorable stations where they were heard, and yes, the popular music of the era. The time when local radio stations enraptured young people across the country is gone forever. Two generations of radio listeners remember this era fondly. Our purposes are not inconsistent with RIAA values and purposes, and our voluntary use of the statutory license goes back to 2002 with payment retroactive to 1999. We also pay fees to BMI and ASCAP.
The statutory law was written for online radio stations and Internet "jukebox" systems. It seems to have offered no regulations specific to the archival presentation of historical recordings. Nevertheless, we have made good faith payments to your organization with the knowledge that we were helping support the music community. We are not an online radio station, and we are not a music web site. We are a virtual museum of contemporary radio for baby-boomers.
So that we may continue our support, we need to please our subscribers. They want on-demand choice and access to recordings of radio stations, complete with the music they played. If they no longer support our site, we will have no revenue to continue our support of the RIAA. The initial response to the changes required by your notification have left them severely disappointed. Some are understandably angry, because something they have enjoyed and supported for years has suddenly stopped working.
We urgently request that you consider allowing us to continue using the statutory license with an exemption so that we can restore access to on-demand exhibits of original radio station recordings. Such an exemption would allow a variance with some of the requirements of the statutory law, specifically those you noted in your original notice of non-compliance. We make this request simply because we do not believe the law was written with consideration to our non-profit mission of preservation and presentation.
Thank you for your consideration.
Richard Irwin, President
Thu Jul 24, 2014
About a month ago I wrote about the hard time I was having in deciding what the populist song of the summer might be in 2014. I'm still unsure of that song but I have decided on mine.
Actually I have two candidates for my personal song of the summer. Both fit right in my wheelhouse. Musically they have great melodies and hooks. Lyrically they are what I'd call motivational, which I tend to gravitate toward.
The first one, First Aid Kit's "My Silver Lining" came out in the spring and I've listened to it more than any other song over the past few months. The two Swedish sisters create a breezy summer feel.
American Authors had a huge top 40 hit earlier this year with "Best Day Of My Life". They seem to love writing motivational music since their new single "Believer" has that same positive vibe. The song is in your face and catchy as hell.
So have you decided your summer song of 2014?
When LeBron James, with the help of Lee Jenkins at Sports Illustrated, announced to the world that he was coming home it was hard for me to concentrate on work Friday afternoon. When I did clear my desk for the weekend I headed downtown to join in the celebration.
I went directly to a couple of friend's bars, Moriarty's and AJ Rocco's, for a congratulatory toast. It means quite a cash influx for them and their staff. The streets were full of smiling faces. Car horns were blaring. Some kooks even rented a strech Hummer limo just to be driven around downtown as they hollered their delight out the windows.
In fact, everywhere I went this weekend, including the new Platform Brewery on Lorain and W. 41st, the Groove N Brew Festival in Tyler Village at Superior and E.36th on Saturday, a high school grad party in Westlake that night and a Tribe game on Sunday, there was a palpable joy in the air. And in every conversation I had the mention of LeBron elicited responses like "still in shock" to "this is so great for Cleveland". There wasn't a negative comment to be heard in my circle.
There were a few cranky people on my Facebook feed who had to take a dump on everyone's party. I just don't get that attitude. They whined about the misguided priorities of people. There's so much wrong with Cleveland that we should be focusing our energies elesewhere, they prescribed.
Really? Do they not think that the estimated 500 million dollar influx to the local economy is real? Are they blind to the heart-felt essay that LeBron and Jenkins wrote? In it James says it's bigger than basketball. He wants to come back to northeast Ohio because he feels that he can make a difference in kid's lives. If you don't believe he has that power you're very wrong.
LeBron James return home is inspiring for us all here in Cleveland and Akron. And if his presence can steer one kid away from taking a path which leads him to killing someone like Jim Brennan, well, that's quite an accomplishment off the court.
Cavs fans cruising down Huron celebrating LeBron's return in a rented limo.