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Music Media The Almighty Buck

Rates Lowered For Streamed Music In the UK 94

Posted by kdawson
from the library-of-congress-please-take-heed dept.
An anonymous reader tips the news that the UK's music collection society, PRS, has announced a new pricing plan it hopes may entice YouTube and Pandora back to the UK market. Pandora pulled out at the start of 2008, and YouTube began removing content from the view of UK users last March. "From 1 July 2009, firms will have to pay 0.085p for each track streamed, down from the previous rate of 0.22p. [The] head of the music streaming service We7 told BBC News he welcomed the new charges. 'It's brilliant. Not so much the rates but the realization by the PRS that things have to change in the digital world. Till now it's felt like they were not listening,' he said. ... 'They [the PRS] are getting in touch with the reality of the digital world.' [The PRS's managing director said] 'We've laid our stall out and listened to everyone who would engage with us. We've consulted with the 25 firms that represent 97% of our revenue over the past six months and have been given opinions from many others. We need to ensure the music artists are paid for their work, but we also wanted to make sure that the framework was in place to enable the digital market to grow.'"
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Rates Lowered For Streamed Music In the UK

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  • by Krneki (1192201) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @07:19AM (#28107949)
    I don't see how much the Artists get from the "0.085p for each track streamed".

    I bet it's extremely low.
    • by zippthorne (748122) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @07:26AM (#28108039) Journal

      Must be "Verizon math." I'd guess p==pounds, not pence as you would expect.

      • by slim (1652)

        There's no way it's p=pounds.

        A stream is rightly worth less than a tenth of a penny.

      • by hattig (47930) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @07:54AM (#28108283) Journal

        If you're a lowly hobbyist/free internet radio station, with 100 listeners on average, playing 10 songs an hour, then each day you would stream 24000 songs, which would have costed you £52.80 before, but now costs you £20.40 - a significant saving.

        If you're streaming to an average of 10,000 listeners, this turns you from having to have income (adverts, subscriptions, etc) of £5280 a day just to cover music costs, to income of £2040 a day - which is far more attainable.

        If 1,000,000 people a day listen to internet radio for an average of 2 hours each, with 10 songs an hour, then the previous income for the group was £44,000 a day - not bad going, but I expect with this new pricing they hope that more streams are made, so that eventually 2m people listen for 4 hours a day to get them £68,000 a day income.

    • by erroneus (253617) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @07:29AM (#28108059) Homepage

      As usual, artists get next to nothing. It's not a big difference. What they are facing is the realization that, especially in hard economic times, having a stranglehold on entertainment does not mean they can make people pay whatever they dictate. When faced with 0.22p being rejected and given 0.00p, they saw that people were more willing to go without than to pay too much. They CANNOT afford to let people realize that going without isn't such a bad option.

      People are addicted to their lifestyles in that they are very reluctant to change. But when they see that some change might not be so bad, that endagers what the music industry has come to rely on.

      • they saw that people were more willing to go without than to pay too much

        I doubt so much that people are going without as just using a different source, though perhaps that is what you are implying anyway?

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by drinkypoo (153816)

          Since you can easily get the download for free (often much more easily than paying) what consumers are really interested in from the rights holders is a license. The consumers are willing to go without the license.

      • by shark72 (702619)

        I'm not sure what you mean by "next to nothing." PRS represents the creative folks behind the music -- the lyricists, composers, and publishers. They get the bulk of the money (something like 80%+) with the PRS taking a bit off of the top.

        If by "next to nothing" you mean that the royalty per track is low, you're right -- but this is what will give online radio a better chance of success, including a possible return of Pandora to the UK market. It's a tiny bit per track but it adds up. The economics of strea

        • by pbhj (607776) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @11:33AM (#28111219) Homepage Journal

          And -- best of all -- it's money that the record label doesn't get to touch.

          Only if you own the copyright on your music. Which writers initially give up to the publishers.

          "PRS for Music is a not-for-profit membership society. Music creators - writers, composers, publishers - join PRS for Music and give us permission to license to use of their music."

          Which musicians making a living from selling music do not have publishers? They for example say things like:

          "Collecting societies, like PRS for Music, exist to simplify the arrangement between the millions of music-users who require permission and the music creators who can provide a licence."

          They define publishers as "music creators". On the whole very few professional music creators (the people who actually make the music) can provide a license. The publishing companies, Sony / Warner / EMI et al., own the rights and hence collect the royalty payments.

          PRS think 1 person is an audience and that them listening to the radio constitutes a performance ( http://www.prsformusic.com/playingbroadcastingonline/music_for_businesses/Pages/WhatisPRSforMusic.aspx [prsformusic.com] ):
          "There is no statutory minimum of people required to constitute an audience. However, in some cases, PRS for Music does not charge a licence fee to workplaces with a single (lone) worker."

          Note that if that person listens to a CD instead they need both a PRS and a PPL license in addition to paying the price for the CD.

          ---
          Why does ./ have to strip out whitespace and make this unreadable?

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by shark72 (702619)

            I should have been more clear. When referring to "labels" I meant record labels... the folks who press and ship CDs and who deal with recordings. Publishers deal with the music and lyrics in non-recorded form.

            Publishers come in all shapes and sizes. Many, many composers and lyricists are also their own one-person publishing companies. Those with less business acumen (or who simply don't want to deal with things) will make use of a publishing company, but even in these cases, the publisher takes a minority o

            • by pbhj (607776)

              Yes, as you say the situation for writers, /versus/ artists, seems more favourable. I perhaps overshot in trying to give balance. Companies, like the PRS, try to paint all their members as poor individual composers scraping by on dried crusts .. no one mentions the huge media conglomerates that take a more than ample portion of the pie.

      • They CANNOT afford to let people realize that going without isn't such a bad option.

        People are addicted to their lifestyles in that they are very reluctant to change. But when they see that some change might not be so bad, that endagers what the music industry has come to rely on.

        Don't mistake the RIAA for "the music industry". Not every musical act is a marketing scam, as you seem to depict here. We can certainly get by without manufactured acts like Brittany Spears and Justin Timberlake, but without the indie scene no new genuine talent develops.

        [bias warning - I'm an indie musician on tour about 2000mi from home]

    • by slim (1652) <john@hartnup3.14.net minus pi> on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @07:40AM (#28108153) Homepage

      I don't see how much the Artists get from the "0.085p for each track streamed".

      I bet it's extremely low.

      Bear in mind the PRS represents songwriters. So the performer gets nothing from this, unless they're also the songwriter.

      As such a fair proportion of what's collected should go to the songwriter - since the PRS is not in itself a profit making institution, and this money doesn't go towards record company expenses such as marketing.

      • Bear in mind the PRS represents songwriters. So the performer gets nothing from this, unless they're also the songwriter.

        Er, Performing Rights Society?

      • by Andy_R (114137)

        According to their commission rates [prsformusic.com], I guess this would come under 'broadcast blanket licensing' so the PRS gets 12.5% and the songwriter gets 87.5%. The PRS also takes a 1-off joining fee of £10, deductible from royalties.

    • by N1AK (864906)

      I don't see how much the Artists get from the "0.085p for each track streamed".
      I bet it's extremely low.

      Given that this is for songwriters not performers I'd bet they'll get nothing at all. However, if this charge didn't exist Artists and Songwriters would be getting nothing anyway, so what exactly is your point?

      • by Krneki (1192201)
        This are their words: "We need to ensure the music artists are paid for their work..."
    • by serutan (259622)

      Assuming they actually get paid real money, it's more than they get when somebody buys a CD with that same track on it [see my other comment in this thread]. Standard recording contracts deduct all production expenses from the artists royalties. So usually the artist ends up getting zero, unless they're Madonna or somebody with equal clout who can negotiate better contract terms. If these theoretical streaming royalties are somehow covered by the recording contract, then the musicians are still getting noth

  • Dual Standards (Score:5, Informative)

    by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @07:23AM (#28107979) Journal
    What I don't understand is that PRS asks for 3-5% of your Net Broadcasting Revenue [prsformusic.com] yet if you're an online radio they ask for 6-8% of your total revenue [prsformusic.com]. Why aren't these figures closer?

    Also confusing to me is that I thought YouTube reached a deal with these guys [paidcontent.co.uk] back in 2007? Did that just fall apart?
    • Re:Dual Standards (Score:5, Informative)

      by tttonyyy (726776) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @07:40AM (#28108157) Homepage Journal

      Also confusing to me is that I thought YouTube reached a deal with these guys [paidcontent.co.uk] back in 2007? Did that just fall apart?

      The PRS wanted to increase the fees. From http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/7933565.stm [bbc.co.uk] back in March:
       

      Mr Walker told BBC News the PRS was seeking a rise in fees "many, many factors" higher than the previous agreement.

      I think they only realised they were shooting themselves in the foot after the trigger was already pulled.

      • Re:Dual Standards (Score:5, Insightful)

        by ledow (319597) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @08:29AM (#28108689) Homepage

        Yeah, and when I read this story on TheReg / BBC, having read the previous stories covering the desired price increase, I nearly pissed myself. Well done to Google / Youtube for calling their bluff. This price *drop* (instead of their intended price increase) just goes to show that they can't afford to lose the exposure of being on YouTube (UK). So what does that tell you about their business model? It's not about "1 CD = 1 customer", it's about general brand, advertising, overall exposure and the majority of people wanting to just download and listen to music cheaply with restrictions.

        They tried to profiteer, Google told them to get stuffed, they didn't listen, so Google pulled the plug (in the UK at least, you couldn't access YouTube music vids for certain songs), suddenly they're crawling back with a rate LOWER than they had started out from, because something's better than nothing. If they'd just kept their greed to themselves, they would have been on that original, higher rate.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      What I don't understand is that PRS asks for 3-5% of your Net Broadcasting Revenue yet if you're an online radio they ask for 6-8% of your total revenue.

      Because they're a monopoly, backed by the power of the government, so they will define each market as they please and set their prices in each market based on maximizing the amount they can get away. Literally they'll do this until companies run away and exit the business, as apparently happened with YouTube.

      If they wanted 20% from people wearing gree

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Spad (470073)

      What I don't understand is that PRS asks for 3-5% of your Net Broadcasting Revenue [prsformusic.com] yet if you're an online radio they ask for 6-8% of your total revenue [prsformusic.com]. Why aren't these figures closer?

      Simple. While most web-based "radio" services have revenue, the majority don't make a profit and if they do it's generally a fairly small profit, so taxing their net revenue wouldn't make the PRS much, if any, money.

      Comparitively, most over the air radio services have to make a profit to keep operating if they're commercial and if they're non- or not-for-profit such as student or hospital radio then they tend to come under fixed-rate tarrifs that are independent of their revenues.

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @07:34AM (#28108099)

    Wake me up when we're at 0.00.

    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Not so funny. We are talking about Radio here. Radio has always been free in America, why? Because it HELPS the song writers AND performers simultaneously, so much more so than any fee on Radio could possibly bring. Please see the fight against the current movement in American politics [noperformancetax.org] to introduce radio fees like they have in the UK and Europe. It's simply a plee by the FOREIGN artists to get paid here like they do at home, nothing more because the artists here want radio (and especially internet radi

      • Radio has always been free in America, why? Because it HELPS the song writers AND performers simultaneously, so much more so than any fee on Radio could possibly bring.

        More due to Payola. And that's exactly the problem they have with pages like YouTube: You cannot really FORCE people to listen to certain hypecrap.

        I betcha it would be free if they could cram down the latest American Idiot winner down your throat.

    • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

      by cliffski (65094)

      why bother?
      if music has no value to you, why give a fuck when its free?
      Or are you so bored that your time is absolutely totally and utterly worthless?

      Wake me up when musicians rent is free.

    • by Twinbee (767046)

      So how do you propose the artists get paid? Now that high quality video/sound is coming into play, there's less incentive for consumers to buy the original. Some music isn't sold through CD, nor is it performed (example synthesizer stuff), so they can't make money off gigs etc.

  • ... Pandora and Canada is? We used to get Pandora here in the socialist republic of Canuckistan. However, that stopped some time ago (2 years?). Which sucked massively, since (at the time), the service was incredibly awesome.

    I wish we could get it back, but I don't even know why it left to begin with...

    • Re: (Score:1, Redundant)

      by ZombieWomble (893157)
      Pandora made a withdrawal from non-US markets some time ago - it seems the difficulty and cost of working out licensing agreements with every single country was too much, and so they decided to restrict to the US where they had a workable agreement and leave it at that for the time being.

      They've said they want to expand once again, but I haven't heard anything from them for quite some time...

      • They've said they want to expand once again, but I haven't heard anything from them for quite some time...

        Dear Pandora: Come to Canada. We have cake.

      • Can't you just proxy around it?

        • I suppose. However, the few times I've tried to find a decent proxy, all I've managed to find is a spam/spyware infested hive of filth. God knows I'd LOVE to get pandora back... it was such an awesome station, and I got hooked on a few bands I'd never have heard (nor heard of) otherwise, had they not gotten tossed into my stream by pandora's matching system.

          Know any good free/cheap ones?

    • Use AOL Radio. It works great in Canada and there is something for every musical taste.

      I, too, mourned the loss of Pandora but I discovered AOL Radio, it doesn't really matter.

  • by Shrike82 (1471633) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @07:59AM (#28108339)
    As a former user of Pandora in the UK I'm waiting for them to make a statement about this. The death of Pandora here was a real blow to me as a music lover. While the rate reduction isn't exactly mind-blowing in size I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it'll be enough for it to return to the UK without me having to resort to unreliable proxies or VPNs.

    I've bought a couple of CDs of bands that I'd only discovered through Pandora in the past - I'll bet that the PRS don't factor those new sales into their bleeding heart stories about how streaming music is forcing songwriters to live in cardboard boxes. Hyperbole I know, but they took my Pandora away dammit!
    • by D-Cypell (446534)

      I have been using Jango [jango.com] for the past few months and find it very good. I am out in India currently so I have no idea how it works in the UK, but it is great here, probably worth a look.

      For the record, I am not affiliated with them beyond being a regular user.

    • Spotify (Score:4, Interesting)

      by maccallr (240314) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @08:23AM (#28108615) Homepage Journal

      Spotify works well for me in the UK. I was sceptical until I tried it.

      I have used Pandora a while back, and it was kind-of impressive, but didn't rock my world, and had many limitations.

      With Spotify, you have to know what you want to listen to, but that's not so difficult really.

      I'm assuming Spotify has direct licensing deals with the labels and shows a middle finger to the PRS!

      • by Shrike82 (1471633)
        A couple of people have told me to try Spotify. One of the things I loved about Pandora though was the music discovery element. From a handful of songs it could build an entire radio station with amazing tracks that were similar to the ones you'd picked. Apparently they had some pretty nifty analysis software under the hood. Does Spotify also do this sort of thing?
        • by maccallr (240314)
          no it doesn't do any useful suggestion of new tracks or artists. the bigger name artists have a bio with a list of influential or similar artists and some have "artist radio" which seems to have random tracks from related artists.

          the ads are a bit lame though ("Hi this is ---- from Spotify and we know you love blah blah"). I'd pay the 99p for 24h ad-free if I was having a party.
          • by Shrike82 (1471633)
            Pandora is (or used to be) $36 a year (I think) for advert free listening, with only light restrictions on how often you could skip tracks on a single station. Couple that with intelligent expansion of the songs on a station based on your feedback, and nice integration with certain home audio and mobile devices and that seems like a bargain to me.

            I'll have a look at Spotify but if Pandora returns I'll have to ditch it like yesterday's leftovers.

            And I don't work for Pandora - I just loved it...
          • by Timmmm (636430)
            Yeah I also get pissed off by the ads. It's not like there's a lot of them, however there are only about 5 different ads! If I hear "Hi, I'm Jonathan from Spotify" one more time I shall go mad!

            Fortunately I managed to cobble together this python script that mutes the adverts. You have to have add the name of the adverts manually but as I said there aren't many!

            Limitations:

            1. Works in Gnome.
            2. You need a sound card with many channels. Spotify detects if you mute 'Master' or 'PCM', but not 'Front'.
            3. You need
      • by rod_vdb (770130)
        According to this story: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/05/18/spotify/ [theregister.co.uk] Spotify is largely owned by the music industry 30%+ and the suggestion is from the article that it is not there to make money. Having used it I cannot really understand how they intend to make money from it as the free service works well and the advertising is very unobtrusive, to the point which you wonder about its value to generate revenue.... Will be interesting to see if and how this changes with the new rates...
    • by jonbryce (703250)

      PRS don't care about that because the CD money goes to MCPS.

    • In the UK we also have http://www.we7.com/ [we7.com] who do web based streaming using an ad supported model.

      Moose

  • are they insane? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by spyrochaete (707033) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @08:15AM (#28108507) Homepage Journal

    I can't be the only one to notice that 5% of comments on just about every single Youtube video ask the question "what song is this?"

    This is free guerrilla marketing by a genuinely enthusiastic public, with real live potential customers clamouring, publicly, to know what they're hearing and where they can get it. You can't buy marketing like that. If the music industry was smart they'd provide a free Youtube service that identifies a video's soundtrack and includes a "buy now" link to iTunes or maybe a first-party store.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by sy5t3m (1349857)
      Are they insane? Yes, they are.
      These are the same people who claim that playing TV or radio in public requires a license [prsformusic.com], even when there is no charge to view or listen, despite that section 72 of the copyright, designs and patents act [opsi.gov.uk] says otherwise. They then attempt to sue police stations among others for breaking their fictitious interpretation of the law.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        I particularly begrudge paying these gouging extortionists for the privilege of playing music in a shop that sells their fucking music.
    • I've need exactly that on various YouTube videos. Not sure if that's only on "official" videos from a bands channel or something, but they had iTunes and Amazon links I think. To answer your original question, no. They're not insane, they're just greedy.
  • 1. Make own song, 1 minute long (must be original, but quality not important).
    2. Put it on youtube
    3. Join PRS
    4. Write a script to hit the page every minute
    5. Profit! but not much... 0.085p x 1224 minutes per day = £1.04, minus PRS joining free of £10 and their 12.5% commission.

  • Pandora pulled out at the start of 2008

    Artists should pay to be on Pandora, and cut out their damn middlemen. I've bought 3 cds and 1 download as a direct consequence of Pandora, that I wouldn't have bought otherwise. That I couldn't have bought or even pirated otherwise, because I didn't know it existed. And I really don't buy that much music.

    Pandora + Allofmp3 = gold farm

  • ...is how they mentioned the PRS is a non-profit organisation.

    A non-profit organisation netting £117 million in just the first 3 months of this year, during the depth of a recession? Either their staff are rather overpaid or someone's making a profit even if it isn't the PRS itself. No guesses as to who exactly might be making that profit! £117 million for effectively doing nothing, for charging people to listen to the music they've already paid for, to play the radio the radio station has alrea

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      I don't think non-profit [google.com] means what you think it means. It certainly doesn't mean you can't make a profit (I know one that makes a tidy little profit every year). It just means that profit is not the motivator for the business. Usually it means that the organization is operating for the "public good". I'm sure they're chartered as a public service organization of some sort.
    • by 91degrees (207121)
      A non-profit organisation netting £117 million in just the first 3 months of this year,

      They only make £14 million or so from that and they do have staffing costs. Not just the heavies with baseball bats either.
    • by Homburg (213427)

      When radio stations pay the PRS, they're not paying for things they've already paid royalties for. The PRS is the organization that collects the royalities. The 117 million pounds collected by the PRS wasn't "for doing nothing"; it's paid to the songwriters for, you know, writing songs.

      • by Xest (935314)

        I was referring to the fact they collect royalties from radio stations, and then try and collect royalties from people listening to those radio stations at work.

        So yes, they do effectively try and license the same thing twice and hence effectively try and get money for nothing. Judging by the £117million in the first 3 months, they seem quite successful at it too.

  • Mr Shaw said PRS had a 'religious difference' with YouTube over the [ft.com]
    video siteâ(TM)s continuing efforts to push for a flat-fee model.

    What a dinosaur!

  • Eliminating will.

  • Given that the PRS are the reason I can't listen to the radio at work anymore, I hope YouTube and Pandora tell them to get lost.

  • by Lemming Mark (849014) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @02:26PM (#28113797) Homepage

    When I go into my local butchers, sometimes the radio is on. The butchers have to buy a license from the PRS - there's a letter on the wall certifying that they have, in fact, paid for the license to play radio in public. If people were going "Oh, I don't really want any bacon today ... hmmm, I do really dig the music at the butchers, though! Lets go anyhow ..." then perhaps it would be a *little* understandable (though not necessarily reasonable) that PRS wanted a share of the profits. But I really really don't think people are going to the butcher to listen to music and party amongst the cold meats. In any case I can already listen to the same stuff on my own radio!

    Perhaps whilst they're reducing their rates the PRS could relax some of their more ridiculous rules about public listening and then I can afford (marginally) more bacon. Om nom nom nom.

  • by serutan (259622) <snoopdoug.geekazon@com> on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @02:38PM (#28113957) Homepage

    "We need to ensure the music artists are paid for their work..."

    A little clarification: Musicians, even the ones with recording contracts, get paid to Perform, like they have for thousands of years. Very few musicians ever get actual money from record sales, because in a standard recording contract all the expenses of producing a record -- from recording to manufacturing to advertising and distribution -- are deducted from the musician's royalties, which in practice means musicians almost never receive a dime no matter how many records they sell. If the companies really wanted to "ensure the music artists are paid for their work," they could try actually paying royalties instead of making them disappear through bookkeeping.

    What musicians do get out of recording is publicity and exposure, which gets them bigger gigs and higher ticket prices, which is where they make a living. Exposure is exposure, whether it comes from people buying a record, listening to it on the radio or at a friends house, downloading an mp3 for free or shoplifting a copy from WalMart. In no way does the method of acquiring the copy hurt the musician.

    This endless "protecting the artists" refrain on the part of record companies is complete nonsense. Music "piracy" hurts them and them alone. If record companies suddenly ceased to exist, most musicians would be completely unaffected because they don't have recording contracts. The other .01% (a number I pulled out of my ass, but let's just say a tiny fraction) would have to get exposure in a different way, say for example by posting their songs for downloading, or by having wardrobe malfunctions onstage, hanging out with Paris Hilton, or going in and out of rehab a lot.

  • by dugeen (1224138)
    I saw this on the BBC website, it's just a press release really, trying to make the PRS sound like they're offering a solution rather than constituting the problem.

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