Record Industry About To Stab Its Last Friend (Radio) In The Back

One of the regular readers of this blog noticed some interesting associations being made in the FAQ.pdf and other parts of the SoundExchange "Legislative Alert Center".

Sit down. Stay away from sharp objects and read this in amazement:
Webcasting is to blame for the slump in CD sales."CD sales have slumped 25 percent since 2000, while webcasting audiences have grown dramatically.""Do AM & FM stations pay these royalties? Not at this time.""The United States stands alone among the major developed nations in denying artists any right to collect royalties&hellip

My Students Program Your Radio Stations

I know. I know.

You have a hard time believing that college students -- in this case my students at USC -- can tell you anything you don't already know about programming your stations for them.

In that case, you should stop reading. Scroll down to some other stories you may have missed or page over to a traditional radio trade publication and read how good radio really is and how important HD radio is to attracting the next generation and how everything will be just fine.

On the other hand, if you're one of my thoughtful readers in a position to influence a troubled radio station, I'd like to offer the advice the&hellip

My Near-Death Experience With Clear Channel

Shortly after the new millennium, Clear Channel engaged me as publisher of Inside Radio in a very high priced lawsuit. I responded with a similar counter suit. The legal battle went on for years. Never went to court. Was eventually settled and Clear Channel purchased Inside Radio.

You do the math.

Fortunately it all ended fine for me and Inside Radio wound up in the hands of some very talented people in editor Tom Taylor and General Manager Gene McKay. I am still very proud of how these two gentlemen have continued to maintain Inside Radio as the industry's most respected news publication.

I'm not going to&hellip

The Dan Mason I Want Back At CBS Radio

I take back everything critical I have ever said about CBS CEO Les Moonves.

Finally I can say "Les is More".

Moonves came up big yesterday. A television man who knows little about radio knew enough that he needed a proven radio executive to turn his slumping radio division around. So he hired back Dan Mason. Mason had been doing some projects for CBS since he relinquished his duties to Joel Hollander. Now, Moonves showed Hollander the door and welcomed Mason in with open arms.

I have to say that I have known Dan Mason a long, long time. I like him immensely and so I may not be as objective as I'd like to be.&hellip

The Zen of Starbucks Records

So Starbucks is starting a record label.

Will we someday have to use the term "The Big Five" labels when referring to the majors? Even if the record business stinks we can say Starbuck's record business smells great.

Starbucks is aiming to release eight albums in its first year. You'll be able to buy them while you're ordering your coffee, but they are also doing a distribution deal that will enable others to sell their albums as well.

And, Starbucks is launching with a big splash signing Paul McCartney to a one project contract now that he is no longer contracted to Capitol Records. I like McCartney, but I don't&hellip

How Can You Tell The Hollander Roast From Real Life?

The outstanding John Bayliss Foundation had themselves an American Idol-type roast last night by choosing CBS Radio head Joel Hollander to be the honored as a roastee. Who would have known that Hollander would be the hot topic in New York, in The New York Post, in the radio industry and everywhere on the evening of March 22, 2007.

See, he's apparently on the way out of his job in a high profile firing/resignation that has become quite public. Hollander is supposedly unhappy with his boss, CBS CEO Les Moonves, a television man. It's hard to tell the spin from the sin here. Who leaked to The Post? Who got fed up with whom?&hellip

Hey Radio — They’re Coming To Take You Away, Ha-haaa!

Just like in the novelty record by Napoleon XIV. It's now radio's theme song:

Remember when you ran away
And I got on my knees
And begged you not to leave
Because I'd go berserk?
Well. . .

You left me anyhow
And then the days got worse and worse
And now you see I've gone
Completely out of my mind
And. . .

They're coming to take me away, HA HA
They're coming to take me away, HO HO HEE HEE&hellip

HD Radio Is Scaring Me

CNN Radio asked me to do an interview last week on their show "Digital Downbeat", a fast-moving, excellent show I had never heard of prior. Bob Struble, President, CEO and Chairman (all that) of iBiquity, the surviving and only HD technology company, represented the traditional radio side. You know who was asked to take it from the other side.

What transpired was spin-doctoring in the image of White House Press Secretary Tony Snow.

Struble was good. Real good.

He was also wrong. Dead wrong.

He led the audience to believe that HD radio was the hottest thing around. That HD was the future of radio. He also&hellip

The Fall of CBS Radio

Clear Channel was first in every way.

First to amass over 1,000 radio stations. First to not be able to run 1,000 radio stations. First to move to sell off 400+ radio stations -- a mini-Clear Channel. First to declare victory while share prices fell from the $90 range to the $30 range. First to know when to fold 'em and get out.

But the other Clear Channel is CBS.

I'll give you that CBS doesn't have the hard nose, take no prisoners attitude of the Mays family business, but when it comes to running radio stations into the ground they are in good company -- they take a backseat to no one -- except, of course Clear&hellip

Inside The Copyright Threat to Internet Radio

My longtime friend Kurt Hanson, publisher of Radio & The Internet (RAIN) has just done a spectacular piece on copyright law and the Congressional Royalty Board (CRB) -- what went wrong.

Internet Radio is the future of broadcasting and it is in serious jeopardy now due to a recent CRB ruling. Many Internet radio stations -- especially the "little guys" (the lifeblood of streaming) could be in jeopardy. They may even have to shut down as a result.

Kurt is leading a major effort to get the CRB ruling reconsidered. It's life or death for Internet Radio. I've known Kurt as a man of integrity for many years. I have&hellip

Fear Channel

Clear Channel, or should I now say, Fear Channel, has rescheduled its vote on taking the company private from March 21st in just a few days to April 19th presumably to have more time to seek shareholder approval.

Mark Mays has already warned his employees that whether the deal goes through or not, there will be many changes ahead for them. Again!

So I ask, what's new?

On the radio side the poor people of Clear Channel have lived through the Randy Michaels era, John Hogan's stewardship and now the prospect of not knowing what the future may hold for them one more time. More change? That's all they've had at radio's&hellip

YouTube Fight Is Viacom’s Iraq

It's just traditional media companies being traditional media companies.

Viacom and its subsidiaries like CBS, Comedy Central, etc are simply acting like Universal's NBC and Disney's ABC. They have "Seen-us envy" -- that disease that has old media companies becoming paranoid because the audience gets to see their content, they even get paid, but they can't control the distribution.

So, Viacom let the other shoe drop yesterday in Federal Court suing Google over YouTube for more than $1 billion in damages. This suit makes Clear Channel look like a nickel and dime litigator. Viacom is becoming the new Clear Channel while&hellip

What If Radio Got Tough With The Record Industry

An Unlikely scenario

Right now the ever weakening record labels are sticking it to broadcast radio. And some of those bullies over there in terrestrial radio are just taking it.

There is growing evidence the music business is looking to charge AM and FM stations flat fees for permission to play their music. The CRB has already dealt a blow to the fledgling Internet radio business by jacking up royalty payments beyond which most operators can afford to remain in business.

Let me get this straight. Isn't this biting the hand that feeds them. I mean, what is the record business without radio? Most record sales are&hellip

A Royal(ty) Screwing

Kurt Hanson in his March 9th edition of RAIN quotes Beta News as saying that ""CRB rates would make SoundExchange a '$2.3 billion per year business'" and "based on the CRB's royalty rates for 2006, AOL Radio is expected to receive a royalty bill for last year for about $23.7 million...".

It gets worse:
"On a per-listener scale, broadcast radio stations paid $1.56 per listener on average during 2006; and in 2010, that figure rises to $1.94 per listener. BetaNews estimates that Internet radio sites, by contrast, will&hellip

The Advantages of Disadvantages

The FCC and your elected officials are responsible for the current sorry state of the broadcasting business. Wall Street distracts us. Steve Jobs attracts us. And Congress, the enabler of many of today's problems for broadcast media whacks us.

Congress passed the Telecommunications Act of 1996 tacking on radio consolidation before the final vote. Congress in its infinite wisdom (or lack of it, thereof) developed the template of growth for the radio industry. A few owners own virtually everything worth owning. It created Clear Channel, the Clear Channel clones and made it impossible for small owners not to sell out to the&hellip

Pardon Clear Channel?

With all the talk about a possible presidential pardon for Scooter Libby, I got to thinking whether the radio industry should consider pardoning Clear Channel -- not for high crimes and misdemeanors because there has never been evidence such acts were committed but for blowing consolidation.

Some members of the jury have come out in favor of the president pardoning Libby even though they just convicted the aide to Vice President Cheney. Since they can find it in their hearts to forgive Libby, can radio forgive Clear Channel?

Can its employees see it in their hearts to let go of the fact that Lowry and Mark Mays could have&hellip

HD Radio Wal-Mart Style

The radio industry is all excited about a just-announced decision by Wal-Mart to sell "affordable" HD radios. Bruce Beasley quoted in Inside Radio said Tuesday, "Wal-Mart doesn't pick up on too many bad products to sell."

Unfortunately, HD radio is one of the not "too many".

HD's time has come and gone with the radio industry fighting forever on which system to adopt. HD might have been neat in the early 90's, for instance, when radio had no competition and MTV was the only minor distraction.

And, the price of an HD radio is too steep.

Nobody needs one because the content on the sub-channels is weak. The&hellip

The Hypocrisy of The Payola Settlement

Four of the six largest radio consolidators have settled with the FCC over alleged payola practices according to the Associated Press. That means Entercom pays $4 million. Clear Channel $3.5 million. CBS $3 million and Citadel $2 million. Previously New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer collected $30 million from the big four record labels and another $6.25 million from CBS and Entercom. Spitzer has been critical of the FCC for doing nothing.

But early reaction to the deal seems to be positive. I wish I&hellip

The Empire Strikes Out

"Houston, we may not have a problem after all. We just signed a contract for People Meter ratings in Philadelphia and we've now returned to the Mother Ship as a big believer. Over."

"Roger, Evil Empire. Welcome back."

That's how I imagine a conversation between Unclear Channel and Arbitron Mission Control which has launched portable audience measurement in Philadelphia and is doing the same thing in Houston.

Unclear Channel has finally decided to get on board the People Meter Love Train in Philadelphia -- this after refusing to even allow Arbitron to install an encoder on their stations' signals so that more&hellip

Google Eyes

I just read that CBS has hired away a Google executive as its new CMO for the interactive division. The article, which appeared in Online Media Daily even went so far as to point to this as "another sign that CBS is serious about becoming a digital media powerhouse".

Oh really?

It seems to me like a bad case of -- let's call it -- Google eyes on the part of traditional media.

Google, the well-run interactive media giant, has taken on everyone and won -- so far at least. And where they came up short,&hellip

Curse Of The Control Freaks

Perhaps you've heard about the new plan Fox has come up with that will allow its TV affiliates to make Fox programming available in their DMA on local broadband. The affiliates either charge the viewer a fee or use pre-roll revenue which is then split 50/5o down the middle with Fox. Such a deal!

This is just the latest in a series of moves by traditional media to take back its power to control the distribution channels for programming and product. It sounds like a great deal for everyone all around. Or is it?

One view is that traditional media&hellip