September 25, 2019
By Colin Rushing, General Counsel
Every one of our members knows how important webcasting is to the overall music industry ecosystem, but not everyone knows how the rates paid by webcasters and other digital radio services are actually set. The answer is a little complicated, but the short version is that the rates paid by services that use the statutory license we administer are set by a government agency called the Copyright Royalty Board or CRB, a three-judge panel within the Library of Congress. Those judges hear proposals and supporting testimony and, after a two-year process, set rates for five-year periods. One of our missions is to represent the interests of artists and record labels in those proceedings, to ensure they are fairly paid for the music that they create and introduce into the world.
The current webcasting proceeding started at the beginning of the year, and will set the rates for 2021-2025. On Monday, SoundExchange filed our rate proposal and supporting testimony before the CRB. We’re asking the judges for a substantial increase in the rates paid by both ad-supported and subscription services. We’re also seeking an increase in the minimum fee paid by webcasters – a rate that has been frozen for about 20 years.
Our goal is to ensure that digital radio services pay a fair market rate for the music that they use. Make no mistake: If you make music, you deserve to be paid more than you are now, and we are going to fight to get you what you deserve.
I’m also happy to announce that we have reached a settlement with NPR and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting that will set the rates for public radio’s online webcasting as well as another settlement with College Broadcasters, Inc. that will set the rates for webcasting by stations at educational institutions. These settlements will allow public radio and educational stations to focus on their stated missions while also emphasizing the importance and value of the music that these stations play.