Yesterday's "Future of Audio" House hearing, as expected, centered on the debate surrounding radio royalties. You can find our original coverage of the hearing and witnesses' testimonies here.
Common ground was found between broadcasters and webcasters in the "broken" state of digital royalties. "While we [webcasters and broadcasters] might disagree on some points," said Commonwealth Broadcasting CEO/president Steve Newberry, speaking on behalf of the NAB, "we’d both agree the Copyright Royalty Board set a rate structure that has suffocated the expansion of the industry."
He continued, "If we want music streaming to survive, we need to find a better balance between royalty payments and platform growth which at the end of the day will help broadcasters and artists."
Pandora founder Tim Westergren agreed, pointing to Clear Channel's new deal with the Big Machine Label Group as "evidence that even for a company of Clear Channel’s size and business competence, they are realizing that Internet radio is a tough business... I feel like it’s just one more signal that something is broken in the royalty rate setting for Internet radio."
Pandora has reportedly spent more than $50,000 so far this year to lobby Congress to improve streaming royalties.
Legislators in the hearing applauded Clear Channel's deal. "It looks like it could break the logjam that has plagued this space — and best of all it doesn’t require legislation or regulation," said Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI). Former broadcaster Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) said, "This deal shows that radio broadcast stations and record labels can get to yes."
While RIAA CEO Cary Sherman also praised the deal, he said "we need an industry-wide solution not a label-by-label piecemeal solution and we don’t know if other radio groups will feel the same economic motivation to do a deal."
All in all, AdWeek said the hearing "didn’t reveal anything new." It simply gave "the opposing sides in both debates a chance to rehash old rivalries and open old wounds."
You can find more coverage from AdWeek here, from the L.A. Times here and from Billboard here. You can also find the witnesses' testimonies from the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Communications and Technology here.