Copyright Royalty Board: Pandora required to pay 21 percent more in royalties

pandora autoplay premium thumbprint radio
After much deliberation, the law has spoken: online radio service Pandora and other non-interactive online radio services — both big and small — are required to pay artists and labels a higher royalty rate in order use their music.

The U.S. Copyright Royalty Board announced Wednesday that non-interactive online streaming services, including Pandora and iHeartRadio, will have to pay 0.17 cents per streamed song in royalties, a 21 percent increase from the previous rate of 0.14 cents per streamed song. This essentially means that expenses for the streamer with more than 79 million users just increased over 20 percent overnight. (Do note that this ruling doesn’t effect on-demand music streamers like Spotify and Apple Music.)

“This is a balanced rate that we can work with and grow from,” said Pandora CEO Brian McAndrews in a statement. “The new rate structure will enable continued investment by Pandora to drive forward a thriving and vibrant future for music.”

The company may not be viewing this entirely as a defeat, as the decision could have been a lot worse for Pandora.  Until now, the radio streamer had been paying 0.14 cents per stream and was lobbying to reduce the rate to 0.11 cents per stream. Royalty distributor SoundExchange, which pays labels and artists, wanted to raise the rate to 0.25 cents per stream.

The CRB decision is certainly a blow to Pandora, though. The company’s CFO Mike Herring recently noted that Pandora paid 40 percent of its revenue to labels. Under the terms of this new decision which goes into effect in 2016, royalty expenditures would be a significantly larger share of the streamer’s revenue.

The increased rate is only for “non-subscription” services, meaning the free, ad-supported version of Pandora. The rate for “subscription” services, the paid ad-free version of the service, is actually decreasing under the new CRB decision (from 0.25 cents per streamed song to 0.22 cents per streamed song).

Even prior to the decision, Pandora realized that it couldn’t focus solely on Internet radio. This fall, the 15-year-old music company made two major acquisitions: ticketing company Ticketfly for $450 million, and the assets of on-demand streamer Rdio for $75 million.

Home Theater

Tipping point? Streaming subscribers outnumbered cable in 2018 for first time

2018 was a very good year for the entertainment business as a whole, but it was especially good for streaming companies like Netflix and Amazon, says a new report by the Motion Picture Association of America.
Home Theater

Hulu vs. Amazon Prime Video: Which streaming service is best for you?

It's hard to dispute Netflix's leadership in on-demand streaming video, it's not alone. Two great alternatives are Amazon Prime Video and Hulu; each with its strengths and weaknesses. Which one is better? We pick the winner.
Movies & TV

MoviePass returns to unlimited movies plan, but with plenty of restrictions

Troubled subscription-based movie service MoviePass is making headlines on a daily basis lately, and not in a good way. Here's a timeline of events for the company once described as Netflix for movie theaters.
Home Theater

Pandora now lets you mess with the secret sauce for its music playlists

Pandora introduced a new feature called Modes, allowing subscribers to pick between six different algorithms that determine what the popular music streaming service will decide to play.
Home Theater

SoundCloud hopes to add listeners with 50 percent discount for students

SoundCloud launched a student discount for it's top-tier SoundCloud Go+ membership, dropping the price to just $5 a month. It's a good deal for students, but will it be enough to keep the music platform from going under?
Computing

Don't spend hundreds on Pro Tools or Logic. Try one of these free alternatives

Believe it or not, Pro Tools isn't the only digital audio workstation worth your time. Check out our picks for the best free recording software, whether you're looking for a lightweight app or a full-blown audio workstation.
Home Theater

iPhone owners can finally hear the highest-quality streaming music on Tidal

If you're an iPhone owner who is after the highest possible audio quality from your streaming library, you now have the best option out there: Tidal's Masters Quality Audio (MQA) is now available on iOS.
Home Theater

Get loud with the best outdoor speakers to rock your party in any weather

From rugged, solar-powered backwoods listening companions to floating pool party jam boxes, the best outdoor speakers partner with your lifestyle to let you listen to your favorite tunes wherever you go.
Music

Apple Music offers a few subscription options. We break them down here

Competition for music streaming apps is quickly dwindling with giants like Apple Music and Spotify dominating most of the market? But how much does Apple Music cost and what does a subscription to the music-streaming platform entail?
Home Theater

If you’re a Spotify Premium subscriber, you now get Hulu for free

Spotify Premium subscribers have yet another reason to love the Swedish streaming service, with the company now offering ad-free Hulu accounts to all premium users at no additional cost.
Music

The best free music download sites that are totally legal

Finding music that is both free and legal to download can be difficult. We've handpicked a selection of the best free music download sites for you to legally download your next favorite album.
Music

Apple Music vs. Spotify: Which service is the streaming king?

Apple Music is giving Spotify a run for its money, but which service is best for you? In our Apple Music vs. Spotify showdown, we compare and contrast all we know about the two streaming music services.
Home Theater

Apple Music completes its Amazon migration, is now available on Fire TV

Amazon's popular Fire TV devices are now compatible with the most popular on-demand music streaming service in the United States, thanks to a new integration with Apple Music that has finally hit Fire TV devices.
Emerging Tech

This streaming music service pays artists in Bitcoin, plants trees if you listen

Feedbands is an environmentally friendly subscription streaming music service that pays its artists in Bitcoin, and plants trees in exchange for authenticated listens from customers.