The CBC could be very sad, very soon. . . .
New surfaced today that several industry leaders are pushing for a change to licensing laws in Canada – the same laws that allow for CBC’s CBCMusic.ca to operate through a single-payment method.
CBCMusic.ca is the Canadian broadcasting giant’s free music streaming website. Launched last month, the site allows for music lovers to tune in to 40 different genre channels. For free.
Right now, a glitch in their contract lets the CBC pay once for the music it streams over and over and over. When it negotiated payments, SOCAN (the Society of Composers, Artists and Music Publishers of Canada) set a flat fee for the Canadian broadcaster, instead of on a per-song basis.
SOCAN, which handles the royalties for over 100,000 music publishers in Canada, said it never expected a constant stream of free music – listeners have streamed some 1.6 million hours of free music off the CBC site, putting a dent in Canada’s $500 million-a-year industry.
And now, musicians (and their corporate backers), who are missing out on potential millions in royalties, want to see this changed.
Jim Cuddy, singer-songwriter of Blue Rodeo, told the Globe and Mail: “As there is a new format [live-streaming] and the CBC is currently paying a nominal fee, it only seems fair that a new rate be negotiated.
“The CBC is a valuable ally for Canadian musicians to have, and I hope an equitable solution can be found.”
Meanwhile, VP of legal services at SOCAN, Paul Spurgeon told the Globe that SOCAN is looking into whether the CBC is “paying their fair share.”
What’s more, this limited-edition loophole isn’t attracting more business to the country. Other streamers like Spotify and Stingray are avoiding Canadian business so they don’t get caught in the crosshairs of what could become an ugly legal battle.
Other options including going public – like streamer Pandora has. The company now makes a hunk of its money from investors, but as it gains popularity (it reported a 62% hike in users in the States), it’s forced to pay more in royalties.
The CBC’s case is a little bit different, because they don’t make any money from the site. But even they acknowledged that they’d need to revisit the contract with SOCAN at some point.
CBC’s executive director for radio and audio, Chris Boyce said: “We do find ourselves in a different position than a private broadcaster because the kinds of questions I’m asking don’t necessarily depend on profit margins. At the same time, we need to look at building a sustainable business here. We need to look for revenue.”
What this means for us as streamers is that, in the future, we may have to fork over however-many dollars for what is currently free – Stingray charges users $4.99 each month for access to its Galaxie channels, and Sirius radio costs money to use, too.