Data: the ultimate Internet music royalty

In the battle over music streaming royalties, one musician wants something more valuable than money: information

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After reviewing (and sharing with all of us) the payments that she gets from the various performance rights organizations (PROs), Keating notes that what’s missing from the reports she gets from the PROs is information. How many times was her music played? How many people heard it? Where is her music most popular? “How can I grow my business on this information?” she asks. 

Keating argues that by knowing who is listening to her music she can better market to them. 

“How do I reach them? Do they know I’m performing nearby next month? How can I tell them I have a new album coming out?”

As she points out, unlike broadcast radio, digital transmission should allow for the exact measurement of audience size. That information would be valuable to artists. In the end, while she’s happy to receive money, she writes that it’s “not as valuable as information. I’d rather be paid in data.”

Ultimately, she proposes a middle ground between the IRFA and FIRST: impose a single, equal royalty rate per listen, across all outlets, Internet/broadcast/satellite radio, one that’s lower than what Internet radio currently pays, but higher than what satellite radio pays. Most importantly, she wants data on the people that are listening to her music. 

“I want my data and in 2012 I see absolutely no reason why I shouldn’t own it,” she wrote.

I think she makes a cogent argument that could provide the key to a solution that will make everyone happy (or, perhaps, equally unhappy). It’s logical and fair enough that I think it’s worth consideration by all parties - which, of course, is why it probably won’t happen.

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