The Reason You Can’t Find Ongoing History of New Music Shows Online for On-Demand Listening or Podcasts

Toronto, ON, Canada / 102.1 the Edge
The Reason You Can’t Find Ongoing History of New Music Shows Online for On-Demand Listening or Podcasts

 

I’m about to start writing the 733rd episode of The Ongoing History of New Music, the radio documentary I’ve hosted almost continuously since 1993. Each program requires anywhere from 10 to 14 hours to research, write, record and produce. And after an episode goes to air on stations across North America, it disappears.

Vanishes. Evaporates. Archived to a network hard drive. And it stays gone until we’re able to run a repeat during the holidays or through the summer.

Can past episodes be accessed for on-demand listening? No. Can past episodes be made available as podcasts? Nope. Can anyone get caught up with the audio of older shows anywhere online? Uh-uh.

Why? Insurmountable legal issues surrounding the music embedded in the show.

It’s perfectly legal for music-based radio shows like mine to be broadcast over-the-air–the legal framework for that goes back to the 1920s–but  the moment anyone wants to make the shows downloadable, podcast-able or even stream-able, a whole new set of rules come into play. These rules are so onerous that we just can’t make it work. If we tried, we’d get sued to death. And the music industry isn’t interested in helping to change the situation.

This is complicated, but since I get dozens of emails on the subject every week, let me give it a try.

When it comes to over-the-air broadcasts, Canadian radio stations pay a series of performing rights fees for the privilege of playing music as part of their commercial business. The amount of money paid out depends on a station’s pre-tax revenues. The more money iot make, the more it pays out on a percentage basis. Fees go to composers, musicians and various rights holders. It’s a built-in cost of doing business. Perfectly legit, fair and cool. No issues.

But things change drastically when it comes to music broadcast online.

A real-time stream of a station’s programming (i.e. a simulcast stream of the same programming that’s currently going out from the terrestrial transmitter) is grandfathered into the old performing rights deals; there are no extra charges or fees. This is why just about every radio station on the planet is able to offer a simulcast stream of their on-air programming.

Where it gets weird is with on-demand listening, podcasts and downloads’m about to start writing the 733rd episode of The Ongoing History of New Music, the radio documentary I’ve hosted almost continuously since 1993. Each program requires anywhere from 10 to 14 hours to research, write, record and produce. And after an episode goes to air on stations across North America, it disappears.

Vanishes. Evaporates. Archived to a network hard drive. And it stays gone until we’re able to run a repeat during the holidays or through the summer.

Can past episodes be accessed for on-demand listening? No. Can past episodes be made available as podcasts? Nope. Can anyone get caught up with the audio of older shows anywhere online? Uh-uh.

Why? Insurmountable legal issues surrounding the music embedded in the show.

It’s perfectly legal for music-based radio shows like mine to be broadcast over-the-air–the legal framework for that goes back to the 1920s–but  the moment anyone wants to make the shows downloadable, podcast-able or even stream-able, a whole new set of rules come into play. These rules are so onerous that we just can’t make it work. If we tried, we’d get sued to death. And the music industry isn’t interested in helping to change the situation.

This is complicated, but since I get dozens of emails on the subject every week, let me give it a try.

When it comes to over-the-air broadcasts, Canadian radio stations pay a series of performing rights fees for the privilege of playing music as part of their commercial business. The amount of money paid out depends on a station’s pre-tax revenues. The more money iot make, the more it pays out on a percentage basis. Fees go to composers, musicians and various rights holders. It’s a built-in cost of doing business. Perfectly legit, fair and cool. No issues.

But things change drastically when it comes to music broadcast online.

A real-time stream of a station’s programming (i.e. a simulcast stream of the same programming that’s currently going out from the terrestrial transmitter) is grandfathered into the old performing rights deals; there are no extra charges or fees. This is why just about every radio station on the planet is able to offer a simulcast stream of their on-air programming.

Where it gets weird is with on-demand listening, podcasts and downloads.

Read the rest of the story at my website, A Journal of Musical Things.