Written by Music

Music in Podcasts

A quite hilarious “Crib Sheet” from last week’s Music Week about Radio One making unsigned artists available on a special podcast.
It’s all behind a pay-wall, so here are a few choice extracts with my thoughts:
Isn’t that illegal? Hardly the kind of behaviour I would expect of the nation’s favourite.
Well not if – as Radio One is doing – they are from unsigned artists.

I realise that this isn’t actually a genuine question and answer, but surely the record company bigwigs are aware that if they don’t own or publish the music, they can’t get any cash from it.

I don’t know about all this podcasting stuff though, I can’t get my head around it.
[Answer follows, not explaining anything about what podcasting actually is] I really hope that the write of this piece was letting his or her imagination run away with themselves. Again, if the constituency of readers of Music Week doesn’t know what podcasting is, then they seriously need to think about whether they’ve made the correct career decision.

Unsigned is all well and good but I can’t help thinking I’d like something a bit more, you know, familiar. Can’t they get any artists with a deal?
Ask George [Ergatoudis, Radio 1 Head of Music]. “At the moment we can’t use copyrighted or licensed music,” Ergatoudis answers helpfully. “We would like to do that as soon as possible. We are talking to record companies and all licence holders to be able to do podcasts with licensed music.”

So, no, Radio 1 can’t put that music on their podcasts because you, the record company big-wig reader of Music Week won’t let him.
But didn’t MCPR-PRS come up with a licece for exactly this sort of thing?
Indeed they did – the Joint Onlince Licence to be precise – which allows podcasters to use the society’s 10m musical works until the end of 2006. But – and it’s a big but – willing podcasters still need the permission of either record labels or Aim [the Association of Independent Music].
Yup, if you pay 1.5p per track to the PRS, you too can have your podcast feature copyright music. That’s 1.5p per track per download. And you’ve also got the small matter of going to the record companies for each and every track, and negotiating a deal with them. How much will that be? who knows, but from a 79p iTunes track, the lion’s share goes to the record companies, not Apple. And who’s to say that a record company is going to let you distribute your DRM-free mp3 podcast irrespective of how much you pay for the music. Even if you do negotiate a price, how are you going to ever make your podcast pay for itself?
That’s not to say that musician don’t deserve to be fairly recompensed for their work in podcasts or wherever else. But as it stands, it’s not a workable solution.
Incidentally the MCPS-PRS scheme requires the first and last 10 seconds of each track to be obscured by speech or a “station ident”. Wouldn’t want people getting the full track for free would we? And this is a great solution for tracks with a proper ending.
For some reason, the podcast must be at least fifteen minutes in length. The reason for this is unclear. Is it because anything less and I might keep replaying the podcast to hear a specific track. Let’s hope I don’t have a copy of Audacity then.
You can read the full rules and regulations here. Has anyone used the licence yet?