A number of issues seemed to have doomed thousands of small webcasters who use the Live365 platform, which closed down today. The webcasters include everything from one man niche programmers dedicated to new music discovery, to smaller radio stations like Smooth Jazz Chicago and Pulse 87 NY.
One of the main issues that caused the Live365 to close is the recent Copyright Royalty Board ruling to increase the royalty rates webcasters must pay to artists and songwriters.
In 2009 SoundExchange (which collects the royalties and then distributes them) negotiated a rate based upon the amount of revenue generated by a webcaster which helped the smallest webcasters stay on the air. A webcaster with no revenue could pay a flat rate to Live365, which then passed it on to SoundExchange.
That agreement terminated at the end of 2015 however, which now means that smaller webcasters are subject to the same per stream rates as major entities like iHeart Radio and Pandora. With a massive royalty commitment and little revenue to count on, most small webcasters can't afford to stay on the air, and even medium sized webcasters find that all their revenue will be eaten up.
The Live365 platform had additional issues, as it never turned a profit, and now with the new CRB ruling, faced a loss of much-needed investor backing.
This is actually a very complex issue, as there are multiple rates for commercial versus non-commercial webcasters. The fact is that many small webcasters were responsible for exposing new music while paying a very low royalty rate.
Musicians and songwriters now make marginally more, but to what end? If there are fewer outlets for your music, there seems like no winner in this decision, but many with a lot to lose.