Apple’s Beats 1 Radio Station Offers Replays of Their Music Shows. Yet Terrestrial Radio Can’t by Law.

Here’s a reprint of a post I made back on July 27. It’ll provide background to the rant that’s to come.

I wish, wish, wish it were possible to make my Ongoing History of New Music shows available for on-demand listening and downloads. Well, technically, it is possible, but the expense would be so enormous that it’s just not worth it. The problem lies with the music.

First, let’s handle the on-demand issue. Current copyright rules require that every single song in every single program be tracked separately on a per-listener basis. That means we’d had to report each month exactly how many people listened to exactly which songs and then pay out the appropriate fees. This is easy enough to do when you stream, say, a playlist of individual songs. But if you have a documentary radio program with the songs embedded within it, you can’t.

The only way to stream OH shows would be to un-produce them (i.e. separate my talking bits from the individual songs) and upload each piece as a separate audio file. That way the songs could be tracked and paid for. This means one single show should would consist of a couple of dozen separate and discrete audio files. Multiply that by 725 episodes and you see the problem.

Downloading is even worse. That would mean that we’d be distributing music, something we’re not allowed to do because we don’t own it. If we made downloads available, the lawsuits would start within seconds. And sure, we could probably cut a deal whereby we paid rightsholders a negotiated fee, but that would require (a) tortuous negotiations; and (b) upfront payments of tens of thousands of dollars to multiple entities. Not worth it, obviously.

I’ve tried to get people in the industry talking about this, but none of the collectives and rightsholders feel that on-demand music programming delivered via the Internet is a priority, so nothing is happening. The result? Piracy. My shows are available through all kinds of torrents. And who’s getting paid? No one. Not me, not the labels, not the artists, not the musicians, not the composers. No one.

This situation isn’t specific to me; it affects all sorts of broadcasters around the planet.

And it just got worse. Apple’s Beats 1 was recently tweaked to give any user the ability to replay any of its radio segments, even the ones with music embedded in them.From MacRumours:

Re-recordings of shows can be accessed by tapping on the Beats 1 logo in Apple Music to open the list of featured shows, tapping on a DJ, and going to the “Connect” page. Alternatively, it’s also possible to search for an individual DJ to access their Connect section, or to search directly with a term like “Julie Adenuga Replay.”

Tapping on the “Beats 1: Replay” option will play the entire show in one long block, with no option to see the songs that are playing as is possible when Beats 1 radio is playing live. As MacStories points out, it’s akin to listening to one long podcast. Replaying a show eliminates the ability to heart songs and add them to playlists to enhance the Apple Music listening experience, but it does give users a way to listen to one-of-a-kind content and commentary that would have previously been missed.

How the f**k did they managed to do that while terrestrial broadcasters remain hamstrung by antiquated rules? Actually, the answer is simple: $$$. Or more likely, $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$.

Dammit, radio people, we gotta do something.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

4 thoughts on “Apple’s Beats 1 Radio Station Offers Replays of Their Music Shows. Yet Terrestrial Radio Can’t by Law.

  • August 11, 2015 at 10:20 am

    It is possible I guess that Apple has built in the technology to track when people listen to songs since this all goes through their servers. I would suspect the problem with OH has more to do with your inability to track what segments of the recording people listened to than figuring out if they listened. If you had Apple’s $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$, you could probably do that.

    And I am guessing they probably used their clout to make this possibly with the record co’s in a favourable manner.

  • August 11, 2015 at 10:26 am

    Beats1 is not Terrestrial radio. The same rules do not apply.

    • August 11, 2015 at 11:15 am

      My point exactly. Why don’t the same rules apply? Why should terrestrial radio be limited to what it can do now? Why can’t it be as flexible as IP-delivered radio? The fate of the industry depends on having a level playing field.

  • August 12, 2015 at 10:15 am

    Web based business is still pretty much in it’s infancy. Let’s not try to lump it in with the old way. Let Beats do their thing. If there is one thing this countries tech industry needs to embrace, it is the following mantra “Innovate, not litigate”. Never mind why the rules for Terrestrial are the way they are. That medium is shrinking (I would never say dying but let it go it’s way). Perhaps the powers that be need to devise a way to compete in the ip-delivered radio medium. It can be done…if the round peg doesn’t fit the square hole, try a new game perhaps?


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