One of the most-asked questions I get is “Why don’t you include full songs in the podcast edition of The Ongoing History of New Music?”
The answer is “We can’t. Copyright and licensing rules prevent us from distributing music within podcasts. When an artist signs a contract with a label, they give the label exclusive rights over distribution of their music. If we were to include music in podcasts–which are designed as downloads, not streams–we’d be an unauthorized distributor of that music.”
“Well,” comes the next question, “can’t you just pay the appropriate fees to…whoever and make it happen.”
The answer is “We’d love to, but there is no mechanism/organization for us to do this. I’ve personally talked to many different people about this issue and they all go ‘You make a good point. Let us think about it.’ And nothing ever happens.”
And the questions keep on coming. “If the podcasts are available for streaming on Spotify, a platform that has licensing rights to stream music, why can’t they just insert the music into the podcasts for you?”
“Great idea,” I respond, “but for a lot of boring technical and practical reasons, we haven’t found a way to do this that wouldn’t require an insane number of man-hours to allow this to happen. At this point, it’s just to complex and weird.”
Believe me, if we could fix this situation, we would. And we’re going to keep fighting until something positive happens. And that positive thing might be on its way.
Music Ally published this in yesterday’s newsletter when reporting on a gathering in London called Pod Only Know:
“‘Rights are a disaster,’ said broadcaster and writer Miranda Sawyer, who reviews podcasts for the Observer newspaper in the UK. ‘We need to get to the point where there’s a blanket licence like TV has,’ agreed Chris Baughen, managing editor Global Player at radio group Global. ‘I’ve been pushing PPL and PRS for Music to do this. The cost of getting tracks on big shows is not that much on TV.'”
And there’s more:
“John Doran, co-founder and editor of music website The Quietus, agreed that rights are a headache for any podcast that’s focusing on music. ‘For us, it doesn’t matter how obscure the music is: if it came out in 1901 on a wax cylinder in Romania! We’re not going to play the whole thing: we don’t want to run the risk of getting burned [in a copyright sense] for it,’ he said. Baughen took up Sawyer’s point about the future potential. ‘It will be great once the licensing is sorted out and we can bring the music in,’ he said. ‘There’s some amazing stuff that could be done. We get amazing pitches all the time that we just can’t tough. But when the licensing is sorted out…’”
You can read the entire report from the event here.