Under the new deal announced today, webcasters are being offered a so-called "alternative set of rates and terms" by SoundExchange, the organization responsible for managing performers' royalties in the US. Those that agree to SoundExchange's terms must adopt a new and more rigorous reporting schedule for reporting their revenues right down to the dollar -- the reporting system that SoundExchange insisted upon two years ago. It's an even more rigorous reporting system than what the US Copyright Royalty Board agreed to last January, when it made a reluctant U-turn in favor of revenue-based royalties accounting.
As the RAIN newsletter reports today, webcasters agreeing to the plan must keep complete, per-performance records of what songs were played, and to how many listeners they were played, in logs that they must agree to keep available for at least four years. In exchange, royalty rates for those willing to submit to greater transparency, will be capped at 25% of reported revenue. Those who prefer not to agree to this reporting system will continue to pay the royalties rates set by the CRB earlier in the year.
This is incredible news for webcasters and I think it will make the internet much more friendly to smaller online broadcasters, which I believe will in turn help independent musicians a lot towards getting their music heard by a larger and more dedicated audience.
While there are still fees to pay for stations that don't make any revenue, they are a very small fraction of what was being asked initially, and much much much more manageable than the per listener per song charges that were being paid previously.