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Hi I’m Jimi King, the Programme Controller for Smooth Jazz 24/7. You’ve presumably found your way to this page through a link in our crowd funding appeal, so I guess you’d like to know more about it. The following is a little long winded, but it’s a fairly complicated story. Firstly let me explain why we find ourselves in the position where we are asking our listeners and fans for support. It is as a direct result of the changes in licensing and royalties imposed in the USA by the CRB (Copyright Royalties Board) in 2016. You’ve probably noticed that a lot of the Internet radio stations that you have enjoyed in the past have now disappeared. This is because up until the end of 2015 there was a licensing option available for small webcasters which allowed them to operate legally in the USA and pay royalties to SoundExchange, the government appointed agency responsible for the collection and distribution of royalties to musicians for airplay in the USA. Before the change certain streaming providers had also negotiated royalty agreements with other countries too, but the USA deals made the whole thing possible as the majority of the Internet radio listenership was in the USA (Smooth Jazz 24/7 has over 50% of it’s listeners in the USA). I personally had a SoundExchange licence until 2015. It cost me $2000 a year and allowed me to broadcast a number of stations legally in the USA and elsewhere. After January 2016 the withdrawal of the Small Webcasters licence meant that the cost to me for providing the same service would have been over $300,000. Smooth Jazz 24/7 was launched in 2011 and was initially carried by JazzRadio & RadioTunes (formerly SKY.fm) right up until the Summer of last year. This agreement included a monthly management fee which meant that our staff got a small payment each month for their efforts. At one point we were featured on the front page of Windows Media Player and had a peak daily audience in excess of 6000 listeners. After the removal of the Small Webcasters Licence things changed dramatically. Audiences of 6000+ became unthinkable. Stations had to remove themselves from services like Tunein and iTunes because they couldn’t allow streams to run unchecked (you’ll no doubt have heard the nagging “are you still listening” announcements). This is why. For each listener who hears a song on Internet radio in the USA the broadcaster pays SoundExchange 0.0017 cents. That’s $1.70 per song for every 1000 listeners. The average number of songs per hour is approximately 13 so therefore it costs roughly $22 per hour per 1000 listeners. Stations get paid a commission for the ads they play. If they run a couple of ad breaks of 2 minutes duration per hour the maximum they would be able to earn under the current market rate is $16 per hour. So they lose $6 per hour (not many stations get $16 either. For most it’s considerably less). JazzRadio & RadioTunes changed their playout system in the Summer of 2017 and because of the nature of their new system they were unable to carry the Smooth Jazz 24/7 DJ feed any longer.  We had also streamed through two other providers. Live365 and Radionomy. Live 365 closed down when the new licence fees came into operation in January 2016. Radionomy continued. Actually Radionomy provide a worldwide service, although they are unavailable some countries where they have been unable to strike up a deal. How do they manage? They provide a free service to radio stations but do not pay any advertising royalties to them. They keep it all for themselves. Radionomy pretty much ignore all of their broadcasters and offer a minimal technical support service through a message board. In the late Summer of 2017 they changed things for their American audience so that the only way they could hear any Radionomy station was through their own website. Tunein pulled all Radionomy stations some time back and although iTunes didn’t, all USA listeners hear through iTunes is an announcement to go to the Radionomy website. As a result Smooth Jazz 24/7’s audience pretty much disappeared. As I mentioned earlier, over 50% of our audience is in the USA so you can see why. We had to find another solution for our US listeners and it was around that time I was approached by Live365 under new management, who had an offer for the USA as part of a bigger group which although costly, would give us a small profit from the advertising revenue generated. Sadly in order to take them up on it we had to pay licensing fees in September. Unfortunately these are annual fees so we effectively bought a years licence for a 3 month period. Sadly these fees are payable again in January. The advertising revenue is typically paid 90-120 days in arrears so we have yet to see a cent of that. Furthermore it takes time to redirect your audience to the new stream so even when we do start seeing the advertising revenue it’s likely to take a few months to get to a point where the revenue is enough to support us. Hence the crowdfunding. We estimate that we need $12,500 to pay the licensing and royalties, plus pay the staff a small wage for their services (remember we’ve all been volunteers since last Summer) until such time as the ad revenue allows us to stand on our own. It is building up slowly. I figure we should be self sufficient by the middle of 2018, all being well. However this really only covers the USA. Our second largest audience is in the UK. Unfortunately any kind of licensing for Internet radio in the UK is equally as crippling (hundreds of thousands of pounds per annum). Unless we also have a DAB stream (DAB is the UK equivalent of what is known as HD Radio in the USA). A terrestrial DAB service covering half of London and some of the surrounding areas would cost us approximately £65,000 per year. Curiously, to add an Internet licence to that is just a couple of thousand pounds. The royalties for both would be 5% of the company profit, which is quite reasonable under the circumstances. Let’s pause for a minute here and reflect on those last two sentences, as it shows how ridiculous the whole Internet radio thing has become. To do Internet radio only in the UK costs hundreds of thousands of pounds. To have a digital terrestrial station with an additional Internet presence, just 70 grand with change. We could even add dozens of additional countries covered by the UK copyright bodies for another couple of grand. We chose the GoGetFunding site for our crowdfunding campaign because they pay out even if we don’t reach our target and there’s no upper limit if we go over. We are hopeful of raising enough to get the USA fees covered for the first 6 months. It’s expecting a lot to additionally get the sort of money that would allow us to get the UK idea off the ground but who knows? Maybe some wealthy people love us so much that they couldn’t face life without us. Life with Radionomy is a scary prospect as they change the rules regularly and realistically we could find the UK (and everywhere except the USA) off the air at any time. If we got even a quarter of the money that the UK idea needed we’d probably give it a try and see if we could make that profitable in the long run. There is one caveat that makes the UK situation more difficult. UK advertising agencies won’t touch DAB stations until they have official figures proving the audience reach but typically require a years worth of audience data, so we would be surviving on the Internet royalties until such time as we can provide audience figures. Obviously the USA licensing part is the most important immediately, as without it there’s no point in us continuing. Hence the crowdfunding target has been set at $12,500. I hope that you’re enough of a Smooth Jazz 24/7 fan (and if you’ve read down this far you surely must be!) that you can spare us a few dollars or more. I’m sorry to be asking at this particular time of the year, but January is looming and unless we get sufficient funds in place by the end of January we are unlikely to be able to continue. The Crowdfunding page is here.
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Hi I’m Jimi King, the Programme Controller for Smooth Jazz 24/7. You’ve presumably found your way to this page through a link in our crowd funding appeal, so I guess you’d like to know more about it. The following is a little long winded, but it’s a fairly complicated story. Firstly let me explain why we find ourselves in the position where we are asking our listeners and fans for support. It is as a direct result of the changes in licensing and royalties imposed in the USA by the CRB (Copyright Royalties Board) in 2016. You’ve probably noticed that a lot of the Internet radio stations that you have enjoyed in the past have now disappeared. This is because up until the end of 2015 there was a licensing option available for small webcasters which allowed them to operate legally in the USA and pay royalties to SoundExchange, the government appointed agency responsible for the collection and distribution of royalties to musicians for airplay in the USA. Before the change certain streaming providers had also negotiated royalty agreements with other countries too, but the USA deals made the whole thing possible as the majority of the Internet radio listenership was in the USA (Smooth Jazz 24/7 has over 50% of it’s listeners in the USA). I personally had a SoundExchange licence until 2015. It cost me $2000 a year and allowed me to broadcast a number of stations legally in the USA and elsewhere. After January 2016 the withdrawal of the Small Webcasters licence meant that the cost to me for providing the same service would have been over $300,000. Smooth Jazz 24/7 was launched in 2011 and was initially carried by JazzRadio & RadioTunes (formerly SKY.fm) right up until the Summer of last year. This agreement included a monthly management fee which meant that our staff got a small payment each month for their efforts. At one point we were featured on the front page of Windows Media Player and had a peak daily audience in excess of 6000 listeners. After the removal of the Small Webcasters Licence things changed dramatically. Audiences of 6000+ became unthinkable. Stations had to remove themselves from services like Tunein and iTunes because they couldn’t allow streams to run unchecked (you’ll no doubt have heard the nagging “are you still listening” announcements). This is why. For each listener who hears a song on Internet radio in the USA the broadcaster pays SoundExchange 0.0017 cents. That’s $1.70 per song for every 1000 listeners. The average number of songs per hour is approximately 13 so therefore it costs roughly $22 per hour per 1000 listeners. Stations get paid a commission for the ads they play. If they run a couple of ad breaks of 2 minutes duration per hour the maximum they would be able to earn under the current market rate is $16 per hour. So they lose $6 per hour (not many stations get $16 either. For most it’s considerably less). JazzRadio & RadioTunes changed their playout system in the Summer of 2017 and because of the nature of their new system they were unable to carry the Smooth Jazz 24/7 DJ feed any longer.  We had also streamed through two other providers. Live365 and Radionomy. Live 365 closed down when the new licence fees came into operation in January 2016. Radionomy continued. Actually Radionomy provide a worldwide service, although they are unavailable some countries where they have been unable to strike up a deal. How do they manage? They provide a free service to radio stations but do not pay any advertising royalties to them. They keep it all for themselves. Radionomy pretty much ignore all of their broadcasters and offer a minimal technical support service through a message board. In the late Summer of 2017 they changed things for their American audience so that the only way they could hear any Radionomy station was through their own website. Tunein pulled all Radionomy stations some time back and although iTunes didn’t, all USA listeners hear through iTunes is an announcement to go to the Radionomy website. As a result Smooth Jazz 24/7’s audience pretty much disappeared. As I mentioned earlier, over 50% of our audience is in the USA so you can see why. We had to find another solution for our US listeners and it was around that time I was approached by Live365 under new management, who had an offer for the USA as part of a bigger group which although costly, would give us a small profit from the advertising revenue generated. Sadly in order to take them up on it we had to pay licensing fees in September. Unfortunately these are annual fees so we effectively bought a years licence for a 3 month period. Sadly these fees are payable again in January. The advertising revenue is typically paid 90-120 days in arrears so we have yet to see a cent of that. Furthermore it takes time to redirect your audience to the new stream so even when we do start seeing the advertising revenue it’s likely to take a few months to get to a point where the revenue is enough to support us. Hence the crowdfunding. We estimate that we need $12,500 to pay the licensing and royalties, plus pay the staff a small wage for their services (remember we’ve all been volunteers since last Summer) until such time as the ad revenue allows us to stand on our own. It is building up slowly. I figure we should be self sufficient by the middle of 2018, all being well. However this really only covers the USA. Our second largest audience is in the UK. Unfortunately any kind of licensing for Internet radio in the UK is equally as crippling (hundreds of thousands of pounds per annum). Unless we also have a DAB stream (DAB is the UK equivalent of what is known as HD Radio in the USA). A terrestrial DAB service covering half of London and some of the surrounding areas would cost us approximately £65,000 per year. Curiously, to add an Internet licence to that is just a couple of thousand pounds. The royalties for both would be 5% of the company profit, which is quite reasonable under the circumstances. Let’s pause for a minute here and reflect on those last two sentences, as it shows how ridiculous the whole Internet radio thing has become. To do Internet radio only in the UK costs hundreds of thousands of pounds. To have a digital terrestrial station with an additional Internet presence, just 70 grand with change. We could even add dozens of additional countries covered by the UK copyright bodies for another couple of grand. We chose the GoGetFunding site for our crowdfunding campaign because they pay out even if we don’t reach our target and there’s no upper limit if we go over. We are hopeful of raising enough to get the USA fees covered for the first 6 months. It’s expecting a lot to additionally get the sort of money that would allow us to get the UK idea off the ground but who knows? Maybe some wealthy people love us so much that they couldn’t face life without us. Life with Radionomy is a scary prospect as they change the rules regularly and realistically we could find the UK (and everywhere except the USA) off the air at any time. If we got even a quarter of the money that the UK idea needed we’d probably give it a try and see if we could make that profitable in the long run. There is one caveat that makes the UK situation more difficult. UK advertising agencies won’t touch DAB stations until they have official figures proving the audience reach but typically require a years worth of audience data, so we would be surviving on the Internet royalties until such time as we can provide audience figures. Obviously the USA licensing part is the most important immediately, as without it there’s no point in us continuing. Hence the crowdfunding target has been set at $12,500. I hope that you’re enough of a Smooth Jazz 24/7 fan (and if you’ve read down this far you must be!) that you can spare us a few dollars or more. I’m sorry to be asking at this particular time of the year, but January is looming and unless we get sufficient funds in place by the end of January we are unlikely to be able to continue. The Crowdfunding page is here.