Welcome to episode 38 of the Richard Dally podcast where I bring you a UK perspective on the latest news and developments from the world of podcasting and Internet Radio.
On the show this week – a Dutch anti-piracy organisation tackles unlicensed Internet Radio Stations, how new entrants to the podcasting industry are driving a loudness war and the future of music and podcasting.
Websites and articles mentioned in the show:
BREIN Criticizes Bullet-Proof Hosts, Forces Pirate Webcasters to Get Licenses – https://torrentfreak.com/brein-criticizes-bullet-proof-hosts-forces-pirate-webcasters-to-get-licenses-190614/
How to do loudness: the LUFS and LKFS FAQ for podcasters – https://podnews.net/article/lufs-lkfs-for-podcasters
Technical analysis of top podcasts – https://podnews.net/article/podcast-analysis
Libsyn – The Feed podcast – https://blog.libsyn.com/2019/01/05/135-rad-beginnings-and-alexa-strategies/
M Magazine – Music and millennials driving podcast boom – https://www.m-magazine.co.uk/news/music-and-millennials-driving-podcast-boom/
POD ONLY KNOWS What’s next for music and podcasts? – https://musically.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/BPI-Insight-Session-Pod-Only-Knows-Whats-next-for-music-and-podcasts-13-Jun-2019.pdf
The challenge for music and podcasts: “Rights are a disaster’ – https://musically.com/2019/06/14/music-podcasts-rights-disaster
If you’re running an internet-based radio station, how confident are you that you are fully licenced? I think it’s fair to say it has pretty much been the wild west with many stations going unlicensed – either because of the cost or because in some countries proper licencing is not available.
If you run an Internet radio station from Holland then you might want to re-think your approach.
The Dutch anti-piracy group BREIN says it has forced three unlicensed Internet radio broadcasters to obtain licensing and another one to shut down.
What is interesting about this story, apart from BREIN saying this is not the first time they have taken such action, is that they said that the station streams are provided by a hosting provider based outside The Netherlands.
This hosting provider is based in the Seychelles and runs the IDFNV and Microglo brands and offers Shoutcast and IceCast server hosting.
This provider, and other similar ones set themselves up as so-called “bullet-proof” hosts to protect their customers’ privacy. This is often something stations hide behind – even claiming that the streaming channels are actually owned by the platforms. Bullet-proof hosts they will never provide data and states that they have nothing to do with Dutch or EU regulations.
The Torrentfreak article that mentioned this action notes that there are tens of thousands of radio stations on the Internet, most of which require licensing to operate legally. Lots of these are run on a a hobbyist basis, with official paperwork and sanctioning left as a mere afterthought. In many cases this works out fine but it looks like regulators are starting to catch up with the technology providers and the hosts and their customers may not be able to avoid enforcement actions for ever.
If you have a podcast, do you publish it at a particular LUFS level? Do you even know what LUFS are?
The loudness war used to be reserved for radio where it was once believed that louder was better as it attracted listeners. It then became an issue in TV where adverts were often louder than the programmes as it would thought it made them more attractive.
Loudness normalisation and targets were set to try and address these differences and the LUFS standard was developed to normalize different audio programs to the same perceived loudness.
According to Auphonic we are now seeing a loudness war in podcasting. Platforms new to podcasting, such as Amazon Alexa and Spotify, are recommending higher targets than those suggested by more established providers.
In a piece written by Georg Holzmann, Thomas Reintjes titled The New Loudness Target War, Auphonic talk about how these new audio platforms are pushing for higher loudness targets.
The article does a great job describing audio loudness and why louder is not better. Whether you listen to podcasts in your car, with earbuds on your smartphone or through a smart speaker, you will know just how annoying it is if one podcast is much quieter or louder than the next.
If you want to learn more about LUFS and podcasts, I recommending articles from James Cridland over at podnews.net – who also analyses the levels many top podcasts publish at. Rob Walch from Libsyn has also covered this topic a few times on Libsyn’s The Feed podcast.
Auphonic themselves recommend minus 16 LUFS, and that is what this podcast is published at for all platforms.
I’ll put a link in the show notes to the Auphonic article as well as podnews.net and Libsyn. You’ll find the show notes for this episode at richarddally.com/38.
So what’s driving the current boom in podcasting? According to a new report produced for the BPI it’s due to a growing listenership among millennials and from music artists and record labels engaging with fans.
The BPI is the body that represents the British Recorded Music Industry. They are responsible for the annual BRITS Awards that celebrate the best of British music.
I don’t think we can say that all growth we have seen is due to the music industry waking up to podcasting but, as I mentioned last week, we are definitely seeing more musicians starting podcasts.
The report says that 20% of listening time among people between the ages of 15 and 24 was spent on podcasts, compared to 24% on live radio and 26% on music streaming. A survey of artists, labels, managers and others in the music industry found that 92% of those who responded agreed with the view that podcasts can help to promote music acts.
There are a number of other useful stats on British podcasting as well as more details of the survey in the report. So I will link to the BPI report, Pod Only Knows: What’s Next For Music and Podcasts, in the show-notes. It’s well worth a read as it also includes a list of more than 75 music related podcasts, including many from the US as well as the UK, plus perspective pieces from several industry insiders.
The company that co-authored this report with the BPI, Musically, presented another piece at the same time titled “The challenge for music and podcasts: Rights are a disaster”. You won’t find a more provocative title than that, will you?
Musically took advantage of the event where the Pod Only Knows report was launched, with a big music industry audience, to present on the licensing issues that are proving to be a barrier for podcasters who want to play music in their shows.
Their view is that there should be a blanket licence for using music similar to the one available for TV stations.
The point was made by Miranda Sawyer, who reviews podcasts for the Observer newspaper that many music podcasts “aren’t that good really” because they can only talk about music, without having the rights to actually play it.
Most podcasters steer clear of music completely so that they don’t run the risk of getting chased for breach of copyright. Of course, there are plenty of podcasts out there that do play music and try to keep under the radar. Plus there are mix shows that call themselves podcasts but probably don’t really meet the true definition!
I know I’ve suggested plenty of reading already but the Musically article discusses what music industry insiders think podcasts should include and sound like – though you have to remember many come from a radio background. If you have a music related podcast and want to get in front of industry executives then it is probably worth taking notice of some, at least, of what they suggest.