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With the continuous rise of digital streaming and a wide variety of opportunities to build a fan base in today’s music industry, we haven’t heard all that much about good ol’ terrestrial radio lately. But radio giant Clear Channel Communications, whose stations reach upwards of 243 million people per month, has shaken things up in the airwaves following a recent deal with Warner Music Group.

While it has been an obvious wish of record labels for years to receive royalties for songs played on the radio, it’s something that has never come to fruition… until now, that is. In the ever-changing industry, tables are turning and Clear Channel appears to be one of the first radio corporations to have developed and begun acting on a big game plan in accordance. In the past year, the communications group has been striking licensing deals with various music labels. These deals legally lock Clear Channel into paying royalties every time the label’s songs are played on any of their 850 broadcast stations, as well as providing extensive promotion for their acts, including interviews, album previews, and more. What does Clear Channel get in exchange, you ask? The answer is simple: a hearty online streaming discount for their IHeartRadio service. The radio kings are betting on the future of online streaming, and they’re preparing accordingly.

Warner is the first of the three major labels to get on board with this, and it could very well make waves in the industry. Many are already concerned about how this movement may affect independent artists if it continues. David Macias, president of independent label Thirty Tigers, thinks “it could have a really chilling effect on independent artists and on what creative expression is going to look like” if stations are “only going to play music they have deals on.”

A lot remains to be seen as these deals continue to unfold and industry trends continue to play out. Terrestrial radio is still a big part of the industry, despite the digital streaming phenomenon. But if the trend does indeed keep shifting further towards digital streaming, labels could lose out by making such deals. On the other hand if broadcast radio holds strong, this added expense could be a negative for Clear Channel and also, as people like Macias have pointed out, severely affect the variety of music we’re exposed to. For now, it seems awfully hard to predict how a deal like this, which has received quite a bit of coverage, will play out and what the implications will be for the industry, but we’ll be anxious to see what unfolds.