Tights for the newer services run about 12% of total revenue, 21% of the total costs of digital music, or 17-18 cents per subscriber (whichever is greater. RIAA Chairman Cary Sherman hailed the deal -
"This is a historic agreement that reflects our mission to make it easier for digital music services to launch cutting-edge business models and streamline the licensing process ... This is a major win for consumers, the music community, and entrepreneurs and investors in new music services."Another music business association leader, Jim Donio of NARM, proc;aimed that "the standardizing of rates and terms encourages innovation and fosters growth of new digital and physical products and services in the marketplace, giving consumers more choices around the music they love."
Certainly it's good for the music industry, and having a settled rate structure is helpful for digital music services as they will know what costs they face. The downside will be for the consumer - who if they use a cloud service to hold music they've already bought and paid for, or in the case of digital music bundled with CDs, will be paying again for accessing and using his or her legally owned music online. And as online music services aren't likely to just absorb the cost of royalties, the music consumer is looking at price increases of 10-25%..
Then there's the secondary impacts of establishing an economic threshold for digital music services. Fixing rates imposes known costs independent of any inherent value in either the music or the service. This discourages experimentation, innovation, and sampling of new artists and music, particularly when commercial value is low or uncertain. It rewards content owners and services with proven high commercial value, to everyone else's detriment. It imposes a burden on possible noncommercial options, or in situations where the production or distribution of digital music or digital music content is motivated by factors other than direct commercial gain. As happened when rights fees were first imposed on online audio (radio) streams, experimental, noncommercial, and educational services will disappear, leaving only increasingly commercialized options,
Further, as prices rise to incorporate new rights fees, consumers be less willing to purchase, and demand will fall. As the music industry and commercial music services seek the short term stability and revenues they see excessive rights fees generating, they're continuing to alienate consumers and shrink demand, and hampering true innovation that they fear will challenge their market share, In looking back, they're failing to consider the huge potential of the digital market economy.
Sources - Music Industry Groups, Digital and Cellular Interests Reach Royalty Deal, AllAccess
Music Industry, Online Services Strike Deal, Wall Street Journal