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Disappearance of SomaFM streams


Aishagain
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10 hours ago, bigmoe Whitfield said:

They offer free streams,  legally that means they are on the hook for the royalties not the users listening.  

Yeah, but the current issue doesn't seem to have anything to do with the IP of the audio content. Rather, they appear to be claiming some IP rights to the streaming service itself (as curators or something?), and anyway they're in a position to impose "terms" on providing that service.

But I can't figure out how this benefits them. I get it that they're trying to defeat scrobbling* and so they poison the Shoutcast-standard Now Playing URL "<stream:port>/7.html" with a lame beg for donations (see, e.g., http://ice6.somafm.com/groovesalad-128-mp3/7.html ), and yet they expose those direct streaming URLs in their radio station directories (e.g., https://somafm.com/groovesalad/directstreamlinks.html ) with the rationale:

Quote

Some media players may need PLS, M3U or "direct stream links" (a link to the actual streaming server rather than a file listing all our servers). If you're using a hardware streaming player, or a player or device that doesn't work when you click our normal listen links, these links may help.

So they don't seem to be insisting that one use their own (pathetic) web player, and indeed the direct stream URLs work just fine in a browser (e.g., https://ice6.somafm.com/groovesalad-128-mp3 ) so I don't know exactly what they're doing (matching user agent string? seems unlikely), and even more mysteriously, why.

What am I missing?

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*I also don't understand why anybody would want to discourage scrobbling / now-playing info, although I gather the EU banned Shazam which is kinda like scrobbling I guess? Do they also confiscate all Android phones with that magical ambient Now Playing local hash on background music? It's like lawyers are pining for the good ol' days of Napster lawsuits. I don't understand any of it.

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3 hours ago, Qie Niangao said:

Yeah, but the current issue doesn't seem to have anything to do with the IP of the audio content. Rather, they appear to be claiming some IP rights to the streaming service itself (as curators or something?), and anyway they're in a position to impose "terms" on providing that service.

But I can't figure out how this benefits them. I get it that they're trying to defeat scrobbling* and so they poison the Shoutcast-standard Now Playing URL "<stream:port>/7.html" with a lame beg for donations (see, e.g., http://ice6.somafm.com/groovesalad-128-mp3/7.html ), and yet they expose those direct streaming URLs in their radio station directories (e.g., https://somafm.com/groovesalad/directstreamlinks.html ) with the rationale:

So they don't seem to be insisting that one use their own (pathetic) web player, and indeed the direct stream URLs work just fine in a browser (e.g., https://ice6.somafm.com/groovesalad-128-mp3 ) so I don't know exactly what they're doing (matching user agent string? seems unlikely), and even more mysteriously, why.

What am I missing?

_______________________
*I also don't understand why anybody would want to discourage scrobbling / now-playing info, although I gather the EU banned Shazam which is kinda like scrobbling I guess? Do they also confiscate all Android phones with that magical ambient Now Playing local hash on background music? It's like lawyers are pining for the good ol' days of Napster lawsuits. I don't understand any of it.

One more thing: if they don't want players showing the Now Playing URL why are they broadcasting that info? Any decent, and even free, streaming app allows us not to... Also, any external music player lets us know what's playing.
They must be on the wrong business, and should try stand-up comedy, instead.

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@Qie NiangaoYou ask "why?".  I have asked them directly.  I await their response.  They do not appear to understand that by removing Somafm exposure to SL users they are most likely actually reducing the likelihood of them ever recovering any income from good intentioned users who then donate to Soma as per their occasional "begs".

They also clearly do not understand the relationship between SecondLife audio streaming and Linden Lab, since the only involvement that SL actually has is the displaying of the stream in the region information.  The stream is actually routed to the individual viewer directly from their server.  Attempting to get royalties out of Linden Lab for streaming makes attempting to get blood from a stone appear child's play.  Also it is just plain wrong.  At best Linden Lab could be cited as a conduit for the streams and as such are no more liable to pay royalties to Soma as Soma are to pay them!

Edited by Aishagain
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2 hours ago, mygoditsfullofstars said:

I think Soma FM are trying to reduce operational costs.. It certainly doesn't help that the LL viewer autoplays streams by default out of the box... Say someone has a Soma FM stream set on a busy region, they would be seeing a lot of listener traffic.

 

Good point. That is a strong possibility but how dropping listener traffic helps reducing costs? Unless they're going to reduce the number of listener slots per channel... But I thought that the whole thing about media businesses was having as much audience as possible. For SomaFM, if they survive from donations, having larger audiences increases the chance of getting more donations. Nope, the whole thing doesn't make sense to me, and I just hope it does some to them.

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Thank you for investigating this issue.

As of a few nights ago, i also noticed the stream on our parcel vanishing. It is a great shame, since i haven't been able to find another stream with ambient sounding music as fitting as one of Somas stations, for our sci-fi themed build.

I do kind of understand their reasoning, they get a lot of listeners and sit on the responsibility to pay royalties, while people stream their stations similarly to what one would do in a grocery store, restaurant or similar. At least here, that makes the store/restaurant/etc owner liable to pay a fee for playing radio in a public space. (license fee to STIM)

The problem is that the SL viewer is more akin to the radio apparatus itself, than the apparatus owner and streamer. The person that enables the stream for public listening is the parcel owner. How would you then track who has paid a license fee, or not? If the parcel setting are set to entrance for group only, it could be debated that it is not a public, but a private space. A setting that can be changed in a second.

The only way to squeeze some money out of all this, is to go to LL directly, but of course LL has nothing to do with what people stream on their parcels. The only thing they could do would be to monetize the ability to stream music at all (but isn't that already paid for, with the land rental fees?) and then split the dividends between the stations used. I don't really see that as a feasible route for LL to go.

So in the process, SomaFM is cutting their donations off from any SL user, that is no longer able to stream the radio on their parcel. There is even no way to pay to stream.

I guess they did the calculations and figured the streaming to SL costs them more than they get in return, and there is no debating that really, that they should supply us with music and then pay for it, too.

But since there is no way to actually monetize it, i suppose that is the end of this story.

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2 minutes ago, MBeatrix said:

Good point. That is a strong possibility but how dropping listener traffic helps reducing costs? Unless they're going to reduce the number of listener slots per channel... But I thought that the whole thing about media businesses was having as much audience as possible. For SomaFM, if they survive from donations, having larger audiences increases the chance of getting more donations. Nope, the whole thing doesn't make sense to me, and I just hope it does some to them.

That gets me even more confused about "scrobbling". Without it, what station and music is played gets obscured entirely. What if you go to my parcel, really like what you hear and try to find where it comes from? I would figure it's much easier to find the station & donate if it's actually clearly stated what is playing....

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55 minutes ago, Lexbot Sinister said:

Thank you for investigating this issue.

As of a few nights ago, i also noticed the stream on our parcel vanishing. It is a great shame, since i haven't been able to find another stream with ambient sounding music as fitting as one of Somas stations, for our sci-fi themed build. [...]

Right. The opposite is also valid — you were providing a visual environment (that you pay for) for that channel. Should SomaFM pay you for that? Of course not, it's an exchange.
Try Ocean Radio Chilled. PM me in-world and I'll send you the URL, if you can't find it.

(I think this thread should be moved to some other forum)

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1 hour ago, MBeatrix said:

I think this thread should be moved to some other forum)

This thread was "supposed" to be in the General Second Life technical forum but I accidentally double posted and there seens to have been a lot more interest and worthwhile suggestions in here!

Edited by Aishagain
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News just in:  Somafm have told me rather bluntly that they are not, apparently, trying to get LL to pay royalties.  The are simply blocking our streaming since thay cannot, they say , recoup losses they are incurring in providing the streams.  Reading between the lines here , I'd say that Somafm are about to go bust and this is just one of the symptoms.

As an aside they just refunded a series of donations to them that I made over the last few months.  I did not ask for this and to me that epitomises their economic model.  They are bonkers.

ps: They claim to be attempting to block the use of the streams via our MOAP (goodness knows how they expect to do that) and claim NOT to be blocking FMOD specifically(!)

Edited by Aishagain
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From the GM of Soma FM in a response to my email to them:

Quote

We've started blocking Second Life (and several other sites/players) as we can't handle the costs due to the high cost of extra royalties from all the traffic that comes from it.
We are a tiny organization and since can't afford the significant costs of all the third-party services, apps, etc playing our streams, so we are now blocking the most significant ones.

So, they are not punishing just sl users specifically. I was right, its a cost thing. And I am one of the guilty people who have listened to Soma FM for over a decade and never donated once. Something had to give eventually.  People like myself are probably to blame.

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5 hours ago, Aishagain said:

ps: They claim to be attempting to block the use of the streams via our MOAP (goodness knows how they expect to do that) and claim NOT to be blocking FMOD specifically(!)

They are blocking FMOD specifically. A very simple test with curl proves that fact. MOAP they can do the same thing, block the CEF user agent string (which I believe has 'second life' in it somewhere).

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I was very disappointed to see the streams had disappeared, but understand the business reasons.     Asking Lindens to pay royalties, when Lindens have little control over how their users are working the streams, is not a real solution.

Soma is a tightly wound model -- personal relationship with the listener, you pull up the site, put the URL in your browser, and listen (and hopefully donate).     A passive stream, co-opted and broadcast in SL, is more diffuse, and the SL user treats it more as an SL tool, not (necessarily) as a cool site you like  to visit.       

Soma thinks the ability to take  their stream and use it in the SL space is worth someone paying for (or just generating so much royalty liability that they can't really support it).

It is a business problem.  Rather than go to war with the Lindens, Soma and LL should develop a proprietary widget to recognize the streams, and Soma should require login information to stream from your browser (for free).     Soma should:

1)    Require users to log in, for free, to listen to their site

2)    Require a modest subscription fee to stream into SL (couple of bucks a month, maybe)

3)    Users who sign up for this would get a proprietary widget in SL, developed by LL

4)    Widget would recognize, be configured with, user information, recognize that they have a legitimate Soma subscription, and stream from the parcel

5)    Soma shares the subscription revenue (70/30?) with LL

6)    Win/win for LL and Soma, lots of users and a new revenue stream

 

Not ideal for the users, who always want everything free.    But I think Soma is an excellent resource, I find their curated lists of music compelling and unusual.    I'd pay a couple of bucks a month (but not, say over $5, and even that is pricey) to use it in SL.

Several technical problems -- how many streams can you have going at once; can you have more than one parcel with a widget, does that cost extra; how to discourage people sharing login information, etc.        But those are solvable.

 

 

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4 hours ago, Frankie Antonioni said:

Does anybody know of a streaming service that plays spy music? Like Secret Agent by Johnny Rivers, or music by Tape Five, Fantastic Plastic Machine, and many others? Also theme music from movies, and TV shows?

Check here: https://gabrielleriel.blogspot.com/
The Dieselpunk and Steampunk streams may work for what you want.

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I think a lot of this might be coming out of wildly inappropriate attempts to imprison culture with nationalism and unhumanitarian attempts to restrict and control culture implemented at a government policy level. It's "to serve the artists," except when you examine it, at least according to some independent operators, in reality it actually seems to exist to serve the industry itself rather than promote cultural progress, and it serves this interest for an authority that has become dissociated from reality and imagines itself in charge of everything, just everything.

 

Quote

As I explained in an earlier article, the music industry invented this special tax that they call the performance rights to the sound recording. The music industry created a corporation to collect a tax on this invented right called “SoundExchange.” When an Internet radio station plays a song, SoundExchange demands a payment be made for every listener to every song the station plays. If while the song was playing, 100 connections were made to your station, you have to pay the tax 100 times. The tax is a fraction of a penny per connection per song, but 100 assessments for every song, a dozen songs per hour, 24 hours in a day… it adds up quickly. Again, the music artists never see a penny of this tax. It goes to the owner of the recording, which is usually the record label that “owns” the artist.

Here’s how the tax is designed to drive out small independent Internet radio stations. SoundExchange requires a station to pay a minimum amount toward your tax at the beginning of each year. For each channel or stream a station has, you are charged one minimum fee. World Fusion Radio has three channels, Global Chillout, Moonlight Meditations, and World Revolutions, so I am charged three minimum tax payments on New Year’s Day of each year. I pay it or I am declared an illegal operator and subject to legal action.

If you are a big mainstream station, then the minimum amount is a prepayment on the taxes you will end up owing anyway. But the minimum amount is a rather high minimum amount. World Fusion Radio is a niche market station. I play independent music that people can’t hear anywhere else and doesn’t appeal to mainstream audiences or corporate advertisers who fund the big mainstream stations. My listener numbers are minuscule compared to mainstream radio stations. In the 18 years that I have run my station, I have never once had audience numbers large enough to owe a tax amount close to SoundExchange’s minimum tax payment. Yes, even when I add up every connection to every song played, it never comes close to the amount I prepaid. The actual tax that should be assessed on the station is hundreds of dollars below the minimum payment.

You’d think that since I paid SoundExchange hundreds of dollars more than I actually owe based on the songs-times-connections tax formula, they’d refund the overpayment. Even the IRS and cable TV companies do that. Not SoundExchange. They pocket the overpayment. That’s money SoundExchange doesn’t even have to pay the owner of the sound recording rights. See the earlier link about the CEO’s salary.

(from https://insertphilosophyhere.com/the-corporate-music-industry-is-still-trying-to-kill-independent-internet-radio/ )


Now, please consider the folllowing:

 

Quote

Collecting societies in each country issue licences to broadcasters and other businesses within their home markets. If licensees then use music controlled by labels in other countries and/or featuring artists based in other countries, in theory, royalties should pass between the different societies via the reciprocal agreements they have signed.

So if a recording made by a British artist and owned by a UK label is played in Germany, the German society collects the money and passes it over to UK society PPL to distribute to the performers and label.

However, under US copyright law AM/FM radio stations and businesses playing recorded music in public don’t need a licence from or to pay any royalties to artists or labels.

As a result, in some countries, copyright systems have been set up so that – if it’s music from US artists and labels being played on the radio or in public – no royalties are passed over to those artists and labels, on the basis that no money is flowing in the other direction.

That restriction is sometimes called the “reciprocity” approach or the “mirror test”, and might apply to both American labels and American artists, or just one or the other. That approach is currently employed in both the UK and Ireland, but only to the detriment of American performers.

US collecting society SoundExchange has become very vocal on this issue of late, arguing that the “reciprocity” approach is both unfair and also an incorrect interpretation of global copyright treaties. It says that a “national treatment” approach should be employed instead, which says that, if domestic artists and labels earn from any one use of music, so should foreign artists and labels when it’s their recordings actually being used.

(from https://completemusicupdate.com/article/uk-artist-and-manager-groups-support-soundexchanges-fair-trade-of-music-campaign/ )

And right away we have flaming red flags. "national treatment?" "foreign artists?" What is this, 1938? Woodrow Wilson just telegrammed and he wants his ideological delusions back with amortized interest.  And look at that, all of this stems from the fact that US Congress gave the broadcast industry free license not to compensate artists, and so that's really the true source of the problem, and now it's being used to pry apart culture all across the Internet? Typical, but completely illegitimate, isn't it.

This is their concept, apparently: utilize "nations" and borders to divide our human culture into tons of little local sheep herds, each more easily intimidated, controlled, and confused so that local parochial legal systems can be used to further functionally degrade, violate, and dissociate Universal Human Rights and culture (and ultimately, the human mind on this Earth) in a slightly different way in each formerly free place of the world. Doing it like this means that there is no global solution to a universal problem--- this is regressive, this is an attack on modernism, this is an attack on ancient cultural norms, too. It's the apparent fever dream of "executive culture" that they still seem to think that they're in charge of anything in this world that has been screaming "no means no" so very loudly. It's like they've gone deaf. They need to be put out to pasture, but it seems they believe they've accomplished some fait accompli. 

So ultimately, it's the same old crap in new guise, isn't it? Men with no claim to anything write new rules for a world order that has nothing to do with reality, it's actually a system of oppression which they style as existing to protect artists, and this is in fact superficially true; there are artists who have been served by this system. What it actually protects is the establishment, and it's the wrong establishment for cultural progress. This is the establishment that shoves the master tapes into a warehouse and then burns it down for the insurance money, that's what they think of artists. This rotten industry organization uses government authority to stifle innovation, place ideas and inspiration that comes from beyond into private ownership for the profit of the same people who would perpetuate unending darkness.

The difference is, now we all can see it and now we all understand what is at stake. This is a spiritual and cultural war being waged by oligarchy for ???? in the name of a new millennia of feudalism on this Earth, whereas in fact we are supposed to be a twenty-first century spacefaring metaspecies already. Who do these clowns think they're kidding? You want artists to get paid? Why not work on the income inequity in the United States. Pay people a living wage, make them be prosperous, and of course they'll have more money to support the arts and you won't need to conspire to divide and tax global culture until it's oppressed into non-existence for all but your oligarchical buddies.

Minimum wage in the United States is $7.25/hr. That means that in order to buy a new album on LP (average US$30), the average person here has to work for four hours, but really five hours when you consider the Federal and State income taxes. But of course, you can't afford music, you have to pay for the social services you bought with your tax dollars because they embezzled it all to the military-industrial complex and foreign partners who are in fact the enemies of our founding political and spiritual philosophy, here. That's the world they've created for us to rot in austerity or to be surrounded by such rot as we have been all our lives in the United States. How in world would you be able to operate in this 21st century the way they're trying to imprison it? You can't. That's why we need to leave this planet and land on one that's free and isn't slaughtering all our lives like a cow or a sheep. We're rather be an Ox or a goat. No more of this nonsense, it's the 21st century.

Edited by Chroma Starlight
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On 9/18/2021 at 9:29 PM, Aishagain said:

As an aside they just refunded a series of donations to them that I made over the last few months.  I did not ask for this and to me that epitomises their economic model.  They are bonkers.

 

This is so so weird for them to do.

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On 9/19/2021 at 3:56 AM, mygoditsfullofstars said:

Can I just suggest openly that people dont try and look for ways to circumvent the block in sl, it will only force Soma FM to take more drastic measures.

Wow!  I opened a real can of worms here.  I hope Linden Lab don't tell Somafm where I live!

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8 hours ago, Aishagain said:

Wow!  I opened a real can of worms here.  I hope Linden Lab don't tell Somafm where I live!

I am disappointed in what Soma have done too, at the same time I kind of get why (due to what I said earlier). And I was affected by this move on their part too, I had SomaFM streams on my parcel.. There's no reason I cant just open the stream in other software though (eg: winamp, vlc etc) and it will still work. Maybe LL could also look at disabling auto-play of music streams by default in their viewer too since this could in theory contribute to situations like this where someone has placed a stream on a busy region.

Just about all the listener supported streams I listen to (not just Soma) have started to crack down on stuff like this since most people don't want to donate. Something has to give eventually. Looking at the SomaFM site, they need to clear around $40k USD each month to keep operating. I am betting only about 10% (at most) of the listeners actually donate.

 

Edited by mygoditsfullofstars
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I think Somafm might want to have some commercials. When I fly over one sim, they have an advertisement that is from my area. It was a health care commercial. How they do that, I don't know. But Soma may want to do something like that. Now, lets say that 100 people are listening to Soma at any given time. How many of that would be in SL? Are we talking about 10%, or more than 10%? And I know it is more than 100 people.

Another thing they could do, is to accept ads from SL. SL business  could advertise on Somafm. They could set up an office in SL, and people could send them note cards, with the advertisement on the note card. Or they could email the advertisement.

Another option. Somafm tip jars. They could set up an account in SL, have somebody make the tip jars, and then sell them on the MP. People could buy them, and put them up in their business.

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