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On the CRB's Proposed Census Reporting And Actual Total Performances


Chapter 3: Actual Total Performances

The next proposed change is the move from reporting Aggregate Tuning Hours (ATH) to a metric called Actual Total Performances (ATP).

First: Aggregate Tuning Hours

I already wrote a detailed article on how to calculate Aggregate Tuning Hours that I encourage you to read. If you're in a hurry, though, here's the gist of that article:

Aggregate Tuning Hours is a metric that offers a "ballpark" listenership number that stations can use in their reports of use.

This ATH number is calculated using your streaming server logs. It is somewhat challenging, but not impossible, and a programmer with the right tools can write code that calculates ATH.

In theory, SoundExchange applies ATH in their statistical process that determines how much royalty money a particular copyright owner deserves. (More on this later.)

As I said above, a programmer with the right tools can write code to calculate ATH. In fact, I put together a free web-based Aggregate Tuning Hours calculator and made it available right over here for anybody that wants to use it.

Next up: Actual Total Performances

The newly-proposed metric, Actual Total Performances (ATP) literally means how many streaming clients were connected at the time a single song was played. In legalese, ATP is:

... each instance in which any portion of a sound recording is publicly performed to a Listener by means of a digital audio transmission or retransmission (e.g., the delivery of any portion of a single track from a compact disc to one Listener) ...

The mechanics of calculating and reporting Actual Total Performances is problematic for several reasons:

- "Any portion of a sound recording" means that even if a streaming listener hears even a single second of a song, a performance has occurred.

- This means playlist and streaming server data need to be so tightly integrated that stations can calculate how many individual streaming listeners were connected for the duration of each individual song. For stations with multiple streaming servers, and/or outsourced or managed streaming, this alone should give you pause.

- Completely new software needs to be developed to calculate ATP. (I am working on code for customers using Icecast, SHOUTCast, and Windows Media servers to calculate this number, but it isn't going to be pretty)

- The majority of recordkeeping systems on the market ( included) only record song start times - and not their end time. This means that calculating a 'true' actual total performances number with this data is basically impossible, and instead some sort of statistical compromise must be employed: 5-minute rolling averages, adjacent playlist start time deduction, and so on.

Stations are still retooling for the ATH reporting

I have worked with dozens of stations to help them reconfigure their streaming and recordkeeping. Most of them are now at the point where they can calculate their ATH and generate their reports of use to submit to SoundExchange. This process has been a slow one, because stations often have to work with their own legal counsel, buy new software and hardware, reconfigure their streaming service, and/or retrain staff to make sure they are recordkeeping correctly.

I mention this in the context of ATH only because there are many stations still in the process of reconfiguring to the point that they can simply meet the existing rules. The newly proposed rules - the census/ATP combination - will likely be too much even for the most well-meaning, diligent and well-funded of stations to comply with.

Click here to continue to Part 4: Adoption rate and participation

Part 1: Introduction
Part 2: Census Reporting
Part 3: Actual Total Performances
Part 4: Adoption Rate And Participation
Part 5: A Process Badly In Need Of Transparency
Part 6: Final Thoughts