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Digital Watch: Chicago Taxes Spotify; Internet Radio Awards

After dedicating two consecutive posts–and part of this week’s podcast–to Apple’s Beats 1 Radio I’m taking a little break before reviewing Apple Music. So this week I have just a few stories of interest to online and digital radio.

Chicago to Tax Subscription Radio Services

First, is a truly puzzling one from Chicago, where the city’s Department of Finance has ruled that sales tax applies to “electronically delivered amusements.” This apparently includes online music and radio services like Spotify and Pandora, along with Netflix, and presumably would also cover SiriusXM, since satellite is still electronic, even if you don’t subscribe to the streaming option. It’s a consumer use tax, but according to The Verge, Netflix is one company figuring out how to include the charge in its customer billing.

Of course, this only applies to services and stations that charge–9% of $0 is still $0. However, it does seem like just another little speed bump in the road for subscription based music and radio in Chicago. As The Verge also reports, there are already lawyers lining up to challenge the legality of the tax, arguing that it violates the Federal Telecommunications Act and the Internet Tax Freedom Act.

Voting Open for Online Radio Awards

On a more positive note, Mixcloud and the International Radio Festival are teaming up to sponsor the 2nd Online Radio Awards. Awards will go to the best talk show in eight categories from business to sports, the best music show across 11 different genres, including ambient/chillout, jazz and world music, and the best overall station in each of five global regions. A best overall station and show will also be named.

Stations and hosts can nominate themselves for inclusion, and awards are decided by listener and industry panel judges. Nominations and voting are now open. Winners will be flown to Zurich for the Festival, August 14 to 30.

At last year’s first Online Radio Awards London’s NTS Radio won best overall station, and also London-based Solid Steel radio show won for best overall show.

The International Radio Festival has been around since 2010, with events tailored for both producers and listeners. Mixcloud is a platform that lets radio stations, podcasters and DJs upload and share music mixes for streaming–but not downloading. It’s popular with many producers because Mixcloud covers music licensing fees.

RAIN Internet Radio Awards Accepting Nominations

The Radio and Internet Newsletter (RAIN) will hold its sixth RAIN Internet Radio Awards in September at its RAIN Summit Atlanta. Nominations are now open in six categories: best streaming broadcast station, best overall digital strategy, best single-stream webcaster, international excellence in audio, best podcast series, and best overall online radio service.

The RAIN Awards are much more industry focused than the Online Radio Awards, which are voted on primarily by listeners. RAIN Awards nominations are open until July 24.


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