Live365 is one of the oldest streaming radio service providers, having provided online broadcast tools to countless webcasters, small and large, since July 1999. Early on the service made it comparatively easy for just about anyone to start her own internet radio station, and remained a popular option. It’s sad to learn, then, that Live365 is shutting down at the end of January.
In an email sent to current Live365 broadcasters on January 15, the company wrote,
“We are sad that we are closing our doors at the end of this month. There are always possibilities that we can come back in one form or another, but at this point in time, January 31, 2016 is the last day that Live365’s streaming servers and website will be maintained and supported.”
The email cites as causes the dual pressures that Matthew reported at the beginning of the year: the loss of key long-time investors and the expiration of the Webcaster Settlement Act of 2009. The latter factor greatly increases the music performance royalties that Live365 paid on behalf of many client broadcasters who qualified for lower rates based on the WSA (larger broadcasters had the option to pay royalties directly to SoundExchange). Learn more about the scale of this increase in our earlier coverage and on our podcast.
The loss of Live365 is tremendous blow to the diversity of internet radio that was supported by thousands of niche broadcasters, often running their stations more as hobbies than businesses. While the company has made arrangements with other services for customers to migrate to, it’s likely that a large percentage of the small broadcasters on Live365’s stable of approximately 5,000 stations will not have the resources to keep broadcasting come February 1. That’s both because of the new royalty rates and because Live365 offered very reasonably priced options that allowed so-called “personal broadcasters” with small audiences to start streaming for under $100 a year.
Even if a new settlement is reached for small internet broadcasters to pay rates closer to 2015 levels, the closure of Live365 means a corner has been turned for American internet radio. It may be some time until becoming an internet radio broadcaster in the United States is again quite as accessible as it was with Live365.