“Distro Dancing” AIRblast on PRX

PRX producer extraordinaire Barrett Golding takes a long look at PRX and PRSS Content Depot’s distribution services for producers in the most recent AIRblast newsletter.

Barrett gets into the nitty gritty of explaining PRX points, the comparative costs and benefits of distributing via PRX and PRSS, and some direct testimony from our users:

Producer Nancy Solomon recently posted her first piece on PRX: “The interface works great; I was pleasantly surprised how easy it was. Their help desk was super helpful and easy to get a hold of. I like the way the page looks; I like the way it’s laid out and the flexibility the format gives you to put both segments and whole pieces up. I was also amazed and pleased at how accessible John Barth was to talk about how best to promote the show.”

Well said! The article also points out that PRX and Content Depot don’t solve the deeper issues of funding for indie production in public radio – something AIR is trying to address through projects like MQ2 and other efforts.

We’re proud that PRX has paid out over $1 million in royalties to producers since 2004, and we’re constantly increasing distribution and revenue opportunities across PRX services, but also recognize that this does not (yet) help commission or acquire original work at a time when other sources of funding for independents are hard to come by.

PRX is working on an idea called Story Market (now in the running for the Knight News Challenge) that could be one creative approach, along the lines of another site we admire called Spot.Us.

Stay tuned! Meantime, check out Barrett’s piece in AIRblast.

Ars Technica on PRX

Nate Anderson’s article on PRX and the Public Radio Player and TAL iPhone apps appeared on the influential tech site Ars Technica this past week:

When Public Radio Exchange (PRX) developed the free Public Radio Player for the iPhone, the nonprofit hoped for 500,000 downloads. It now has 2.5 million. “I’m very happy with that number,” says PRX executive director Jake Shapiro.

He should be. The PRX dev team has already cranked out two great iPhone apps, one for public radio in general and one for the popular show This American Life in particular. Both apps have positioned public radio as a major force when it comes to on-demand mobile applications.

The piece gets into the dynamics of public radio’s transition to digital:

As content becomes portable, stations have to rethink their “unique value propostion as local institutions” and rething their role as mere broadcasters of other people’s work. Tools like the Public Radio Player won’t help small stations that don’t do original material, but they can be a boon to those that do. The player exposes schedules, it allows local stations to stand out by doing local programming, and it allows those looking for such things to find them in a way that was difficult before.

Read the full article on Ars Technica here.

Next up in the App department: WBUR Boston – local public media app done right!

“Public Media: From Broadcast to Broadband” discussion at Berkman Center

On Tuesday Ellen Goodman and I presented at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University as part of the Center’s weekly luncheon series.

The topic was “Public Media: from broadcast to broadband” and we managed to cover a lot of territory and start a good discussion in the 90 minutes or so we had at our disposal. Considering that there are not infrequent multi-day convenings and conferences on these issues it was quite an exercise to boil it down to some essentials.

Ellen is working with the Ford Foundation (of which PRX is a grantee) to help shape a research and policy agenda on public media, and PRX itself is in the thick of things as a player in the field effecting change through our services and projects.

The video is embedded here (downloadable and non-YouTube versions here), and below that I’ve posted the slides from the presentation.

PubCamp 2009: Putting the Public in Public Media

PRX’s own Laura Hertzfeld, managing editor for our EconomyStory project, recapped the Public Media Camp that took place in Washington DC on October 17-18 in a post for ReadWriteWeb:

This past weekend, public media enthusiasts, developers, and staffers from around the country met in Washington, D.C. for the first Public Media Camp. I was there on behalf of the Public Radio Exchange (PRX.org), where I produce EconomyStory.org, one of several new projects that fits neatly into public media’s latest forays online.

While I’m willing to admit here that I went to yearbook camp and computer camp as a kid, this one might take the cake as far as camps that don’t include S’mores and Kumbaya go.

For more about the event also check out Jessica Clark’s rundown for the PBS MediaShift blog.

PRX and the CPB economy collaboration

PRX is part of the CPB Digital Collaboration on the Economic Crisis, which is uniting public media outlets and helping them share content during these difficult times.

Here’s an excerpt from the official press release:

“The partners in this collaboration, including NPR, PBS, The NewsHour, PRX, The World (PRI), Marketplace (APM), Youth Radio, Capitol News Connection, Public Interactive and KQED, will provide comprehensive, thoughtful coverage of the American economy and its global linkages across multiple platforms. Content, including audio, video, blogs, podcasts, widgets and more will be available to all stations. Stations will play an essential role in customizing and delivering this content as well as in engaging their communities utilizing these resources.”

PRX’s sites, EconomyStory and EconomyBeat are part of our contribution to the collaboration.

Here’s an excerpt from a recent article on EconomyStory via American University’s Center for Social Media:

“One PRX-created site, EconomyStory.org, serves as a central hub for showcasing the tools and resources developed by partner organizations…I recently spoke with Laura Hertzfeld, Managing Editor of EconomyStory.org, who described the project. She notes that the site’s functions are multifold: it serves as a central spot to showcase and explain the work of the collaborators, it examines how current events relate to the collaboration, and it addresses the gap between local and national coverage on the economic crisis. ‘Public media does two things really well,’ explains Hertzfeld. ‘First, it’s good at looking at data and analyzing data and second, it’s good at telling great personal, human-interest stories. Economy Story is working to connect those two things.'”

In addition to EconomyStory and EconomyBeat, we are highlighting economy pieces in our newsletters and playlists on PRX.org. Are you a PRX producer or station? Post your economy work to PRX and let us know what you have!

PRX, the White House, and Innovation

Vince Stehle of the Surdna Foundation (long-time much-loved PRX backers) posted an interesting piece for The Chronicle of Philanthropy on the dynamics of federal intervention in seeding innovation in technology.

PRX merits a mention, and indeed we are an example of successful collaboration between federal and foundation dollars to fuel an entrepreneurial approach to technology.

…Surdna was an early supporter of the Public Radio Exchange, an effort to harness the power of networked technology to deliver radio programs more cheaply and more broadly. In recent months, the exchange has led the development — with partners at Minnesota Public Radio and National Public Radio — of the Public Radio Player, a wildly popular iPhone application that delivers content from hundreds of public radio stations to iPhone owners everywhere.

As a grant maker, Surdna is occasionally congratulated for supporting innovative efforts like Public Radio Capital and Public Radio Exchange. It’s flattering. But the truth of the matter is that some of the most successful and innovative work we have supported was simply following in the footsteps of seasoned bureaucrats.

In particular, the first grants to the Public Radio Exchange and Public Radio Capital were both shepherded by the late Richard H.Madden, vice president for radio at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, who was a remarkably sensitive and farsighted steward for public radio, associated with many of the most enduring program innovations in the field of public broadcasting.

The full article is here.

Xconomy on PRX and the Public Radio Player iPhone app

Wade Roush from Xconomy came by PRX HQ last week and we ended up having a wide-ranging conversation about PRX’s history and current focus as well as our hot item at the moment – the Public Radio Player iPhone app that is garnering significant attention and usage.

Xconomy is a smart online news service focused on emerging business and technology in Boston, Seattle, and San Diego – the non-Silicon Valley hotbeds of innovation and entrepreneurship. We read it regularly here at PRX so it was great to merit a big feature that digs deeper into the PRX story.

Here’s an excerpt, read the full piece here.

At first, the mission of the Public Radio Exchange was simple enough: Create an online clearinghouse for news-and-culture radio programming where public radio stations would have an easier time shopping for shows and independent producers would have a better shot at getting their stuff on the air. PRX launched that system in 2003, and it’s now used by 400 stations across the country. But one thing leads to another—and under the entrepreneurial leadership of its founding executive director, Jake Shapiro, the Cambridge, MA, non-profit has developed from a mere marketplace into an increasingly disruptive force in the public radio ecosystem.

CPB extends SoundExchange agreement, PRX included

Good news in the often contentious area of webcasting royalties – at least as far as public radio is considered. CPB and SoundExchange have reached agreement that extends the recently-announced two-year deal to a multi-year arrangement through 2015.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – SoundExchange, the non-profit performance rights organization, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) are proud to announce an agreement to govern royalty rates for webcasting through 2015. The agreement would allow CPB qualified stations, NPR member stations and NFCB participant member stations (along with NPR, American Public Media, Public Radio International and the Public Radio Exchange) to pay an alternate rate of royalties to artists and copyright owners whose recordings they stream over the Internet.

We’re grateful to CPB, the Station Resource Group, and others from public radio who helped work through the negotiations. As an open web-based distribution service for public radio PRX with tens of thousands of audio works often containing music, PRX is one of the more interesting examples of “webcasting” and we’re very sensitive to the need to balance the interests of rights holders, users, and new intermediaries like ourselves. With this agreement in hand for a solid span of the next 6 years we can start to plan some more innovative services using the PRX platform and our growing catalog of music-based and spoken word works.

Distribution as Promotion – Rekha on Growing the Audience

PRX’s Rekha Murthy was recently invited to add her thoughts to the Station Resource Group’s (SRG) collection of short essays on how to “widen the use and deepen the value of public radio’s service.”   SRG is putting the finishing touches on Grow the Audience – an important and much-anticipated research initiative funded by CPB. You can read more about the full project and download more of the preliminary reports and essays here.

Download the PDF of Rekha’s essay, excerpted here.

Distribution as Promotion
Setting public radio objects in motion

by Rekha Murthy
Public Radio Exchange (PRX)

Six years ago, I left NPR to work with Web and mobile media. Now I’m back in public
radio, with Public Radio Exchange, and I think of that time away as a really long aircheck.
I’m no longer the listener I used to produce for at All Things Considered: terrestrial
broadcast is only a fraction of a listening experience that has become fragmented and
dynamic. I stream station and show feeds from across the country, catching Morning
Edition on KCRW when I oversleep on a snowy morning, and sticking around for sunny
weather reports and Morning Becomes Eclectic. My browser’s bookmarks include On the
Media, Studio 360, This American Life, and All Songs Considered. I download podcasts like
World Cafe, alt.NPR, and The World Technology Podcast. I tend to listen to All Things
Considered by scanning the online rundowns and streaming only what grabs my interest.
Even when I do use my radio receiver, I’ll then go to the Web to email a good story or
episode to friends and post the link on a social bookmarking site. The Web is where I find
new listening, too.

This experience of fragmentation and recombination forms the basis of how I think about
growing the public radio audience.

Break Public Radio Down to Build It Back Up
Public radio is often talked about as a single entity. In some ways – such as mission and
standards – it is, and we should continue to raise public awareness at the entity level.
However, there’s another kind of outreach that has great potential in today’s fragmented
media landscape, one that wields public radio objects, not just categories or entities.   …

Read the rest of the essay here (PDF download).

Agreement Reached for Public Radio’s Webcasting Royalty Rates

After a long and winding road of discussions and negotiations, public radio now has an agreement covering payments for music rights for streaming internet radio. We are grateful that PRX is included in the agreement with NPR, American Public Media and Public Radio International.  Our colleagues at the Station Resource Group played a key role alongside CPB and NPR in hammering out the deal. Thank you! (and just in time for the Public Radio Tuner to take off…)

Here is the full press release on CPB’s site.

An excerpt:

The agreement establishes the amount of royalties that will be paid by CPB on behalf of the public radio system for streaming sound recordings on a variety of public radio websites during the period January 1, 2005 through December 31, 2010. The agreement […] will cover approximately 450 public radio webcasters including CPB supported stations, NPR, NPR members, National Federation of Community Broadcasters members, American Public Media, the Public Radio Exchange, and Public Radio International.

Both parties praise the agreement for reinforcing the value of artists’ performances, while recognizing the unique mission of public radio.