Ravinia, a century-old Chicago summer music festival, is getting hardcore about raising money. This year it sold tickets to a concert performance of songs by composer/lyricist Stephen Sondheim, sung by Broadway veterans and played by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Sondheim is always a big deal for musical theater types, and the event seemed like a home run for both the fans and Ravinia–until the concert ended after 65 minutes with no encores, and the general admission audience was told to leave so that Ravinia could reward their core supporters with a gala dinner.
Insurers have to maintain a safety net of money to protect themselves from unforeseen market conditions, but a new study from Consumers Union says that some Blue Cross Blue Shield insurers took it too far, preferring to focus exclusively on stockpiling cash at the expense of customers. Two of the worst cases have stockpiles 5 to 7 times higher than state solvency requirements, yet continue to hike premiums each year instead of using the, uh, surplus surplus to offset customer costs.
One of the weirder strategies by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) recently has been to claim that every time a ringtone played, a royalty should be paid. ASCAP sued AT&T earlier this year over the claim, but a federal judge has ruled that your phone ringing does not constitute a public performance.
When Sling Media finally released their iPhone app last week, they conveniently turned off access to older Slingbox devices in order to force customers to buy newer models. As a gesture—only a gesture, nothing more—of their gratitude toward existing customers who supported them by already buying Slingboxes, they offered a $50 credit toward the purchase of a newer model.
When SoundExchange, the organization that represents many labels and artists, proposed steep new royalty rates for radio webcasters last year, they shortsightedly killed off their own revenue stream. Instead of their proposed rates being cut back as part of a standard negotiation, they were surprised to see the U.S. Copyright Royalty Board reject opposing arguments and adopt SoundExchange’s rates fully. Now Pandora, the popular streaming music site, says it’s paying over 70% of its revenue in royalties, and unless Washington changes the rates soon—which looks unlikely— they will have to shut down.