Artists Speak Out on Pandora’s Proposed Royalty Rate Cuts

We know that David Lowery’s post here at the Trichordist has re-ignited the debate over Pandora’s latest attempt to reduce royalty rates to songwriters, but David is not alone. During the last attempt by Pandora to screw songwriters and musicians we saw a number of artists speak out, amongst them was respected songwriter, musician and producer Jimmy Jam who testified on Capital Hill.

Here’s a look at some of the other songwriters and artists speaking out from different perspectives.

Songwriter Ellen Shipley in Digitial Music News, “My Song Was Played 3.1 Million Times on Pandora. My Check Was $39…

It is interesting and very disturbing that no one is addressing the SONGWRITER’s situation in this Pandora debacle.

Pandora wishes to REDUCE the amount of royalties that songwriters have already seen CUT in 2005. Let me give you an example of what Pandora is paying in royalties to SONGWRITERS–not the performers, but the people who write the songs–the foundation of the music world—

PANDORA —-“Heaven Is A Place On Earth” (co-written)

accounting period for 3 months—–3,112,300 streams

My Pandora royalty ……………..$39.61

Songwriter, Musician and Indie Label owner Blake Morgan in The Huffington Post, “Tim Westergren Emails Underscore Tension Between Pandora, Artists.

The AFL-CIO, NAACP, Americans for Tax Reform, the American Conservative Union, SoundExchange, and others all oppose this bill, and the supposition that Pandora should pay less to artists and songwriters in order to accomplish higher profitability.

The Songwriters and Musicians of the band Pink Floyd in USA TODAY, “Pink Floyd: Pandora’s Internet radio royalty ripoff.

Of course, this letter doesn’t say anything about an 85% artist pay cut. That would probably turn off most musicians who might consider signing on. All it says about royalties is “We are all fervent advocates for the fair treatment of artists.” And the only hint of Pandora’s real agenda is the innocent sounding line “We are also fervent supporters of internet radio and want more than anything for it to grow.” The petition doesn’t mention that Pandora is pushing the growth of its business directly at the expense of artists’ paychecks.

Even former Pandora employee (and  Camper Van Beethoven band member) Jonathan Segel has written about the situation on his blog, “Pandora Groupthink. (look it up).”

Several of my former workmates at Pandora seem to be drinking the Kool Aid. I’m seeing posts claiming that David Lowery and Pink Floyd are talking ‘trash’. Yes, I worked at Pandora. You can read all about that here. I also play in a band with David Lowery, it’s called Camper Van Beethoven (not the band with the song in question here.) He and I don’t necessarily agree on everything, but I’m totally backing him up on this one.

Let us also not forget that over 125 artists signed a letter to Congress opposing these rate cuts. Here they are again.

8 thoughts on “Artists Speak Out on Pandora’s Proposed Royalty Rate Cuts

  1. The answer to this is absurdly simple…don’t give up your copyrights, and don’t let Pandora play your music. If we, as songwriters, do this…soon Pandora will be an oldies station, and their ratings will suffer, and then they will go away. Meanwhile we can make better deals with whatever comes along to fill the same niche if they pay us fairly. If we keep control over our music, they can’t use it.

    1. Argh. Sorry this is getting frustrating to me. Again You can’t opt out of pandora, it’s a compulsory license. Like radio you can’t really take your songs off the radio.

      Well technically you can withdraw your digital rights from Bmi and ASCAP but then you’d need to withdraw from every single digital service unless you went around an negotiated a deal with every single service.

      1. I guess my point is really that we should be exploring other ways of allowing our music to be heard. WE are the ones that create it. WE are the ones that make these stupid deals with people who only want to exploit us. If we stop making stupid deals with crooks, WE will retain the power to change things. It will take time…of that there is no doubt. But I’ve painted houses, done shitty sales jobs…all kinds of things to feed my creative jones. At the end of the day, it’s a cleaner way to do things because there’s no pressure to make someone else money by writing “hits”…as if they knew what a “hit” is…

        Since they don’t write anything…or create anything…THEY need US. All they do is sell. If you’re selling anything, MAYBE your commission rate is 20%…real estate is 5%. Is that how record deals are structured? It’s the reverse…

        Even though I’m barely in the business anymore I’ve been following this very closely. The Internet has opened the doors for artists finally being able to get a square deal if only we are able to stick together and organize around the concept of doing things that are in our own best interests…

  2. And by the way…if you control your own copyrights, you CAN stop anyone else from using your music. Copyright literally means “the right to copy”. This is a right ONLY you can grant. It will be a very interesting court case if someone is smart enough to bring to trial. They will have to argue that copyright only applies when they own the copyright…since they must be draconian in their pursuit of piracy, but yet they will have to argue that they can bypass rights ownership when it comes to use on their radio station…I’m looking forward to that.

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