Spotify isn’t necessarily the enemy of performers and songwriters. No I don’t like the rates I am paid (as either performer or songwriter). My main beef with Spotify (and the deals labels cut) is that I wish I didn’t have to have all my catalog on the service. I’d simply like to be able to opt-out. And if I control enough of my rights I can. Spotify is a legally licensed service that negotiated deals with large blocks of rights holders. It may have been bad business for performers and songwriters but it was just that: A business. A legally operating business.
However I’m not sure you can same thing about Pandora. Pandora has conducted a scorched earth campaign against artists and songwriters. Refused to pay on pre 1972 recordings despite recent court rulings. Sued BMI and ASCAP for lower rates. In the ASCAP case there were tens of millions of dollars spent in legal fees to save a few million dollars a year? Pandora spent millions lobbying congress to pass a FEDERAL law that would have mandated artists take up to a 60% pay cut. Who does that? What kind of business goes to the US Congress to force it’s suppliers to take less? Also in what appears to be some sort of bizarre publicity stunt,they claimed to have bought a radio station in South Dakota (it’s still not clear they have all the assets that would allow them to really claim this). The idea here may have been that they would pay lower royalties as a terrestrial and web broadcaster? Each of these “events” was loudly proclaimed as “good news” for Pandora and it’s stock price in the financial press. Why? I don’t really know but maybe it has something to do with this:
By the end of 2015 executives and investors will have sucked nearly 1/2 billion dollars in “stock compensation” out of the company. A company that has yet to make a dime in profit.
Pandora does not seem like an actual “business” to me. You readers are smart enough to draw your own conclusions.
While I’m not a huge fan of Spotify they have negotiated and despite the hardball stance on free tier of streaming have generally played by the rules. Yes there may be a sort of Cold War between artists and Spotify, but there are rules.
So lets run with that analogy. If Spotify is like the old Soviet Union what do we make of the DeadEnders over at Pandora? Pandora has just about destroyed the music licensing system through their scorched earth policies. The Copyright Office came as close as they could to pointing the finger at Pandora in their recommendations for music licensing reform. One could argue that the last three years of Pandora rate court shenanigans is the very reason that the Copyright Office decided to study the music licensing process in the first place!
So if Pandora doesn’t care if they destroy the federal licensing process on which they and every TV, radio station, restaurant and venue in the country depends what are they? They are not a business.
In our analogy Pandora is more like ISIS?