As we posted, there are very few details about the recent direct deal between Naxos Records and Pandora. The two big points that aren’t getting discussed is the Pandora special “steering payola” that Naxos and Pandora refused to discuss with the RAIN Newsletter.
The big issue that Naxos and Pandora also refused to discuss is direct payment to artists, musicians and vocalists through SoundExchange which was a big part of the Merlin direct deal with Pandora.
The musicians union president Ray Hair (American Federation of Musicians) stepped up and called out Naxos and Pandora on this issue in Billboard in a must-read op-ed:
We are alarmed by the agreement recently reached between Pandora and Naxos, the world’s leading classical music label, on a multi-year US license for the entire Naxos catalog. We were concerned when their joint announcement was notably silent on any mention of fair and direct payment of royalties to artists. As AFM members who record classical music are keenly aware, professional musicians receive royalties directly and immediately when Pandora uses the statutory license. Pandora has repeatedly and publicly boasted about the supposed benefit it provides to artists, including in their sworn testimony to the House Judiciary Subcommittee, just a few months ago. They praised the statutory licensing process as an efficient, transparent solution that “must be preserved,” and specifically applauded the fact that the statutory license ensures that artists and musicians “actually receive their fair share of the hundreds of millions of dollars in royalties that services like Pandora pay each year.”
Indeed, direct pay to artists and musicians was supposedly a significant part of Pandora’s agreement with Merlin, an independent consortium of record labels — there was an entire paragraph in the Billboard article on the agreement about the fact that artists would still be paid directly, even if they were on a label subject to that agreement. But nothing in the Naxos announcement mentions anything about SoundExchange administering payment to the artists.
We are 100% in Ray’s corner on this and commend him for taking a leadership role in calling out both Naxos and Pandora to disclose the terms of the deal and pay creators fairly.
We also are 100% in sync with the AFM members calling for the AFL-CIO union pension funds to divest of any shares of Pandora or Google stock they hold, and of course any shares of the members of the “Free Radio Alliance” who oppose artist pay for radio play. It’s time to get serious.
Big thanks to Ray for all he does for musicians.