You may have received an email from something called “Sessions” like this one above received by our friend Blake Morgan, and Blake wanted us to alert MTP readers. Here’s Blake’s reply:
Who can forget the epic confrontation between Blake and “Million a Month” Tim Westergren during what Billboard called “World War P”, which shows what can happen when artist relations are grossly mismanaged.
Why do we say “Million a Month” Tim? Because that’s what he made from selling Pandora stock while poor mouthing about paying royalties from Pandora’s loss-making revenues. It may not seem logical, but in Silicon Valley, they care far less about profit than they do about valuation because valuation is, as bank robber Willie Sutton said, where the money is. So “Million a Month” Tim was engaged in the gaslighting of all time.
I guess Blake hasn’t forgotten.
Of course in fairness, Daniel Ek and Spotify are running the same play on a much grander scale of international gaslighting as demonstrated by the COVID Misery Index. Big thanks to Blake for calling out another one and speaking truth to power.
FROM ARTIST & ECR MUSIC GROUP FOUNDER BLAKE MORGAN:
BOWING TO PUBLIC PRESSURE, INTERNET RADIO GIANT ABANDONS LEGISLATION THAT WOULD LOWER MUSIC ROYALTIES
If you spoke up about this, if you posted about it on Facebook or Tweeted about it to your friends, if you added your voice to the courageous chorus who stood up and spoke out, you helped win this fight.
Amazing the lengths Tim Westergren and Pandora are willing to go to, to attack artists…
Accordingly, Pandora is taking steps to have well-written, careful responses ready to go within 24 hours in places like Digital Music News. Most importantly, the response needs to come from a source not affiliated with Pandora (or, so it seems…)
The Verge reports on the battle over internet royalties…
Pandora struggles to win hearts and minds because its leadership lacks credibility, and has also been utterly inept at pitching the company’s plan to the public, press, and Congress. Pandora failed to generate congressional support to lower royalties last year and unless the company’s leadership dramatically changes its strategy, the popular radio service doesn’t appear to have a prayer of getting help from Washington any time soon.
Michael Pachter, a research analyst with Wedbush Securities, believes Pandora will eventually thrive but that its attempt to legislate lower costs is misguided. “The bill is idiotic,” Pachter said. “It’s insulting to Congress to say you want regulation to lower your costs at the expense of artists. Did you see who was on stage with Obama helping him campaign? Jay-Z and Bruce Springsteen. That’s the Democrats, and how many Republicans are going to want to legislate against capitalism and the free market?”
Songwriter, Musician and Label owner Blake Morgan gained national attention through his email correspondence with Tim Westergren regarding Pandora’s attempt to manipulate musicians into signing a letter that would reduce their own royalty payments. Blake returns with a new editorial in the Huffington Post.
Instead of lobbying Congress (as you have) to lower Pandora’s rates, honor the rates Pandora, artists, and labels agreed upon together for Internet radio hand-in-hand with Congress in 2009. It’s an agreement artists went into with you in good faith, that already dramatically lowered the rates Pandora had to pay. It’s an agreement Mr. Westergren himself applauded at the time, famously and happily announcing on his own blog, “the royalty crisis is over!” It was also an agreement we were all supposed to continue honoring together, until 2015.
Instead of taking provocative action and purchasing a tiny radio station in the country’s 255th largest market (as you just did in an attempt to qualify as a terrestrial radio company and not have to pay a performer royalty), take different, provocative action. Stand with music lovers and music makers in reasonably and rationally arguing that terrestrial radio has never paid its fair share, and it’s time it did. And then to show you mean it, sell that station.
As a songwriter Pandora paid me $16.89* for 1,159,000 play of “Low” last quarter. Less than I make from a single T-shirt sale. Okay that’s a slight exaggeration. That’s only the premium multi-color long sleeve shirts and that’s only at venues that don’t take commission. But still.
Soon you will be hearing from Pandora how they need Congress to change the way royalties are calculated so that they can pay much much less to songwriters and performers. For you civilians webcasting rates are “compulsory” rates. They are set by the government (crazy, right?). Further since they are compulsory royalties, artists can not “opt out” of a service like Pandora even if they think Pandora doesn’t pay them enough. The majority of songwriters have their rates set by the government, too, in the form of the ASCAP and BMI rate courts–a single judge gets to decide the fate of songwriters (technically not a “compulsory” but may as well be). This is already a government mandated subsidy from songwriters and artists to Silicon Valley. Pandora wants to make it even worse. (Yet another reason the government needs to get out of the business of setting webcasting rates and let the market sort it out.)
Here’s an idea. Why doesn’t Pandora get off the couch and get an actual business model instead of asking for a handout from congress and artists? For instance: Right now Pandora plays one minute of commercials an hour on their free service. Here’s an idea! Play two minutes of commercials and double your revenue! (Sirius XM often plays 13 minutes and charges a subscription).
I urge all songwriters to post their royalty statements and show the world just how terrible webcasting rates are for songwriters.
The revolution will not be webcast.
* I only own 40% of the song, the rest of the band owns the other 60% so actually amount paid to songwriters multiply by 2.5 or $42.25)
** I am also paid a seperate royalty for being the performer of the song. It’s higher but also what I would regard as unsustainable. I’ll post that later this week.
For frame of reference compare Sirius XM paid me $181.00
Not surprisingly, Tim Westergren is rallying the troops at the Consumer Electronics Show–the locus of those just like him who want to enrich themselves from commoditizing music. Remember, Westergren is the founder and public face of Pandora–and has been cashing in to the tune of $1,000,000 a month as he sells off his founders stock in the public markets.
So now the LA Times is reporting that Westergren is offering the Web 2.0 version of “tour support”:
[Westergren] talked about Internet radio as a means to generate income for performing artists (who don’t get paid at all by over-the-air stations) and insights. In particular, he touted Pandora’s ability to help artists figure out where to tour and promote their live shows to a receptive audience.
The key, Westergren said, is in the feedback Pandora users give on songs. The site allows listeners to give a thumbs up to songs they’d…