Pandora's Tim Westergren Points Finger At RIAA, Addresses Royalties In New Blog
June 27, 2013 at 3:59 AM (PT)
YESTERDAY (NET NEWS 6/26), ALL ACCESS reported more about the ongoing war of words between webcaster PANDORA and artists PINK FLOYD and DAVID LOWERY. Late in the afternoon, the musicFIRST Coalition even rebuted PANDORA's rebuttal.
Of course, we haven't heard the last of this, as PANDORA Founder TIM WESTERGREN has taken to the company blog, and penned more about "PANDORA and Royalties." He notes, "This is long, but I’d really like to fully articulate PANDORA’s perspective on royalties, which is simply impossible to do in just a few sentences."
WESTERGREN writes, "There has been a fair amount of commentary lately on PANDORA’s approach to royalties -- some coming from a deliberate and orchestrated campaign funded by the RIAA, and some coming from well-intentioned artists who, because of this misinformation campaign, have been mislead about PANDORA’s intentions. I bear these artists no ill will. On the contrary, they are brave to speak out and articulate their perspective openly. DAVID LOWERY, BLAKE MORGAN, ROGER WATERS, DAVID GILMOUR & NICK MASON, and others are all speaking from the heart. And as a long-time working musician myself, I fully understand their emotions and concerns."
'While we have generally tried to steer clear of debating this issue in the media," continues WESTERGREN, "the volume of misinformation has reached a level where I feel it’s important to set the record straight -- not only for PANDORA, but also for the artists themselves as they consider what, if any role, to play in shaping the policy around royalties in the coming months and years. There is a window of opportunity here to create a healthy and sustainable music ecosystem, but that won’t happen if the discussion is dominated and controlled by entrenched incumbents."
Explains WESTERGREN, "The first falsehood being disseminated is that PANDORA is seeking to reduce artist royalties by 85%. That is a lie manufactured by the RIAA and promoted by their hired guns to mislead and agitate the artist community. We have never, nor would we ever advocate such a thing. I challenge the RIAA to identify a statement from PANDORA that says we seek to reduce royalties by 85%. On the contrary, all of the key principals including CARY SHERMAN (the head of the RIAA) and MIKE HUPPE (the head of SOUNDEXCHANGE) know that we have been advocating for solutions that would grow total payments to artists. The 85% sound bite preys upon the natural suspicions of the artist community, but it is simply untrue. And although we compete directly with AM/FM radio, which pays zero performance royalties, we have always supported fair compensation to artists."
"The second confusing and contentious issue is the amount of money paid for each song spin on PANDORA." adds WESTERGREN. "There is a tremendous amount of misinformation being spread on this topic as well. First we need to clarify what a 'spin' on PANDORA means. Each spin on PANDORA reaches a single person, compared to a 'play' on FM radio that reaches potentially millions of people. In other words, a million spins on PANDORA might be equivalent to a single play on a large FM station. How much would we pay in royalties for a million spins? About $1,370. (If you’re interested in the detail, an independent blogger posted today some very accurate calculations on this exact topic.) If major-market FM stations paid the same rates as PANDORA, based on audience, some would be paying thousands of dollars for every song they played. How much do they pay performers right now? Zero. As RICHARD CONLON, SVP at BMI recently said: 'One play on commercial radio is not the same thing as one play on PANDORA.' He is right."
WESTERGREN points the finger at THE RIAA again, writing, "One last thing that I feel I need to address. The RIAA has attempted to create a firestorm about an e-mail from me asking artists if they would show their support for Internet radio by signing a letter. We were overwhelmed by the response. Over 500 independent artists stepped forward and agreed to sign. The intent was simply to communicate directly with artists about the future of music, and allow their voices -- the thousands upon thousands not represented by the RIAA -- to be heard, and to play a part in an issue that so directly affects them. Many of these artists have a completely different perspective from the RIAA on what’s right for them."