Musicians unite to fight Pandora

MusicFIRST, an organization that represents musicians and their rights, in collaboration with SoundExchange on Wednesday announced that 125 artists, 40 of which are Grammy award winners, have opposed the bill. Artists include Common, Dead Kennedys, Missy Elliot, Vince Gill, Don Henley, Billy Joel, Maroon 5, Martha Reeves, David Sanborn, Michael W. Smith and Roger Waters, among others.

I always believed musicians should be paid for their music. Perhaps it’s because I know so many of them that rely on it for their livelihood, but whatever the reason, if you want to use their material, they need to get paid.

  • I have discovered more new music using Pandora than any other service I’ve previously used. I subscribe to Pandora and I buy music often (whole albums!) from tracks I discover this way. Please artists, don’t take Pandora away from music lovers.

    • Mother Hydra

      How about a moderate response in which pandora, SAT and terrestrial radio are all on a level playing filed when it comes to payments? Problem solved.

      The traditional Music Industry is hemorrhaging cash because it is still chasing that high-water mark that was the CD bubble in the early and mid ’90s . Shown to be a deviant period in sales, that era was a complete and utter fluke. Failure after failure to respond to newer technology resulted in them largely missing their collective opportunity to be instrumental in digital distribution. So they attack a service that actually results in a net gain for them? Makes total sense in bizarro world. These artists are idiots as well. They don’t deserve shit if this is how they use their influence. Talk about the blind leading the blind, yeesh!

  • I have no problem with musicians wanting to be paid – they certainly should be. I pay for my Pandora service (to avoid annoying ads). I just don’t want the service to suffer – Pandora is my #1 way of discovering new music. I very often use the direct link from within the Pandora app to buy the song from iTunes, which often leads to the purchase of the entire album. Maybe Pandora should charge more per user, and pay the musicians a fair cut.

  • hrpanjwani

    With services like Pandora, Spotify, Rdio artists don’t need studios for marketing anymore, just for technical expertise. Instead of fighting music discovery services the artists should be renegotiating fees with the studios. 1st clause in the renegotiation: Abolish RIAA

    • G

      Labels, not studios. Major labels, while we’re at it (the same that feed the RIAA). A lot of indie labels are still doing good work that most artists don’t want to do, or can’t figure out how to do.

      We actually like Spotify, Rdio and MOG. We’re hoping they can be good for exposure someday, just like radio. What we don’t like about Pandora is their hermetically sealed garden and historically obtuse submission requirements, such as having a physical CD available on Amazon. For all the music you think you’re discovering on Pandora, there’s 10x more that doesn’t get played.

      This whole payment issue, only weeks after they crowed about how well they pay a convenient handful of popular artists, is gravy.

      • hrpanjwani

        Ok Labels. (I am clearly out of my depth here, but its a learning opportunity) The point I was making was that the big labels have hurt artists more than the discovery and streaming services.

        I spent 3 years in the US and paid for Netflix, Spotify and Pandora. Right now I have come back home to India for a year and all of these accounts are suspended as I cant use them due to dumb licensing restrictions by the labels. I would be ok paying a bit higher for access from here, but I am not going to pay for nothing.

      • hrpanjwani

        Ok Labels. (clearly i am out of my depth here, but its a learning opportunity)

        The point I was making was that the labels have hurt the artists way more than the discovery services, so IMO the artists are putting the cart before the horse.

        While I lived in the US for 3 years, I subscribed to Netflix, Spotify and Pandora. Right now I have come back home to India for a year or so and all of these accounts are suspended as dumb licensing rules dont allow me to use them here. I would even be ok paying a slightly higher usage fee, like an add-on fee for international streaming, but I will pay nothing when I get nothing in return. And the labels are the ones who are causing this revenue loss to artists.

        While there are steaming services like dhingana and saavn in India, its just Bollywood music. I prefer Western music over it.

        Of course i dont know what the discovery services are paying and maybe it needs to be higher.

        But there are additional revenue streams thats artists should focus on like merchandise. Earlier in the year, i saw NBC’s new show Smash on their website on Tuesdays after they had it on cable on Mondays. Enjoying the show for itself and for the free streaming, i bought the over priced merchandise to show my support for the show and NBC’s decision to stream it. I have grabbed every show that Louis C.K. has put on his site as I enjoy his work and because its worldwide available.

        So Labels/Studios/Artists can create a positive experience if they try and I am sure there are others out there, like me, who will want to pay them for it.

        • You can ask musicians to focus on merchandise but then they’d be merchandisers, not musicians. Creating music is the thing they do. Historically we have put a value on music. That’s the thing they should get paid for doing.

          • hrpanjwani

            when I said artists should focus on merchandise, I meant, have someone professional do it for them on a contact thtas independent of the label.

            right now it seems like too much of an afterthought from an outsiders pov. stuff is mostly available on artists website only, the website and cart design is fairly clunky and not easy to navigate, use amazon or square for frictionless payments etc.

  • This reminds me of the witch hunt that happened to Napster, with Metallica leading the charge, Lars was particularly vocal. I also remember Metallica taking a lot of shit for that… not so sure these artists, most of them in the top 1% of musicians in terms of financial success, really need to fight for more money.

    They should get paid, but what’s fair? Is it fair that they get paid enough that it drives an incredibly successful company out of business? I don’t think so.

    • Perhaps the company is successful because its overhead is low.

    • It is entirely possible that at least some of those top 1% of musicians are fighting on behalf of the other 99%. A lot of musicians tend to lean socialist, Ted Nugent notwithstanding.

  • pandora definitely needs to pay for the music it uses. the unfair issue is they’re being asked to pay way more than satellite radio and WAY WAY more than terrestrial radio. let’s fix that rather than destroy pandora’s business model. as others have commented, pandora has been one of the best methods for discovering music i’d never previously known or considered.

  • Steve

    Artists don’t get paid for being played on broadcast radio, but you don’t hear them mounting campaigns against that. The songwriters do, but it’s nothing compared to what Pandora has to pay. The point is that the rates internet radio stations pay is grossly out of proportion with what traditional broadcast radio pays. It’s free promotion when it happens over FM, but for internet radio, they’re still not paying enough.

    Maybe the answer is that broadcast radio should pay more for the rights to play music, but the way it is now seems ridiculous to me.

  • I don’t understand how the argument “Musicians need to be paid for their music” even needs to be made. How is this not already the case and clearly obvious. If i buy a book i hope i am paying the author (i know that is also not always the case) if i buy music, the musician. Distribution and advertising etc should be a percentage of the earnings by the artist. Not the artist gets a percentage of the earnings by the label.

  • I presume the Dead Kennedys refers to the “The band performing as Dead Kennedys featuring 3/4 of the original lineup but not Jello Biafra”

  • Are these artists even relevant anymore? Why are the artists always complaining about getting paid enough are the ones that they are no longer relevant?

    • This affects all artists, relevant or otherwise. Not just the big names they chose for that list.

      And why shouldn’t an artist get paid for something they created years ago? If people still want to buy their creation they should make money from it.

      • hrpanjwani

        Do Einstein’s descendants get paid today for his discovery of special relativity or photoelectric effect? Curie’s descendants for radioactivity? Watson and Crick for DNA?

        Science is an endeavor to explore knowledge and music is an endeavor to explore feelings, they are more alike than different.

        Everything has a shelf life, after which it should move into the public domain to serve as inspiration and reference for the future generations. Claiming that music is different, extending copyrights and having complex licensing requirements hurts artists more than it hurts anyone else in the short run and it hurts everyone in the long run.

        • I completely agree that extended copyrights are bad. But artists should be paid for their work as long as they’re alive.

          And I honestly don’t know if Watson and Crick receive any remuneration for their discovery of DNA.

          • hrpanjwani

            Erm… that is a little trick some. Freddie Mercury has passed away but the rest of the original band members of Queen are alive. So how do we figure out if the payments to the band continue or not?

            IMO, its much better to have solid time limits, say 25 years from the first release of the song? And if the band subsequently releases an acoustic version of the original song maybe measure the copyright period for that again from the date of release of the original song?

            And this is a morbid thought, but I really don’t want someone to knock off all the remaining original members of Queen and then go “So now their music is free right?”

  • It’s a complex issue. Artists should absolutely be paid a reasonable royalty by those who use their work to make money. But I can sympathize with Pandora’s position. Why should they pay outrageously higher fees than terrestrial or satellite radio? It’s really a shame that this is pitting musicians against Pandora since so many people use Pandora to discover music. I don’t think Tim Westergren’s goal is to screw musicians–he’s just trying to get a level playing field. Unfortunately, that level playing field might be the thing that screws musicians. Yeah, it’s a complex issue.