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Pandora Wants Radio Stations To Pay For Music, Too 253

Posted by kdawson
from the fair-is-fair dept.
suraj.sun sends along an Ars writeup of the lobbying Pandora is doing now that it has secured its future, royalties-wise. Some might think it odd that Pandora is weighing in on the side of the record labels in their fight to get radio stations to pay more for the music they broadcast. "US radio stations don't pay performers and producers for the music they play, but the recording industry hopes to change that with a new performance rights bill in Congress. Webcaster Pandora has jumped into the fray on the side of the artists and labels, asking why radio gets a free ride when Pandora does not. ... With revenues from recorded music sales declining, rights-holders have turned their eyes in recent years to commercial US radio, which currently pays songwriters (but not performers or record labels)... With its own future secure for the next few years, Pandora is now turning its attention to the public performance debate here in the US, saying that the issue is a simple matter of fairness: why should webcasters have to pay more for music than traditional radio does? ... [But] the 'fairness' argument could clearly go either way. Radio might start paying a performance right; on the other hand, perhaps webcasters and satellite radio companies should simply stop paying one, relying on the old argument about promotion."
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Pandora Wants Radio Stations To Pay For Music, Too

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  • What? (Score:0, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 14, 2009 @12:01AM (#28686341)

    Why wouldn't they side with the Radio broadcasters as a way to use that as an argument to decrease their own costs. I mean, they have nothing to lose in the end.

  • When i was younger (Score:3, Interesting)

    by santax (1541065) on Tuesday July 14, 2009 @12:27AM (#28686531)
    They paid radio to play your song, so people would actually hear it and buy it... As a matter of fact, with one of my current bands, we still do that. Not in money, but by calling them every day and get a live performance on the radio... It's for them great to have live music and it's great for us to have an wider audience. A well, I must be getting old.
  • Declining? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Tuesday July 14, 2009 @01:04AM (#28686809) Journal

    The free dutch newspaper "De pers" had an intresting article about music sales yesterday. Or rather not about music sales at all which is probably why the copier (oops sorry journalist) failed to make the connection.

    The story? A pension fund was reporting they made 8% profit last year, when the entire economy had collapsed, on their music portfolio. The article told that music rights are big business with a steady reliable revenue stream and that after 10 years you have made enough profit to have paid for the purchase of the rights and from then on its pure profits.

    But yeah, music sales are declining.

    How can music be an extremely reliable investment for pension funds when the sales are going down? The only similar reliable investment is in things like supermarkets because people always got to eat.

    How can you tell someone from the content industry is lying? They got their mouth open.

  • All For It (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bky1701 (979071) on Tuesday July 14, 2009 @01:07AM (#28686833) Homepage
    The RIAA giving radio a compelling reason to play independent artists is exactly what we need. They can only hurt themselves.

    I find it ironic that not too long ago payola was a serious problem, and now we have this. These are the death throws of the recording industry, and I think that is a great thing.
  • Re:Worse (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TaoPhoenix (980487) <TaoPhoenix@yahoo.com> on Tuesday July 14, 2009 @01:40AM (#28686997) Journal

    It already has.

    There was a vague musical trend of each half-decade up until about 2005. You could decided something felt "dated" but at least it felt like it belonged to some era.

    Now they're running out of fresh genres, and desperately working the 2nd level blended stuff.

  • by BitZtream (692029) on Tuesday July 14, 2009 @01:54AM (#28687039)

    On the upside, we gain a shot at lots of mobile bandwidth if the radio industry crumbles

    No, you won't. These frequencies are also shared with all sorts of navigation equipment, that luckly enough radio stations contribute to. Pilots regularly use standard radio stations in place of VOR transmitters for navigation. This is one of the primary reasons that radio stations have to say their callsigns at required intervals, so pilots can identify the station should they have some sort of insturment failure which allows them to tune in, but not know what they are tuning into. Once you figure out what you're listening to, and which direction it is, you can use just a few more landmarks or another station to figure out where the hell you are.

    Very useful if you're in a small craft at night with partial equipment failures, and doing so is a requirement for getting an instrument rating for private pilots.

  • by Vectorius (1593309) on Tuesday July 14, 2009 @02:00AM (#28687061)

    The imminent death of Internet radio has led me to think of ways of modifying the Creative Commons share and share-alike non-commercial license. I wish to release some music I have composed, but before I do this, I would like to craft a variant of the creative commons licence under which SoundExchange, the RIAA and their legal representatives would be subject to a $10,000,000 fine if they listen to my music, create derivative works based on it, or if they attempt enforce my rights under the copyright act.

    Specifically, the license I would like should impose a crippling fine on SoundExchange in case it attempts to collect royalties on my behalf paid by services making ephemeral phonorecords or digital audio transmissions of sound recordings, or both, under the statutory licenses set forth in 17 U.S.C. 112 and 17 U.S.C. 114 or if it attempts to distribute the collected royalties to me pursuant to 17 U.S.C. 114(g)(2). The license should go beyond merely threatening the possibilityof a lawsuit--it should stipulate an RIAA-level fine against SoundExchange and its legal representatives.

    If such a license could be crafted with sufficient care, and if sufficiently many musicians were to release music under this license, in time it could effectively criminalize SoundExchange, the RIAA and its lawyers.

  • by kheldan (1460303) on Tuesday July 14, 2009 @02:08AM (#28687085) Journal
    I think it's pretty obvious what Pandora is angling at here, they're attacking the obvious double-standard. Problem is that if it goes the other way, then that's pretty much the last nail in the coffin of broadcast radio; it's already only a marginally profitable business to be in anymore, and having to pay more royalties will kill most of them off for good.
  • by SeaFox (739806) on Tuesday July 14, 2009 @02:11AM (#28687103)

    That might be one outcome. Alternately, we might just lose the independent stations and be stuck with all Clear Channel.

    Perhaps we don't care anymore either way? With car stereos able to hook up to iPods and the mash of annoying commercials/on-air "personalities" one has to listen too are people even using their radios anymore? I have a broken antennae on my car. I can get pretty much two radio stations reliably: NPR, and the local college's radio station. Considering the college station is a non-commercial low-power transmitter and the public radio station is, well, a public radio station I imagine they'll be immune to these changes, and I don't listen to those two stations anyway. All i listen to is my own CDs, some of which are actual CDs and some of which are burned with digital music files I bought at online stores or acquired through other means.

    I learn about new music either through word of mouth from people I know online, other works the music gets used in like commercials or movie soundtracks, or listening to samples at online music stores and bands' own websites.

    Radio? Who needs it!

  • Re:Radio vs Pandora (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Nirvelli (851945) on Tuesday July 14, 2009 @03:24AM (#28687467)
    How is this guy getting modded Insightful?
    The day I can drive from one end of my city to the other with Pandora streaming for free into my car stereo, with no dropping the signal, and local concert info and other news on occasion... only then will radio be useless.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 14, 2009 @04:09AM (#28687711)

    In the Netherlands the above list would not be considered absurd at all. See the English pages of Buma-Stemra http://www.bumastemra.nl/en-US/Service/FAQ.htm

    When a shop owner has the radio on in his office and suppliers come over to talk about deliveries he has to pay for the their passive listening to the music played. The same for his workers in the canteen. The same for the customers buying in the store. You would think the broadcaster then doesn't have to pay for the rights to send the music ... you are wrong about that. When that shop owner goes for lunch to a restaurant nearby the bill will contain a small percentage of the rights the restaurant owner has to pay to Buma and Stemra for the background music you have to listen to. He isn't in his own shop then so shouldn't he get a deduction on the monthly bill?
    The institutions must consider us as schizophrenic in the first place, they make us paranoia soon after. It is Kafkaesk in Dutch dimensions.
    This non-governmental tax system progressively grows into other sectors too, copy fees for companies to compensate authors and publishers exist already and now the general public is facing similar legislation. Internet users should keep an ailing newspaper industry afloat. CD's, DVD's, music tape is already taxed.

    Like with RIAA what actually drips down in payment to the performers, authors, photographers etc is a small percentage of the rights payed.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 14, 2009 @05:22AM (#28688109)

    Why shouldn't local broadcast radio in the US pay mechanical royalties? Radio stations in other countries manage fine and please show me where there's a special exemption for US local radio in the Berne convention. The US being the country most aggressively persuing "IP" protectionism abroad; this particular double standard goes much, much deeper than broadcast radio.

  • by bperkins (12056) on Tuesday July 14, 2009 @07:54AM (#28688903) Homepage Journal
    > Pilots regularly use standard radio stations in place of VOR transmitters

    I don't think so.

    FM stations won't substitute for a VOR, the implementation is totally different.

    AM stations can be used as an NDB for ADF, but my understanding is that this isn't used very much anymore. From what I've seen and read, most ADF equipment won't detect VHF frequencies.

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