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Pandora Wants Radio Stations To Pay For Music, Too 253

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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  • Pure greed when the industry turns in on itself to make a buck.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by noidentity ( 188756 )
      Greed isn't the problem, as that's here to stay, and in fact the free market capitalizes on that to drive efficiency. The problem is governments constantly expanding their intrusion on the free market, giving unequal advantages to those who direct their intrusion. Physical property? Check. Imaginary property? In your dreams! End of problem.
    • You mean like Wells Fargo?
  • Subterfuge (Score:5, Insightful)

    by grapeape ( 137008 ) <mpope7@kWELTYc.rr.com minus author> on Tuesday July 14, 2009 @12:23AM (#28686509) Homepage

    Im surprised by how many are upset over this. Think about it for a minute, the vast majority are still clueless when it comes to the actions of the Music Industry, Pandora no doubt sees this as an opportunity to bring awareness to the masses of an archaic system thats time has passed.

    • Re:Subterfuge (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TomRK1089 ( 1270906 ) on Tuesday July 14, 2009 @01:14AM (#28686875)
      I agree. Pandora tried to avoid the fees, and failed. I see this as not an endorsement but a backhanded rebuttal -- "Well, industry, time to put your money where your mouth is! Is radio good because it generates buzz, and it being free is the acceptable tradeoff, or not?"
    • by syousef ( 465911 )

      Pandora is looking after Pandora's interests. I'd barely heard of this pithy organisation before last week and now they're all over the news. Just get back in your box. We don't want or need you.

      • ...I see that you have never actually *used* their service in the past? It's truly a pity, they had a really nice library of tunes and a decent interface.

  • 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.
    • by Renraku ( 518261 ) on Tuesday July 14, 2009 @01:19AM (#28686901) Homepage

      There are different people in charge now.

      People that would rather make a buck today than ten bucks next week.

      People that would collapse an entire industry so they could retire nicely, despite the fact that they were all but guaranteed a nice retirement anyway.

      There are artists that don't believe in art, musicians who don't believe in music, and there are for-profit corporations that don't believe in sustainable profit. It's a sad, sad world.

      • Hmm... depends on how you see it. I say, let's use this exact situation, and make the most of it. Profit from it *because* it is that way. ^^

        They can't do sustainable profit? Well, be the only one that is. And soon you will rule them all.
        Believe in your art, and people will believe in it to (that is in fact, how fashion, fads, trends, and all that works).

        Lure them with the dream of the quick buck, bleed them dry, and then let them go down fast and hard.

        I call it natural selection at work. If you are wiser,

      • People that would rather make a buck today than ten bucks next week.

        Well, to be fair, the record company execs that bought airtime were arguably more greedy and more manipulative than the ones are today, and it was also easier with local radio. Back in the day, if you had a local radio station, to get airplay, an exec might go and just bribe the DJ at the station to put something on. In those days DJs had more creative control but that also made it easier for them to take bribes. As a result, the studio

  • by bukuman ( 1129741 ) on Tuesday July 14, 2009 @12:28AM (#28686545)

    Perhaps Pandora hopes to have radio come to the aid of internet radio - "We'll drag you down with us if you don't step up!".

    • by afidel ( 530433 )
      Ah yes, the enemy of my enemy is my friend, quite clever =)
  • And if you hear someone humming a song, turn them in to the ASPCA ASAP

  • I thought that went the way of the dodo. You can't get FM on the iPod, and who doesn't have a CD player or mp3 jack in their car? Who gives a crap about shitty-sounding distorted 'loud' FM pop music?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tepples ( 727027 )

      You can't get FM on the iPod, and who doesn't have a CD player or mp3 jack in their car?

      Not one of the cars that I regularly ride in has a 3.5mm stereo audio input; they're all either older or low-end. They might have tape or CD, but for a playlist longer than 80 minutes or so, the only sort of "mp3 jack" that works in every car is an FM transmitter on an unused frequency.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by seifried ( 12921 )
        Or a tape adapter.
        • by Kagura ( 843695 )
          I bought a tape adapter for my car's iPod. I was happy with it until I actually tried to use it, at which point I realized I didn't have a cassette desk in my car... *eye roll*
      • Not one of the cars that I regularly ride in has a 3.5mm stereo audio input; they're all either older or low-end.

        I had the same problem on a 2003 Mazda 6 and yeah, the FM transmitters are a pain in the butt. Not to mention you can't simply plug in a different stereo without buying a new dash panel!

        After far too much searching I found this [car-cd-changer.net] for about a hundred bucks on ebay. Sorry to sound like an ad but I'm pretty happy with it for the price. It mimics the CD player so it uses the existing CD changer controls while playing back off a USB stick or an SD card. It also has an auxiliary input 3.5mm jack. It's far f

  • by fireheadca ( 853580 ) on Tuesday July 14, 2009 @12:44AM (#28686655)
    Just give up and bill everyone:

    Bill the artists for making it and everytime it's played.
    Bill the distributor and packaging plant.
    Bill the radio stations for playing it.
    Bill the store for selling it.
    Bill the Moving Picture Experts Group when it's moved digitally.
    Bill your mom.
    Bill the listener for liking it.
    Bill them if they don't like it.
    Bill Microsoft and Al Gore for bringing the internet.
    Bill Apple and the beatles.
    Bill Linux just cause. ...and when they don't pay: Sue them.

    This Greed - It's becoming bloody disgusting.

    "Don't be too troubled. He'll be all right now. He left a packet for you.
    There it is!"
    • Why only once?

      Bill them on the media.
      Bill them on the Internet connection.
      Bill them on the computer.
      Bill them on the downloads.
      Bill the uploaders.
      Bill the downloaders.
      Bill the network providers.
      Bill the sites hosting directories.
      Bill them on the concerts.
      Bill them on the tickets.
      Bill the artists.
      Bill the organizer.
      Bill them all trough a special tax.

      And sue them anyway!

  • by dbIII ( 701233 ) on Tuesday July 14, 2009 @12:44AM (#28686661)
    This was done in Australia, and overnight the amount of Australian music broadcast dropped to close to zero. For a couple of years the government rattled sabres threatening to cancel broadcast licences and then eventually radio stations were charged for all content and not just Australian content. It really didn't matter if there were cases where there was no way the money charged could actually get back to the copyright holders because IT'S A SCAM. The money claimed on behalf of the local copyright holders that theoretically could get back to them does not and is absorbed in "administrative costs" for instance huge payouts to board members of the organisation running the scam. The British version of this is a prime example.
    • by Luthair ( 847766 )

      From a news segment I saw here recently in Canada virtually the entire world with the exception of the USA requires radio stations to pay artists.

      To me I don't see why you would pay songwriters but not the musicians.

  • by Technician ( 215283 ) on Tuesday July 14, 2009 @01:03AM (#28686805)

    One of the radio stations I depend on for traffic reports is already fighting this. They run several advertisements predicting the free music you listen to is at risk of being eliminated by congress with new fees on the music they play. Call your congressman right away to stop this legislation that will end free music on radio.

    The NAB, National Association of Broadcasters is leading the charge to oppose the bill.
    http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-ct-radio3-2009jul03,0,6937549.story/ [latimes.com]

    • Somehow, the old radio laws have been thrown out, and Clear Channel has been allowed to gain a near monopoly on the radio market in America. Now regular radio is worse than ever.

      However, the most innovative radio companies must pay royalties. Sirius/XM must pay royalties, Web Radio must pay royalties, therefore regular radio must pay royalties too. When regular radio implodes, it will be clear to everyone that the whole system needs to change. And another good side effect is getting rid of another near mono

    • by UglyRedHonda ( 893014 ) on Tuesday July 14, 2009 @02:14AM (#28687119)
      NAB spent the last several years arguing that satellite radio should be forced to pay these royalties. Prior to those hearings, satellite hadn't been paying, since they were arguing that they were another form of radio. Any lawyer worth their salt would have told NAB to support satellite radio as protection against something like this. But they didn't. They saw a chance to eliminate a competitor, and hoped to saddle them with an additional expense.

      One of the first victims of their stupidity were the NAB member stations that were streaming on the Internet. Previously, they hadn't had to pay, either - which was a good thing for them, considering that most streams had their advertising removed from the stream, and weren't generally profitable on their own.

      Their arguments as to why they shouldn't have to pay are outdated. They claim that they're giving free promotion to music, but how many terrestrial stations are actually giving exposure to new music? Seriously - how many stations in your town are currently recycling everyone's favorite hits from the 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s? Radio knows that new music doesn't draw listeners - it's easier to take the free ride and give audiences the music they already know and love.

      Radio should have to pay. Given NAB's size, it shouldn't be difficult to negotiate with SoundExchange for a lower rate.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by BitZtream ( 692029 )

      NAB should have stood up for Pandora which is really just another form of broadcasting, but they didn't. They made their bed, time to sleep in it.

  • 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.
    • SoundExchange collects royalties for ALL music -including independent music. Of course, no artist ever sees a dime of it.
  • Only a few months ago, it was charged in the US Congress that record companies have been paying radio stations (again, like in the fifties) to play their records.

    Now they want the stations to pay them?

    Playing a recording on the air is better than advertising it, and the record companies know it.

    This effort is bound to fail, if not ignite laughter.

    • Perhapse nothing will change. An even, across the board fee won't change the market dynamics, and instead of paying to get an playlist bump, you simply "forget to cash the cheque."
  • Gotta agree here (Score:5, Insightful)

    by davmoo ( 63521 ) on Tuesday July 14, 2009 @01:22AM (#28686917)

    If online radio has to pay, and satellite has to pay (for those of you who didn't know that, they do), then broadcast radio should also have to pay.

    Broadcast radio keeps insisting what they want is a level playing field. Well, it ain't level if they don't have to pay.

    No in between bullshit, all commercial broadcasters should be treated the same, regardless of the actual method of broadcast...either charge no one, or charge everyone.

  • by ins0m ( 584887 ) <ins0mni0n@@@hackermail...com> on Tuesday July 14, 2009 @01:47AM (#28687019)

    Warning: I work with EDM-variety music producers.

    This is actually fantastic news. When we provide ala carte downloads for our tracks, they usually get shunned and our systems spend hours each month uploading to Rhapsody and the like... for $6 royalty statements.

    The net result?

    An hour block of unadvertised, "live mix" content wherein the latest music gets performed and no one pays a red cent to Harry Fox. It works thusly:

    1. DJ in our roster wishes to promote.
    2. Under US tax code, any music said DJ has paid for is a business expense as an appropriation of requisite tools to perform said job.
    3. DJ plays promotional mix set, commercial free, and it's released to the blogs under fair use.
    5. Profit. DJ sees more bookings as a result for live-performance gigs. The hottest tracks have already been promoted to BBC Radio One and artists see more BDS numbers as a result. People buy more hardcopies as a result of extended exposure.
    6. You missed there wasn't a step 4, and there is no "... Profit?" meme.

    It would take a bit of renegade work, but there isn't any reason why bands can't be promoted in the same way. It's more on the radio DJ's taking the responsibility for ownership instead of the studio for the tracks performed, but that would effectively shut down payola in most cases. With the advent of the Internet, it means these streams can be put out royalty-free and can survive for public enjoyment, while increasing artist exposure and cutting the middleman out. How would the site maintain itself? Through rabid fans. Just look at DogsOnAcid for an example.

  • 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.
  • MTV doesn't play music. Radio stations will stop playing music now too. Services like last.fm and Pandora only suggest music you already know about anyway. Live music sounds like crap (hey mr. indy band ever heard of an eq?). And I don't even care, because the industry quit making music long ago, it's just taken awhile for everyone to catch up.

  • by malevolentjelly ( 1057140 ) on Tuesday July 14, 2009 @02:30AM (#28687181) Journal

    I think what they've found here is right. The Radio Format has been getting a free ride and so have all those brigands listening to it in their cars. All the people in the world are a bunch of no-good sound thieves, Hell, they even have large fleshy scoops on the side of their heads just sucking up and stealing all the free sounds they can get close to. If only we could have those things permanently blocked so the only sounds that come through them are properly paid and licensed by the source.

    I should start going to sleep at night with earmuffs on so some ghetto-blasting kid in a donk doesn't come cruising down the street blasting hip-hop and turning me into a music pirate. Then I'd have no choice but to turn myself in for participating in an illegal public listening of a song I didn't pay for.

  • You dont know what will come after opening it. Maybe the system could hold it running even with bigger charges, or maybe not, and be the end of radio, RIAA, music as something commercial or most major artists revolt and just put in Creative Commons all their work. Sometimes change end being good in the middle/long run,
  • now that everyone has abandoned traditional radio for iPods, Pandora, and last.fm for 10 years now, its perfect timing to swoop in and milk radio dry

    they've waited 90 years for the perfect time to do this

    and you're next satellite radio... as soon as you declare bankruptcy!

    how fucking pathetic. what, ran out of grandmothers and college kids to sue?

  • 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?

    I have an answer for you. Because you decided that you wanted to give in to the record labels and screw the small broadcasters in the process and now you you want other radio stations to feel your pain? Its not about fair, its about your inabil

  • Anyone who wanted to claim copyright on their music could register with the collection agency.

    What's more - they could specify the price they wanted to charge for broadcast (within tiers for simplification).

    That way radio station X could simply say, 'we won't play any track that costs more than X'. The rights holder would get to decide whether they want to charge more than X.

    No more monopoly negotiations - the agency simply manages a market.

    My guess is that most companies would pretty quickly list their tra

  • by zuki ( 845560 ) on Tuesday July 14, 2009 @07:03AM (#28688627) Journal
    Certainly, I do not think that a single Slashdot reader was alive around 1930, which is around when US Congress enacted legislation that would make it easier for the early terrestrial radio broadcasters to invest and build out their fledging radio transmission network, by granting them an exemption from the obligation of having to pay royalties to the owners of the sound recordings they were playing on the air, although they were still obligated to pay the writers, their publishers and appointed representatives (ASCAP, BMI, Harry Fox Agency).

    These payments to both sound recording owners as well as publishers are the norm for stations everywhere else in the world.

    A measure of how wildly successful the radio stations are in the US today should be the amount of money they appear to have available to spend on lobbyists hired to ensure that this one-time exemption never ends.

    One could fail to see what is so bad for owners of sound recordings to finally get paid for the use of their work, broadcasters have had a free ride for 80 years or so, it's fairly clear that they do not need that exemption for its original purpose anymore, and they should build their business model around the same one every other radio station on earth has been using successfully all of this time.

    Yes, it obviously fantastic to have your songs promoted on radio, and labels have always seen this as a great way to help sell many more copies of whatever physical product, downloads or ringtones even. But when comparing the amount the broadcasters would have to pay for each song played to what most of them are already racking up from pro-rated advertising income for the time slot that song was in, one cannot help but wonder what this fuss is all about.... a mere few drops in the bucket.

  • Seriously I say this: let this bring an uttermost end to the music industry and music radio. Let their greed be their dying gasp. And when they (and the RIAA and their other-national counterparts) are dead and blowing in the breeze, the REAL meaning of music will return. That being, entertainment, enjoyment, and the performance itself. Music, like any art, was never meant to be "hey, I can get rich!" but more like "hey, look at this! I made a song! I hope you like it!"

    Gordon Gecko was wrong, dead wrong:

Did you hear that two rabbits escaped from the zoo and so far they have only recaptured 116 of them?