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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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  • by Starlon ( 1492461 ) on Tuesday July 14, 2009 @12:06AM (#28686375)
    The internet provides all sorts of dynamics in the music being played. Radio has "Phone in a request" once in a blue moon. This would literally kill music radio, as radio stations don't have a direct way to charge the listeners. Something tells me this is simply Pandora having a hissy fit over having to pay.
  • by Zerth ( 26112 ) on Tuesday July 14, 2009 @12:16AM (#28686463)

    Hell no, I'm going to tell my elected officials to vote for it.

    Sure we might lose mainstream music radio, but most of them are Clearchannel anyway. I can simulate a week of a Clearchannel station with a mini-CDR in a player set to deterministic shuffle.

    On the upside, we gain a shot at lots of mobile bandwidth if the radio industry crumbles, plus we set the music & radio industries at each others throats, and any outcome besides the status quo also is likely to result in a weakened music industry(now or later) or more small artists getting radioplay cause they're cheaper.

  • Re:olde tyme radio (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SanityInAnarchy ( 655584 ) <> on Tuesday July 14, 2009 @12:20AM (#28686495) Journal

    On the other hand, that also makes it harder for indie artists...

  • Subterfuge (Score:5, Insightful)

    by grapeape ( 137008 ) <mpope7 AT kc DOT rr DOT com> 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:Greed (Score:3, Insightful)

    by noidentity ( 188756 ) on Tuesday July 14, 2009 @12:25AM (#28686521)
    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.
  • 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!".

  • Re:What? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by wakingrufus ( 904726 ) on Tuesday July 14, 2009 @12:32AM (#28686573) Homepage
    They tried this already and it didn't work. so now its plan B time.
  • 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!"
  • Re:olde tyme radio (Score:3, Insightful)

    by afabbro ( 33948 ) on Tuesday July 14, 2009 @12:44AM (#28686659) Homepage

    On the other hand, that also makes it harder for indie artists...

    Having heard the quality of most "indie artists," all I can say is thank God for that.

  • 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.

  • Radio vs Pandora (Score:1, Insightful)

    by morsmortis ( 1579229 ) on Tuesday July 14, 2009 @12:50AM (#28686713)
    How the hell did these stations survive past the 90s? Seriously? This technology should be fazed out and the frequency bands allocated to something worthwhile. Radio was going the right way in the late 80s by playing local bands and more underground music, but that changed during the 90s and any kind of underground music was gone by 2000. (unless you listened to a college AM station) Since Pandora supports a broader range of music from Beethoven to Burzum, I hope they cause these shitty stations the pain they deserve for making my radio useless. Even the local 80s station stopped playing 80s music and started playing coldplay.... wtf? If I was Pandora I would try to team up with verizon and use that new wireless they are working on to compete with the radio. People who listen to music will pick Pandora; people who like to listen to short, ugly guys talk all day , will pick the radio.
  • by baKanale ( 830108 ) on Tuesday July 14, 2009 @12:57AM (#28686761)

    Sure we might lose mainstream music radio, but most of them are Clearchannel anyway.

    That might be one outcome. Alternately, we might just lose the independent stations and be stuck with all Clear Channel. This sort of regulation always hurts the little guys more than the big conglomerates.

  • by Logic and Reason ( 952833 ) on Tuesday July 14, 2009 @01:01AM (#28686789)

    Sure we might lose mainstream music radio, but most of them are Clearchannel anyway.

    Except that this will actually help the largest stations by killing off their smaller competitors who can't afford the new fees. If you think things are bad now, just wait until this bill gets 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 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.

  • 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 seifried ( 12921 ) on Tuesday July 14, 2009 @01:23AM (#28686921) Homepage
    Or a tape adapter.
  • by cyn1c77 ( 928549 ) on Tuesday July 14, 2009 @01:29AM (#28686945)

    But Pandora is paying more per person. They pay a fee each time a song is played to a single user account. Regular radio stations do not pay a fee per person, they pay per song.

    The 777 takes advantage of the economy of scale. With a larger plane, the airline can carry more people, but they use more fuel. But it works out that as the planes get bigger, the passenger profit increases faster than the fuel cost because a slightly bigger and efficient engine can carry a lot more people.

    They record labels have managed to argue that since Pandora could reach more people, they should pay more per user. It's really quite ridiculous, but I guess the labels need to make up for lost profits somewhere.

  • Re:What? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gnick ( 1211984 ) on Tuesday July 14, 2009 @01:43AM (#28687003) Homepage

    Exactly - This should not be a surprise.

    Pandora is a cool service and they're playing the cards they've been dealt. Maybe those cards are largely viewed as unfair, but they want a level playing field. Why would anyone expect them to pony up for fees that some of their major competition (even though it's different technology) is immune to? Sure it would be better if they could win free broadcasting, but now that they've lost that battle they're just trying to level the playing field.

    Hell, you could even view this as Pandora trying to get a couple of more players into the "let us broadcast w/o complications" game...

  • Re:Bring it on! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by oatworm ( 969674 ) on Tuesday July 14, 2009 @02:01AM (#28687067) Homepage
    Generally speaking, when revolutions come, they don't tend to fare particularly well for the intellectual class (i.e. those that would read Slashdot). Honestly, I'd rather have a reasonably pacified populace than have to wonder if that guy in the trailer park down the street is coveting my "decadent and bourgeoisie" Kia.
  • 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.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 14, 2009 @02:34AM (#28687205)

    If the recording industry wants the public to pay it more money for being good at making contracts with musicians, okay. In exchange let's repeal the Bono Act of 1998. This law not lengthened new music copyrights to 95 years, it placed every audio recording made before 1972 under copyright until 2067. Thousands of older works were re-copyrighted even though they had already been in the public domain for many years. If this law were repealed, historical works such as wax cylinder recordings made by Thomas Edison in the 1890s, which are now protected until 2067, would again be available for public use as they should be. I don't think this is too big a concession in return for creating a brand new revenue source for the industry.

  • by BitZtream ( 692029 ) on Tuesday July 14, 2009 @02:35AM (#28687215)

    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.

  • now that everyone has abandoned traditional radio for iPods, Pandora, and 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?

  • by knarf ( 34928 ) on Tuesday July 14, 2009 @06:08AM (#28688343) Homepage

    A license like that is only as strong as the amount of money you have in the bank to fund the lawyers needed to enforce it.

  • 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.

  • Re:What? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mcgrew ( 92797 ) on Tuesday July 14, 2009 @09:16AM (#28689841) Homepage Journal

    Pandora should just tell the major labels to fuck off, and play music by artists who don't demand fees. But most radio stations are paying the web fees anyway, almost all broadcast stations stream to the web.

    Funny how the majors beg the broadcast stations, who have limited reach, to play their stuff and have been caught bribing DJs to play it, while lobbying for webcasters to pay fees. It just goes to show that the RIAA labels are afraid of the internet (and P2P) because the internet empowers the indies. If there were no independant artists (if it still cost a king's ransom ro record and duplicate a disk), the majors would have embraces P2P with open arms. Nobody ever went broke from "pirates", but lots of artists starve from lack of promotion.

    Cory Doctorow has an excellent explanation of this either in the forward or afterward (don't remember) in his book Little Brother, which he's released under a CC license and posted on the internet in various formats.

    In a nutshell, If I hear your stuff and like it I'll buy it. If I've never heard your music (or seen your writing) there's no way you're going to get me to buy it.

Q: How many IBM CPU's does it take to execute a job? A: Four; three to hold it down, and one to rip its head off.