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Westergren: RIAA Orchestrating Lies Against Pandora. Hammers Radio.


As a result of the recent bickering over fees Pandora does and should pay to play music, Pandora founder Tim Westergren has written a blog in defense of his company. The first point Westergren addresses is Pink Floyd's claim that he is trying to cut their pay 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."

Westergren also takes issue with the amount of money paid for each song spin on Pandora. "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 isright."
And, Westergren says, the total dollars coming from Internet spins are growing. "Regardless of the math, the truth remains that any way you cut it, when it comes to Internet radio “x spins pays y dollars in performance fees” is always going to sound like a small number. Which leads me to the next, and perhaps more important point. The value of a spin on Pandora is about much more than royalties. Over 350 labels actively service Pandora with new releases. And we get thousands of unsolicited submissions from artists. Why? Because radio has, and will always be THE primary means of promotion for artists. Spins means audience, and developing an audience of patrons is THE key to long-term sustainability for artists. Furthermore, in an Internet-connected world, the ability of a service like Pandora to activate fans is extraordinary – far beyond anything broadcast radio has ever been able to offer. We have already begun developing and testing those capabilities, and the artists who have participated in these programs have been blown away by the results."

Westergren says Pandora is a company founded by artists to help artists. " The RIAA has attempted to create a firestorm about an email 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. It is at the core of who we are and how we make decisions about our business and that will never change. We will not be intimidated. We will continue to try our best to stay above the fray and concentrate on our mission to create great Internet radio for our listeners and our artists.  We are undaunted, and we are passionate about the future of music, and an ecosystem that allows those who create it to thrive."

Read the full Westergren blog HERE

(10/6/2013 2:24:31 AM)
Thanks Jared. Having trouble opening link will try again tonight. I think I may have read a transcript already of this debate. Has anyone out there read the book? I have and found it quite compelling. Would love to know what a thinkling would thinkle about it.
denali north face

- denali north face
(6/28/2013 7:54:35 AM)
Re: "And although we compete directly with AM/FM radio, which pays zero performance royalties" ... Odd because our company has been paying out royalties to SoundExchange for many years now for our streams..."

That this needs mention is what's sad: Westergren's statement reflects AM/FM radio and how much is paid to artists when a song is played over-the-air. He could not be more specific without adding the word "broadcasts" after "AM/FM radio."

Let's ask directly: At what point has your company paid performance royalties for over the air play, Mike? Did you pay performance royalties for songs played on those "stations between the stations," if you ever had that HD transmitter running? Do you honestly believe Pandora is worried about how many persons listen to your stream? (Aggregating all reported broadcast radio streams does not even make a close comparison to Pandora's audience numbers.)

This is, and always has been, about performance royalty payment parity. The subject is not going to die with a simple twisting of words.

- Ken Dardis
(6/28/2013 12:16:44 AM)
Westergren is cracking at the seams, just like his fake radio company.

- Joe Piazza
(6/27/2013 5:44:29 PM)
Westergren says: "And although we compete directly with AM/FM radio, which pays zero performance royalties".

Really? Odd because our company has been paying out royalties to SoundExchange for many years now for our streams as has every other radio group in America. The RIAA is lying about you but you are the bastion of truth...

- Michael Wright

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