Pandora, the music streaming service, may be shooting itself in the foot with their major campaign to reduce rates paid to artists for playing their music.
After critical comments on the music rights organizations, they found themselves on the receiving end of a lawsuit from BMI and strong comments from ASCAP’s Paul Williams. Now they have started an e-mail campaign to artists trying to get them to support their position, one that the surviving members of Pink Floyd think is deceptive.
Roger Waters, David Gilmour and Nick Mason have written a strongly worded editorial in USA Today accusing Pandora of wording their e-mail in a deceptive way.
Musicians around the country are getting emails from Pandora – even directly from the company’s charismatic founder Tim Westergren – asking them to “be part of a conversation” about the music business and sign a simple “letter of support” for Internet radio.
Sounds good. Who wouldn’t want to be “part of a conversation”? Who doesn’t support Internet radio? What scrooge would refuse to sign such a positive, pro-music statement?
Of course, this letter doesn’t say anything about an 85% artist pay cut. That would probably turn off most musicians who might consider signing on. All it says about royalties is “We are all fervent advocates for the fair treatment of artists.” And the only hint of Pandora’s real agenda is the innocent sounding line “We are also fervent supporters of internet radio and want more than anything for it to grow.” The petition doesn’t mention that Pandora is pushing the growth of its business directly at the expense of artists’ paychecks.
At issue is the amount that Pandora and other Internet streaming companies pay to artists, songwriters and publishers for each streamed song.