Like the music industry needs anything else throwing at it and like record companies need any more of an excuse to overcharge for CDs and tour tickets, now Pandora have hit the headlines to bring more impending bad news to the world of music.
According to The Boot, Pandora Radio is “currently urging Congress to pass the Internet Radio Fairness Act. The act attempts to lower the amount artists are paid when Pandora plays their music and, according to MusicFIRST Coalition -- which represents artists in an effort to ensure fair pay -- could slash by 85 percent royalties paid to musicians when their songs are played over Internet radio”.
Not exactly the kind of thing anyone wanted to hear, least of all the artists. 125 of them have taken to adding their names to a letter to Congress asking why, now that they have supported Pandora into becoming a Wall Street company with skyrocketing revenues, they should now earn an even tinier fraction of a cent every time a song is played. A number of country artists have joined this cause, including Jana Kramer, Alabama, Vince Gill, Darius Rucker, Zac Brown Band and Easton Corbin, although I’m surprised that more haven’t because of the huge impact this kind of legislation will have upon their royalties. 85% is a huge percentage, and I think it’s shocking and ridiculous that internet radio should get away with paying far less than real radio and stores and other public spaces for playing copyrighted material. It’s the reason performance royalties organisations exist, in order to collect those royalties that rightfully belong to the artists and songwriters.
The fact that Pandora already only pay a fraction of a cent to the artists for one play is something that should have been rectified in favor of the artists long ago, yet this further legislation is something that will do more destruction to the creativity behind the music business and will prompt idiot critic naysayers to claim that ‘fans just don’t want to pay for music anymore’. They DO, and I have so much loathing for people who claim us young people think it’s all free. I spend hundreds upon hundreds of dollars on music and music-related things such as tour tickets and merchandise every year, and I may be a big music fan but I’m certainly not in a minority. If I were not a student and had more disposable income, I would willingly spend far more, and I know that’s true for many people. The fact is that people want an increasing variety of ways to consume music these days within the digital domain, and internet radio, particularly that of which helps you to discover more music, is perfect.
For those who don’t know, Pandora have two options for usage. A free subscription, supported by ads (where there is a monthly listening limit), and a paid subscription, ad-free, no limitations and $36 a year. If you are using the free subscription and you run to your monthly listening limit, they give you the option of paying a one-time fee of 99c for the rest of that calendar month, unlimited listening. I think that’s a fantastic deal, but when I did a quick Google search I discovered there was a huge listener backlash to this, as if it was morally wrong?! Do you not want your favorite artists to actually get paid?! Them not receiving their royalties is illegal, and if you’re not willing to contribute anything you’re a really bad music fan and shouldn’t be allowed the luxury of listening. The $36 a year equates to $3 a month. That’s the price of a Subway. It’s cheaper than a coffee at Starbucks. Are you telling me you don’t want to pay for unlimited listening for an entire month for $3?!
I know I have contradicted myself here because I stated that people do want to pay for music. They do – it’s just stupid people I’m ranting at here who don’t think they should have to pay for listening to any music. That’s morally wrong and it’s probably why Pandora are trying to cut the royalties they’re paying. They obviously can’t earn enough money from advertising so, like Spotify, a paid subscription and listening limit is necessary. Spotify is far more expensive and if I used Spotify I would have no qualms about paying their fees.
I prefer to actually buy my music and listen on my iPod or CD player, but hey, maybe I’m an old romantic here. Either way, this whole situation is stupid and should never have come to bear. A lot more people buy music than critics say, yet there’s a whole load of people who need to realise their financial responsibility when they choose to listen to music. And Pandora need to get their act together and figure out some way of being able to continue paying the normal royalties to artists, if not more, since the current rate is still very low. If this legislation goes through there will be huge repercussions, and a lot of lesser-known artists won’t be able to survive financially due to the dominance of digital listening, and that means no more of their music.
I think people need to take this stuff a hell of a lot more seriously.