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Music Biz *Still* Trying to Kill Web Radio

If you're a fan of new music and easily offended by corporate thuggishness, you may not want to read my colleague Peter Whoriskey's story from Saturday's paper about the possible demise of the Pandora Web-radio service.

This is only the latest chapter in a sad saga that's been dragging on for most of this decade: how a largely unaccountable regulatory body and a trade group dominated by representatives of major record labels have tried to inflict a punitive system of royalty payments on Web-radio broadcasters.

The unfairness and irrationality of this idea seemed obvious when I first devoted a column to it, back in 2002. More than six years later, nothing seems to have changed.

In case you've tuned out of this story, here's a quick recap:

1. The royalty payments at stake are supposed to compensate performers (and their record labels) for the use of their music, much as songwriters have long received a small royalty payment for the use of their work.

2. But unlike royalties paid to songwriters, these "performance royalties" don't apply to FM or AM -- whether analog or digital HD Radio broadcasts -- but do cover satellite, cable and Internet broadcasts.

3. Cable and satellite broadcasts pay a simple percentage of their revenues.

4. The proposals cooked up by the Copyright Royalty Board -- a panel of judges appointed by the Librarian of Congress to settle certain intellectual-property disputes -- and backed by SoundExchange, the theoretically nonpartisan group charged with collecting these royalties, would impose a per-song, per-listener fee that many Webcasters say would put them out of business. (See, for example, musician and Webcaster David Byrne's analysis.)

5. Maybe this is all one big coincidence, but in terms of political clout and lobbying efforts, FM and AM broadcasters vastly outweigh satellite- and cable-based music outlets, who in turn easily outrank Webcasters.

As I wrote a year ago, when the CRB reaffirmed this foolish idea, choking off Web radio by imposing discriminatory and disproportionate fees is just about the last thing the music industry needs. Webcasters like Pandora are far more effective at exposing listeners to new music than the playlist-choked wasteland of commercial FM and AM -- so of course we should tax them to extinction, ensuring record labels and musicians a one-time profit, followed by years of much poorer exposure for new musicians.

Seriously, who comes up with this kind of strategy? It's one thing for the CRB to lose its collective mind, it's another for businesspeople who ought to know the market to start sawing their own feet off. It's not as if they'd even make much money in the process: The Web radio industry just isn't that rich.

The people at SoundExchange do not help their cause when they continue to spout melodramatic hyperbole like this line, from Whoriskey's story:

"Our artists and copyright owners deserve to be fairly compensated for the blood and sweat that forms the core product of these businesses," said Mike Huppe, general counsel for SoundExchange.

"Blood"? Give me a break. You represent musicians, not the Marine Corps.

I'm past tired of seeing this story refuse to die. There's only so many times you can see such obvious, blatant abuse of power before you want to find the people responsible, grab them by the lapels, and ask: "What's wrong with you? Why do you hate America?!"

There is, however, one simple and fair way out of this: Congress and should finally pass the Internet Radio Equality Act, which would vacate the CRB ruling and apply the same per-revenue scheme to cable, satellite and Internet broadcasters alike.

By Rob Pegoraro  |  August 18, 2008; 10:49 AM ET
Categories:  Gripes , Music  
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Comments

Sigh, more falsehoods about this issue. Why should the Washington Post build up a straw man only to knock it down, it doesn't make this column factual.

1. Bills requesting Performance Royalties for terrestrial radio are being written and lobbied right now. No one is suggesting that these performance royalties will only affect internet radio in perpetuity.

2. SoundExchange and Pandora and lobbyists fighting for Performance Royalties (such as Nancy Sinatra and the Sinatra Estate) often work together and the Washington Post covered this in an article a few weeks ago.

3. If web broadcasters are so upset about these fees then they should simply avoid playing music and go to a different format, such as news or sports, where they control the content they create. They are relying on an existing pool of cheap content (music) and they want to keep it cheap. Why can't Pandora simply remove someone else's music from its business model?

To suggest that musicians have never been killed over their music is so foolish as to make Rob a laughingstock. I can name a dozen examples from John Lennon to Tupac to obscure stories like Lyon Wong. How can anyone not be aware that musicians give up their lives for their careers? That doesn't even take into account people for whom their careers and our enjoyment of their music, drives them off the deep-end like a Van Gogh- I count among that crowd the Judy Garlands and the Kurt Cobains. They could not both perform and be alive.

The only obvious abuse of power is Rob, the mouthpiece of the consumer electronics industry, trying to crush innocent musicians so that the music device manufacturers like Apple's IPod have cheap material for their expensive electronics.

The story "refuses to die" because you're completely in the wrong legally and morally and are so wrong that you're an embarassment to journalism in the process.

Fix the inaccuracies I identified and explain your relationship to the consumer electronics industry. I smell an ethics violation. Oh, Ombudsman! Ombudsman! Something smells rotten in Rob's cubicle!

Posted by: DCer | August 18, 2008 1:15 PM | Report abuse

Wow, we don't usually engage in flaming around here. I love Pandora, they have given me an opportunity to discover new artists...and I have purchased the music. I think it's like the old days (fossil here) where I could listen to an album in a record store before I bought it.

Posted by: Tina in Falls Church | August 18, 2008 1:26 PM | Report abuse

"Bills requesting Performance Royalties for terrestrial radio are being written and lobbied right now"

Heh - the Music Industry wants to change all radio to Talk Radio? I hereby nominate the Music Industry for the Darwin Awards...

Posted by: Bob | August 18, 2008 1:41 PM | Report abuse

Barriers to entry for many businesses have been broken down. What was once an expensive manufacturing and distribution business with few players has become a commodity. The sooner that the music industry realizes that, the sooner it can start to deliver content in the form it's customers want.

Google recently launched a music search engine in China. But don't let the lack of content fool you-- China has a potential customer base equal to the US and EU combined.

When you stop to think about that, you have to ask: what is this primarily US/EU dominated industry going to look like in 20 years? Will there still be lawsuits flying around?

Posted by: Anonymous | August 18, 2008 1:46 PM | Report abuse

I use Pandora all the time, and I really love it. It pulls together playlists the same way any AM/FM radio does, they just have the ability to pull from a huge library due to beauty of the internet.

Oh, and DCer, just FYI, but Pandora and internet radio sites in general don't allow you to download anything. You've severely maimed your argument if you think that this column is about people whining that they can't steal music anymore.

Quite honestly, there's no qualitative difference between internet radio and AM/FM radio, just the medium that is used to transmit it. The music industry seems to simply have a phobia. Maybe one day they'll realize that people don't but music just because of the pretty album art. We want to know what we're buying.

I'm pretty sure something like Pandora will find it's way back into the sunlight if they manage to kill it, though. You can't pull "weeds" forever.

Posted by: Bryan | August 18, 2008 1:47 PM | Report abuse

streaming audio is only one source to get free music. The people that use this meathod will simply move the the next maybe better system. Notice there's Limewire and othere pear to pear software that can increace your persinal library. And if I listen to music on my pc then I can download (with the correct software) more "free" music. instead of trying to cash in on an unfair system. simply make it fair for all.

Posted by: not sure | August 18, 2008 1:48 PM | Report abuse

if I create content, and a broadcaster (regardless of medium) decides to air it, then I should be paid. That's the simplicity of it.

The content itself should have no bearing.

On the side note about music, it is alarming to me (as a musician, by the way) that the general public is very un-critical towards music. The general public is incapable of analyzing music in even a simple way, say, in analogy to discussing the plot, theme, setting camera work, acting, etc of a movie or novel. Can you talk about Kurt Cobain, for example, without invoking weak terms such as "cool" or "authentic" or "zeitgeist"?

Could you imagine reviewing a movie without using formal, specific terminology and analytical concepts (simple ones, like there, plot, movement, structure)?

While it is difficult for me to take junk music seriously, it is still only fair that the creators be paid.

Posted by: Brumbrum | August 18, 2008 1:49 PM | Report abuse

Bottom line is, services like pandora and other internet radio provide a tremendously diverse and often well targeted range of content, that provides users exposure to exactly what they are most likely to buy.

The user benefits from this, and artists benefit from this as users who learn about their music from related artists or content stations purchase additional music based on what they've heard on internet radio.

It seems like there is a fanatical devotion of segments of the industry to force users to buy music without being able to hear it first (would you buy a car without test driving?), hearing only what music "the industry" thinks they should hear via tightly controled and endlessly overplayed FM Radio. The model is hopelessly out of date, but rather than compete, they'd rather litigate/legislate the playing field to smash competitive distribution/exposure models.

Posted by: bottom line | August 18, 2008 1:49 PM | Report abuse

"they could not both perform and be alive"

"trying to crush innocent musicians"

Don't they also kill puppies? Get real DCer.

This is about squashing the competition. AM and FM broadcasters can see the future coming and they know they're not going to be a part of it. Pandora has built a better mousetrap, period.

It used to be in America that ingenuity was rewarded, and obsolete business paradigms were abandoned. Evidently no more.

Other than the untimely death of a truly innovative idea, the only real impact of this will be Europe and Asia leap-frogging the United States in an industry we used to lead in.

For shame!

Posted by: Neal Jettpace | August 18, 2008 1:52 PM | Report abuse

As a complete industry outsider but a music lover - I think Pandora is simply terrific and I thought the music industry thought so too. Not only do I hear music and musicians I might never have bought but they lead me to a place to buy them as well. Just a stupid music buyer's thoughts...

May you all be turned to vinyl.

Posted by: Bill In NH | August 18, 2008 1:55 PM | Report abuse

DCwire, ignoring all the other inaccuracies and falsehoods in your posting, the basic fact is this: a fair royalty system is one that doesn't require a broadcaster to have substantial margins, because otherwise the royalty system itself shapes the nature of what kinds of broadcasting can be done. There are dozens of webcasters who have tiny revenues and even tinier margins. Even if there are some large, rich corporations making huge sums from webcasting (and there is no evidence of this to date), how can a fair royalty system be one that kicks the first group out of business and allows only the second to survive? A percentage of revenue system would satisfy everyone, and might not be the the final suicide move of the music industry that the current CRPB strategy appears to be. There isn't a single piece of music that I've bought in the last 3 years that I didn't hear via my computer. 50-75% of it was via small, independent low revenue webcasters (the rest came from browsing on emusic.com). If you plan for the music industry is to discard the hundreds of dollars that I and people like me spend because of this exposure, then you just keep cheerleading for the current policy. If you succeed, you will have made the lives of small, hard working musicians massively harder, and ended the presence of independent, non-corporate web radio in the US.

Posted by: Paul Davis | August 18, 2008 1:57 PM | Report abuse

The more they increase their grip, the more star systems will slip through their fingers.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 18, 2008 1:58 PM | Report abuse

I have used internet radio, listened to music unavailable over the am or fm airwaves, and then purchased the music I liked, simply put, this is a good business for all involved

Posted by: bv | August 18, 2008 2:00 PM | Report abuse

... proving once again that the biggest driver of piracy is the music industry itself.

Posted by: Hoq | August 18, 2008 2:00 PM | Report abuse

I'm betting DCer is a lobbyist for the recording industry. Why else is he/she defending the status quo so viciously?

Services like Pandora are good for music because they expose consumers to product they might not otherwise discover, and then make it easy to purchase (you know, pay money for? Not steal or download off a virus-laden PTP system) that product. All without the major record labels having to spend a dime in advertising.

Telling a service like Pandora to switch to a different format like talk or sports is like telling a lobbyist not to take Congressmen to dinner at The Palm: completely at odds with their core business model. So DCer, how, realistically, does Pandora stay in business if Performance Royalties are instituted?

Posted by: BxNY | August 18, 2008 2:01 PM | Report abuse

@BrumBrum: nobody is arguing whether musicians should get paid (although they seemed to do well enough from 50 years of radio that didn't ever pay them). The question is how much should they be paid? If you make the fee fixed (e.g. 0.01 cents per listen), then you automatically lock out certain kinds of webcasting that cannot generate that revenue. Is that a good thing for you as a musician? Contrast that with a scheme in which if the webcaster earns 0.001 cents per listen, you (the musician) gets, say, 10% of that? Which do you prefer - no income, because the webcasters have moved overseas or vanished, or a smaller but reliable, local and growing revenue from a network of webcasters and listeners who love your music?

Posted by: Paul Davis | August 18, 2008 2:03 PM | Report abuse

Without the consumer electronics industry there would only be live performances. I strongly doubt the music industry wants to go back to the bardic age...but who knows...maybe they really are that nuts.

Whenever I read about this stuff I recall how Chuck Jones described the coyote in the roadrunner cartoons as having the mindset of a zealot...which is to double your effort after you've long forgotten what your original goal was. The music industry seems to have forgotten, ironically, that it's about making money, not their 1950s business model. Listening to new music should be easy. It should be a pleasant, effortless experience, and buying the music you hear should be a no-brainer kind of thing. High prices, DRM, obnoxious advertising and limited listener choice work against all of that and people just turn away. I stopped buying music for over 15 years ago partly because of the high price of CDs, but mostly because I didn't want to listen through a torrent of obnoxious radio ads while waiting for some morsel of music that I actually liked. So I heard very little new music. What I didn't hear, I obviously didn't buy either.

Services like Pandora have brought me back into the market. The music industry should be paying them, not the other way around. Pandora is everything I described above...it's simple, easy to use, I can tailor the music to my specific tastes, and they make it...much too easy...to buy music I hear that I like. I've bought more music from places like Amazon and iTunes in the past year then the previous ten. But Amazon and iTunes don't introduce me to new music. Pandora, and the satellite radio I subscribe to do, and have. And I've heard lots of new music on Pandora that I would never have heard otherwise, because Pandora lets me tailor the music to my tastes. That means I listen more. Is this really all that hard to grasp: When people enjoy what they're hearing, they listen more. When it's easy and painless to buy, they buy more. Is this rocket science?

You can make a few people really angry with your business thuggishness and that might not be a problem. But annoy people, give them a reason to think before they buy, and you may not even know how much business you're loosing, because you're only hearing from the angry ones. Blame piracy all you like, if you'd rather do that then really look at the lousy listener experience you've created. I am 54 years old and I have a collection of bought music that goes back decades that I can listen to, contentedly, for the rest of my life without hearing one more note of new music.

You need to realize you're selling entertainment. Never mind making people angry about DRM or Royalty Payments. Yes...only a small percentage of people even bother paying attention to those things. Never mind them. You are in the entertainment business and you are annoying your customers. It doesn't have to be a lot. The more unpleasant their experience is, the more you make them think twice before they buy, the less they Will buy. It really is that simple.

Posted by: Bruce Garrett | August 18, 2008 2:03 PM | Report abuse

Interesting to see the music industry continue to miss the point.

For many listeners like myself, the internet is our only source of music, for the simple reason that it is the only place that even plays the music I want to hear. It never was played on AM/FM, nor satellite. Honestly I doubt it ever will, we're niche markets.

Yet we buy a good deal of music, nearly every listener I know has bought 10 to 20 albums either through CDs or downloads in the last year. None of these sales would have happened without a radio station to hear it on, since no one in their right mind is going to go out buying music without hearing it first.

They also miss the point in failing to understand the shift in technology. If you shut down our access to legit radio stations, we'll go to pirate stations and listening circles. You shut it down in one country, it will continue through a listener in another country. The horse has already left the barn folks. Meanwhile the industry builds ill will against the very people buying the music, lessening not increasing the odds we'll continue paying for it.

Posted by: as | August 18, 2008 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Very simple. Don't play any music associated with the RIAA. There's plenty of "podsafe" music out there, and it's GREAT. I listen to it and BUY IT, and *will not* buy buggy whips from the traditional record publishers anymore.

The web IS becoming more influential, and the only reason the RIAA is becoming so cloyingly desperate is that they know it. Well, let them sit alone in the poorhouse as they contemplate the fact that they put themselves there by being a bunch of corporate thugs. I have zero sympathy.

The only people preying on the "innocent musicians" are the publishers, who remove from them the rights to their OWN WORK, so that they cannot post them in alternate channels. The idea that the RIAA are working on behalf of the musicians is an egregious and deliberate lie by the industry. If you don't tour, you don't make money from them. And you don't have to take my word for it... Courtney Love will tell you the same thing: http://archive.salon.com/tech/feature/2000/06/14/love/print.html

Visit the link, read what a "successful" professional musician has to say about the subject, and you can tell for yourself whether Rob or "DCer" is an industry mouthpiece. For further indication, look at his point 3 above... "avoid playing music", as if the RIAA represented EVERYONE who produces music. This is an out and out lie, DCer... shame on you! And shame on you for thinking the public is so stupid that they wouldn't notice!

As for you, Rob... you go, boy! Thanks for a timely, honest, and ACCURATE article.

Posted by: DangerMouse | August 18, 2008 2:07 PM | Report abuse

What I don't get is how many times an artist has to be paid for his creation?
When I create a new garden (I'm a Landscaper) I get paid once. I don't get paid every time somebody watch that garden.

Posted by: Landscaper | August 18, 2008 2:08 PM | Report abuse

Give me Pandora over "Singles-only" FM radio mono-cultures any day. I have bought more albums of more diverse musical types since I started listening to Pandora than I have since my teens & 20s. Based on radio play lists I had started to think that musical innovation was dying. I was glad to find that I was wrong. It was just the recording industry continuing to underwhelm listeners with the over promotion of dumbed-down middle-of-the-road schlock.

Record Industry take note, kill the responsible means of music promotion provided by internet radio & you will in turn promote the real theft of music where we no longer need to go BUY the album or song if we like it that much.

Posted by: koshkavirginia | August 18, 2008 2:11 PM | Report abuse

I am continually confused by the myopic practices of the recording industry. Instead of collaboration with one of the few marketing channels that you can fully trace and get feedback from for almost no charge, you would prefer a few more pennies in your purse. Your group appears to be unconcerned with the quality or opinion of the masses. Killing a technology before it even matures, impressive, I can only imagine what would have happened if CD recorders had come out at the same time CD's debuted. Take a look around dinos the world pays for good products and sadly for you it does not require your channels of promotion, sales or distribution these days, make a positive decision for your pocket book and stop being so miserly when dealing with these emerging frontiers. NiN, Prince and Radiohead have figured it out how about you help your artists figure it out too?

Posted by: Perplexed | August 18, 2008 2:13 PM | Report abuse

DCer is spouting the music industry Talking points. All just lobbyist Crap. Why is it that web radio has to pay twice as much as cable and satellite?

Posted by: POd | August 18, 2008 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Ok, I listen to pandora all the time. It has exposed me to many artists and I have in turn bought the music on Itunes. If these stupid executives realize that they are turning off people that are interested in the music they control, maybe they'd think twice. The actions by them are bad for both parties. If they ban Pandora, I won't buy their music...so I won't get the music I want, and they won't get any money...time to download limewire again...good job, greedy executives. Maybe if you focused on cranking out good artists instead of this pop-filled era of "rihanna" and "chris brown", I'd also be more inclined to buy it. But no.

Posted by: pandora | August 18, 2008 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Effffffffff the music industry.

Posted by: Johannes | August 18, 2008 2:18 PM | Report abuse

I am relatively new to Pandora, but I love it immensely. While I do not buy or download music illegally, Pandora has got me to listen to music in a way that no other medium has. Our ever so competitive record companies should be happy with the current revenue that they receive from Pandora when people like me simply listen to it, something they will lose completely if they cease it from being profitable.

Posted by: New Pandora User | August 18, 2008 2:18 PM | Report abuse

Oh yeah, and DCer is blatantly some person hired by the industry to post major label friendly comments online.

Posted by: New Pandora User | August 18, 2008 2:19 PM | Report abuse

DCer has already been appropriately savaged by other posters here, but I can't resist this bit:

"I can name a dozen examples from John Lennon to Tupac to obscure stories like Lyon Wong. How can anyone not be aware that musicians give up their lives for their careers?"

Call me when someone puts up a wall with the names of 58,000 musicians killed in the line of duty.

Posted by: PeriSoft | August 18, 2008 2:21 PM | Report abuse

Sigh. Old businessmen spouting old ideas. As others have said here, the mafiosa type tactics of the recording industry talking heads threaten to push America back to the olden days, except once the genie is out of the bottle, all the lawsuits in the world wont put him back.
Here's an idea, why dont we all stop buying from artists on labels and go with independents only? Ive been doing that for years and the best music comes from independent artists.

Posted by: angelor | August 18, 2008 2:25 PM | Report abuse

Radio is great cultural force..... to uplift musically. But the tight repetitive playlists of terrestrial radio is a dumbing down force. Isn't it amazing that there's no room for meaningful deep cuts.... Only room for the vapid plastic pop and commerical ditties....Folks...We LOST, and the Multi-National Corporations have won...The "Puclic's" Airwaves do little for "The Public".... unless you are a "Public" Corporation. The Race to Bottom c/o GE et all.

Posted by: Facism 101 | August 18, 2008 2:28 PM | Report abuse

DCer is most likely not one person. Their posting was too timely, too well written and too well structured to have been the Ad Hoc creation of an offended reader.

I noticed no misspellings, no grammatical errors (but over the top hyperbole!)

This is the creation of an industry PR unit, a practice I've been seeing in other comment-available opinion pieces. The Post, LA-Times and NYTs seem to be plauged by this more than any other.

Posted by: Neal Jettpace | August 18, 2008 2:30 PM | Report abuse

The recording industry is ridiculous. It is doubtful that they understand economics, and unlikely that they care about the end user (or their recording artists for that matter). All that matters to them and the legion of lawyers representing them in the end is the bottom line.

To argue otherwise whilst smearing a respected journalist is both infantile and short-sighted. Clearly the industry insider trying to refute this column could have used other methods than ad hominem, you know, like logic?

Alas, I fear that part of the problem may be their collective inability to reason, hence the abomination that the RIAA is today.

And don't even get me started on hounding your own customers; just for that I would download music illegally just to spite you and send a check to the band a la Radiohead.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 18, 2008 2:34 PM | Report abuse

SoundExchange and the RIAA will never be able to choke off web broadcasting by imposing excessive royalties. All this will accomplish will be to drive web broadcasters offshore, where they will be out of reach of the CRB and the jurisdiction of US courts. Following this course, they'll never get a penny.

You'd think half a loaf would be better than none.

Posted by: LoginIncorrect | August 18, 2008 2:36 PM | Report abuse

I'm a big fan of Pandora and I can always find a new band to listen to. I discovered it a few years ago and it has caused me to buy more music than I ever had before. It's a great way to discover new bands that don't get played on mainstream radio, but should.

Posted by: Emily | August 18, 2008 2:37 PM | Report abuse

Hey DCer...which recording company do you work...or do you work directly for SoundExchange? A thinly veiled attempt to sway public opinion. Here's the thing...it didn't work. One of the ways many people hear new artists they've never heard before is through these online Web Radio sites. I know that is the case for me personally. I hear something I like, and I'll buy it...take this venue away by being stupid about your business model, and lose customers. It really is time for the recording industry to get a clue. The musicians and listening public are the big losers if these sites disappear. And in the end, so does the music industry. Is Lose-Lose what you're after? It certainly looks that way to the consumer!

Posted by: Anonymous | August 18, 2008 2:41 PM | Report abuse

Well done, PeriSoft. DCer is obviously some RIAA hack trying to trot out the old"it's for the artists" BS. Well, I can say, as an artist, I am completely opposed to this crap.

Anyone with a brain can see this effort for what it is... a desperate power grab by a big media machine that faces the possibility of greatly diminished relevance in the new digital age. These days, artists can record a CD in their bedroom, publish it themselves and end up attracting a decent following, all based on the spread of technology. The fact that they make no money at all on this is what drives them nuts. Thus, they do whatever it takes to maintain their status as the only game in town.

Completely un-American and wrong!

Posted by: TheNaomiStar | August 18, 2008 2:41 PM | Report abuse

the music industry would have us belive that music wouldn't exist without copyright. reality is just the opposite: the greatest music ever written had little or no copyright protection. think mozart, liszt, gershwin, pink floyd, etc.

draconic copyright laws were pushed by the industry because there is no other way to recoup their absurd investments in the likes of b. spears, j. lo, etc. etc.

copyright today is serving just the mega corporations and the politicians they buy. is not fostering genius but pushing mediocrity.

and fcc is for the riaa what fda is for the pharmaceutical industry: they're happily in bed together

Posted by: saxman | August 18, 2008 2:43 PM | Report abuse

Looks to me like a case of the Law of Intended Consequences: If a reasonably intelligent person takes an action that has predictable consequences (such as driving Internet broadcasting out of business due to differential rate structures) then it is reasonable to infer that that was what was intended.

I look above and see lots of comments about how Pandora has let people discover new music from new sources and how they have spent their music budget on that new music. The authors write as though this is a Good Thing. Patently, since their entertainment budgets are generally fixed, that means less money for the Big Five publishers. Why, then, should the Big Five consider internet radio to be a Good Thing?

Remember the Law of Intended Consequences.

Posted by: D. C. Sessions | August 18, 2008 2:46 PM | Report abuse

Funny isn't it how artists and their labels used to WANT their music played on the radio. They used to GIVE away records for FREE to radio stations, hoping they would play them.

Now they try to sue them out of business for playing their records. What the hell man?

Posted by: nospam | August 18, 2008 2:49 PM | Report abuse

DCer is simply a Troll, looking to set someone off by making stupid statements.
This kind of idiot gets off by letting the air out of someone's tires, then watching the poor soul react.
Ignore him. He isn't worth the electrons used to publish his post.

Posted by: Bubba | August 18, 2008 2:51 PM | Report abuse

DCer is clearly a K-STREETer. A music industry lobbyist if I ever smelled one. The corporate thugs of music/radio duopoly have corrupted their own industry through payola (still alive and thriving today folks) and other dishonest means. They're seeing their control of music slip and are resorting to desperate and disreputable means to maintain their control. Ask ANY musician what they think of these corporate music/radio thugs and they'll likely tell you the exact same thing.

Hey, DC K-STREETer. Why doesn't musician David Byrne feel the way you do? He's a musician giving his "sweat and blood," but for some reason, he disagrees with the corporate music/radio position. Musicians know that the corporate music/radio thugs aren't looking after the interests of musicians at all.

That DC K-STREETer would use the names of Lennon and Garland to justify his laughably ridiculous, absurd, and offensive position shows how his interests lie solely with the profits of the corporate music/radio thugs, and not with the musicians themselves.

Posted by: iLarynx | August 18, 2008 2:51 PM | Report abuse

The only time I've bought any CD's in the last 10 years is when I heard something on Pandora I liked. If it wasn't for Pandora, i would probably have just downloaded it illegally. So go ahead and shoot yourselves in the foot.

Posted by: ReallyNow | August 18, 2008 2:57 PM | Report abuse

"3. If web broadcasters are so upset about these fees then they should simply avoid playing music and go to a different format, such as news or sports, where they control the content they create. They are relying on an existing pool of cheap content (music) and they want to keep it cheap. Why can't Pandora simply remove someone else's music from its business model?

To suggest that musicians have never been killed over their music is so foolish as to make Rob a laughingstock. I can name a dozen examples from John Lennon to Tupac to obscure stories like Lyon Wong. How can anyone not be aware that musicians give up their lives for their careers? That doesn't even take into account people for whom their careers and our enjoyment of their music, drives them off the deep-end like a Van Gogh- I count among that crowd the Judy Garlands and the Kurt Cobains. They could not both perform and be alive."

I smell a tool, I mean lobbyist

Posted by: eron | August 18, 2008 2:57 PM | Report abuse

The more I hear about this issue, the more frustrated I become. I don't understand the crusade of groups like the RIAA against internet radio and peer to peer programs. I recognize that they are completely different issues, but they affect the industry in a similar fashion. Album sales have been in a slump for the better part of two decades, yet when Napster first appeared album sales saw a marginal boost for the first time in years. Illegal downloading and free internet radio both benefit the music industry. They allow people to stretch out and find new music without dropping $20 for a CD. If I find a new artist and download 5 of their albums, which then convinces me to actually buy the album and maybe see them on tour, isn't that better than never having heard of them and not being willing to bear the financial burden of trying out an album legally. For those who are more conscious of copyright laws, sites like Pandora give you a chance to discover the music without violating copyrights, without feeling like you've wronged the artist. The fact is that the majority of people downloading songs so-called "popular" music, aren't music fans. They listen to today's pop, rap, and hip-hop for the "bumpin'beats" and the catchiness, and, of course, the coolness factor. These people don't play an instrument, they can't read music, they'll never go to a concert, not that their beloved "artists" would ever tour, and they are certainly never going to buy an album. What do they need an album for? For people obsessed with the top 40, songs only a year old are considered "old skool" (generally they are spelling-challenged) and, thus, no longer listenable. No point in investing in an album that will be obsolete in less than a year. The key to saving the music industry is treating the artists fairly (many pirates rationalize their actions with the claim that the artist receives so little from album royalties that they won't miss one less album purchase), killing MTV, and demanding actual talent before an artist is signed. Who do you think the industry makes more money off of: the Rolling Stones or 50 cent? The obvious answer is the Stones. Acts with real talent and musical ability are less likely to burn out in a few years and more likely to make decent money touring. If the public was taught by "cool" radio stations to value music quality rather than the "awesomeness of teh beatz" maybe artists who would be successful in the long-term would also be popular. Look how effectively MTV slaughtered music by popularizing boy bands and gangster rappers. Surely they could do the same for decent music.

Posted by: DB | August 18, 2008 3:01 PM | Report abuse

Pandora is evil and should be shut down! In the last year, since I started listening to Pandora, I have spent 10 times more money buying new music than ever before. I've practically doubled my music collection.

I think this "fight" between the music labels and internet radio is a charade designed to trick people like me into thinking that they are getting a "good deal" when they listen to Pandora. Then they suck you in and make you spend more money buying music than any sane person would.

If they shut it down, I will go back to my previous habit of buying music only very rarely. That's okay, because my current collection should last years thanks to Pandora!

Posted by: OPF | August 18, 2008 3:05 PM | Report abuse

As a long-time user of Pandora, the idea of not having it to create the soundtrack to my life is very sad indeed. I have lost count of the number of artists I’ve been introduced to and whose CDs I then bought. Say, “Thank you Pandora.” Thank you Pandora.

I’m old enough to have listened to AM radio then FM, and LPs before CDs. Pandora is brilliant… innovative and clever. I set it and forget it. No Pandora? Nothing to set and forget. Just huge black holes of no sound.

I used to go to concerts all the time. Not any more. I’m hard-pressed to justify a $125 ticket – and that’s before the $20+ in fees and the parking and the gas. I am going to a concert tomorrow (multiple bands for nowhere near $125). The venue offers “premium parking” for $50. They also charged more than $20 in fees over and above the face value of the ticket.

I’m not sure I’ll ever understand why the music industry and all its executives and technicians and artists want to self-destruct, but they sure seem to. No matter. If I have to, I can go back to my Sony six disk changer. I think I’m on my seventh or eighth one (love that shuffle button!). I actually have two unopened ones just waiting for the day when the music industry kills all alternative methods of listening to music and reaches into my computer and sucks out all the music and MusicMatch and Windows Media Player and RealPlayer and everything else.

Stupid is as stupid does. Thank you Mr. Gump

Posted by: Chryle | August 18, 2008 3:09 PM | Report abuse

The existing and proposed legislation is so restrictive that even to play music for which you own the copyright or have the express consent to play, you still have to jump through crazy loops of fire, and in some cases leave a non-refundable deposit.

As an independent artist not seeking a career in the music business, but rather just an interested and grateful audience, I'm really disappointed by our law makers letting the mafiaa make the rules.

Posted by: Andy | August 18, 2008 3:10 PM | Report abuse

I cannot help but think back to the 'South Park' episode with Lars Ulrich espousing his justification for suing downloaders of music...over his Gold Plated Pool Side Shark Aquarium Bar.

In 20 years the record industry, as it has been, will have ceased to exist and it is currrently expediating its own demise. Pandora's business model has no problem paying the fees others pay...it should merely be based on the same scale.

This is a perfect example of what should be left to a free market to decide...with no government or quasi-government (Lib of Congress) involvement. Limited government is the only way to insure progress and therefore not standing in the way of it.

Posted by: hedge | August 18, 2008 3:11 PM | Report abuse

Ok,

What are we missing here? How about the fact that artists *rarely* see a dime from record deals. That is unless they get to the level of U2 or The Rolling Stones. Most small artists will never see a dime from ANY of these or any other fees. Having been in the business MANY years, I can say from personal experience and talking to many many small bands that the only way they make money is through touring. Until a record goes gold, there's very little money going to the artist. Even then, not much makes it out of the labels.

That tells me these calls for royalties for any source is purely the record companies floundering to find a new business model. Neither the artist nor the customer needs a label now. The Labels see the end of their existence and they're bound and determined to make as much MONEY as they can before their world ends. AT THE EXPENSE OF BOTH YOU AND THEIR ARTISTS.

Remember: The *bands* MAKE NO MONEY from these "fees". Buy direct from the band website. There's a much better chance they'll get the proceeds.

Posted by: ArtistAdvocate | August 18, 2008 3:17 PM | Report abuse

I'm a professional musician and recording artist and I want to respond to his Marine Corps comment:

To choose to devote your life to music, to express your soul in the hopes of bringing a little happiness into others' lives, is not just a noble wish. It is a real sacrifice. Instruments, studio time, and touring cost real money. Not to mention the toll it takes on you and your family.

Being a musician is not an easy life. There are many of us who decide that doing it for money isn't right for us. But there are many who feel that they must earn their living from it, if only to have the time to develop their craft and realize their musical ideas, the fruits of which we all enjoy so much.

These people have the right to decide whether their work is given away for free or not. Maybe Pandora is good for exposure. Maybe it hurts artists and labels. But it should be up to the artist to decide whether and how his music is distributed.

Rob, I am aware that its not the marine corps. I suffer in my own way for what I do, just as everybody else does. I see from this article the standard to which you hold your own work, and what your idea of a useful member of society is. Frankly your article seems poorly-researched, sarcastic and hastily written.

Posted by: levelhead | August 18, 2008 3:18 PM | Report abuse

I would just like to point out that you DCer are a whack job. John Lennon was killed by a whacko, not FOR his music, perhaps because of it, but he certainly did not die FOR his music. Tupac, was a thug plain and simple and he wasn't killed for, or because of his music he was killed because he was a gang banger thugg. Kurt Cobain was an emotionally disturbed individual with a serious drug habit, again he didn't die for or because of his music he died because he was a manic depressive and just couldn't face one more day or life. Talk about getting your facts straight perhaps you need to investigate your own facts a little further.

Posted by: greenfriend | August 18, 2008 3:20 PM | Report abuse

I'm sick of Lobbyists and corporations trying to control our country with money that was undeserved and laws that they bribed our public officials to put in place. These vultures only know how to take and want to limit the creativity of music by feeding us manufactured crap that can never stand the test of time.

One thing is clear. Because creativity transcends all media, internet radio will always find a way to be free.


Posted by: Navid | August 18, 2008 3:20 PM | Report abuse

Such a disappointment. Myself, like so many others, make countless album purchases after discovering new songs / artists on internet radio. Without it, I'd still be listening to the same old classic rock that I've owned since my high school and college days. It's time these idiots advance into the 21st century.

Posted by: Dave | August 18, 2008 3:22 PM | Report abuse

I love Pandora and have over 30 stations with each exposing me to something new several times each hour. I love Pandora enough to pay $36 a year for their subscription service. How many of you lovers of Pandora have paid them to help them remain in business? As sad as it is, this is capitalism and it is ALWAYS about the bottom line. Any business that is more interested in making friends rather than making money will not stay in business for very long. And, I hate to say it, but the record companies are not interested in fans of real music. They are interested in the money that the MTV teens pour into wastes of musical space like TI, Jonas Brothers, Linkin Park and other "musicians"/"artists" that make me sick.

If Pandora is forced to shut down I will definitely miss the service, but it's a cruel world folks...

Posted by: RealityBites | August 18, 2008 3:22 PM | Report abuse

As a former web stream operator I despise what the CRB, RIAA and Clownexchange (oops, SoundExchange) are trying to do to web radio. It was their excessive royalties that caused me to close my station and my dreams away with it. With actions that border on violations of the RICO law statutes why hasn't the government awakened to this travesty? It's simple - somebody's getting their palm greased to look the other way - it's got to be the only reason this is allowed to go on! Mark my words, once they kill web radio they will go after terrestrial radio in much the same fashion. And these jarheads can't figure out why people aren't buying music new anymore? I only buy used CDs and records (yep, vinyl has no copy protection, baby). These folks better wake up and smell the coffee before radio tells the music industry to stuff it!

Posted by: Bill | August 18, 2008 3:22 PM | Report abuse

"What I don't get is how many times an artist has to be paid for his creation?
When I create a new garden (I'm a Landscaper) I get paid once. I don't get paid every time somebody watch that garden." ~ Landscaper

Are you saying that an artist should receive the same compensation if his CD sells 50 copies or 5,000,000 copies? The fact is, the value of a piece of work can't be determined before you see how well it sells. A royalty system takes that into account.

You're comparing apples to oranges here. There's a big difference between a one-off, like a landscape design, and music that gets sold to millions of people. If you created a landscape design and 5,000 other landscapers made exact copies, wouldn't you feel that you deserved more than what you made for creating the original?

Paying the artist once would leave the artist poor and make millions for the publishers, since publishers wouldn't pay much for an unproven work.

Posted by: Buzzby | August 18, 2008 3:24 PM | Report abuse

Why haven't some of the major artists joined together to put together their own record company, publisher, etc. so they don't have to work with those morons anymore? It's a huge money business, and they have the resources to set up a competing alternative for themselves and other artists.

Posted by: Mark | August 18, 2008 3:25 PM | Report abuse

@Paul - 1) I believe that pricing should be freely set by the seller. This ultimately allows for musicians, record companies, and broadcasters to specialize in their own price points.

@All 2) I agree that big record companies and their marquee artists are running themselves into the ground for the many reason listed here.

3) What costs does the price of music represent? Big record companies won't dare tell us. Demand a line-by-line expense sheet for a recent album production. If you saw one, you'd laugh, or become sick, or both. And then, you'd pirate their CDs with glee, because you'd realize that the bulk of their expenses are a joke. This wouldn't apply to smaller artists or record companies. But, it would definitely apply to the majors, e.g. Sony Music, people like Prince, et cetera.

Posted by: brumbrum | August 18, 2008 3:32 PM | Report abuse

To the music industry I say this: I started listening to Pandora about a month ago and I have to say that it has singlehandedly resurrected an interest in music that I haven't had since college. When I graduated in 1983, I had about 600 albums in my collection. But after years of listening to FM radio, with its repetitive, pre-programed song lists, my interest in music dropped to near zero. For example, I haven't bought a CD in over 10 years. But with Pandora, that will change, because I'm constantly getting exposed to new artists and new types of music. Pandora gives you info on the bands and their songs, and also a link to purchase the CDs online. I would think the music industry would be embracing this, instead of trying to block it.

Their continued behavior is the reason their industry is in such shambles. They are trying to cling onto the business model of the long past, rather than being on the forefront of technology of the future to distribute music.

Posted by: HatchetHank | August 18, 2008 3:35 PM | Report abuse

I stopped buying CDs 10 years ago when I finally realized I was paying too much for mostly crap. I started buying them again since I started listening to Pandora because it helped me find new artists that I had never even heard of before that I really like. I prefer it heavily to AM/FM, where I only hear the same artists over and over again, during the only 70% of time there aren't commercials.

Pandora has a brilliant algorithm for finding music a listener might like. I would say that that algorithm is currently the music industry's best tool for attracting new listeners and targeting the distribution of new content to those who are most likely to buy it.

So in my opinion, by attacking Pandora the music industry is killing it's future for the sake of a short-term strategy on their bottom line. If internet radio dies, I will probably go back to listening the music I already own and hearing about new music from friends. However, for at least the past 5 years, my friends' suggestions have come from just 2 sources: Pandora and YouTube.

Posted by: jasondet | August 18, 2008 3:37 PM | Report abuse

Like the demise of the Railroads owed to lack of vision on the part of the railroad barons - they saw their work as simply running a railroad, as opposed to providing quality transportation options for people and cargo; so lack of vision on the part of the recording industry will ultimately cause them to "cut off their nose to spite their face" (do I owe somebody some $$ for using that line???)

Like so many others, I love Pandora and dread seeing it go, but I too have several hundred CDs that can carry me till the next, more intelligent and enlightened iteration of the recording industry comes along.

Posted by: ACPrism | August 18, 2008 3:50 PM | Report abuse

IMO, we should be supporting independant artists and let the record producers reap the benefits of what they contribute to the actual end product: nothing.

Lately, I have only purchased music that is offered to me directly from the artists themselves be it direct download or the purchase of a CD at a live venue.

Record producers have long been parasites in the music industry...IMO.

Posted by: Judge Dread | August 18, 2008 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Great thread, people! My thanks in particular to "DCer" for kicking things off with so much... style.

In the hope of keeping the discussion somewhat focused, let's accept--as I do--that some sort of performance royalty is justifiable for broadcasters. (That includes FM and AM; I urge exactly that at the end of the 2002 column.) But why should Webcasters be subject to a different royalty scheme than satellite or cable outlets when all these companies provide the same basic service? Can DCer, or anybody else, make a case for that?

- RP


Posted by: Rob Pegoraro | August 18, 2008 3:59 PM | Report abuse

@levelhead

Give up the drama, if it's too hard on your family and they are that important to you A) they will understand or B) quit and do something else.

I'm sick of hearing "artists" cry about how this is there "life" and they "give up so much" for their "art".

Bull, you do it because you hope one day you can be on MTV cribs. If you "did it for the art" you wouldn't even care.

Boo-hoo, you aren't getting paid enough? Get a different job, or don't suck. It's not art, it's disposable entertainment and nothing more.

Posted by: Dave | August 18, 2008 3:59 PM | Report abuse

Talk about getting your facts straight perhaps you need to investigate your own facts a little further.
----

What you posted was basically factually incorrect and I am basically factually correct. FAIL.

Posted by: DCer | August 18, 2008 4:01 PM | Report abuse

Rob, I am aware that its not the marine corps. I suffer in my own way for what I do, just as everybody else does. I see from this article the standard to which you hold your own work, and what your idea of a useful member of society is. Frankly your article seems poorly-researched, sarcastic and hastily written.
------

STANDS UP AND CHEERS. Musicians 1, Rob and the creeps, ZERO.

Posted by: DCer | August 18, 2008 4:03 PM | Report abuse

the basic fact is this: a fair royalty system is one that doesn't require a broadcaster to have substantial margins, because otherwise the royalty system itself shapes the nature of what kinds of broadcasting can be done.
------

That is truly one of the most bizarre business plans I've ever heard of.

Why is it "fair" that Pandora have low operating margins?

If you want to run a factory in the US you deal with organized labor. If you want to have a business that makes money off of musicians then you deal with organized musicians. Pandora doesn't like the deal they're being offered.

I ask again, why can't Pandora populate all its radio stations with songs that Pandora creates and owns themselves? If they did that, they would eliminate the middleman of dealing with the musicians' demands. Pandora's smartest move would be to only broadcast their own music and not anyone else's. Think about that.

Posted by: DCer | August 18, 2008 4:09 PM | Report abuse

Can anyone explain why, when Tim Westergren spoke in DC a few years back he was there with representatives of SoundExchange like John Simpson? They are very much friendly rivals and whenever I see Tim in DC he's with someone from SoundExchange. How strange, if what people write is true, that these bloodthirsty competitors are seen together so much. Maybe what people are writing just isn't true?

Posted by: DCer | August 18, 2008 4:13 PM | Report abuse

I'm betting DCer is a lobbyist for the recording industry. Why else is he/she defending the status quo so viciously?
----

No, I'm a former musician who knows exactly what it feels like to struggle to do it full-time and not make it. I saw one friends' income drop by 80% after Napster and then saw the corporate big business types in the dotcom world become billionaires. My friends who stayed in their bands be unable to buy a house at age 35 because a band making $200k one year still had to split that amongst 5 people. Pandora should eliminate other people's music from their business model and see how long they last.

Posted by: DCer | August 18, 2008 4:19 PM | Report abuse

The eclectic-format LP community radio station in Chapel Hill-Carrboro, NC at which I'm a DJ streams its signal (primarily for the local audience that the broadcast doesn't reach). We play a lot of local/state/regional music, much of which has almost no other broadcast outlet. The original CRB proposal was absurdly costly even for us and would have forced us to quit streaming, though the policy was ultimately revised to accommodate the insignificant gnats who never posed a threat to profits anyway. But the fact that the CRB would have had no compunction about driving us off the web makes it clear where they're really coming from, and its certainly not in support of the many talented and hardworking musicians around the state who appreciate what we do and tell us so every day....

Posted by: Triangle Slim | August 18, 2008 4:26 PM | Report abuse

I think Joe Fleischer, the (former) CEO of IceCast said it best (in the late 90s) on Internet Radio: "As long as you're not trying to deliver music to consumers, you should be fine"

Posted by: Jon | August 18, 2008 4:29 PM | Report abuse

Maybe bands should just avoid record companies and the recording industry and go direct to the consumer. I'm all for that model. Let each artist negotiate their own royalty rates in an effort to get airplay - isn't that what free enterprise is?

Posted by: Hotski | August 18, 2008 4:33 PM | Report abuse

But why should Webcasters be subject to a different royalty scheme than satellite or cable outlets when all these companies provide the same basic service? Can DCer, or anybody else, make a case for that?
-----

You apology is weak Rob, very weak and a little cowardly. you love consumer electronics multinationals and hate independent musicians, we get it. I've read your column for years, I know you love electronics manufacturers.

My case for it is as follows:

The internet is completely different than terrestrial radio because of peer to peer on the network. What makes the internet special to us also makes the internet different from all previous entertainment streams. All streaming radio is hackable so the music can be saved and shared amongst millions of people. While uncommon, this does happen with advance copies of records, etc. People are capable of taping music off of terrestrial radio, but they were incapable of mass redistribution of that music in a way that cost the musicians and record companies almost all their money.

Quite simply, the easy duplication of music starting in 1999 with Napster meant instant sales deaths for most artists' back catalog works. A friend of mine literally gave away hundreds of CDs because he ran, I'm guesstimating, 10,000 copies, sold 5000 copies right away, but after file trading started he was selling something like 500 copies a year. It was cheaper for him to give away the cds than pay for storage locker fees! I worked at his merchandise booth at the black cat in DC and kids would come up and tell me they downloaded the tracks and when I asked if they bought the cd they went into a spiel about how they weren't going to buy a cd if the music wasn't on creative commons. Why would someone come right up to my face and insult the artist that they paid to go see like that? The guy was making like $2 out of the $12 ticket price as the opener. There is no money in ticket sales and no money in mp3 sales and now no money in cd sales.

I digress.

Rob is aware that the newspaper industry is similarly looking to get money from google and other content repurposers who have basically taken away the ability for traditional companies to make money by taking and reusing their content. I ask Rob what he thinks about the newspaper industry's identical stance? Would he have a job if the WaPo couldn't sell ads because another company showed the article's text with their own ads around it? We know Rob would not have a job because he is a content provider.

Posted by: DCer | August 18, 2008 4:36 PM | Report abuse

@Posted by: Hotski | August 18, 2008 4:33 PM

Many are now doing this. Primarily touring bands to my experience. They control their destiny through their doors and publishing and distributing their own music.

Hopefully putting the labels out of business, but not soon enough.

Posted by: JkR | August 18, 2008 4:36 PM | Report abuse

Let each artist negotiate their own royalty rates in an effort to get airplay - isn't that what free enterprise is?
----

No, that's called "union busting."

Posted by: DCer | August 18, 2008 4:38 PM | Report abuse

DCer: Maybe Pandora can create a new element after it masters the process of cold fusion. Why stop at asking Pandora to create its own music despite it being an Internet radio station and not a band?

Posted by: What? | August 18, 2008 4:39 PM | Report abuse

Nice DCer, when you have no point, attack the author.

Throw garbage against the wall.

Whatever sliver of a point you had is lost in the trollish nature of your post.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 18, 2008 4:40 PM | Report abuse

D. C. Sessions:

My mistake! I should have researched this better. I disagree about people's music budgets being fixed -- mine has drastically increased since listening to Pandora, and I am not the only one. That said, I went back and analyzed the last 20 music purchases inspired by Pandora, and sure enough:

Although my total budget has increased drastically (almost ten-fold), the total percentage of that budget going to major labels is sharply down (from about 80% to about %20)! If my budget had been fixed, I would have given a lot less to major labels. In my case, they still made more money, but not as spectacularly as I had thought....

Posted by: OPF | August 18, 2008 4:46 PM | Report abuse

Too busy to comment on this story, I'm renewing my love for music with Pandora and My Iphone.

Just Listen... that's what it is all about.

Posted by: Stalyn | August 18, 2008 4:55 PM | Report abuse

If I were a strawberry farmer who supplied a restaurant owner with all the strawberries he needed on credit, and he proceeded to feed them to his clients without charging them anything then came back to tell me he couldn't pay for the strawberries but needed some more, the only thing I could suggest to him is to file for bankruptcy. That is precisely the message that "Music Biz" is sending to the Web radio industry; that is, either come up with a business model that can be monetized or get out of music business.

Pandora, in spite of its popularity among millions of users, refuses to introduce commercials in its music streams for fear of antagonizing and losing its listeners; then it runs to the Congress crying and protesting that it cannot survive under the CRB rate. Seriously, is that really CRB's problem? It seems to me that it is Pandora's and its listeners' problem. If Pandora's listeners are finding the service indispensable then they have to allow the service to be profitable either by listening to in-stream commercials or paying monthly subscription fees. If neither is feasible then the business shouldn't be feasible


Posted by: George S. | August 18, 2008 4:55 PM | Report abuse

I agree that artists should be paid for their work. I don't know of anyone who wants to shaft the musicians, in this question.

Independent radio DJs (like me) find good music and expose our listeners to it, with the hope that they will like it, and maybe buy it or go to concerts or in some way support the artist so they will continue to make good music.

The new fees will amount to more than 100% of revenue for some webcasters, and they will shut down.

Who benefits there? Not the musicians, so let's stop pretending. The labels won't even benefit much, since you can't milk a dead cow. The beneficiaries are Clear Channel and other big players in the NAB.

We need a solution that will pay musicians without shafting the stations.

Posted by: Tony | August 18, 2008 5:06 PM | Report abuse

the first comment on this story is ridiculous.

he suggests that musicians do give up blood and their lives for their careers like john lennon and tupac. please. those people CHOSE to "give up" their lives and their privacy to become successful/famous. that is what they dreamed and hoped for. AND they chose to be controversial and the risk that it entails. same as a politician. they knew and they chose to pursue it anyway. difference being, politicians aren't paid nearly as much while the chance of assassination and suicide is MUCH higher. same with military men but, they do not get to cancel tours because of laryngitis nor take year long hiatus due to exhaustion.

not to say that musicians do not work hard, but please, give me a break. school teachers work longer, harder, thankless hours without nearly the pay and no one to praise them and build up their egos for doing so. teachers don't get blowjobs from anonymous strangers for doing their jobs.

as you can see, you conjure up no empathy from this regular jane.

he says the internet and hardware companies want to pay cheap prices. hardly. they want to pay the same as fm/am radio. it is completely true that the record companies are fighting innovation and the future of technology. YEARS AND YEARS of work by countless people have gone into the making of what he may call a simple, overpriced ipod. it took 30 years to make such a device and damn near rocket scientists to do it. how long does it take to make an album? maybe a couple of months. how many musicians does it take to screw in a light bulb? how many years at M.I.T. does it take to learn a dance routine? Almost none of the major artists today could win "american idol". ****I**** too could sing a few bars then have timbaland overproduce my song to sound good.

it doesn't take anything to be a music "artist" these days but we're made to believe that they're owed?

Record companies are hindering innovation by flooding our music stations with crap!! THAT'S why the record sales are done. Why would I pay for an album when I can hear that same stupid song 30 times a day along with the other 5 in circulation that equally suck?

currently, i have to WORK to find good music because it is not presented to me in a diverse manner like the days of old.

the music industry, traditionally, robbed multi platinum artists of money, i.e. tlc, nsync, etc etc, but NOW *they're* crying "foul" because they're losing money under the guise of being concerned for their artists? please.

prince said it best in an interview about 7 years ago. the interviewer asked how he felt about his "abysmal" sales of "rave unto the joy fantastic" because it only sold 500,000 copies. his response was that he made more money than the multi platinum destiny's child because he produced and distributed the album himself. how do you like them apples?

but prince is actually talented so he can do this while quasi artists like jlo get by on the backs of talented producers. before the crazy record industry, mainly real "talent" got through. Now, you've got some commercial flavor and a gimmick, you get in.. with no talent at all.

the internet has provided the means for artists to distribute their own albums and cut out the middleman. i predict that eventually the record companies will fail because it will no longer be a lucrative business. im hoping this means that only truly talented artists will survive while the quasi music artists, the fakers, will fall because no one will be there to artificially enhance their tone def voices.

but who am i kidding? protools, music hardware, and surgery are becoming more and more affordable. pretty soon, any idiot will be able to make a professional sounding cd at home. And that will be the fall of the middle man-the music industry.

Posted by: bird minus the cuss words :) | August 18, 2008 5:09 PM | Report abuse

"If you want to run a factory in the US you deal with organized labor. If you want to have a business that makes money off of musicians then you deal with organized musicians."

But Pandora isn't having to deal with organized musicians. They're being strangled by the distributors of music. The middlemen. For decades they've had a nice little monopoly on the avenues of distribution, and that's what this fight is all about at root. Not Royalties, but maintaining that monopoly.

"I ask again, why can't Pandora populate all its radio stations with songs that Pandora creates and owns themselves?"

It may eventually come to that...not a service like Pandora creating its own music so much as doing an end run around the Industry, and contracting with the artists themselves, or actual organizations of artists, as opposed to cartels of performance rights owners. The technology is evolving to allow artists to own the means to distribute their own work all over the globe. They won't need millions in capital for CD factories and broadcast stations. This is the heart of it. More then piracy, the big music companies don't want to loose their lock on distribution. That's why they need to kill this thing.

But...they can't. Any more then the Church could prevent people from translating the bible into the languages spoken by the people sitting in the pews after the invention of the printing press. It was going to happen. So is this. The only question is how much damage to the artists are the record labels willing to do before they remember that they're in the business to make money.

It's really very simple. If I don't hear your music, I won't be buying your music. So make it easy for me to listen. Make it easy for me to buy. Make it so easy I won't stop to think do I really need this. I already have tons of bought music I can listen to whenever I want.

You need to remember you're in the entertainment business and stop annoying your customers. Make them smile. Make them want to buy. Because they don't have to buy. Food they have to buy. Clothing they have to buy. A roof over their heads they have to buy. They don't need what you're selling. It's a discretionary purchase. They probably have bills they could pay with that money (have you seen the cost of gasoline lately? Wow...just...wow...). They probably have a dozen or more other things they could do with that money.

Don't keep reminding them of that. Don't keep making them annoyed and then complain that your profits keep going down.

Posted by: Bruce Garrett | August 18, 2008 5:11 PM | Report abuse

no one will regulate the internet much like no one could regulate my cassette tape dubber to prohibit me from copying my friend's tapes- and now, cd's.

the recording industry is waging a futile battle against technology. either they learn to adapt or they die. bottom line.

no one is dissuaded by the anti-piracy commercials, much like the anit-drug commercials.

forget what one thinks is right or wrong. this is reality. to the record industry: face it or die, sink or swim.

spend countless hours lobbying congress and countless dollars on lawyers but the bottom line is that you're only delaying the inevitable and in the meantime, your customers will get they want from chinese websites.

do you think i'll care if you sue me? isn't this country great that you can obtain my ip address and sue me? cool. this country also lets me file bankruptcy. up yours.

Posted by: birdy | August 18, 2008 5:19 PM | Report abuse

George S, if you were a strawberry farmer, each strawberry you sell would have a real, hard cost associated with it: it costs you X cents to produce that strawberry.

It doesn't cost the artist anything when a song is played on the radio (or web radio), but it does cost the station.

Not to say that the music doesn't have value, and that the artists shouldn't be compensated -- but the analogy is off.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 18, 2008 5:23 PM | Report abuse

"If I were a strawberry farmer who supplied a restaurant owner with all the strawberries he needed on credit..."

Pandora isn't giving away the music, any more then a store that puts your farmer's strawberries in the window is giving them away.

In fact, Pandora makes it easy for people listening to buy by putting up links to iTunes and Amazon under the titles of the songs they're playing. I can't tell you how many times I've tried to get the name of a song from a radio station and couldn't because nobody would answer the phone and the DJ never said who it was but just went right into the next song.

A Chinese friend of mine told me a folk story some years ago, about a very old and esteemed judge who heard a case brought against a poor tenant by his landlord.

The landlord also ran a fancy restaurant downstairs from the room the tenant rented. The tenant apparently could smell the food coming up from one of the vents. So he would take his little bowl of thin soup and eat it while sitting beside the vent. The restaurant owner demanded payment.

The judge asked the tenant if it was true that he was enjoying the smell of the landlord's food as he ate his own. The tenant said that it was. The judge asked the tenant how much money he had. The tenant said he only had a few coins in his little pouch. The judge told him to give the pouch to the restaurant owner.

The restaurant owner was pleased. The judge told the restaurant owner to hold the pouch up to his ear and shake it. The restaurant owner did that and the judge told him to give it back to the tenant.

Then the judge said, "The price of smelling the food, is hearing the coins jingle."

Posted by: Bruce Garrett | August 18, 2008 5:26 PM | Report abuse

Just as a general observation, it's usually a bad idea to make allegations about somebody's character that can be disproven with a few minutes of Web searching through public records.

For example, it would be unwise to say that I'm in the tank for electronics manufacturers when my column archive will show how often I complain about being exasperated by their products. It would also be silly to claim that I hate independent musicians when a little extra research will establish that for four years, I wrote concert reviews for the Post's Style section in my nonexistent spare time, and that many of these pieces had good things to say about indie-rock acts playing rooms like the 9:30 Club, the Black Cat, Iota and the Bayou (R.I.P.).

I'm just sayin'...

- RP

Posted by: Rob Pegoraro | August 18, 2008 5:29 PM | Report abuse

Rob, you responded with such grace. You are a pro.

Posted by: Tina | August 18, 2008 5:53 PM | Report abuse

"I ask Rob what he thinks about the newspaper industry's identical stance? Would he have a job if the WaPo couldn't sell ads because another company showed the article's text with their own ads around it?"

But Google isn't doing that. I have a custom Google News page I pull up several times a day. All it gives me are the headlines and a few lines of the article text so I can see if I want to read it. It isn't the whole article. If I want the whole article I have to click on the link and then I get sent to the website of the newspaper whose article it is. Complete with all Their ads. If anything, Google is sending eyeballs to the Newspaper's web sites.

In fact, it was via Google News that I came across Rob's article here. Since I'm obviously posting comments here, I'm seeing the Post's Ads too. Which I wouldn't have, were it not for Google News.

Of course...Google News is also sending me to a lot of small town newspapers and little independent weeklies. Maybe that's what the big newspaper chains don't like about it.

Pandora is doing something similar, and from the stories I'm reading it was founded by musicians, and a lot of independent musicians seem to love it, since it's giving their music exposure that the corporate music business never seemed to want to. Via Pandora, if I create a channel of music from the music genome of a big name band, I get a bunch of similar music from other groups I'd never heard of before, because the music Industry decided they weren't worth promoting. But for Pandora, I would never have heard of them.

Pandora and web radio in general is benefiting those artists immensely. I stopped listening to broadcast radio long ago, in part because I got tired of always hearing the same stale lowest common denominator music. Now I'm hearing music I like from artists I would never have heard from otherwise. Why don't you want those artists to have a chance at success too?

Posted by: Bruce Garrett | August 18, 2008 6:26 PM | Report abuse

DCer, I'm not sure that I can even remember the last time I saw such a collection of irrelvancies posing as an intelligent response to a column. Let's take your issues one at a time.

1. "Bills requesting Performance Royalties for terrestrial radio are being written and lobbied right now. No one is suggesting that these performance royalties will only affect internet radio in perpetuity."
For web radio, the issue isn't about what other media may pay someday. The issue is simply whether the royalty rates are reasonable based on what other media are paying now, and whether the royalty rates for Internet radio are sustainable.

2. "SoundExchange and Pandora and lobbyists fighting for Performance Royalties (such as Nancy Sinatra and the Sinatra Estate) often work together and the Washington Post covered this in an article a few weeks ago."
It's good to see that organizations of varying positions can find common ground. Unfortunately, just like your previous argument, this has no relevancy to the issue of whether the current royalty structure for 'net radio is fair and reasonable.

3. "If web broadcasters are so upset about these fees then they should simply avoid playing music and go to a different format, such as news or sports, where they control the content they create. They are relying on an existing pool of cheap content (music) and they want to keep it cheap. Why can't Pandora simply remove someone else's music from its business model?"

It isn't just web broadcasters who have an interest in their content, it's all of us who listen to online radio to hear something new and different; music you can't get on most traditional stations. Oh, and once again, you can't seem to come to grips with the core issues of fairness and reason in setting royalty rates for web broadcasters.

Posted by: slgrieb | August 18, 2008 6:28 PM | Report abuse

@ George S, right after DCer, I think you have the least understanding of the issues involved here of any poster I've read.

"If I were a strawberry farmer who supplied a restaurant owner with all the strawberries he needed on credit, and he proceeded to feed them to his clients without charging them anything then came back to tell me he couldn't pay for the strawberries but needed some more, the only thing I could suggest to him is to file for bankruptcy. That is precisely the message that "Music Biz" is sending to the Web radio industry; that is, either come up with a business model that can be monetized or get out of music business."

I can only assume, George S., that you don't know how the radio business operates. Traditional radio stations don't pay any royalties to the music companies (or artists). In fact, they don't even pay for the songs they play. Promotional copies are supplied free by the record labels to advertise their artists. Not one penny of the revenue radio stations collect from all their advertising revenue goes to either the record label or the artist.

In other words, Radio gets the free use of products in return for promoting (i.e. playing) those products, and gets to keep any revenue over operating costs they generate from ad sales. That's just about as far from the "strawberry farmer/restaurant" model you assume as it is possible to get.

"Pandora, in spite of its popularity among millions of users, refuses to introduce commercials in its music streams for fear of antagonizing and losing its listeners; then it runs to the Congress crying and protesting that it cannot survive under the CRB rate. Seriously, is that really CRB's problem? It seems to me that it is Pandora's and its listeners' problem. If Pandora's listeners are finding the service indispensable then they have to allow the service to be profitable either by listening to in-stream commercials or paying monthly subscription fees. If neither is feasible then the business shouldn't be feasible."

Once again, the issue isn't about Internet Broadcaster's business models being the CRB's "problem" or whether Pandora should sell in line ads. The question is, "Why should Internet Radio have a completely different royalty structure than any other broadcasters?" Please, George, just give me a single logical reason why Internet radio should be subject to a royalty structure so much higher than that of any other medium.

Posted by: slgrieb | August 18, 2008 7:21 PM | Report abuse

Hey DCer the reason there is no money in CD sales is because the CD is as dead as vinyl, and has been ever since hard drives could store more than 20GB. People want digital copies and the market price is $0.99 / song. If you want your old $20 / CD come up with 20 songs that are worthwhile. Commercial radio sucks and has for the last 20 some odd years. There are a handful of decent independent broadcast stations around but web radio is the only place to reliably hear good new music. Generally speaking if I like it I'll buy it, but listening to all the "poor starving artists" whine about how they "can't make a buck", while they drive the only promotional system for decent music out of business, makes me never want to pay for music again. So please again explain why web radio should pay excessive royalties while commercial radio pays none. And fear of piracy is about as viable and answer as John Lennon being shot for his music.

Lastly if you can't support yourself solely with your music, maybe you're just not that good.

Posted by: Norm | August 18, 2008 8:31 PM | Report abuse

DCer has provided a lot of free online entertainment today. Sort of like Pandora. Thank you. ;)

Posted by: Dave Zatz | August 18, 2008 8:44 PM | Report abuse

the entertainment industry are no longer the top of the food chain wen people are getting alot of joy on content thats "born" from the minds of the "common" folk. all industreys need to adapt or fall...its sad that the music industry sees this and instead of adapting they say, "its over, we might as well empty out the titanic before it sinks"

Posted by: Aggerrus | August 18, 2008 11:27 PM | Report abuse

Pandora is great. I have bought more music in the last four years than I have in the previous two decades because it's introduced me to artists that I could never find on my own. FM radio is useless. It's simply amazing how the corporate music industry has successfully lobotomized itself with the rusty spoon now descending to the jugular.

Posted by: mentat | August 19, 2008 12:54 AM | Report abuse

A lot of people in this thread have infantile ideas about what it is to be a musician. Blowjobs from strangers... what a joke. If I had to guess I would say 95% of people who go into music fail, another 4% live in poverty or close to it, and that other 1% actually finds something resembling job security.

So when you're all stealing music off the internet, keep that in your minds. It's mostly poor people that you're stealing from.

Posted by: Phil | August 19, 2008 1:00 AM | Report abuse

Rob -- this reminds me the comments after your eBay columns. Wow. I sure hate the unfounded personal attacks on you. Strong feelings have been unleashed, that is for sure. Hang in there -- you do a great job!

Posted by: rj | August 19, 2008 6:36 AM | Report abuse

When this page opened for me to read this story, an ad immediately blocked the first couple of paragraphs. Does the Washington Post and the advertiser - I am not even sure who it was because I immediately left the page and only came back to make this comment - think that this is an effective way to promote a product - to put an ad over the content? It makes no sense.

Posted by: rrsj | August 19, 2008 6:36 AM | Report abuse

SoundExchange seems to be duplicating the strategy that made the rest of the music industry so successful throughout the past decade: if technology exists that can revolutionize your industry, ban the technology. If these guys ran the computer industry, I'd be typing this on a VIC-20.

Posted by: jimmyhaha | August 19, 2008 6:54 AM | Report abuse

I used to blow $100 a week on music & videos. After the RIAA started going after single moms like bulldogs after meat, I stopped buying music almost entirely. We're talking less than $100 a year on new music to be clear. That for years now.

I am not making that number up, I really did used to spend $5-6,000.00 a year on music and other media, but mostly music.

I don't download music illegally, and I have no interest in any of Apple's products, so I don't do itunes either. If I want to see what a band is doing, I go to their website. If they don't have music I can buy directly from them without funding the RIAA, then I don't buy their music.

Tower Records went out of business because of people like me, and there is more to come. The music industry is still too stupid to figure out just how badly they have made us angry.

I have no interest in using any sort of FaceSpace MyBook service to be spied on by corporations that are of the same anti-ethical breed as the "major labels" who take the heat for the RIAA's nasty behavior.

The more the RIAA's and the SoundExchanges keep their predatory behavior up, the more listening to music becomes about not listening to their supporters, and not buying their products. I hope it is clear that they make me sick. I'll never buy another Metallica song as long as I live for instance, (Good job stepping in front of the truck Lars, good job there).

I realize that my $5k is peanuts in the industry, but I'm not alone. There are a lot of us out here doing the same thing. Most everyone I know buys less music because of the music industry. Granted your average Itunes idiot doesn't care about this issue much, they're happy with selling out as long as it's fronted by a company marketing an anti-establishment lifestyle to them. Suckers.

I work to find music that isn't DRM-ed, & that doesn't give the labels a cut, without stealing it too, and it's a painful process. But they don't deserve my money either, and don't give me much choice in the matter.

Posted by: Nym | August 19, 2008 6:58 AM | Report abuse

What Pandora etc., should be doing is developing their own new artist and circumvent the record companies. Internet radio companies need to form their own association to promote the new medium. Fact is that the record distribution system that exists today is archaic. People who want CD's can simply download them from the net (for a fee) and burn an album.

The Record industry is dying and they refuse to do what it takes to save themselves. Almost like a junkie.

At this point they are going to get what they deserve, if they cannot read the writing on the wall they deserve to go the way of US Steel.

Posted by: rcc_2000 | August 19, 2008 7:06 AM | Report abuse

Interesting that DCer hides his sorry ideas behind the union label. His comparison is certainly apt in a way, for a union is simply a government mandated and protected monopoly on labor. Unions are as sustainable as the record industry is. They will only survive through political control. If they are forced to compete economically, they fail. And that is just what is going to happen to the thugs in the record industry.

Posted by: Robert17 | August 19, 2008 7:07 AM | Report abuse

"My friends who stayed in their bands be unable to buy a house at age 35 because a band making $200k one year still had to split that amongst 5 people. Pandora should eliminate other people's music from their business model and see how long they last."

Hate to break it to you, but people like myself are never going to hear of your 'friend's band' without services like Pandora. Then they'll be making jack shit instead of an average American wage.

Posted by: Chris | August 19, 2008 7:35 AM | Report abuse

The CRB's money-grab caused the streaming station I worked for to cease broadcasting altogether. The station was a run as a hobby, and the owner paid the royalties he was required to, so we as DJs could play whatever we liked. Each DJ had specialty shows that focused on a genre of music. I had two: Classic Rock and Film & TV soundtracks. Much of the classic rock was new to the audience that was listening, likewise with the soundtracks which were surprisingly popular. I got comments every week of "Whoa... who did that song, that was cool!" It was a joy for me to be able to share the music I loved with people who might have never heard it before.

Now, because of corporate greed, that is all gone. The revelation of music new to those listening, regardless of when it was made, is over for me, and I miss it!

Also, because of the obscenely stringent and overly-complicated reporting measures the CRB ruling has mandated that anyone streaming submit, a terrestrial radio station that I'm associated with is also debating whether or not to continue streaming. They also have just recently gone HD, and have a second broadcast that they also desire to stream, and must stream at this point if it is to have any real listener base, due to the slow diffusion of HD radio receivers. This is an educational, non-commercial station, and is looking at a 200% increase in fees as well as tens of thousands of dollars in man-hours to try to cobble together the information that SE wants reported ever three months. There is no simple way to put said information together – to get it in the format SE demands, it must be manually entered from two different sources. In contrast, BMI requires the same information be reported once a year, and in a much simpler format: a hand-written log the DJs fill out as they do their shows.

This move by SE seems designed to cripple the non-RIAA music industry by forcing offline anyone but the largest companies, who are the mouthpieces of the RIAA studios, and who can afford to pay the new royalty scheme (and a “scheme” is what it is). I too have listened to music for years, from 8-tracks and LPs to cassettes, to CDs, to digital music, but I rarely listen to broadcast radio anymore due to their clique-ish selection and constant interruption. There are now stations that never play two songs in a row without inserting some sort of stylish little station identifier between them. The concept of the "song block" is dying out, although given the quality of the music being played I’m not sure that matters so much.

One issue that hasn't been addressed yet is an earlier example of the RIAA's greed: CD prices. Traditionally, when a media is new, it is expensive, owing to manufacturing costs. But then, when the process becomes more streamlined and more readily available, prices drop and the consumer benefits.

This has never happened with CDs. The music industry has maintained the price at around $20 an album since the inception of CDs, and as such the consumer has never benefited from the growing ease of production. The RIAA studios have chosen to keep those profits for themselves. And now that people have been given cost-effective alternatives, the studios clutching at straws.

Unfortunately, this latest straw is killing the best hope we music fans have for diversity. I fully support the Internet Radio Equality Act. If that passes, my old station might be able to go back online, and I might be able to go back to DJing and exposing listeners to the music I love.

Here's hoping.

Posted by: The Professor | August 19, 2008 8:06 AM | Report abuse

Well, to maybe conclude the thread, I offer a potentially frustrating suggestion: Different arts predominate in different eras. Music is not a dominant part of the mass consciousness at the moment. Performance art is (e.g. 'pop music'), but not the sound---music---itself. If you market, they won't necessarily come! This is why music companies are frustrated, and this is why consumers aren't taking music compensation seriously.

There's too much noise about pirating, marketing, market research; and, it's getting louder, because their approach doesn't fit.

Reality is frustrating sometimes.

Posted by: BrumBrum | August 19, 2008 8:52 AM | Report abuse

"You want to find the people responsible, grab them by the lapels, and ask: "What's wrong with you? Why do you hate America?!""

It's not that they hate America; it's that they live money and don;t give a rat's a$$ about america. They'll snatch every dollar that enters their field of view, no matter who it belongs to.

American businessmen are blinded by greed. They'd shoot themselves in the head if someone paid them to.

-- faye kane, homeless brain
Read more of my smartmouth opinions at http://blog.myspace.com/fayekane

Posted by: Faye Kane | August 19, 2008 9:01 AM | Report abuse

We should be grateful to DCer for putting forth the very best arguments the industry can muster and letting us take potshots at them. For better or worse, he put the opposing side of the issue out for all to see, and the ensuing discussion has been that much better for it.

Any doubt I may have had about the recording industry's stupidity has now been laid to rest. Thanks, DCer!

Posted by: John | August 19, 2008 9:22 AM | Report abuse

The first lesson I learned at JMU (BM) in 'Legal Aspects of the Music Industry' back in the 80's is also something I heard from a London-based label (circle 'p' owner) in the last year...

"This is a non-standard deal."

Does that mean anything to the experts?

Posted by: Dale S. | August 19, 2008 9:23 AM | Report abuse

1. I'm a musician.( who's music is on pandora)

2. I love Pandora

3. "Webcasters like Pandora are far more effective at exposing listeners to new music (like mine) than the playlist-choked wasteland of commercial FM andAM"

4. I'd be willing to take a smaller or if absolutely necessary NO performance royalty for the benefit of this visionary service and others like it. I don't even think about listening to non internet radio anymore.

Posted by: Chenjerai Kumanyika | August 19, 2008 9:28 AM | Report abuse

is anyone else getting sick and tired of the music biz? I know I am! If everyone would STOP buying music and hit them where it counts (the pocket book) then maybe they would come back down to earth!

RD
http://www.useurl.us/12u

Posted by: John Roberts | August 19, 2008 9:47 AM | Report abuse

So DCer is a former musician. So why doesn't he want people to get exposed to music? So odd. He may be a former musician, but he sounds like a lobbyist now anxious to buy a bigger house than his neighbors.

Posted by: Nick | August 19, 2008 10:00 AM | Report abuse

Wow... DCer is about as stupid an individual as one could meet. In your words, moron: sigh.

Posted by: Chicago Outfit | August 19, 2008 10:03 AM | Report abuse

A new dark age is dawning for American popular music, and the music industry can't seem to work hard enough to usher it in.

Just walk into Best Buy or any other store that sells CDs. The selection is terrible, and the amount and diversity of new music is dwindling fast. The CD will soon be an artifact.

It seems to me that the music industry should have their best people working around the clock to come up with new places for people to hear and sample new music, get exposed to new bands and new sounds. Commercial radio isn't that place; they are still playing music from the early 90's as if it's the latest thing. To compare, "classic" rock started in the mid 80's playing music from the mid 70's. (By that timeline, music from 1992 is the frickin' oldies today, not the latest hit.) If their answer to something like web radio is this, however, then the music industry's best people are idiots.

American music has stagnated, and the music industry refuses to change. This will almost certainly be the cause for their end. In 10 or 15 years guys like DCer will be out of a job, and the rest of us will be listening to whatever paradigm for music takes the place of the dying dinosaur of today.

Posted by: Zap B. | August 19, 2008 10:12 AM | Report abuse

Just wanted to say kudos Rob on a great analysis, maybe a similar article could make its way over to the Arts/Music section of the paper so those who don't read tech articles can understand what's at stake. I thought Peter's article was really good as well. This has been a issue I've been railing to my friends about in some form for the last three years (whether it be about music or movies). I think your indignation is right on and I hope enough people feel the same that a difference can be made.

Posted by: Malcolm Furgol | August 19, 2008 10:42 AM | Report abuse

In dc we have clear channel running most of our major stations. They play the same song on every station even when you change the station, you find that the same song comes on minutes later to fuel sales of poorly arranged and "cliche" britney pop. Payola is still very much alive and these companies are dedicated to maintaining their power by shutting down independents that threaten them. Its a shame we can't have pirate stations on FM once the digital switchover happens.. This is an opressively bad music idea...

Posted by: Jack5 | August 19, 2008 10:51 AM | Report abuse

Where to start? Record companies have had the blinders on about the web (radio and otherwise) for many years. They seem to see things only in terms of black and white. And then there is the large group of folks out there that feel music should be free (just for the record if you create a song you should be compensated for it if someone wants it), and then you have the organizations Sound Exchange? RIAA etc. Way too many fingers in a shrinking pie. Of course the record companies would love as much money as they can get their hands on so the CEO's can continue to fund their "lifestyles". The RIAA etc ....it funds their existance. Johnny down the street feels he's entitled to not pay a dime for music he downloads. Then there is reality. Reality is its a business and for the business to survive there has to be a profit. So some of the profit can be reinvested to make the product and sign new acts, pay the light bills etc. keep your station functioning, put food and shelter there for the artist. Royalties to Pandora will take 70% of their income? No business can survive like that. Either the record companies and all the entities that seem to feed off it get real or they will kill one of the very outlets that feed it. At this point in the life of web radio doesn't it make sense to charge a royalty that is fair? 70% isn't fair, no one can operate a business with those numbers. Sliding scale seems appropriate here with some kind of verification of income for the station. Let the RIAA etc earn their money. Let them monitor that end of things. Music isn't free and shouldn't be, but at the same time it shouldn't be priced to the point it puts the web stations out of business. ZAP B you are right on the money. That the Doug Morris's of the world, of which there are fewer and fewer, will wake up, is doubtful. And in the end the artists and all of us that love music suffer.

Posted by: Ex WEA | August 19, 2008 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Neal Jettpace - read your history book again and see that in the U.S. the status quo always fights innovation, especially any technological innovation.

This is the real world.

Posted by: realworld51 | August 19, 2008 11:27 AM | Report abuse

Forget Pandora. I'm more worried about what SoundExchange will do to WSLR, a low-powered community radio station in Sarasota, Florida.

I live about 5 miles beyond WSLR's broadcast reach, so I listen to it over the Internet. This is an all-volunteer operation that can barely pay the *existing* too-high music streaming fees, and will have to stop streaming at all if the new, higher royalty rates go into effect.

Posted by: Robin 'Roblimo' Miller | August 19, 2008 11:52 AM | Report abuse

"Darwin Award" is right.

CD sales continue to tank - if the recording industry doesn't adapt, it's going to die. There were musicians before the recording industry was created, when all music was live, and there will be musicians in the future - because people love music, and are willing to pay for it when they find something they really like. But that doesn't mean we'll be listening to it or paying for it in the same way. (Many musicians may actually do better, when they no longer need a "record deal" to get their music in front of the world).

Rob's essential point is right on the mark - the problem with the music industry's current strategy isn't moral or ethical, it's existential. They're committing economic suicide.

Posted by: Demos | August 19, 2008 12:02 PM | Report abuse

The RIAA crushes Pandora, and then launches its own internet service...gauranteed

Posted by: clinton | August 19, 2008 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Just because you put out a piece of crap CD doesn't mean you deserve to be paid for it. The recording industry wants web radio is snuffed out because they don't control the artists that are played there. If they can control the artists, that means they can rip them off.

And a lot of independent musicians are just as stupid demanding ridiculous royalties. Do you think you can get on commercial radio? You're lucky to have web radio around to at least play your crappy CD that NOBODY wants to buy. And now you want to shoot yourself in the foot and remove the only opportunity for you to at least get your music heard? Jeez, what a bunch of class A morons.

Posted by: Wang | August 19, 2008 1:09 PM | Report abuse

The music industry is protecting their old buddies, terrestrial radio. You know the folks that were buddied up in the payola scandals? (which are still going on today but getting craftier) Now that terrestrial radio has made the investment into digital broadcasting they want to protect their investment.

I remember the days when artists would give their left nut to get their song played on the air. They made their money off concerts, record sales, tee shirts, etc. The artists aren't as concerned about pay per play royalties as the greedy record companies are. Things really haven't changed all that much from the era that Frederic Dannen's book Hit Men was about.

Btw DCer Lennon was killed by a nutbag. It had nothing to do with his music. Tupac was killed by...well pick a theory but in that case money or ego was involved.

As for lobbying for changes in performance royalties by terrestrial radio we'll see if that goes down the way their lobbyists (like yourself) work.

Internet radio opened up the earwaves to people and styles of music you won't find on terrestrial radio. Example I live in the Miami area. We have 2 rock stations. One of which is talk for the first half of the day. The other is stuck on playing Nirvana. The rest is spanish language, one lite music station 1 lite jazz station. A veritable wasteland of music.

The music industry is shooting themselves in the foot by making it less cost effective to run sites like live365 and Pandora.

Posted by: Sparky | August 19, 2008 1:32 PM | Report abuse

And just another reason I don't give my money to the big labels. I will only support total indie labels. What is sad is the fact that a lot of times I discover a new artist on Pandora. Sad to see the big wig muscles squeeze the little guys out because they want more and more money. How are the corporate CD sales boys? Only pirated music for me I guess.

Posted by: Jacob | August 19, 2008 1:39 PM | Report abuse

Once again the sad FACT that independent artists do NOT get paid by ASCAP and BMI, escapes the MSM.

YES... Major label collusion with Clear Channel keeps THE VAST MAJORITY of copyright owners (the independent writer/musician) OUT of ear shot.

YES - since they cannot mutually benefit from airing independent writer/musicians work, they have cooked up a way to kill off the competing avenues of music distribution used by the independents:
Internet, IP radio broadcasts, file sharing, and sitres like Pandora that aggregate them for easy use and access by the public.

Once independent musician/writers DO get airplay, ascap and BMI refuse to provide transparency on royalties collected, and distributed. As a result we don't get paid. Michael Jackson gets paid, Madonna gets paid, but there is too much operating fat and six figure salaries at the performance rights agencies to pay all deserving musicians the advertised royalty ASCAP and BMI claim to pay.

Collusion and entrenched DINASAURS are the problem.

The victims are the consumer, and the independent musician/writer.

Posted by: JBE | August 19, 2008 1:41 PM | Report abuse

Once again the sad FACT that independent artists do NOT get paid by ASCAP and BMI, escapes the MSM.

YES... Major label collusion with Clear Channel keeps THE VAST MAJORITY of copyright owners (the independent writer/musician) OUT of ear shot.

YES - since they cannot mutually benefit from airing independent writer/musicians work, they have cooked up a way to kill off the competing avenues of music distribution used by the independents:
Internet, IP radio broadcasts, file sharing, and sitres like Pandora that aggregate them for easy use and access by the public.

Once independent musician/writers DO get airplay, ascap and BMI refuse to provide transparency on royalties collected, and distributed. As a result we don't get paid. Michael Jackson gets paid, Madonna gets paid, but there is too much operating fat and six figure salaries at the performance rights agencies to pay all deserving musicians the advertised royalty ASCAP and BMI claim to pay.

Collusion and entrenched DINASAURS are the problem.

The victims are the consumer, and the independent musician/writer.

Posted by: JBE | August 19, 2008 1:45 PM | Report abuse

It's refreshing to know that there are places you can listen to music that you know has not been bought and paid for via corporations.

I don't know about you but was anyone surprised when certain companies were paying radio stations to play their music? To give it more airplay and a higher profile?

Now a days we have "bands" and "performers" that would not be able to make it 20 years ago. 99.9% of the crap you hear on the Radio is mass produced, no talent hacks that don't deserve a second listen.

New Kids, Milli Vanilli and MTV Changed how music is sold to people today, and it's time for a change. No more pre packaged, no talent hacks. It's time for true talent to shine through...but where is the money in that, says the Studio Exec...

Posted by: Krazijoe | August 19, 2008 1:47 PM | Report abuse

DCer seems to want to put the genie back in the bottle. The commoditization of music has happened--this is a fact of the current market--and that isn't going to change, regardless of legislation. DCer spent a bit of effort in this forum attempting to portray Pandora as a business entity that claims to have the right to use copyrighted music however it wishes. Then DCer knocks this position over with righteous fury.

However, Pandora isn't asking to use this music for free. It is merely asking to pay the same rates recently agreed upon by Satellite radio. It argues that the new royalty rates for Internet broadcasters are punitive in nature, designed to unfairly destroy Internet radio.

If DCer has a problem with the rates that Satellite Radio stations pay, or with the fact that terrestrial radio has not and does not pay these rates at all, then this is different, and is certainly a consistent position to take. However, it is a foolish and short-sighted one. Copyright violations will not cease with these royalties, and the business model will not improve for musicians. By driving internet broadcasters out of business, DCer will be harming rather than helping the music business, as Mr. Pegoraro argues in his article.

The music industry needs to be careful to avoid, in these difficult financial times, hurting the companies that could be helping them. I am reminded of the MPAA's vituperative assault upon the VCR, and the subsequent profits the industry gained as a result of their failure to abort the business before it began.

Posted by: jbc | August 19, 2008 2:21 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, DC'er has that 'plant' taste all over him. SoundExchage/musicFIRST has engaged Edelmann and a couple of other PR and lobbying firms for campaigns of this type and their attitude, excuses, and defenses are laughable, at best. You can spot them a mile away.

Every time, someone'll call them out and the response is the same "I'm an artist. No, really, I'm an artist/musician/industry type, I just won't use my real name or list my band name" -- because no real artist wants to go out there and say "online radio has no promotional benefit" and so forth.

Every time SoundExchange trundles somebody out in public it's either a) the descendant of a dead recording artist who is more that happy to say "Yes, please create more royalties so I can get a bigger check for something I had nothing to do with" or b) some complete unknown wankers like "International Recording artist Kristine W."

SoundExchange is doing such a crap job actually paying the artists they do collect money for that I'm surprised the artists aren't camping out on their doorstep with pitchforks and demanding blood.

Posted by: alant | August 19, 2008 2:22 PM | Report abuse

The point I think most people are missing is this: It's not that "they" want you to buy music without hearing it, it's that "they" want you to buy the music "they" allow you to hear. Think about it: In most markets (below the top 25) there are what, at most, 7-10 radio stations in town covering about 5 different formats. So, the average American is only exposed to a very small percentage of the music population, without doing a lot of work on his own. This makes the formula for creating a hit very easy.

With services like Pandora out there, anyone in Anytown, USA has equal access to all musicians of every format. That makes it a lot tougher for Johnny Suit to reach the masses. Therin lies the problem for Pandora.

It's a bunch of crap and it shoudln't be tolerated.

Any musician that supports this is just an idiot. Period.

Posted by: Blaz311 | August 19, 2008 2:30 PM | Report abuse

"I'm more worried about what SoundExchange will do to WSLR, a low-powered community radio station in Sarasota, Florida."

Be afraid. KCSN, a station run by California State University Northridge (suburb of LA) has an eclectic mix of clasical, bluegrass, roots music and The Beatles. They pulled the plug on their streaming because of the new royalty fees. That's why I donate to KUSC, so I don't have to listen to the miserable WETA when I need a classical fix.

And Sparky is right. John Lennon did not die for his music. He was yet another victim of the insane that we allow to walk among us. Depressing, but true.

Posted by: Annandale | August 19, 2008 2:32 PM | Report abuse

JBE - where do you get your info from? Had a buddy named David Bach, maybe you've heard of him. He played keyboards on an obscure dance hit from the early 90's, even David got a royalty check every so often. Just because you are an indy artist doesn't mean you can't be a member of either BMI or ascap and get your royalties.
Maybe I'm not understanding what you mean by "indy artist". What I understand an indy artist to be is one who is not signed by one of the major labels but and indy label. There are a ton of them out there and they do get paid.

Posted by: ex WEA | August 19, 2008 2:45 PM | Report abuse

I have really enjoyed the 1+ hours it's taken to read this blog. I'm an oldie-goldie age-wise who has been a music nutt all my life. I am all too familiar with the greed game that has gone down w/the popular music biz since the 1950s. Back then racism was rampant, and artists either starved or got killed if they mouthed off to the criminal biz types who controlled the clubs/venues they performed in and/or the 1-room dumps they recorded in. I am not exaggerating when I say PRIMITIVE and DUMPS.

I saw The Beatles in concert and the concert programs were done by Coca-Cola. That was a fact of life--period.

I am now in the process of digitizing my LP and cassette collection. I am also doing it for other music nutts like myself. I am very familiar w/Pandora and I-Tunes in regards to new radio. I think it's great that corporate bean-counters no longer control what I listen to.

This technology will continue to advance regardless of what BMI/RIAA and the corporate music biz do. It means the young and savvy music artists will get their stuff to the music fans like myself. The corporate music crowd is fighting a losing battle, and they better adapt or they will die.

Good riddance, too! LOL

Posted by: orlbucfan | August 19, 2008 3:06 PM | Report abuse

Obviously, if you produce content you should be paid for it, but Pandora makes me wanna buy CDs or download paid 4 music for the first time in years.

Pandora is free to all and the ads aren't annoying and don't interrupt the music. It's great, probably the best thing out there. Makes me want to return to the CD stores of old and pick up a few titles I might have not otherwise thought about buying. If the music industry moguls were smart they would be supporting pandora and sister projects, not trying to stifle it with fees that'll kill it.

It's like the government and taxes. If the government wants to kill something they just tax it to death, when instead they should be using tax dollars to promote it and use it to help people generate more income, so they'll have (the gov) more taxes to collect on. John F. Kennedy knew this and this is why he's the best democratic president to ever live. Not to mention his tough stance on private and hidden organizations! Wish he was still here, those who control and stifle would have a harder time doing it and the world for the common man would be a better place.

Posted by: stgenerations | August 19, 2008 4:19 PM | Report abuse

Record companies were at first against records being played on old-fasioned AM radio too. But now the old-fasioned AM/FM stations are trying to kill off Internet radio, and may well do so. But first these corporate stations have killed off most varieties of music which do not appeal to the young. It is just big money trying to protect itself with another version of "the public be damned."

Posted by: George11 | August 19, 2008 4:32 PM | Report abuse

I should be interested to know the identity of DCer. But I think I do know who he is.

Rather than making his arguments in a manner that avoids ad hominem attacks and provocative statements, as has been his wont concerning these topics, he could have written his arguments logically and sensibly.

Obviously one needn't agree with another person's ideas. But the test of a mature debater is whether he uses methods that respect and honor the intelligence of the reader as well as honestly held differences of opinion. In respect of this test, I am afraid he has failed.

As has been repeatedly averred, and as DCer knows, no one who broadcasts legally over the Internet has advocated that artists should not be remitted for their creative works.

Rather, and as DCer knows, advocates of Internet radio have petitioned for equity and parity.

As DCer knows, the DMCA discriminates against Internet radio. While it grants satellite radio the 801(b)1 standard, which is a time honored criterion that endeavors to balance the interests of the copyright holders, those of the copyright users and the interests of the general public, it imposes on Internet radio the ambiguous and problematic "willing seller and willing buyer" standard, as if the “marketplace” is the only consideration and as if it were an altar before which DCer bows.

Indeed, many have rightly argued that one of the primary reasons the Copyright Royalty Board imposed on Internet radio exorbitant rates was because the DMCA gave it leave to do so on the basis of this dubious standard.

It is to that discriminatory treatment many in Internet radio object, and DCer is cognizant of this. But I am afraid he prefers using inflammatory statements in order to portray webcasters as being little better than thieves of creative works.

As well, persons like DCer assert that the 801(b)1 standard is "outdated", even though that standard was incorporated into law only eight years old. Still, that standard is time honored in that it has been recognized and applied by courts for years where copyright law is concerned. And DCer knows this as well.

And perhaps DCer might find edification in the fact that most Internet radio stations are not interactive and thus do not employ the business model used by entities like Pandora. He well knows that most Internet radio stations generate little or no revenue and operate on a small basis.
And he knows that by applying the usurious rates imposed by the CRB last year many of those stations will cease to exist.

And he knows that many aspiring artists, for whom he seems so terribly concerned, who would not otherwise get exposure, obtain that exposure precisely because many of those Internet radio stations he portrays as being highly profitable are helping those artists by broadcasting material not heard via traditional media.

It is my hope that as more media migrate to the Internet, more of the political class will view Internet radio as promoting the sale of music no less than “traditional” radio has been viewed by that class.

Posted by: Charlie | August 19, 2008 6:44 PM | Report abuse

DCer wrote:
"The internet is completely different than terrestrial radio because of peer to peer on the network. What makes the internet special to us also makes the internet different from all previous entertainment streams. All streaming radio is hackable so the music can be saved and shared amongst millions of people. While uncommon, this does happen with advance copies of records, etc. People are capable of taping music off of terrestrial radio, but they were incapable of mass redistribution of that music in a way that cost the musicians and record companies almost all their money."

I cannot believe you are using the "stream-ripping" argument in your response. Seriously, what bitrate do most internet broadcasters use? 64k? And who in their right mind would be sitting at their computer for hours on end just waiting to hear a particular song so they can record it at a low bitrate especially when there are plenty of places to download it for free immediately in much higher quality? Most internet broadcasters are using anti-streamripping technology so your argument does not fly in my book.

Posted by: Internet Radio listener | August 19, 2008 7:14 PM | Report abuse

As a hobbyist webcaster with a negative revenue, I believe I have some say on this issue. I would first like to ask DCer who he represents? The music industry? Because it is quite obvious he does not have the artists best interest in mind. I receive emails all the time from listeners thanking me for turning them on to music they otherwise would not have known about through traditional media outlets. I have no statistics for the number of CDs sold through listeners tuning into my broadcast. But if the emails are any indication, the numbers are high. And what of those listeners who do not email me but still purchase an artists music? We are performing a service for artists, just as terrestrial radio has done for decades without every paying royalty fees, and it is unreasonable to ask us to pay disproportionate royalty fees. Level the playing field by passing the Internet Radio Equality Act.

I would also ask DCer, what of independent artists who have no other avenue to have their material broadcasted? Are you willing to take away the only outlet they have by denying them and their potential fans of their music?

One last comment for DCer. Why would I want to change my format? The only reason I am a webcaster is my love for music and for turning other people on to music they may have never heard before. By being a music based webcaster I am supporting both the artists I feature and the music industry that is trying to shut me down. Where do you think I get all the material I air? I purchase it! Unlike those who prefer to purchase and download only what they like, I still purchase the entire CD. I have so many CDs in my collection that I am running out of room for them all. Which brings me to my next point. Rather than punish one of the industries that are keep the major labels alive, they need to get with it and embrace the future rather than fight it every step of the way. Single song downloads for pay are here to stay and CDs will soon go the way of the 8 track tape. So they either get with the program or face their own demise.

To BrumBrum, I am quite surprised by your comments. As one who is in contact with both indie and big label artists, I can most assuredly say the majority wish SoundExchange would just go away. They are biting the nose to spite the face and performing a great disservice to those they claim to be looking out for. Are you willing to take down an entire industry that is supporting artists for a one time payment? And based on the numbers I've been seeing kicked around, unless you're popular, your royalty payment may only amount to $25, if that. Is that worth it? Or would you rather have individuals such as myself who expose your music to a worldwide audience in the hopes that you may become the next big name? And just as an FYI, I am hobbyist and do not get paid for doing this. Nor am I looking to get paid. So you ought to be glad I'm not billing you for the service I'm performing!

For anyone who is interested in listening to hobbyists such as myself, check out Live365.com. There are over 10,000 stations performing a service for artists in every possible genre just for the love of it. Although there are some professional broadcasters using the Live365 service, they are few and far between. The majority are like me with negative revenue. Did I forget to mention that we actually pay for the privilege to broadcast on top of the music we purchase to keep our stations fresh?

You can find my station at http://www.live365.com/stations/fuzoid. I feature and eclectic mix of jazz/rock fusion, instrumental rock, guitar rock, old and new progressive rock, some progressive metal, blues, funk, jamming, etc. Stop on by drop me a note with your comments. And if you don't like what you hear on my station, there are 10,000 others to choose from! Best of all, it's free!

Thank you to all who support webcasters such as myself. And if SoundExchange does get their way, I ask you all to voice your protest by not purchasing music from the all the big labels even if you like the music. I can think of no better way to take down SoundExchange and those that support them. If you feel the urge to purchase, there are plenty of indie labels to choose from such as Inside Out, Shrapnel Records, Unicorn Records, Magna Carta, etc., that are just as satisfying, or more so. Besides, many big name artists are abandoning the major labels in favor of the indies anyway. So you have nothing to lose. Thanks again!

Posted by: fuzoid | August 19, 2008 8:39 PM | Report abuse

What a cheap lot Internet radio listeners are! In the 1960s and '70s, one could go into a roadside restaurant to find a tabletop jukebox that could play a song from a list of about 200 songs. The diner would put a dime or quarter into the jukebox and listen to a selection of songs for a few minutes in his or her booth.

Nowadays, most Internet radio listeners are absolutely convinced that the current CRB rate (0.08¢ per song) is outrageous. What is so outrageous about being able to listen to a stream of one's favorite music genre for 1.6¢ per hour, which comes to about 20 songs per hour? People were willing to pay 10 to 25¢ just to listen to a single three-minute song 40 years ago!

Granted that the time and circumstances are different (jukebox being "on-demand," whereas most Internet radio streams are "non-interactive," (to use the appropriate term from the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which brought us the CRB), and most people wouldn't put more than a couple quarters into those jukeboxes at any one time for more than 10 or 15 minutes of music, whereas the average Internet radio listener might listen for several hours a day easily. But even if listened for 8 hours a day, that would come to less than 13¢ a day, or about $4.00 a month.

In reality, that amount would only pay the CRB royalty fees. For any Internet radio station to be profitable, a premium has to be paid (most radio listeners are unaware that the bandwidth cost of an Internet radio station could be in thousands of dollars a month even for a relatively modest listener size). I would think that the commercial viability can be achieved around twice the CRB rate, which would be 3.2¢ per listener per hour, or about 26¢ per listener per day (based on 8-hour listening time), or $7.80 per month.

The actual figure should be lower since the average daily listening time is more like five hours, and the audience size goes down considerably during the weekends since, at least for now, the majority of listeners are accessing Internet radio from their workplaces during the weekdays (that will change with the proliferation of mobile wireless broadband Internet access). Thus, the average monthly listening time should be around 130 hours per month per listener for now. In other words, if an Internet radio station can derive about $5.00 per month from each listener, either from in-stream advertising revenue, or subscription fees, it will be commercially sustainable. (With a subscription based scheme, the music stream should be commercial-free).

Needless to say, most Internet radio listeners are averse to paying even this relatively insignificant monthly cost of $5.00 (the cost of a single issue of a magazine off the newsstand). Instead, they hastily chose to blame RIAA, Sound Exchange, and Congress (which mandated the CRB) for the “travesty.” Undoubtedly, all of these organizations have much to be blamed on account of many other travesties, but when the majority of those who claim to love Pandora radio or the like are unwilling to fork over even $5 a month to keep their "love" going, they are the part of the "travesty," the travesty of miserliness, and as with love, misers deserve to lose the object of their love.

Undoubtedly, many listeners are reluctant to pay a monthly subscription fee to a single station since they would like to "channel-jump" among many of their favorite radio stations, but that can easily be resolved with radio syndications with syndication-wide prepaid-pass.

Why can't the Internet radio be successful like the terrestrial (AM/FM) radio; that is, free with commercials? Should it? After of all, many people who migrated from the terrestrial radio did so because of the relative scarcity or absence of used car or Viagra commercials every two or three songs. In other words, a truly successful Internet radio station will be no different from your local, commercial laden radio station if it s to be free. Is this what we want to see happen?

There is a movement spearheaded by Clear Channel toward an Internet radio syndication that will eventually make geographically targeted local advertisements possible for any Internet station that belongs to the syndicate. Well, if you have ever lived in a Clear Channel radio market, you know what that would mean. In short, if you want quality music without ugly interruptions, you will have to pay to keep them quiet. Otherwise, the future Internet radio stations will sound just like your favorite local Clear Channel radio stations every few songs.

Posted by: George S. | August 19, 2008 8:40 PM | Report abuse

I deal in a different medium, but a friend in the broadcast field pointed me to this article.

Of course DCer is a lobbyist or group of lobbyists. The writing is too clean and clear... and not the writing of a record artist.

No artist pursues their art when they have a family to support unless they are already on top or heading their swiftly. Eventually, it will be put to them to make the choice between family and their medium. That's why you see so many musicians working in factories, food services, and other fields of endeavor to support their family. Those that "suffer" through do so because they lack talent or are unable to get the powers that be in the recording industry to recognize them: and they do it without the support of their family because they chose the career path over the family path.

While an artist's fame may attract nutcases that are too happy to end their lives, their actual art has rarely killed them. Rick Nelson wasn't performing when his plane caught fire and crashed, nor were Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, or The Big Bopper. Likewise with Jim Croce. The list is long, but then, they were just going to another gig or home. They could die in any form of accident going to work anywhere.

I mentioned before that I worked in a different medium: I'm a comedy writer. I don't know how many times I've had agents tell me they don't handle comedy writers because there's "No money in it." I got tired of it, self published a book, put the entire contents of the book online, and sold hard copies to my fan base. Made a lot more money that way than I did trying to pursue the folks that say they "add Value" to the work.

The RIAA is doing the same thing: they are only pushing a select few artists and ignoring a lot of others. Face it, do you consider Back Street Boys (or N' Synch or Spice Girls or... ad infinitum) as artists or manufactured music.

Let the RIAA control their clients content (after all, they aren't paying their "clients" their just due in royalties, anyway) and let the independent artists broadcast where they can (Including web radio) and in the long run, people will get the music they want and buy what they want, and the RIAA can continue ripping off their bread and butter.

Posted by: swiggy | August 19, 2008 9:04 PM | Report abuse

i'm a music freak and will happily buy what i like at $1.00 per song. i'm not looking for freebies. any serious music fan knows that broadcast radio is worthless. the only way i know of to hear music i like and will buy is internet radio, particularly pandora. pandora is the promotion mechanism the music industry embarrassingly lacks and does not have the wherewithal to provide. how sad the music industry is still so very out of touch.

Posted by: mp | August 19, 2008 9:16 PM | Report abuse

It appears the link to my station is not working in my previous post. I'm going to post it again just in case it's a fluke:

http://www.live365.com/stations/fuzoid

If it still doesn't work, then I must have violated some Washington Post rule. In that case, copy and paste into your browser. Enjoy!

Posted by: fuzoid | August 19, 2008 9:34 PM | Report abuse

I would first like to ask DCer who he represents?
------------

What possesses you to think I represent someone other than myself? Stop fantasizing!

Posted by: DCer | August 19, 2008 11:48 PM | Report abuse

Of course DCer is a lobbyist or group of lobbyists. The writing is too clean and clear... and not the writing of a record artist.
---------

HAHAHHAHHAHAHA

You live in a dreamworld of wizards and unicorns. "Not the writing of a record artist?" Yeah, that Bob Dylan can't write for squat, right?

Posted by: DCer | August 19, 2008 11:51 PM | Report abuse

"I ask Rob what he thinks about the newspaper industry's identical stance? Would he have a job if the WaPo couldn't sell ads because another company showed the article's text with their own ads around it?"

But Google isn't doing that.
-------------

Bruce, the newspaper industry DID ACCUSE GOOGLE OF DOING JUST THAT!!!

http://www.editorsweblog.org/newspaper/2008/05/belgium_google_faces_second_lawsuit.php

Get real, Rob's industry is doing exactly what the RIAA is doing! You all are completely ignorant of the facts of this story and that doesn't make you correct, it makes you uneducated on this topic!

Posted by: DCer | August 19, 2008 11:55 PM | Report abuse

^^^ And yet DCer's posts above don't actually deny the accusations.

DC ... Mara?

Posted by: and yet... | August 20, 2008 12:10 AM | Report abuse

And yet DCer's posts above don't actually deny the accusations.
--------

What the?

I completely deny the bizarre theories about me! How can you not see that?! In fact, anyone who imagines weird stuff about me needs to see a therapist right away.

The theories are so wacky that I can't even call them accusations. I'm a computer programmer by trade and because of that I know how connected into the consumer electronics industry Rob is. From from 1984-1990 I was in bands, had friends in bands, and hung out at King Kongs, Space II Arcade, DC Space, BBQ Iguana, 15 Minutes, all the church shows, etc.

I probably appear to write sophisticated because I'm in my 40s!

The only record I appeared on of serious value was on Dischord and I'm not dragging anyone from that band into this argument let alone my friends' bands. Why? All you have to do is see what the online trolls did to Metallica when they stood up for themselves against Napster.

My god, I gave out props to Lyon Wong! Anyone at all educated about music would know I was a 45 year old ex-punk with that reference!!!

People deny that these internet millionaires who run these online corporations are corporations. If you believe in DIY and independent musicians then Pandora is a corporation that is sucking the blood out of artists while fighting paying them for their work.

sheesh! Of course I deny every one of the weird things written here about me. Get real, it's all online bully behavior from anti-musician trolls.

Posted by: DCer | August 20, 2008 12:33 AM | Report abuse

There are many red herrings, and it seems DCer is wont not only to the issuing of provocative statements. As well, he is wont to creating false concerns and absurd scenarios.


Just as many of the posters here have correctly averred, there are effective and sundry methods used by experienced webcasters to preclude the "ripping" of music.

And, of course, DCer knows this. Many in the recording industry have admitted that this isn't a significant problem.


But the common thread and the kernel to be found in all his public statements and pronouncements is to be found in the ineluctable fact that the sales of CDs have declined during the past ten years.

And there is no other conclusion save that DCer and his colleagues are determined to "recover" as much of this money as possible, even at the risk of destroying exciting and new media, which ultimately would help artists and the recording industry if DCer, et al were not endeavoring so assiduously to create obstacles and hindrances.

Posted by: Charlie | August 20, 2008 12:47 AM | Report abuse

There is nothing that will stop hackers for creating tools to rip streaming media. No one in the computer industry suggests that this is possible. Whatever a hacker can do, a hacker will create a tool for script kiddies to do. period.

and by the way, I have no "colleagues" in the music business. I DON'T WORK IN MUSIC ANYMORE! UNDERSTAND! I HAVEN'T BEEN IN A BAND SINCE 1990!

Posted by: DCer | August 20, 2008 12:53 AM | Report abuse

Seriously, if all you people can do is complain that I write as if I'm educated then you all can have this discussion.

You have completely twisted it so that:
1. Internet millionaires are not "corporations."
2. Little bands have to lick the boots of internet corporations and be happy for the scraps the IPO Wall St Moneymen throw musicians.

You are pro-corporate and you can live with the pro-corporate fantasy world you've created, but... you are not on the side of the morally righteous and you are not on the side of the law. Time and time again people with these extra-legal theories get upset when judges side against internet corporations and for musicians. Do not be surprised when this happens!

Posted by: DCer | August 20, 2008 1:01 AM | Report abuse

Excuse me, sir, but there will always be those who will attempt to record music, regardless the media from which they record that music. And no one is suggesting that the techniques used by experienced webcasters are fool-proof or absolutely effective.

However, they are arguing that the means that do exist obviate the arguments you have made and that the problem is not nearly as great as you've portrayed it.

The concern is not so much the "ripping" of music. Rather, the concern is extracting as much tribute from all broadcasting media as possible in order to "compensate" for a diminution of revenue.

Thus, are there various attempts to divert attention from the ultimate purpose.

Many small webcasters have needlessly suffered from the antics of various parties during the past year or so.

Posted by: Charlie | August 20, 2008 1:07 AM | Report abuse

As you have double-posted, I find it necessary to respond to your last comments.


Most of the Internet-only radio stations extant are non-interactive and operate on a rather small basis.

Many of these entities generate little or no revenue.


How anyone can logically accuse those entities of being oriented toward corporate interests is a classic case of projecting.

There is nothing more corporate in size or scale than the four or five largest labels.

Posted by: Charlie | August 20, 2008 1:13 AM | Report abuse

How anyone can logically accuse those entities of being oriented toward corporate interests is a classic case of projecting.
--------

So the secret is to lose money and then you suddenly aren't a pre-IPO internet corporation? Someone should have told that to pets.com.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 20, 2008 1:19 AM | Report abuse

The fact that most advertising revenue is still to be found in traditional media is scarcely a secret.


The existence of many small Internet-only radio stations that attract monthly total listener hours not in excess 15,000 tlh is well known.


Many of those who operate these stations do so more as a labor of love. Some might become profitable, especially if the Internet Radio Equality Act were enacted. But even if H.R. 2060 were enacted, there will always be those who broadcast for their passion and their love for this medium, even at the risk of generating little or no revenue.


Some in the corporate sector who bow before the altar of the marketplace have difficulty understanding this and thus are rather wont to projecting their desires onto others.

Posted by: Charlie | August 20, 2008 1:30 AM | Report abuse

You know, it's funny - along with the users, a lot of artists have come out in favor of services like Last, Pandora and so on.

It seems that they see the two sides:

On one side, there's all these great new interactive services like Pandora and Last that add /new functionality/ to the music discovery process, which have helped thousands of artists sell product and gain new fans.

On the other side ... there's the RIAA and SoundExchange, which have a long and documented history of raping artists in entirely new and creative ways whenever they get the chance.

How anyone sees the interactive side as the boogeyman here is frankly beyond me. But I suppose when you're tossing out statements like "you are not on the side of the morally righteous" anything pretty much goes.

Posted by: bh | August 20, 2008 9:33 AM | Report abuse

I couldn't agree more. The tragedy of this whole matter is that SoundExchange and the recording industry could settle on a lower, reasonable percentage of revenue basis for all broadcast media, thereby getting more benefits and revenue for all parties concerned.

Instead the head of SoundExchange and certain of his allies insist on conducting themselves as they have, even at the risk of destroying much of a new and exciting industry.

They are shameless, in my view.

Posted by: Charlie | August 20, 2008 9:50 AM | Report abuse

Dcer, your a spin doctor. I'm allways reading about some Artist claiming the record company owe them something. Just another American company greed and getting richer. A Joke!

Posted by: solblack | August 20, 2008 12:50 PM | Report abuse

Solblack, are you sure you aren't reading about the kid who founded napster making millions in stock options on the backs of the artists? You are literally hearing the artists RIGHT NOW claim that Pandora owes them something. How is a music corporation different from an internet corporation in this regard? Really, why is music "corporate greed" bad and dotcom "corporate greed" good? That's the crux of this discussion- choosing one group of lawyers over another.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 20, 2008 12:58 PM | Report abuse

There is no doubt that greed and poor business decisions can be found in every sector of the economy.


The central issue of this debate, I think, turns on the discriminatory provisions written into the Digital Copyright Millennium Act. Those provisions militate against the interests of Internet radio, broadly defined.


And, in my view, more of traditional media will be migrating to the Internet, especially as the quality and availability of broadband improve significantly over the years.

In the meantime, the decision of the CRB last with respect to Internet radio and the "willing buyer and willing seller" standard the CRB relied upon to impose on Internet radio usurious rates are essential issues upon which one should focus and are matters that demand change.

Posted by: Charlie | August 20, 2008 3:53 PM | Report abuse

To DCer; okay, so you represent yourself. Then why are you so dead set against online broadcasting? Why do you want to see it pushed to extinction? From your stance, it is quite obvious you do not care about the artists both you and SoundExchange claim to be defending. If you did, then you wouldn't be supporting such lopsided royalty rates. And what of independent artists? Do you claim to support them as well?

Which brings me to my next question. In every single one of your posts, you continue to side step the issue of equitable royalty fees. Why? After all, this is what this entire discussion is supposed to be about! Do you believe it fair that internet stations should be forced to pay disproportionate fees over those paid by satellite and cable stations? Please explain how this is fair?

I have never once said artists are not entitled to some form of royalty. In fact, I agree with it! But how is unrealistic fees going to help them if it puts us internet broadcasters out of business? Wouldn't it make more sense just to level the playing field?

One final point. Since your arguments seem to be against fair and equitable royalty payments, is it any wonder you portray yourself as an industry insider or lobbyist?

BTW, I noticed you had nothing more to say about my post other than your obvious discomfort over my question about who you represent. Did I hit too close to home?

Support the Internet Radio Equality Act!
http://www.live365.com/stations/fuzoid

Posted by: fuzoid | August 20, 2008 8:58 PM | Report abuse

I LOVE hearing new music I've never heard before on pandora. I buy music I hear off Pandora ALL THE TIME. New artists can get noticed and consumers get targeted for content they are most likely to buy. It's so simple its beautiful.

Think about it: why would any new or existing Artist need a Label, the CRB etc to distribute their music (and make money)if they have a service like Pandora? Web Radio is the death of music's big business- they know it and they are doing everything they can do stop it.

Pandora is perfect because it gives the artist and the listener exactly what they want. The Labels, CRB, etc are the ones who get the shaft- because with Web Radio they can't get rich by taking advantage of music artists anymore.

Posted by: MPL | August 21, 2008 2:09 PM | Report abuse

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