Songwriters have a problem with Pandora, and it looks like this:
(photos: Digital Music News, from handout at a recent songwriter protest in Washington, DC)
Songwriters understandably hate this, but they have almost no power to stop it. The reason is that despite incredibly low payouts, it’s nearly impossible for songwriters to remove their catalogs from Pandora, or even negotiate better terms. The complicated explanation has to do with a century of antiquated laws that basically force songwriters to license their content at fractional rates, and like it.
Last year, a number of prominent songwriters protested on Capitol Hill, with emotional performances designed to combat lower royalty rates. This year, they’re exercising the nuclear option by introducing legislation to change the laws. This bill, introduced this morning, is called the Songwriter Equity Act, with Congressman Doug Collins sponsoring.
Essentially, the bill attempts to plug two massive loopholes in copyright law that greatly benefit Pandora but essentially screw songwriters. ”Roughly two-thirds of a songwriter’s income is heavily regulated by law or through outdated government oversight,” National Music Publishers’ Association CEO David Israelite told Digital Music News. ”This legislation addresses two significant inequities under current copyright law that prevent songwriters and music publishers from receiving compensation that reflects the fair market value of their work.”
“I fear that without the Songwriter Equity Act, songwriting as a profession will give to way songwriting as a hobby, and an important American treasure will be in jeopardy.”
A copy of the bill is here.
(written while listening to CVRCHES on Rdio using Parrot Ziks)