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Dear Congress, Please Make Pandora Stop Screwing Us. Signed, Songwriters…

Songwriters have a problem with Pandora, and it looks like this:

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(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  “Roughly two-thirds of a songwriter’s income is heavily regulated by law or through outdated government oversight,” National Music Publishers’ Association CEO David Israelite told Digital Music News.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)

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Comments (219)
  1. Anonymous

    “Songwriters understandably hate this”

    Everybody’s going to hate it if songwriting becomes a hobby.


    Reply
    1. GGG

      I’m always amused when songwriters like you who churn out soulless husks of emotion get all self-righteous.

      But on a positive note, good on this. And I hope it passes so Anonymous can start collecting a few more cents on the chart-middling smash they wrote back in 1997.


      Reply
      1. Anonymous

        GGG, here’s a little experiment for you:

        1) Think of the 50 most beautiful songs you know.

        2) Imagine what they would sound like if you replaced the writers with hobbyists.

        Get it? :)

        The songwriter is the most important link in the chain — and the only one that can’t be replaced.

        The second most important link is the producer. The third is the mixing engineer. The rest doesn’t matter.


        Reply
        1. GGG

          My point wasn’t anti-songwriter. I love songwriters.

          My point was, based on discussions I’ve had with you/seen you have, the world you champion and work in is more often than not, silly, dumb songs, that are no different than what hobbyists could write.


          Reply
          1. FarePlay

            GGG, you can do better. You’re a bright guy with some valuable insigts.

            What you just did was what the pirates have done so successfully to keep musicians quiet and perpetuated this problem for way to long. All we’re asking for is a little RESPECT.


            Reply
            1. GGG

              I give all the respect in the world to people who deserve it. What I don’t do is treat anyone who shits out a song like a god. It’s not hard or rare for humans to create art. Cavemen did it. What’s hard to do is do it well enough (better than most), repeatedly that you stand out.

              And yes, I know this makes me sound like a dick. But you would not believe how many mediocre “artists” I see and meet every month. Hobbyists have already taken over music.


              Reply
              1. Anonymous

                GGG I don’t think you “get it” do you? it’s not about your liking a crappy pop song or not, it’s not a meritocracy, it’s business! In this case music business. If you sell something (in this case songs) and it sells bucket loads you should be paid accordingly.
                I tell you what, I don’t like the Snuggy (you know that blanket with sleeves) , I think it’s dumb and ugly, but it made $100mil in sales worldwide. It’s a simple concept: People like something = they buy it = the creator gets paid. The music business is a business like any other. The reason artists get screwed is by gradually instilling a general idea that “it’s just songs” it fills the blanks during the day, it’s “entertaining” without any redeeming value, and so we shouldn’t’ attribute too much value to it…
                When those crappy pop songs that get played 10 million times a month fail to bring in any revenue to their creators that’s the end of music as a career for the million other down the food chain, whether it’s Joe Blow putting loops together in his bedroom or the next Mozart polishing up his chops at Julliard. Get it now?


                Reply
                1. GGG

                  I’m not arguing whether songwriters should be paid or not, of course they should. Not sure why people keep trying to interpret it that way….

                  My (admittedly unnecessary, but still felt like saying it) comment was purely a reaction to the way you constantly allude to yourself as some great artist that’s above everyone. The listening public isn’t stupid, but they are fairly fickle and easily swayed. People like you have the power to put out better music but choose not to. Why? Because shitty songs sell right now! You know it, I know it, everyone knows it. What’s “artistic” about that? Try pushing the envelope, and if you don’t want to alienate yourself, do it a little at a time. “Roar” (and many other pop songs) have a hook and sound that would be a hit regardless of the lyrics. So why not make them at least slightly better. There’s no reason to aim as low as people do so often.


                  Reply
                  1. Anonymous

                    “the way you constantly allude to yourself as some great artist that’s above everyone”

                    GGG, I’m afraid you’re confusing two Anonymous’es here.

                    *I* am the one who constantly allude to myself as some great artists that’s above everyone… :)


                    Reply
                    1. Anonymous

                      Too many Anonymi.


                  2. Matt

                    So let me get this straight. You are the arbiter of songwriting legitimacy based on your opinion on whether or not a song is “bad” or “good.”

                    You do realize how little sense that makes considering that beauty is in the eye-of-the-beholder, and is not empirically dependent on your opinion, right?


                    Reply
                    1. GGG

                      There have been enough songs written and enough literature published throughout time that any moderately intelligent person can distinguish bland, unimaginative writing when they see it, through, again, centuries of empirical evidence.

                      You can like or dislike whatever art you choose, that’s certainly subjective. But just like people 100 years from now will still be reading The Great Gatsby and Moby Dick while 50 Shades of Gray will be forgotten by everyone, literal millions of people still enjoyed 50 Shades more. I’m not telling anyone what they can and can’t enjoy, but compared to music that has come before, even just in the modern era, too many modern pop songs are lyrical embarrassments.


              2. Courtland

                Whether or not you think the song is good makes no difference in this argument. Pandora creates nothing. They distribute already existing content and make (or hope to make) money off it. The creators of the content they rely on for their business should have a say in how much they get paid for it and whether or not Pandora has the right to even distribute it.


                Reply
                1. GGG

                  Yea….for like the billionth time, I never said otherwise.

                  Seriously, people. C’mon now. I get it. You’re all mad at me that I said your dumb songs suck. Yell at me for that, not about something I never said. My first post says I support this law. Read.


                  Reply
          2. Anonymous

            “the world you champion and work in is more often than not, silly, dumb songs”

            My luck is that I love the music most people love.

            And there won’t be any more of it if songwriting becomes a hobby. All of it is written by professionals.


            Reply
            1. GGG

              Which is exactly what I find hilarious/terrible. So-called professionals who write a song like “Roar” or “We Don’t Stop” and can sit back, put on “Thunder Road” or “The Boxer” and still say, yea, “Roar” is a great song!

              Musically, pop music certainly has it’s place and purpose, nothing against that. But I’m not sure why Top 40 lyrics are a race to see who can write the dumbest, most inane series of lines.


              Reply
              1. Anonymous

                GGG- just because you don’t like it or thinks it’s dumb doesn’t mean it others agree. That’s the great thing about art. It’s subjective. “Roar” and others like it have resonated with many very smart people.


                Reply
                1. GGG

                  Sure, liking it or disliking it is subjective. I would never argue that. But one could easily look through the history of the written/sung word, and see what quality is. There’s no reason pop songwriters can’t use vocabularies/syntax above a 4th grade level within these musical ideas. Especially when the performer has little else to bring to the table musically. “Roar” is almost entirely just a list of commonly (overly, really) used stock phrases. If Rebecca Black came out with those lyrics, you’d be laughing at them.


                  Reply
                  1. Intriqued

                    Whether you as an individual like a song is irrelevant. The point is getting paid for use of work product. Lots of people buy things that I would never buy, that doesn’t mean that I should have the right to dictate what compensation they are allowed because I don’t like what they are buying. Songwriters and the publishers who support them should be compensated.


                    Reply
                    1. GGG

                      I’m not arguing otherwise….


                  2. Anonymous

                    The funny thing about simple lyrics and tunes is that they take forever to write.

                    Ask anyone. Simple is hard.


                    Reply
                    1. GGG

                      Sure. Doesn’t mean they can’t be incredibly stupid when all is said and done.


                    2. Anonymous

                      “Doesn’t mean they can’t be incredibly stupid when all is said and done”

                      Well, who can argue with that.

                      But I rarely hear stupid stuff from top acts. I hear as much talent and hard work as ever before. Think of lines like this (Tik Tok by Ke$ha):

                      Before I leave I brush my teeth in a bottle of Jack / Cause when I leave for the night, I ain’t coming back

                      It may be silly pop to you, but it’s vintage rock’n roll to me.


                    3. GGG

                      I hear a person trying way too hard to put on an image. And a writer of extremely limited imagination. The difference between me and you seems to be you can’t see through that bullshit.

                      But, I mean, the fact you are using Tik Tok as an example of rarely hearing stupid stuff, when that is a horrible offender, means we should just end this conversation now. There is no hope.


                    4. Anonymous

                      “There is no hope”

                      You’re probably right — man, I love her. :)

                      And she goes on: The party don’t start until I waarrrk irrrn

                      Hehe, priceless.


                    5. Anonymous

                      Ke$ha is both the primary songwriter and performer on the vast majority of her songs.


                    6. Paul Resnikoff

                      Well stated. The principle applies to many other things as well. The world is full of people that ‘could have easily’ started this company, invented that idea, or written that song.

                      So why didn’t they?


                  3. Matt

                    “Quality,” in this case, is completely subjective and dependent only on your opinion. You are basing your entire argument on what YOU consider to be good music or not. That’s a pompous and completely meritless point-of-view.


                    Reply
                    1. GGG

                      No, it’s not. Musically, I have very little, if any, issue with these songs. But if you can read through the lyrics of Top 40 songs and not roll your eyes countless times, you really need to listen to more music and read more books.


              2. Not Anonymous.

                I love how this guy is trying to justify highway robbery. Whether something is valuable or not is based on the demand the public had for it. Your song gets 5,000,000 hits, it’s obvious the public wants it. And if you got paid 100 bucks for that, you got ripped off. Doesn’t matter if it’s Don’t Stop Believing or Chocolate Rain.

                Put it another way, if I saw someone bagging groceries at a store, and thought “well, a caveman could do your job, so I’ll give you 20 bucks for 8 hours of work.” I’d be sued for infringing on national standards regarding minimum wage. You have provided a service and need to be paid accordingly. Simple.

                Your arguments seem to be “Katy Perry sucks and the music industry has no soul so no one needs to pay for any of it.” You are watching it, listening to it. You are using a product for which you should pay something. McDonalds sucks but you don’t see people stealing from them based on that. There’s no good argument for thievery. Particularly when it’s a corporation like Pandora doing the stealing via loopholes in the legal system.


                Reply
                1. Anonymous

                  “Your arguments seem to be “Katy Perry sucks and the music industry has no soul so no one needs to pay for any of it.””

                  Yeah, instead of blaming the victim — Ms. Perry — we should attack YouTube for censoring her video Dark Horse today.

                  It’s the worst assault on internet freedom in years. (See Rolling Stone, BBC and most other news sites.)


                  Reply
                  1. Anonymous

                    I wonder when, if ever, Digital Music News is going to write about it.

                    How long can you ignore the biggest music news story in 2014?


                    Reply
                    1. Frank jameson

                      How is that a story about music? Its about a video and the music content could have been anything else. Do i make history in music if girls are kissing, crosses are burning, some religious symbol appear….they are not even political statements just pure marketing or dumbness… Oh i forgot the naked girl on a giant ball… Sad to see that people excite themselves over these things…. And again, nothing to do with musical content


                    2. Anonymous

                      “How is that a story about music?”

                      Wow, a Digital Music News reader who actually defends censorship.

                      Do you also agree with the critics who say that Ms. Perry’s house should be bombed?

                      Or is it just her art that should be destroyed?

                      If so, could you then please explain how to determine which part of her property we should destroy and which we shouldn’t? Try to be as specific as possible.


                2. GGG

                  Are all you people fucking morons or just only reading half a sentence I wrote? I’ll give you a million dollars if you point out one instance of me saying songwriters don’t deserve to get paid.

                  One Million Dollars.


                  Reply
                  1. Anonymous

                    “Are all you people fucking morons”

                    Um yes, you’re the only bright guy here.


                    Reply
                    1. GGG

                      Seems like it. Even if people only read my very first post, “But on a positive note, good on this. And I hope it passes…” is right there. So not sure why people keep accusing me of not wanting songwriters to get paid…

                      Looks like we have a lot of sensitive pop songwriters in here. Sorry your songs blow. :-(


          3. An On Him Miss

            GGG seems to be a bit on the bitter side… Are you perhaps a songwriter who feels he/she is not getting his/her due? Ok fine, but don’t tear down others who make valid points, it’s unproductive and no one cares about your opinion regarding the worth of most songs that are heard in modern times. You’re missing the point of this conversation completely.


            Reply
            1. GGG

              Nope, sorry, someone else already tried that insult. I’m not a songwriter.

              I do, however, know a number of great songwriters and am a fan of a number of great songwriters, both living and dead. Many of them are probably people you enjoy, as well. So we both know the difference between good and bad lyrics. The difference seems to be you people are fine with giving shitty lyrics a pass because it’s “fun” and/or “popular.” It is possible to write fun/popular GOOD lyrics, you know. Countless people have done it.

              Also, not so much bitter as sick of people like Anonymous getting all self-serving and calling themselves artists and attacking hobbyists, when their work is subpar at best. If the people who write some of these pop songs are professionals, then there’s no such thing as a hobbyist because everyone is an artist. And everyone who runs around the block is an athlete. And everyone who reheats something in the microwave is a chef.


              Reply
              1. Minneapolis Musician

                GGG,

                A couple of thoughts.

                1. A person who has never tested a world-class meal in a great restaurant might easily think that MacDonald’s Quarter Pounder is the best tasting food that there mankind can ever create. Until they experience something better, there is no convincing them.

                2. I suspect that Anonymous deeply desires to be a great songwriter. It’s about identity. You could never take that from him without giving him something equally valuable to hold onto. It’s like swinging through the jungle on vines: you cannot let go of one until you have another securely in hand.

                When I was 17, I had no idea how good lyrics could be…until I heard John Prine singing in a small folk club in Chicago. I was in a pop rock band at the time. Prine completely opened my eyes to what a song can be. Many (not all) of Dylan’s lyrics do the same.


                Reply
                1. GGG

                  Agree 100%, so this is also related to the crux of the issue I take with people like him. A “professional” songwriter, especially one that talks down to “hobbyists,” should be a student of music. So it’s inconievable that this person has not heard tons of incredible songwriting, especially since I get the impression they are also 40+ years old, as well as a fellow huge fan of music.

                  To continue the food analogy, Anonymous can east world class food all the time. When he cooks, however, he gets McDonalds if he’s lucky. So in order to save face, he starts telling everyone McDonalds is world class food.


                  Reply
                2. Frank jameson

                  I dont know if i do get ggg 100% but he made me think… How comes there are very high valuable paintings today and millions of paintings with very low value even though their crafting effort is even higher than the special ones ( mona lisa didnt take forever to paint and the paint wasnt more expendive…)
                  How comes that songs like ‘stairway to heaven’ gets the same payments from airplay as the mentioned ‘tik tok’ or ‘roar’… Maybe we need to think about different values here as well


                  Reply
                  1. GGG

                    Eh, I could probably argue this in a super hypothetical way if I was forced to, but I don’t think speculating on value of art that is of an infinite supply is worthwhile past what iTunes already does with popularity.


                    Reply
        2. Saylor

          I think it is also a little important to mention the mastering engineer, which is often not done by the mixing engineer and makes what people are hearing on the radio and singing along to, a little more smooth around the edges. Just a thought… :)


          Reply
          1. Anonymous

            You’re right — though I think the singer and perhaps even the musicians are a bit more important. :)

            But there are exceptions.


            Reply
            1. Saylor

              Oh, absolutely – I agree the singer and musicians are more important. Just didn’t want to leave out one of the men (or women) in the process that so many overlook or don’t even know about. It can be the difference in a ‘mix tape’ and a radio hit. It also very often catches the slight mistakes not caught by the mixing engineer, the producer or the engineer before it goes onto your album. Things that will drive the artists CRAZY if they catch it after investing so much money and have to have it redone. Obviously I’m not referring to the places that run it through a machine to master it and just offer up whatever comes out the other side. I am referring to those who still do it the ‘old fashioned’ way – by listening to each and every second of the song and getting it RIGHT. But I digress. This is a thread about songwriters. Sorry if I went off on a random tangent.


              Reply
              1. Anonymous

                “But I digress”

                And thank you for that.

                Very few fans are aware of all the people that are needed — and paid — in order to make wonderful music.

                So what you say is important, and every word is true.


                Reply
        3. Will

          Yeah…. They would sound exactly alike.


          Reply
        4. T.O,

          How about the fact that there already are millions of song writers and you only heard those 50 songs because they were better than the rest…


          Reply
        5. What

          I would argue 99% of “professional” songwriters have no graduate or professional level degree in songwriting or any related subject. What defines a professional? If it’s just social awareness of a song, then yes, it’s a hobby. Is it supporting yourself with music? Then I have “professional” friends that play shows and subways and live off music in poverty, but rely on it as their only income. I view this as small business; bitch, bitch, bitch for more regulatory that helps them and not big corporate, but want no responsibility for their shitty business model. Music as a profitable business is near dead and success has no correlation to talent. That’s awesome u “feel” music and it’s what you “want”. Same thing goes to the 70yr old redneck woman that wants tax breaks to keep her antique doll store open. You don’t get laws to help validate your devalued position in life, just pick something else for a career.


          Reply
      2. song dude

        I’m a little surprised at the comments from the clearly self-amused GGG, generalizing writers as “self righteous” and their songs as “soulless husks of emotion.” It’s likely that this opinion comes from someone who either A) has never written a song or B) is bitter that someone besides them has had commercial writing success, because both would lead to the narrow-minded conclusion that they’ve dumped here. “Chart-middling?” Your envy is showing.

        Good luck, oh bitter one. Meanwhile, I’d suggest you let songwriters create and earn as they are rightfully entitled and stay out of sideline commentary on topics you haven’t earned the right to be wrong about.


        Reply
        1. GGG

          First of all, I’m clearly talking about a very specific type of songwriter, i.e. dumb pop, related to personal interactions I’ve had with this Anonymous poster. “Songwriters like you” is VASTLY different from all “songwriters.” Nice try, though. Too bad your inability to read correctly got the better of you.

          But if you think Miley Cyrus’s ‘We Can’t Stop” is anything but a soulless husk of emotion, I feel bad for you, son. I got 99 problems, but pretending shitty songs are good because they’re popular ain’t one.


          Reply
          1. Anonymous

            Yeah, let’s trash Miley Cyrus since she’s here to defend herself. Or because she’s such a popular act to trash this month. Or whatever is more convenient for you.

            Have you ever heard her? She’s one hell of a singer.


            Reply
            1. GGG

              Pretty sure she wouldn’t give a shit. You don’t get to where she is, and how she’s acting, by caring what people think. Or having shame.

              But anyway, I’m making fun of her songwriters, not her. She is listed as one of 7 (took 7 people to write that song…and I’m supposed to call them professionals?) but I’m sure she wrote very little. Doesn’t matter how well she sings. I don’t care if Freddie Mercury came back from the dead and gave the best vocal performance in the history of music, those lyrics are still atrocious and insulting to anyone who’s written an actual good song.


              Reply
              1. Hcg

                Haha, well I’ll have to agree with you that “we can’t stop” isn’t my favorite pop song, and while I don’t personally like it all that much it seems that a lot of other people do. So we do agree there.

                But I think that living in both the art music and pop music worlds I’ve gained some important insights (important for me at least) about what people appreciate about music and songs: Appreciation for music, and songs, is based upon context and experience.

                For instance, when we were children we all loved “twinkle, twinkle little star” because, to our ears, it was fresh, exciting, and inspiring. We didn’t have the experience to make any other judgement. And it seems to me that all people have the capacity to enjoy music, but the music they appreciate and enjoy is in large part linked to their depth of experience with music, as well as to what styles of music they have become accustomed. Indeed, many “non-western” styles of music will sound “out of tune, dissonant,” or just plain “wrong” to our western ears without ever having heard them before.

                But perhaps more importantly than this fact is that context shapes our enjoyment of music. How and when are we hearing these songs? At a party it would be strange to hear Beethoven’s 9th, and at Carnegie Hall it would be strange to hear Ke$ha, or the Rolling Stones, or Even Sam Cooke (who I personally love!). We approach music with a different mindset and appreciation based on the context in which we hear it. And when music is consumed recreationally, it is often meant to lift people’s spirit and be enjoyable. PEOPLE DONT WANT TO BE CHALLANEGED BY THEIR MUSIC, not when the rest of life is so challenging as it is.

                Music has the power to be both cerebral, spiritual, and challenging, but also to be car-free, fun, and evocative. Many pretentious opera goers will describe all the music from “La Traviata,” as inspired musical genius, when many of the songs were written with the INTENTION of sounding stupid, to convey a certain character or emotion. In fact, contemporary reviewers of the opera would pick apart as frivolous pop trash the same songs we consider HIGH ART nowadays!

                So hey, you and I aren’t so different after all… I don’t own a single Miley Cyrus cd. But if we take a broader view of what is music to us, to others, and how it can affect us in different situations, we might find more appreciation for things that previously turned us off. And that is the mindset of someone, IMHO, who truly loves music.

                Lastly, just ink next time you’re at a party dancing up on someone gorgeous, thank Ke$ha or Lady GaGa or whoever else for making it happen. Bach might have been a genius, (no wait, let me rephrase, he was a total f#%ing genius, mad scientist of music who changed the game forever), he never got me laid! ;-)

                Cheers.


                Reply
                1. Minneapolis Musician

                  Hcg,

                  Similar to the point I made to GGG earlier. But you made it even better than I did.

                  And yeah, there is all kind of music for all situations and needs.

                  There’s a time for silly, and a time for deep.

                  Glenn
                  http://www.reverbnation.com/GlennGalen


                  Reply
          2. Rick

            I find it interesting that GGG is bashing pop songs, for their poor lyrics, then chooses to refers to “99 Problems” by Jay Z.

            This song clearly has the line,

            “If you don’t like my lyrics you can press fast forward”

            If you don’t like it, don’t listen. That is clearly the only solution for your hatred of pop music.


            Reply
            1. GGG

              I do avoid them at home. Unfortunately I don’t have a universal remote that can fast forward songs playing on other people’s radios, in stores, on jukeboxes, in TV/film, etc.

              And regardless of whether I listen or not, I find it ridiculous my desire to not perpetuate this normalcy of shitty songs makes me the bad guy. I’m not saying play Bach or even Radiohead on the radio. I’m saying keep making pop songs all you want, just don’t write lyrics that are on par with the creativity of a 10 year old. These artists we hear all over represent our culture. It’s a pity that doesn’t bother you.


              Reply
              1. Anonymous

                “I’m saying keep making pop songs all you want, just don’t write lyrics that are on par with the creativity of a 10 year old”

                …and I’m saying: Stop telling us what to write, OK?


                Reply
                1. GGG

                  You’re a living insult to actual musicians. You don’t deserve to call yourself a songwriter.


                  Reply
                  1. Anonymous

                    “You don’t deserve to call yourself a songwriter”

                    Hm, so that’s for you to decide? Don’t you think you begin to sound like that weirdo who got Katy Perry’s video censored today?

                    Here’s what he wrote to YouTube:

                    “We hope that the video itself depicting such images is removed. Such acts are not condoned nor tolerated, we hope YouTube will remove the video.”””

                    You guys are scary.


                    Reply
                    1. GGG

                      I give this attempted slight a 3/10 for creativity, so on par with your songwriting, and a 0/10 for insult factor. Doesn’t really hit hard to just arbitrarily compare someone to a completely unrelated person/topic.

                      Robert Mugabe said something like “the only good white person is a dead white person.” Anonymous, you’re so like Robert Mugabe! Because I quoted him right here. Wow, it really does work!


                    2. Anonymous

                      …so it is not attempted censorship when you tell us what to write, or which titles we may use?


                    3. GGG

                      Nope. Appealing to you to write like adults who have an understanding of the English language above a 4th grade level is constructive criticism. Or just criticism.

                      The fact you can look down on hobbyists, call them that with a straight face, and put out this music is hilarious. As I said above, if you are an artist, then anyone who runs around the block is an athlete and anyone who reheats something in the microwave is a chef.


            2. nypj

              you mean “99 problems” by Ice-T as covered by Jay-Z?


              Reply
      3. spock

        anonymous, you are a complete jackass. Everyone all the way down to the guy who gets the coffee is important.


        Reply
        1. Anonymous

          “anonymous, you are a complete jackass. Everyone all the way down to the guy who gets the coffee is important”

          Well, I can’t totally agree on the first part :) but you’re spot on about the second. I’m afraid I got a bit carried away over the usual f*** the songwriter crap. Sorry ’bout that, I have a lot of respect for every single link in the chain…


          Reply
      4. nunya

        There’s nothing about any art form that demands you make a living at it to be good. Charles Ives anyone?


        Reply
    2. Anonymous

      Songwriters are important, which is ironically why pay performers for radio airplay is probably a bad idea. Realistically, any royalty that radio pays to performers will come from the songwriter royalty as it is mostly the case in countries which pay performers already.


      Reply
    3. Hcg

      GGG, you are certainly entitled to your opinion and I don’t expect to sway you either way (nor is that my goal). But the truth is everyone gets so sanctimonious and says how easy it is to write these “soul-less” pop songs when they have never tried it. Let’s all hear what you have written… Go try and write something on par with what you call this “pop garbage,” and you’ll see it’s not so simple.

      And before you think I’m just another member of pop army infantry, I have a master of music degree in classical guitar from Yale University… Where I had a full scholarship… And a paid fellowship. And I produce pop music. So tell me what are your qualifications?


      Reply
      1. GGG

        Never once said it was easy. Or that writing great songs is hard. Inspiration makes those things hard to qualify. I’ve heard/read famous musicians talking about writing a great song that felt like passing a huge kidney stone and writing another great song that just fell out like it was sent fully formed from the gods of music. I don’t care if you spend 20 years or 20 minutes writing a song, if it ends up with lyrics like “We Can’t Stop” it’s not good. End of story. There are plenty of pop songs throughout history, and on the radio currently for that matter, that don’t have horrible lyrics. But there’s far too many that do, especially when you look back at some of the work humans have accomplished over the history of music, and literature for that matter.


        Reply
        1. Hcg

          Haha, well I’ll have to agree with you that “we can’t stop” isn’t my favorite pop song, and while I don’t personally like it all that much it seems that a lot of other people do. So we do agree there.

          But I think that living in both the art music and pop music worlds I’ve gained some important insights (important for me at least) about what people appreciate about music and songs: Appreciation for music, and songs, is based upon context and experience.

          For instance, when we were children we all loved “twinkle, twinkle little star” because, to our ears, it was fresh, exciting, and inspiring. We didn’t have the experience to make any other judgement. And it seems to me that all people have the capacity to enjoy music, but the music they appreciate and enjoy is in large part linked to their depth of experience with music, as well as to what styles of music they have become accustomed. Indeed, many “non-western” styles of music will sound “out of tune, dissonant,” or just plain “wrong” to our western ears without ever having heard them before.

          But perhaps more importantly than this fact is that context shapes our enjoyment of music. How and when are we hearing these songs? At a party it would be strange to hear Beethoven’s 9th, and at Carnegie Hall it would be strange to hear Ke$ha, or the Rolling Stones, or Even Sam Cooke (who I personally love!). We approach music with a different mindset and appreciation based on the context in which we hear it. And when music is consumed recreationally, it is often meant to lift people’s spirit and be enjoyable. PEOPLE DONT WANT TO BE CHALLANEGED BY THEIR MUSIC, not when the rest of life is so challenging as it is.

          Music has the power to be both cerebral, spiritual, and challenging, but also to be car-free, fun, and evocative. Many pretentious opera goers will describe all the music from “La Traviata,” as inspired musical genius, when many of the songs were written with the INTENTION of sounding stupid, to convey a certain character or emotion. In fact, contemporary reviewers of the opera would pick apart as frivolous pop trash the same songs we consider HIGH ART nowadays!

          So hey, you and I aren’t so different after all… I don’t own a single Miley Cyrus cd. But if we take a broader view of what is music to us, to others, and how it can affect us in different situations, we might find more appreciation for things that previously turned us off. And that is the mindset of someone, IMHO, who truly loves music.

          Lastly, just ink next time you’re at a party dancing up on someone gorgeous, thank Ke$ha or Lady GaGa or whoever else for making it happen. Bach might have been a genius, (no wait, let me rephrase, he was a total f#%ing genius, mad scientist of music who changed the game forever), he never got me laid! ;-)

          Cheers.


          Reply
          1. GGG

            I certainly agree with pretty much the entire general idea of this post, but there’s one fundamental issue I have. Which is why have we gotten to a point where fun/care-free/etc has to equal dumb so often? Why do people constantly defend “bad” as being fun, like there’s never been a good fun song. You’re insulting many people, Stevie Wonder off the top of my head, when you defend these shitty songs with “fun.” You can make objectively good, quality music and still have fun, as Stevie has shown numerous times. I’m not asking for avant grade, obnoxiously cerebral free jazz here.

            Regular Joe’s enjoyed and danced to great music for hundreds of years. Granted music education was much different way back when, people still weren’t necessarily picking apart the score while doing the waltz, they were just waltzing. People jumping and jiving to Benny Goodman weren’t unable to focus because they were dissecting his chord changes and solo licks; they just danced. So people aren’t dumb. Brains can handle higher quality music, regardless of their knowledge; that was proven for centuries.

            So now, we’ve gotten to a point where the vast majority of people enjoy danceable pop songs. Ok, fine, I have nothing against the genre of pop, really. And we have these so-called professionals writing these songs. You want to sing a song about dancing in the club? Fine, go for it. But my problem is why do they all seem to be the same 100 words in different orders. The English language is an enormous, beautiful thing, yet people go for the same incredibly trite choices repeatedly.


            Reply
          2. where's your scholarship now

            So with all that education you cite twinkle twinkle as the childish song? I’m surprised that you failed to notice our recall that the tinge is in fact a little more adult. ….. Who composed it?


            Reply
    4. Kat

      Until a song writer gets paid for writing a song, are they not just a hobbyist? There a plenty of amateur writers who are better than some of the crap I hear on the radio now. Personally if you don’t like how much you get paid for your job, then get another job.


      Reply
  2. matthew king kaufman

    election year too!


    Reply
  3. Anonymous

    Pandora radio is a terrible model for everyone even for Pandora. Over 10 years they haven’t turned a profit, Songwriters not making money, ASCAP trial is just proof that just songwriters hate Pandora.

    It’s lose lose situation all around.


    Reply
    1. Paul Resnikoff

      I would sharply disagree, Anonymous. After all, the major stakeholders and investors in Pandora are minting millions every month, there are massive profits from the standpoint of investor return. Tim Westergren is cashing millions in stock cashouts every month; it doesn’t matter if the company is technically profitable or not.

      What matters for Pandora, and what will matter for Spotify as well, is whether Wall Street can inflate this high enough and for long enough to allow massive returns. Right now, the stock is going, and it’s been that way for a long time. That’s success.

      So the verdict is this: even if Pandora dies tomorrow, it was a massive success for every stakeholder and investor involved. That attracts more capital, and makes plays like Spotify (and the next Pandora) considerably attractive to investors.


      Reply
      1. jw

        Paul, this is all nonsense.

        What are you arguing for? That the company is overvalued? Or that songwriters should be pay more? Because you seem to be conflating two completely separate issues. If the payout to songwriters goes up, conceivably Westergren & other executives could take a salary cut & free up funds to pay songwriters, but that’s just a drop in the bucket. As for money being made by investors off of the speculative value of the company, that’s not money that could ever possibly end up in the hands of songwriters unless the songwriters are buying stock or are getting paid in equity, & that’s sort of a silly notion. Isn’t it?

        But more importantly, “fair market value” is two-sided. In that scenario Desmond Child may be able to secure more money per play, but what does that mean if you’re NOT Desmond Child? The average songwriter is going to feel like a chump when he finds out what the true market value for his or her song is, once millionaires like Desmond Child & Max Martin & their ilk have taken their cut.

        Also I like how co-writers are conveniently left off of those slides. “By” suggests full songwriter payouts to Desmond Child & Lee Thomas Miller, when there were 3 other songwriters involved in those songs.

        But who’s really to say that what’s being paid ISN’T fair? I’m so sick of artists being like “look at this big number & then look at this small number!” I haven’t read the bill, but the argument that I hear time & time again is that, “In our opinion, we’re underpaid.” And that just doesn’t cut it for me. It’s a more complicated issue than that.


        Reply
        1. Anonymous

          “I’m so sick of artists”

          We know, jw.

          But all we want is to be paid — or allowed to remove our property from Pandora.

          I think that’s pretty fair. Pandora is a piracy site for all practical purposes until we achieve one or the other.


          Reply
          1. Casey

            You are being paid.


            Reply
            1. Anonymous

              Less than a slave.


              Reply
              1. jw

                Really? You’re comparing having your song played on Pandora to being a slave?

                During black history month?


                Reply
                1. Anonymous

                  “You’re comparing having your song played on Pandora to being a slave?”

                  Yes.

                  We are forced to work for Pandora! And we can’t make a living from what they pay us.

                  That’s modern slavery, my friend.


                  Reply
                  1. DUDE

                    Having your work used legally via a compulsory license is hardly modern day slavery dude, get a grip


                    Reply
                    1. Anonymous

                      “Slavery is a system under which people are treated as property to be bought and sold, and are forced to work.[1] Slaves can be held against their will from the time of their capture, purchase or birth, and deprived of the right to leave, to refuse to work, or to demand compensation.”

                      Source: Wikipedia.

                      If it walks like a duck…


                  2. jw

                    This attitude seems to be perfectly representative of how unreasonable the songwriters’ stance on this issue is.


                    Reply
                2. JB

                  Slavery is not reserved for African Americans, nimrod. The practice of slavery has been around centuries before Blacks were shipped to America. Keep talking… you’re only showing the rest of us readers the massive amount of ignorance you’re stockpiling. Don’t make an issue where an issue doesn’t need to be made… don’t perpetuate hatred and segregation between Americans


                  Reply
                  1. jw

                    lol


                    Reply
                    1. Anonymous

                      Many eloquent. So wow.


        2. FarePlay

          The problem with Pandora, Spotify, etc. is they don’t seem to have a business that enough people are willing to pay for. As a result, much of this gets pushed back on the artists. The artists have a right to ask for whatever they feel is fair.

          So conflate that.


          Reply
          1. Casey

            You are right. Not enough people are willing to pay for Pandora. There is too much competition. But Pandora knows this. That is why they are focusing on advertising. And as a result they have built a massive advertising platform that is really starting to deliver.


            Reply
      2. JJ

        Paul, you said a mouthful, so to speak! If there are so many millions in profits being generated for these stockholders and investors, as you’ve mentioned, then Pandora needs to STOP screwing the songwriters!!!

        GGG is right in one respect. There are quality songs and there are sh*tty songs being written. But, the point is, whether a quality song or a sh*tty song, so to speak, if it sells, if people buy it, then the songwriter needs to be paid reasonable songwriter royalties!!!

        *To GGG, you’d probably get along better and others may get your point if you’d simply rephrase the way you think! Why don’t you try shifting the “stupidity” to the millions of people who buy these stupid songs in which you refer? Whether you personally feel that the song is stupid or quality is irrelevant, as it requires the same amount of effort and work on the songwriters part! So, if people are stupid enough to buy what you feel is a stupid song, the songwriter still needs to be paid due royalties! The songwriter needs to be paid every penny due, even if you feel the song is stupid! End of Story, PERIOD!

        Oh, and one more thing, Paul… If Pandora dies tomorrow, they OWE and should have to pay “back pay” to numerous songwriters from their inception, as far as, I and many others are concerned!

        JJ


        Reply
        1. GGG

          To the first part, again, I agree. My support of the law has just been overlooked because it was in a smarmy comment. I never said songwriters should not be paid. I simply said many “professional” songwriters are professional on a technicality and don’t actually make music any better than “hobbyists.”

          To the second part, I blame the songwriters because in many cases, they are legitimately talented musicians who choose not to care. That’s 100% their fault for continually choosing money over art. And this is why I got on Anonymous’s case. He constantly frames himself as a great artist, yet practices in the most unartistic, commercial side of music. There’s certainly an art to that side of things, but it’s much closer to a paint by numbers craft than it is art. And as I sort of said in another post, people aren’t dumb, they are just fickle and easily swayed. Songwriters, via performers who hold a lot of cultural clout, can control the masses pretty easily, as we’ve seen over the last decade. So why keep the bar so low?


          Reply
        2. DUDE

          I think the “millions” he refers to are coming mostly from stakeholders trading Pandora’s shares on the stock market & the only way Pandora could access that money is by selling shares of itself to raise cash, and that would be a one-time thing, not a steady stream of income

          I don’t agree with the way our financial markets work & I think the people involved with them are being grossly overcompensated, but like jw said thats a completely separate issue from Pandora’s day-to-day operations and the payments it makes to songwriters


          Reply
      3. Eric Neumann

        I agree with your position to Anonymous on 2/25 regarding P. And quite frankly I am not sure if the artists that are getting these small payouts are the victims of error in calculation from S/X or P or maybe, just maybe they are forgetting to mention that the record label, other co-writers, other performers are contractually supposed to get more of the royalty pie than those represented in your story. Without knowing what is in the contracts and having the ability to audit S/X calculations – one can’t say for sure. Nonetheless, without better fact patterns it is hard to know if these folks are getting shafted or not. I certainly don’t disagree that artist should be paid for their work and I think Congress along with the empowered arbitration panel was trying to be fair when they set the rates…after all, if no one is profitable, except P, then one can argue the rates are too high – no?

        And that is the only issue I have with your comment on their “technical profitability” is that P is profitable and should be congratulated accordingly. One must measure EBITDA without non-cash compensation to see that P generates positive cash more quarters than not over the last couple of years. It matters that P is profitable – they have shown that with 50-70M listeners and an ad/sub model that one can generate positive cash flow. Every Wall Street Analyst, private equity firm, bank, hedge fund, mutual fund and investment banker looks as adjusted EBITDA – that is how all deals are done. My experience is in the radio industry for the better part of 23 years in a financial executive role – if the artists want rates to go up, then the rhetoric needs to change about P – that is, they are profitable by all the measures that matter to Wall Street!


        Reply
    2. Anonymous

      “Pandora radio is a terrible model for everyone even for Pandora”

      Say that to Mr. Westergren…


      Reply
      1. TuneHunter

        Pandora is made to be five billion dollar music merchant tomorrow and STOCK WILL QUADRUPLE.
        All we need is to LOCK-UP the goods.
        Let’s ask congress to change “fair use doctrine” so music ID services like Goggle or Shazam will not be able to hold and process your intellectual property for the benefit of freeloading public!
        As they do it they get few advertising dollars and produce nothing but irreversible damage to other people property. IS THAT A FAIR USE? ARE WE BLIND? Labels and RIAA is!


        Reply
        1. Anonymous

          “IS THAT A FAIR USE?”

          No, we are forced to work for Pandora, for nothing.

          That is slavery.


          Reply
          1. Tune Hunter

            Pandora can be a goldmine for all contributors tomorrow.
            The problem is HOMELESS MUSIC thrown in to the streets by PIMPS like Google Music Search, Google lyrics ID or Shazam.
            We need to change FAIR USE so we can shutdown free music ID to pirates and freeloaders and convert all ID services to cash registers of NEW 100 billion dollar industry.


            Reply
          2. Mc

            No one forces you to be a songwriter. That’s where your slavery argument fails.
            The minute you sign over the song to an artist and let them use any channel to promote song ( Pandora) YOU gave up rights. No one took them from you.


            Reply
  4. Casey

    Pandora doesn’t pay much to songwriters. That is a known fact. However, it is also a fact that they pay more per “listen” to songwriters than broadcast radio.


    Reply
    1. Anonymous

      “they pay more per “listen” to songwriters than broadcast radio”

      Nonsense. Radio pays way more than any streaming service except in the US.


      Reply
      1. Casey

        Okay, but the US is all that matters in this case as this is a US bill. And this is only about songwriter revenues, not what artists receive.

        Pandora pays more.


        Reply
        1. Anonymous

          Yes, it’s definitely about songwriter revenues, and US radio — terrestrial or otherwise — needs to comply with international standards if it insists on streaming international music.


          Reply
          1. Casey

            How much more do stations outside the US pay songwriters? I’ve not seen very many complaints about what US stations pay songwriters, but we see a great deal of complaints on what Pandora pays them. But when you break down how much Pandora pays per listener, per song, it is higher than what broadcast radio in the US pays.


            Reply
            1. Anonymous

              “How much more do stations outside the US pay songwriters?”

              Varies from country to country but tax-financed public stations in the EU generally pay a lot.

              “But when you break down how much Pandora pays per listener, per song, it is higher than what broadcast radio in the US pays”

              Well, that’s just Pandora’s argument for lowering their payments further. And it backfired big time: Instead of accepting evem worse Pandora payments, many artists and writers in the US now want better payments from terrestrial radio…


              Reply
              1. hippydog

                quote “Well, that’s just Pandora’s argument for lowering their payments further. And it backfired big time: Instead of accepting evem worse Pandora payments, many artists and writers in the US now want better payments from terrestrial radio…”
                citetest

                not much of a “backfire” as if its successful would somewhat level the “playing field”..


                Reply
                1. Anonymous

                  “not much of a “backfire” as if its successful would somewhat level the “playing field””

                  I think Pandora will beg to disagree. :)


                  Reply
                  1. Casey

                    Pandora has wanted a level playing field for years. They have to pay songwriters more than terrestrial radio, and artists infinitely more (terrestrial radio pays nothing). How is that fair? It isn’t.

                    If terrestrial radio stations were forced to pay artists and additional money to songwriters, the industry would be rattled to the core. Pandora would stand to gain a lot, as would all internet radio stations.


                    Reply
                    1. Anonymous

                      “terrestrial radio pays nothing”

                      Total nonsense!

                      Terrestrial radio payments are a huge source of income for artists in almost every country in the world, except North Korea, the US and Iran.


  5. Cry Me A River

    If this draft of a bill were solely about Pandora it’d be one thing but it’s not. For decades publishers have made it a priority that publishing royalties be considered separately from sound recording royalties and now they’re changing their story.

    Why?

    When songwriters were the ONLY copyright holder being compensated (i.e. FM Radio) they wanted the (figurative) wall between the royalties so they could have a protection in the event that terrestrial radio was suddenly compelled to begin paying performers. Understandable. Performing artists and labels didn’t argue. Frankly, it was written into every piece of drafts attempting to get a Performance Right Act (PRA) passed that the royalty radio would be paying was to be a new royalty and not one cannibalizing songwriter royalties. That’s called working together.

    But now that performers and labels are getting paid (by digital broadcasters) the songwriters are bitching! They don’t like it when the shoe is on the other foot and instead of respecting the rates that artists and labels have successfully obtained and trying to get their own rates up they find a congressman willing to put his name to this go-nowhere bill that seeks to tie their rates to the artists’ and labels’.

    Have fun all interested spectators. If this gets any traction at all it is going to blow the lid off the long lived but mostly kept behind closed doors acrimony between labels and publishers.


    Reply
    1. tippysdemise

      +1


      Reply
    2. Oh really

      RIAA doesn’t seem to have their nose too out of joint about this bill based on this statement.

      http://www.riaa.com/blog.php?content_selector=riaa-news-blog&blog_selector=Songwriter-Bill-&blog_type=&news_month_filter=2&news_year_filter=2014

      Perhaps because they recognize that they have their own challenges to contend with in order to receive/preserve fair market value for their work. With hypocrisy and backstabbing is the norm in Washington, so this seems like a welcome development.


      Reply
      1. Cry Me A River

        @Oh Really-good link. See “kept mostly behind closed doors” comment above. LOL. Let’s just say this is NOT what the RIAA is saying to the NMPA directly.


        Reply
    3. hippydog

      Quote “For decades publishers have made it a priority that publishing royalties be considered separately from sound recording royalties and now they’re changing their story. Why? When songwriters were the ONLY copyright holder being compensated (i.e. FM Radio) they wanted the (figurative) wall between the royalties so they could have a protection”

      Not true.. (though it may have elements of truth in it..)
      but still a Red Herring

      The whole songwriter VS performer VS copies etc etc
      was established A LONG TIME before terrestrial radio..
      Think PRINTING PRESS as the technology they were worried about..


      Reply
  6. Anonymous

    Not sure why anyone here is commenting against
    Songwriters. Some feel that the Desmond child’s
    Of the world shouldn’t complain they are already
    Making lots of money. Does that mean they should give
    Away their their songs for others profit. And what
    About songwriters who don’t have huge hits
    Maybe they have minor hits that just get them enough to pay
    The bills. They will not get what’s due them and
    Will find it much harder to be able to continue to write on what these
    Companies pay.
    Why should pandora and spotify make money off of
    Songwriters backs? It’s not logical


    Reply
    1. Anonymous

      “Some feel that the Desmond child’s
      Of the world shouldn’t complain they are already
      Making lots of money. Does that mean they should give
      Away their their songs for others profit”

      Yup. Songwriters are not allowed to get rich anymore, according to the neo-communists.


      Reply
      1. Casey

        They shouldn’t expect to get rich from a single radio service.


        Reply
        1. Anonymous

          No, only Mr. Westergren should expect that.


          Reply
  7. 40 Year Radio Vet

    There are a few very strong points above me here.

    Economy of scale comes to mind every time I read articles and/or complaints about how low royalty payments are. There more of something there is, relative to demand, the less the value thereof.

    Another thought that comes to mind is “don’t shoot the messenger,” or in the case of Pandora and Spotify, the technological service they provide the consumer.

    We need new copyright and royalty laws enacted in the US. We need an across the board royalty structure for the owner of the recording, as well as the performers thereon, and for the songwriter whose work may be recorded by the performers. We need a std royalty structure that can be applied across technological platforms, without breaking the bank of the least of those services offered.

    What we do not need (or desire) is a royalty rate that is anything close to the margins represented by the sale of physical or quasi-physical (tethered download) property.

    I stream in my car today. That is no different than me dialing up a terrestrial station. We have the technology to move music recordings from something you “own” to something that is just there – and can be called up vocally to “the air” as it were. That alone diminishes one of the aspects that determines the price, and thereby, the margin of profit, that anyone can see — the shear physicality or near-physicality of the product itself.

    In ten years you will speak clearly into the “air,” at your home or in your car, the name of the band you want to hear, and a service will provide you a playlist of that band + other bands that your preferences have determined fit that playlist. Hello Pandora … ADD in Spotify for the single artist approach (not specifically these brands, but the core idea behind them).

    This is not about fairness. This is all about how technology has changed and is changing the relative value of the music we access. I remember when there were only 1200 records released to retail. I also remember when FM was thought of as financially non-viable.

    So, here’s a question – that goes to the heart of fairness – what is a “fair” dollar value for one million streams?


    Reply
  8. GPCooper

    It appears that song writers want to write one song and be paid an extravagant amount for that song each time it’s played. That is an unsustainable business model. The idea of perpetual payout on one written entity in perpetuity is wishful thinking. A song, on average is a few minutes long. The written words are usually less than 20 lines. Also, the song writer is not involved in the cost of production of the song. Is the song writer not paid for their efforts at the time of the writing of the song? It would seem that as a profession, song writers should look to writing more songs on a regular basis. Relying on the royalties for each play of the songs at an unsustainable rate is a bit much. Perhaps a one time payout for the song would be more fair. for example. Based on the writing being paid for the song when it was created and the payout out royalties each time it’s played, I really don’t see what the issue is. If you want more money, write more songs. If those songs are not good, then look to another profession.


    Reply
    1. Amanda

      No, songwriters are not usually paid anything at the time of writing the song.


      Reply
      1. Anonymous

        Hehe, respect — I didn’t expect anybody to comment on that train wreck.

        Anyway, here’s my personal favorite:

        “The written words are usually less than 20 lines”

        :)


        Reply
      2. Anonymous

        Sometimes they are. It depends.


        Reply
  9. briwhe

    I’m confused. It appears to me that songwriters have a reasonable expectation of payment for their product. The suggestion that they should let their product be used solely for the profit of others and not themselves is contrary to any business model in history. A mechanic would not learn how to rebuild an engine and let the garage he works in keep all of the money. A chef would not learn to cook five-star meals if he did not expect to be compensated for that skill. Doctors spend the better part of a decade and go to great expense to learn how to heal people, and they certainly would not do it for minimum wage. Musicians spend years learning their craft and some are fortunate enough to have the creative flair and originality required to bring joy to people with the songs they create, just as any dedicated professional in any field of work uses their skills to satisfy their customers’ need. The thought that only songwriters/musicians should accept little or no compensation for their efforts is just an absurd notion.


    Reply
  10. Chris

    Pandora benefits a few people financially and it’s built for collecting data and makes people feel secure when they hear the same 50 songs over and over everyday. Bland radio for a bunch of mindless people. The music industry died in 1976 with format/ marketing Radio stations.


    Reply
    1. Jim Moulton

      The internet changed the game big time. When people started getting their free music thru file sharing and illegally downloading mp3s, that hurt everything. For the most part, if you want to get a CD ,you have to buy it on the internet , there are very few CD stores left.


      Reply
  11. DUDE

    Bro this is allegedly a blog for industry professionals, the “complicated explanations” belong here.

    You could’ve at least mentioned that these royalties are based on a stat rate set by the copyright board, and that congress can’t actually do anything directly without dramatically changing the law.

    What they can do is either open the door for major publishers to negotiate rates on their catalogs in lieu of the stat rate (good for major publishers and pretty much no one else) or tinker with the wording of the law to goad the copyright board into raising the relevant stat rate (noble in intent but relatively meaningless unless the board actually acts on it). Looks like the latter is what they’ve actually done.

    A little context – how this compares to terrestrial radio performance royalties, for example – woulda been nice too but Ive long since given up on that ever happening on DMN


    Reply
  12. VolFan

    “Based on the writing being paid for the song when it was created and the payout out royalties each time it’s played, I really don’t see what the issue is. If you want more money, write more songs. If those songs are not good, then look to another profession.”

    Apparently you know nothing about the music scene. How good or bad the song is has nothing to do whether it is cut or played. The market has little to do with it. Here in Nashville, only certain themed songs will even be considered. I have a friend who wrote the theme song for a major TV show. It is the ONLY song that he has ever had. His music is too good. He plays the Bluebird and is active in critiquing as part of NSAI. This one song has supported him for many years. I have 3 other personal friends who are songwriters or singer/songwriters and write for a living. Apparently you have no idea how hard it is to get a cut let alone a number ten or higher hit on the charts.


    Reply
  13. Bobby

    OK, I don’t like some of the “Music” out there now; for instance gangster Rap. But, if someone writes a song, no matter how much I don’t like the message, they still deserve to be paid. Besides, if the people griping about writers getting royalties had a songwriter for a son or daughter, and their songs were well-liked, wouldn’t they want to see them paid? After all, go into the people’s jobs/place of business and see if they want to work for Peanuts!


    Reply
  14. jw

    If Desmond Child got ~$0.000018 per Pandora play, that’s not far off from David Lowery’s ~$0.000014 per play for the track Low. I’m going to make the leap & assume that Desmond Child’s terrestrial radio payouts are in the same ballpark as Lowery’s, at ~$0.073 per play. I think it’s fair to say that a Pandora songwriter payout is around 1/5000th of a terrestrial radio payout, per play.

    By my math, music radio stations in Georgia average ~50,000 listeners per station during daytime hours according to allaccess.com data. So for 6 million people to hear Livin’ On a Prayer over terrestrial radio, we’re looking at around 120 spins, which would net out to around $8.80. This is compared to the $110.42 payout from Pandora.

    Either my math is way off, or Pandora is paying out ~10x what terrestrial radio is paying, PLUS performance royalties to the artist, which radio doesn’t pay (which the co-writers/performers, Richie Sambora & Jon Bon Jovi, would enjoy).

    But even if my math on listeners per station is off, the payouts wouldn’t even out until the average listenership of a station dropped down to 5,000 listeners, which seems preeeetty absurd to me, having looked at the statistics.

    Can someone explain to me why songwriters think they deserve this gigantic RAISE in pay? Please?


    Reply
    1. jw

      Seriously. I look at those slides…. 6 million plays, $110 payout, & I think to myself 1) Well damn, that’s a pretty fucking good payout for a songwriter, & 2) Pandora’s just plain not the behemoth it’s made out to be by the media & by publishers.

      B98.5 in Atlanta (pop 4,487,600) drew a 6.3 rating in January, which is about 282,000 listeners if my math is right. If they played Livin’ On A Prayer twice per week for 3 months, more than 7,250,000 people would hear it, & Child would receive a whopping $1.87.

      And yet 6,000,000 people hear the song on Pandora radio, & all of the sudden he deserves more than $110.

      Someone explain it to me. Please.


      Reply
      1. jw

        On second thought, I may be overstepping by saying that Child would receive $1.87 for 25 plays on B98.5. It’s unfair to multiply an average payout ($.073) times the plays for a major market station. It could be that their payout would be higher than the average, though it would have to be $4.40 per play to equal Pandora, which we all know it would not be. If someone with more information on terrestrial payouts could shed some light, that would be super.


        Reply
      1. jw

        Oh yeah, when Lowery first started making his fuss I read that. Seems plausible, but it should go without saying that the individual songwriter’s cut is going to be a very small portion of a larger pie. And it should go without saying that these arguments on the songwriters’ side are all leaving out very important, very pertinent information, ESPECIALLY regarding co-writers. It’s insane that they leave out co-writers in this propaganda. Desmond Child’s songwriter payout is probably 30-50% of the songwriter payout, after all the middlemen have taken their cut.

        Here’s an idea, Desmond. If you really want more money, write the songs yourself & collect the money yourself.


        Reply
  15. Paul M

    I’m probably going to be unpopular for saying this (so what else is new?) but you can thank the P.R.O.s (ASCAP, BMI & SESAC a.k.a. YOUR REPRESENTATIVES) for signing all of us into crappy blanket deals!

    The “do-nothings” that are in charge of collecting/tracking our royalties dropped the ball and they also didn’t have the foresight to realize that streaming was/is the wave of the future. THAT IS THEIR JOB! Pandora just happened to be smart enough to seize the opportunity…. I don’t blame them. After all (as much as we hate to admit it), music is a business!

    That being said, it’s totally a travesty how our “representatives” did us wrong and they should be held accountable!


    Reply
    1. jw

      Oh yeah, it’s such a travesty that Pandora only pays out 10x what terrestrial radio pays out, plus performance royalties.

      It’s so terrible that Pandora only “has no chance of becoming profitable,” rather than being driven completely out of business.

      It’s just awful that songwriters only make 100s of dollars for what amounts to a handful of major market terrestrial radio plays.

      It’s just… jesus, it’s all so terrible. You’re right about that.

      No capitalist songwriter in their own right mind would ever compare a Pandora radio station to a single major market radio station, as the listenership size would suggest. Pandora should have to payout comparatively to every major market station in the country combined. Because they’re a technology company, right? Those mother fuckers have all of the money. They should subsidize the songwriters since the music industry has fucked up all of their other revenue sources.

      Right on! Solidarity! Capitalists in arms! Down with technology! Fuck the future! Riches for the present!


      Reply
  16. Anonymous

    Pandora pays the majority of their revenue to licensing, except it goes to PERFORMERS, not SONGWRITERS. Also, a long of these things have multiple songwriters and publishers who are getting a cut, so the numbers are quite deceptive.


    Reply
  17. lerler

    so high right now.


    Reply
  18. singer/songwriter

    Dear Math profesor-
    Radio stations pays for each time they play a song, (every 6th mount in Norway), and its seems like Pandora is paying every 3th mount.
    And If your song is played on a radio 6,021,402 times in a three mount period, “you will make money”.
    The problem with Pandora and Spotify and other similar companies, barely anyone is paying the writing and preforming section (songwriter and artist), If you do both singer/songwriter, you still can preform Live and try to make a living, but if you don’t……
    Songwriting is the true artform in the music industry now, with auto tune and producer tricks, every body can sing, but songs make you happy and sad, miserable and glad.


    Reply
    1. singer/songwriter

      Pandora is paying 110 buck for 6,021,402 times, thats bad,
      A Radio Station pays every time they play the song, by the minute,
      The amount The Radio is pays depends on how big or small the radio station is, and if it’s a local or state Station.


      Reply
      1. jw

        This is the central problem with this debate, songwriters comparing a Pandora play to a radio play. A Pandora play is generally associated with a Pandora account, which means a Pandora play is generally playing through an individual’s laptop or cell phone, targeting a single person’s pair of ears. A radio play, on the other hand, is broadcast to thousands if not tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of people.

        What math is useful for is making comparisons to similar sized audiences (this is also called understanding payouts at scale), because the value created (in ad revenue, generally speaking) is determined by the audience size. So a radio playing a song 6 million times is TOTALLY & COMPLETELY different from 6 million Pandora plays. We simply have to figure out how many radio plays would reach 6 million ears, & by my math, that’s about 120 plays. So the value created between 120 radio plays or 6,000,000 Pandora plays should be roughly the same (assuming the average radio station has 50,000 listeners), only Pandora’s songwriter payout is DRASTICALLY higher. By a multiple of 10 or so (give that a Pandora plays pay out roughly 1/5000th of what a radio play pays out, on average, based on royalty statements that David Lowery shared last year).

        Of course these are all figures based on the U.S., since we’re talking about U.S. laws here, anyhow.

        Whether a songwriter can make a living has nothing to do with anything. Plainly & simply, Pandora isn’t responsible that songwriters make a living. This notion that somehow a songwriter should make a living strictly off of a few Pandora plays is… it’s kind of hilarious. Like someone gets a few plays on the radio & expects to be set for life. That’s a misunderstanding of scale, it’s a misunderstanding of where & how value is created, it’s a misunderstanding of what Pandora’s responsibilities are, & it’s dangerous for the future of the music industry. Pandora is already paying out something like 70% of their revenue to artists & songwriters & the middlemen involved, what are songwriters hoping for? To syphon off 90% of the revenue? 95%? 110%? How can anyone not see that this amounts to killing the cash cow?


        Reply
        1. Anonymous

          “This is the central problem with this debate, songwriters comparing a Pandora play to a radio play”

          Oops, you can’t blame songwriters for that!

          Pandora started that discussion and Casey repeated their lies in this thread. Here’s what he said:

          “However, it is also a fact that they [Pandora] pay more per “listen” to songwriters than broadcast radio.”

          Again, when anti-music companies and individuals like Pandora and Casey force us to compare then we have to do it right. And radio generally pays significantly more than Pandora, except in the US.

          So instead of lowering Pandora’s payments in order to match terrestrial radio in the US, they should be raised to match national tax-financed radio in the EU and elsewhere.


          Reply
          1. jw

            Wow. Really? You’re serious? Casey is right on the money, no pun intended. You’re out in left field.

            This whole charade is a MADE UP PROBLEM. It does not exist. Songwriters aren’t underpaid by Pandora, they’re paid well. If anything, they’re OVERPAID, given reports that Pandora will have a hard time becoming a profitable company due to royalty rates. Don’t get me wrong, I want songwriters & also performers to be paid absolutely as much as possible within the constraints of what makes sense in the longterm, but increasing the rate just plain doesn’t make sense. What they’re getting paid now probably doesn’t make sense. I mean, Jesus Christ… just do the math. Do. The. Math. The problem here is that songwriters have this inflated sense of value being created, which is to say that the songwriters aren’t understanding the scale of broadcast, & what the appropriate (i.e. sustainable) ratio of payout per LISTEN. To be quite blunt, the songwriters backing this bill just plain have no understanding of economics or math. Which, quite frankly, is why the talent has traditionally been abused by the industry. Now that they’re putting their foot down, it’s not pretty.

            I don’t have much insight into how performance royalty collection works in Europe. But when you start saying that the government mandated payout for private American companies ought to be based on what national radio pays out in Europe… that defies anything even remotely resembling logic. If a society decides that music has a certain value & they are willing to underwrite it at a specific rate, there’s no reason that advertisers should match that rate if they don’t feel that their exposure to an American audience is worth as much or more than Europeans presumably value music. These are two completely different scenarios. YOU’RE FAILING TO ACCOUNT FOR WHERE THE MONEY FOR ROYALTY PAYMENTS COMES FROM, & you’re showing no understanding whatsoever of the economy at work here.

            If you’re suggesting that ad revenue should be supplemented by federal tax dollars in order to underwrite songwriters, well you must just not know very much about America.

            Then again, I don’t know enough about performance royalty collection in Europe to do anything but take your word on these generous royalty rates. Any insight you could provide on the matter, in terms of how european payouts compare to american payouts (aside from the fact that they include a performance payout) would be appreciated.


            Reply
            1. Anonymous

              “Songwriters aren’t underpaid by Pandora, they’re paid well”

              Sorry, you lost me there.


              Reply
              1. jw

                You were lost long before that sentence.


                Reply
  19. Charlie Katt

    At that rate I’ll be able to save up for a car a 17,000 years.


    Reply
    1. jw

      Did you previously plan to save up for a car by getting your song played a few times on a single radio station?

      Doesn’t seem like the best plan to me. I’d suggest that you didn’t have much chance of getting a car in the first place, Pandora or no.


      Reply
  20. Jne

    I think it pandora wasn’t profiting from it they sure the hell wouldn’t do it. So make no mistake about it Pandora is making money. Second there is some many people involved with the making of a song time you pay everyone there is not much left. I don’t think songwriters should be payed a lot of money for a song, but we could pay them a little more than what the current rate is. If not what you going to have is songwriters wi start keeping their songs for themselves and say the hell everybody else. Then everybody is going to have to listen to bad songs that don’t make sense or don’t tell a story which in my opinion sucks. Saying one or two words over and over just to make the chorus of a song complete. Just my opinion and I’m not contesting any other comments made so far by others.


    Reply
    1. Casey

      Pandora did make a profit last quarter for the first time in years, but they are expected to lose money again this quarter.Making them pay more royalties will only push them back down into the red again, possibly for good.


      Reply
  21. Rick

    I find it interesting that GGG is bashing pop songs, for their poor lyrics, then chooses to refers to “99 Problems” by Jay Z.

    This song clearly has the line,

    “If you don’t like my lyrics you can press fast forward”

    If you don’t like it, don’t listen. That is clearly the only solution for your hatred of pop music.


    Reply
  22. Hcg

    Haha, well I’ll have to agree with you that “we can’t stop” isn’t my favorite pop song, and while I don’t personally like it all that much it seems that a lot of other people do. So we do agree there.

    But I think that living in both the art music and pop music worlds I’ve gained some important insights (important for me at least) about what people appreciate about music and songs: Appreciation for music, and songs, is based upon context and experience.

    For instance, when we were children we all loved “twinkle, twinkle little star” because, to our ears, it was fresh, exciting, and inspiring. We didn’t have the experience to make any other judgement. And it seems to me that all people have the capacity to enjoy music, but the music they appreciate and enjoy is in large part linked to their depth of experience with music, as well as to what styles of music they have become accustomed. Indeed, many “non-western” styles of music will sound “out of tune, dissonant,” or just plain “wrong” to our western ears without ever having heard them before.

    But perhaps more importantly than this fact is that context shapes our enjoyment of music. How and when are we hearing these songs? At a party it would be strange to hear Beethoven’s 9th, and at Carnegie Hall it would be strange to hear Ke$ha, or the Rolling Stones, or Even Sam Cooke (who I personally love!). We approach music with a different mindset and appreciation based on the context in which we hear it. And when music is consumed recreationally, it is often meant to lift people’s spirit and be enjoyable. PEOPLE DONT WANT TO BE CHALLANEGED BY THEIR MUSIC, not when the rest of life is so challenging as it is.

    Music has the power to be both cerebral, spiritual, and challenging, but also to be car-free, fun, and evocative. Many pretentious opera goers will describe all the music from “La Traviata,” as inspired musical genius, when many of the songs were written with the INTENTION of sounding stupid, to convey a certain character or emotion. In fact, contemporary reviewers of the opera would pick apart as frivolous pop trash the same songs we consider HIGH ART nowadays!

    So hey, you and I aren’t so different after all… I don’t own a single Miley Cyrus cd. But if we take a broader view of what is music to us, to others, and how it can affect us in different situations, we might find more appreciation for things that previously turned us off. And that is the mindset of someone, IMHO, who truly loves music.

    Lastly, just ink next time you’re at a party dancing up on someone gorgeous, thank Ke$ha or Lady GaGa or whoever else for making it happen. Bach might have been a genius, (no wait, let me rephrase, he was a total f#%ing genius, mad scientist of music who changed the game forever), he never got me laid! ;-)

    Cheers.


    Reply
  23. Rory Felton

    What’s the equivalent dollar amounts from terrestrial radio


    Reply
    1. jw

      It depends on how you define equivalent.

      6 million plays on terrestrial radio would net around $400,000 at 7 cents per play, & would mean something like 300 billion listeners at 50,000 listeners per play (which means tons & tons of ad dollars). But 6 million listeners would net around $10 figuring at 7 cents & 50,000 listeners per play (which obviously means much less ad dollars).

      Those are ballparks, but that’s the scale. Given that the value is actually created when listeners stick around for advertisements, the value of a play has to be determined by the number of people who hear the song, rather than the number of times the song is played. That puts the equivalent dollar amount much closer to the second scenario ($10) than the first ($400,000), & suggests a Pandora payout is around 10x a terrestrial radio payout for songwriters.


      Reply
      1. DOB

        jw has it right. I’ve made my living as a songwriter for 30 years, written in every genre, Grammy, Emmy noms for song of the year, etc, blah, blah, blah.

        Song royalties come from ad revenue. Ad revenue comes from how many listenERS, not how many plays.

        I’d love to get paid more, but tough sh*t for me. There’s no model to support that in an On Demand, “single listener per play” streaming model. Ain’t gonna happen. Period. Pipe dream.

        My grandfather was a wheelwright. After the world didn’t want wagon wheels, he became a paper hanger. After the world didn’t want wallpaper, he became an alcoholic and died of emphysema from lungs full of plaster of Paris. It’s called evolution. Technological revolution.

        BTW, it also means the end of Representative Government. Tech sector will wipe it out. Same with human soldiers in the military. Check out the DARPA website. The machines are taking over. Not just music. EVERYTHING. Deal with it. It’s the reality.


        Reply
        1. jw

          I’m mostly with you, but far less fatalistic than you are.

          For the sake of argument, let’s say Living On a Prayer gets played once per day over a 3 month period on 100 major market classic rock radio stations, each with an average listenership of 75,000.

          31 plays x 3 months x100 stations x 75,000 listeners = ~700,000,000 listeners.

          What’s the payout there? That’s 9,300 plays, at 7 cents per play you’re at $651. Even at 15 cents per play, you’re only at less than $1,400 total.

          If 700,000,000 listeners hear the song on Pandora, the payout would be over $12,000. But Pandora just doesn’t have that reach. The footprint is a fraction of terrestrial radio, about the size of ONE of those radio stations, as far as Living On a Prayer is concerned.

          There’s nothing dystopian about Pandora, it just doesn’t have a fraction of the reach of terrestrial radio. If it grows, it will be a huge boon for songwriters. But right now they’re trying to squeeze everything they can out of it simply because it’s a technology company & they PERCEIVE the money to be there. But they’re barking up the wrong tree.

          And it’s not that Pandora necessarily has a small footprint overall, it’s just that users have CHOICE and they won’t be SUBJECTED to Living On a Prayer for the umpteenth time if they don’t wish to be. They can choose a station that filters out Bon Jovi, they could tell Pandora they’d rather not hear the song again… they’re not necessarily subjected to the same Clear Channel classic rock playlist that every terrestrial market is. And so that means fewer plays, & less payout, even if the rates are actually generous.

          So perhaps what charmed hitmakers like Desmond Child are really protesting here is the control that Pandora gives users, & the variety of music that Pandora plays, which decentralizes the profits & hurts the pockets of these industry-chosen hitmakers.

          One thing is for certain, this battle is ONLY about these hitmaker songwriters, the only result that could possibly come out of this for the average songwriter is negative. Because Pandora only has so much ad revenue, & if Desmond Child’s publisher thinks the “market rate” for Living On a Prayer is sky high, that leaves table scraps for the independents (as usual).


          Reply
  24. real user

    This just shows that lots of songs get hit on random or shuffle or genre play. To be fair, I think 60 dollars for a song that was written eons ago. Has been played millions of times and recouped potentially millions of dollars already is fair. There should be a law of diminishing returns. It’s not new, it hasn’t taken more effort to re-write. It’s earned it’s cash. Let it go.


    Reply
  25. Justme

    When a person creates something, they create it. If they choose to sell it, they choose to do so. When you sell something, anything, you get money for it. It’s fair to pay a person for their work, fairly weather they are a professional or not. Most things start out as a hobby, turn into a talent and the world seems to equate that to monetary gain. It’s the way of the world, not much is new. Pay people what they are owed for services rendered period. On the off hand that no one is paid and we all become slaves of a kind, as if we were not already. All is fair in love and war, and this is neither, it is oversight that should be rectified with proper payment, not because it’s law, but because it’s the right thing to do.


    Reply
  26. Patty

    Lets face it, music is going the way fine art (in the form of painting and sculpture) went over 100 years ago. There was a time when people paid for real talent and real talent was someone who could actually paint or sculpt what we were seeing with the naked eye… which took skill and practice. Then suddenly an artist like Picasso showed up who was a fine painter but created Cubism and suddenly fine art became more abstract. Suddenly all these people who had no talent or practice could be artists and someone would pay thousands if not millions for their abstractions.

    The bottom line is all things in the material world fade and its music’s turn.

    This is coming from someone who gets checks for mere pennies from Pandora.


    Reply
    1. Justme

      Agreed and TY VM.Patty.


      Reply
  27. William

    Back on the 70′s most people listened to music on the radio and if they liked the music they went to a record store and bought it. Now days the internet has done away with most radio stations and record stores have been replaced by online music streaming and download services. I think it would be bad if music streaming and download services were treated any differently than radio stations and record stores were back in the 70′s. I also think it would be bad if everyone on the internet who listened to a song had to pay a fee to listen to it. I know of one singer who has made a lot of money by putting their music on the internet for everyone to listen to without paying a fee.


    Reply
  28. Richard Cummins

    Though these arguements border on humorous to tedious, there are still a few problems with some of these posts. Earlier GGG says that if you write something that is not mediocre and ‘stands out’, then you deserve to get notice/fame/pay. I think GGG has left the conversation, but I believe over 12 million plays fits your criterea quite well. That is the fundamental issue.

    Also, it sure would be fun to watch a mechanic service 12 million cars, and make ‘a couple hundred bucks’.


    Reply
    1. GGG

      I’ve come back just for you Richard <3.

      1) Anyone who has a song used/bought/played whatever deserves pay, no matter how shitty. I've never said otherwise yet people keep assuming I'm on the other side of this argument.

      2) Songs by major label artists can get 12M plays even if every single person on the planet ends up hating it. That's not a feat. And the standing out bit was referring to calling oneself an artist. Anyone can get lucky and write one or two good songs. Humans are innately very creative beings. And pretty much anyone can write countless mediocre or bad songs. Every single person on this site could write a song right now. Just sing some words. They probably won't be good, but it's still a song.


      Reply
  29. Nicholas S. Antolick

    So “songwriters” need BIG MONEY, otherwise, they’ll “go do something else” and leave the music to “hobbyists…” ROFLMFAO

    Watch out people. He has a guitar. Make way for the “professional…”


    Reply
  30. Aussie Songwriter

    I stumbled onto this site and began reading. I would like to offer a comment from a songwriters perspective. I was more a musician than a songwriter but was motivated to write because I was tired of playing the same old songs that everyone else plays. My approach to song writing is to try and use the words like any craftsman would use the medium they work in. I try and use words and phrases and metaphor’s and other such tools to make the lyric interesting. As a songwriter I want to not only challenge myself but also challenge the listener. I could not and would not string a set of lyrics and rhymes together just to fit into a particular pattern. To me a song has to have some entertainment and emotional value but also can have something that inspires. I have heard words in songs in my youth that made me go look up the word and I learnt more. Words and vocabulary are a huge tool in life as they form the foundations of communication. And isn’t that part of what songwriting is about?


    Reply
  31. franek

    ggg u are a cockhead..!!


    Reply
    1. GGG

      I think you spelled your name wrong?


      Reply
  32. Aussie Songwriter

    As to the fees on the internet; I hope that all the doom and gloom I read is not as it seems. Having not yet been published I have gone to the extent of financing my own debut cd which I should finish and release this year. Until and unless it is picked up by a label I am left to market it independently and the sales I’ll need to get a return on investment will be very significant.


    Reply
  33. Aussie Songwriter


    Reply
  34. Eddie

    Well GGG it looks like you have all the answers, I bet you’ve made millions as a songwriter, lol


    Reply
    1. GGG

      I’m not a songwriter, sorry. Though even if I was I would not be making millions because my brain doesn’t even allow me to write lyrics as terrible as what is largely required for Top 40 radio.

      If I picked up my guitar and “sweaty bodies everywhere, throw your hands up like you don’t care” popped into my head as potential lyrics, I’d throw myself out the window.


      Reply
      1. hippydog

        Quote “sweaty bodies everywhere, throw your hands up like you don’t care”

        **hippydog writes down lyrics from GGG, writes song and makes a million dollars**
        **GGG goes insane**
        ;-)


        Reply
        1. GGG

          Those are lyrics from “We Don’t Stop.” They’ve already made millions and made me go insane. As this thread has proven.


          Reply
  35. Eddie

    And DOB what you are saying doesn’t make sense people are not evolving in the direction of not wanting or needing music, they just don’t want to pay for it, there is a difference, music is not going out of style, but getting paid to make music is


    Reply
  36. ET

    What songwriters were doing before Pandora? dont


    Reply
  37. EJ

    Question. The same songs, how much does terrestrial radio payout to song writers? A service that has been around forever and is the staple for radio.


    Reply
  38. Deborah Hirshfield

    My uncle L.Wolfe Gilbert was one of the founders of ASCAP back in the early 20th century to fight for songwriters rights. I’m amazed that we are still fighting this close to 100 years later. Without artists to create, we will lose our humanity. They must be able to use their art to support themselves!


    Reply
    1. jw

      Artists create as a consequence of their humanity. Humanity isn’t in danger of being lost because artists & publishers aren’t able to extort ridiculous sums of money from technology companies. That’s just absurd.

      This is about big publishers & big, successful songwriters who have a problem with the democratization of music. With broadcast, every time Living On a Prayer got played, tens of thousands of people hear it. But with Pandora, since users have the ability to choose & customize their own stations, the playlists are decentralized. So, out of a given sample of classic rock fans, more folks are going to hear Living On A Prayer & the standard Clear Channel classic rock standards on terrestrial radio, & they’re going to hear all sorts of other songs & artists on Pandora, many of which get no airplay on terrestrial radio. So since these songwriters & publishers’ influence is waning in the wake of democratized radio, they’re arguing for higher rates or the right to negotiate their own terms to make up for lost revenue. Only there’s a fixed amount of revenue, so the more a songwriter like Desmond Child demands, the less upcoming or niche songwriters who don’t have the negotiating power are going to get paid.

      I’m sure ASCAP was started with great intentions, but what’s happening here is just another folly in the music industry’s continuing story of ineptitude when it comes to technology. If this legislation goes through (which I don’t think it will), it will seriously harm the future of music, because these publishers & songwriters are trying to retain leverage based on their performance during the broadcast era, & in doing so would hurt independent artists who are making the best use of modern consumer facing technology & getting the best results, who should be the ones being rewarded.


      Reply
      1. Anonymous

        “Humanity isn’t in danger of being lost because artists & publishers aren’t able to extort ridiculous sums of money from technology companies”

        You should be ashamed of yourself, jw.


        Reply
        1. jw

          It is what it is.

          It’s just sad that industry middle men have set their sights on a new victim… technology companies, rather than the artists, because there’s more money to extract. And they’ve fooled songwriters into thinking that it’s the technology companies who are out to pillage. And some are… some technology companies are no different than the publishers or labels or corporate owned radio stations. But it’s absolutely BRILLIANT how the industry has convinced songwriters that artist-friendly companies like Pandora are the enemy, when anyone with two working brain cells can see that they are one of the few companies out there who are actually being generous to artists. All artists, whether you’re Desmond Child or an indie songwriter pushing his or her first song.


          Reply
          1. Anonymous

            “artist-friendly companies like Pandora”

            …who sue artists, keep them as slaves, pay them peanuts and talk to them like they’re imbeciles.

            Like I said, you should be ashamed of yourself.


            Reply
            1. jw

              The problem isn’t that songwriters are imbeciles, though I wouldn’t want one of them doing my taxes. The problem is that they just don’t understand the issue. They don’t. You’re clueless. I’m having to be very blunt with you, Pandora representatives can’t be as blunt.

              Pandora is fighting an incredibly effective smear campaign orchestrated by publishers & collection agencies. Their success is directly tied to songwriters not understanding the issue, & having a history full of being abused by middlemen. So Pandora is fighting back, not necessarily against songwriters, but against the middlemen who stand to profit from negotiated royalty rates.

              You haven’t made any points, just snarky comments. I’m trying to prove to you WHY Pandora is good for artists. You just seem to be trying to prove to me that you’re an imbecile.


              Reply
    2. Anonymous

      “I’m amazed that we are still fighting this close to 100 years later.”

      The war is permanent because the stakes are so incredibly high.

      People will always need wonderful new songs — and companies like Google, the Pirate Bay and Pandora will always take as much money as possible from those who create them.

      Without constant resistance, they will take 100%.

      But it’s easy to turn this permanent state of war into an entirely acceptable and peaceful way of life. We just need to accept two facts:

      1) We’ll never win, so don’t set the success criteria too high.
      2) We’ll never lose — as long as we can find the motivation to resist abuse.

      And that’s the easy part: Without your uncle and people like him, nobody would know the songs we all love today. And without anti-Google/Pirate Bay/Pandora resistance today, there won’t be any new songs for our children tomorrow.


      Reply
      1. Boston Batwanger

        Your last sentence nearly made me weep!


        Reply
      2. jw

        Wow. You’re even more deluded than I realized.

        You know what’s unfair? How the blues artists of the ’40s were treated… Led Zeppelin stealing songs without giving anyone credit. How the artists on Sugar Hill Records were treated. Allan Freed asking for writing credits in order to play songs on the radio in the ’50s. Clear Channel buying up radio stations, making it harder for young artists to get exposure except through approved gatekeepers. Cheap Trick (and everyone else) getting breakage charges on digital sales.

        I could go on & on & on about how artists have been screwed by every middle man in the business. Nearly every single business person with an ounce of leverage has lorded that leverage over artists in order to line their own pockets. But that is NOT what’s happening with Pandora. It’s just not. Do. The. Math.


        Reply
  39. Ex-Singer

    Interesting thread I’ve been reading, initiated by GGG. Essentially, he’s making two points: 1) he supports this legislation because artists ought to get paid more for internet performances of what they write, and 2) but the songs they write today suck balls compared to the songs written 40 years ago. No argument from me on either of these. I haven’t purchased new music for myself in about 15 or so years (not long after Jeff Buckley died, in fact). What I do purchase I purchase for my young kids, and most of that shit I can’t stand. But I know that my parents said the same thing about the shit I listen to. GGG, your first point makes your second point moot to this story, GGG. And perpetuating it so that you can piss people off is might troll-like.

    I am very guilty of using Pandora all day long during work, while I’m in the car. I discovered this one before anything else, and I’m too damn old and lazy to switch. I’m certainly open to suggestions of online radio that pays just as well as terrestrial or satellite radio. If I can download the app to my Galaxy S4, cool, I’ll use it.


    Reply
    1. jw

      Pandora actually pays out much better than terrestrial radio.

      If you really want artists to make more money, you might consider listening to fewer songs. When payouts are per-song, the more often you listen to an artist, the more they get paid, which is why terrestrial radio has been very beneficial to the elite songwriters who manage to make regular appearances on radio’s exclusive playlists (because they’re playing songs “in bulk” to many listeners). The terrestrial radio payouts are lower per-listen, but they’re played to so many people that the accumulated payout seems much more substantial. Because a Pandora play is to a single pair of ears, & because Pandora allows consumers so much control over what hear & so much variety in what they can choose, these larger per-song payouts (by that I mean the payout per listener, since it’s the listener sticking around for an advertisement that generates the value of the play) do not accumulate in the same manner, even if the per listener payout is ~10x what terrestrial radio pays. Also, I don’t think songwriters generally understand how many people are actually listening to Pandora versus how many people are actually listening to terrestrial radio. Pandora has a much smaller footprint than most songwriters supporting this bill seem to think.

      Not to mention Pandora also pays royalties to the performer, which terrestrial radio does not.


      Reply
      1. Anonymous

        It pays a lot to performers, that’s what people don’t seem to get. The performance royalty is easily 15x higher per song compared to the songwriter royalty. This is obviously to make up for the fact that performance royalty is zero for broadcast radio.


        Reply
        1. jw

          This is a decent point. By my math, Jon Bon Jovi & Richie Sambora are probably getting performance royalties that are between 8x & 10x of their songwriter royalties (depending on whether or not Bruce Fairbairn & Bob Rock are considered featured performers or session musicians). This would net them between $1,000 & $1,300 each (total) for 6,000,000 people hearing their song on Pandora, versus the $10 or so they’d get from 6,000,000 people hearing their song on terrestrial radio.

          I think it’s totally fair to argue that the payouts should be less one-sided, but the real problem here isn’t that Pandora is low-balling songwriters or that they’re giving preferential treatment to performers, the reason for the disparity is RECORDING OWNERS (i.e. record labels), who receive 50% of the performance payout. Just like all other digital licensing arrangements, the record labels have the most negotiating leverage & they demand a king’s ransom. This is a product of “the market,” & the biases that negotiations inevitably produce, which is why I’m for statutory rates.

          If this is truly the problem that songwriters have with the payout situation, the offender here is clearly the record labels, & not Pandora.


          Reply
          1. Anonymous

            “the offender here is clearly the record labels, & not Pandora”

            Total rubbish, let me explain how it works:

            If certain companies — such as Pandora and US terrestrial radio entities — find themselves in a position where they can’t afford to pay the required salaries to songwriters and performers for provided services, then they’ll just have to shut down.


            Reply
            1. jw

              Jesus christ, are you serious? Are you really defending the record labels? Have you been living under a rock since Napster?

              You’re too far gone, man. Way too far gone.

              The reason the industry is still in a slump is because of it’s resentment for technology. If not for the labels’ regressive extortionist tactics, we could be recovering like certain Scandinavian countries. But instead the labels have been syphoning millions of dollars for themselves at the expense of the technology industry, at the expense of the consumer, & generally, & most importantly, at the expense of the artist. It just so happens that, because of the 45/5/50 soundexchange payout, the performing artist benefits from the labels’ negotiation tactics. But if there was any way that the labels could’ve screwed performing artists out of those royalties & kept the money for themselves, you can bet your bottom dollar they would have.


              Reply
              1. Anonymous

                “Are you really defending the record labels?”

                Not sure what you mean. Nobody needs labels anymore.


                Reply
        2. Anonymous

          “the fact that performance royalty is zero for broadcast radio”

          You can repeat that lie till the cows come home, but it won’t do ya any good. :)

          Terrestrial radio payments are a huge source of income for performers in almost every country in the world, except North Korea, the US and Iran.


          Reply
          1. jw

            Well that makes Pandora look pretty good now, doesn’t it? Was that your intention?

            If omitting performance royalties from terrestrial plays is the stuff of communist dictators & islamic principlism, why is this thread about Pandora & not about U.S. terrestrial radio? lol. Where’s THAT legislation?


            Reply
            1. Anonymous

              Bottom line:

              Pandora and similar companies have to pay for the content they use.

              If they can’t afford to do so, they’ll have to shut down.


              Reply
          2. Anonymous

            So the problem is traditional radio and not Pandora? Why don’t I ever see ANYTHING negative posted about terrestrial radio then?

            Must I remind you that Pandora pays BOTH songwriters and performers. Traditional radio pays zero! ZERO. NOTHING. It’s what they share with the Pirate Bay, except they’ve been doing it far longer!

            How is that fair? Why is everyone in line to attack Pandora when we should be attacking companies like ClearChannel? Where is the radio hate? All I hear is crickets.


            Reply
    2. GGG

      To start, THANK YOU for understanding/acknowledging I actually back this legislation.

      To the rest, I won’t deny it’s moot to this story. My initial post was just a gut reaction to that particular posters usual high and mighty bullshit. I figured it would get some reaction as it has, and I enjoy arguing so it’s gotten to where it is. Oh well.


      Reply
    3. Anonymous

      “I am very guilty of using Pandora all day long during work”

      There’s zero to feel guilty about — consumers have every right to use any legal music service they wish.

      What songwriters and artists are attacking here is Pandora. Not music lovers.


      Reply
  40. VolFan

    “Not to mention Pandora also pays royalties to the performer, which terrestrial radio does not.”

    A great point. Traditionally performers do not make anything from either air play or Albums/CDs. The exception was if an album went gold, then the performers got a little something. This was understandable for one estimate around 2000 was that it took close to one million dollars to launch a new artist. That money came from labels. The question is, “Should artists be paid for airplay or net play?” Artists have rather made their money from live concerts and products with their name on it. Of course if you are an artist like Taylor Swift who writes, keeps publishing rights and promotes her own concerts then you rake in a ton of money. If artists were not paid on Pandora, people would still listen to the songs and perhaps it would help Pandors’s bottom line.


    Reply
    1. Anonymous

      “Not to mention Pandora also pays royalties to the performer, which terrestrial radio does not.”

      Complete nonsense!

      Almost every democratic country in the world pays performers for terrestrial radio play — and that’s a huge source of income for thousands of musicians.


      Reply
      1. Casey

        No, that is complete nonsense. It does not matter what is going on outside the US. This is about what is going on inside the US and the US alone. This bill only applies to the US and Pandora’s primary service area is the US.


        Reply
        1. Anonymous

          “It does not matter what is going on outside the US”

          Well, I think your age begins to show. But times do change, and we all have to adjust.

          That goes for the US, too — particularly when we discuss companies like Pandora and US terrestrial radio stations that make money from foreign artists.

          If these companies wish to continue to do so, then they’re very welcome — as long as they pay.

          If they don’t, they’ll just have to proceed without the content they can’t afford. Or shut down.


          Reply
  41. Anonymous

    GGG, Just listen to PENTULTIMA and tell me what you think of their music please?


    Reply
  42. Frank Biederer

    Which Industry is the Copyright Royalty Board “not disrupting”?

    Being curious, I thought maybe I would google the actual title of the act to find out HOW the act in question would benefit songwriters. After skipping over the links about the President of BMI and the NMPA President agreeing with the President of ASCAP, I came to this link to an article that would perhaps shine some light on what the Songwriter Equity Act up for discussion and potential passage actually says.
    http://www.billboard.com/biz/articles/news/publishing/5915717/new-legislation-seeks-to-modernize-copyright-act-to-benefit

    I got about this far before I broke out in laughter….

    “Currently, the Copyright Royalty Board only considers four objectives in calculating rates: to maximize availability of song uses; to afford a fair return to the copyright owner and a fair income to the song user that reflect the roles of each; and to minimize the disruptive impact on the structure of the industries involved.”

    REALLY? Minimize the disruptive impact on the structure of the industries involved? Does this make anyone else laugh? Because it seems to me that maybe there have been some pretty disruptive things approved. All those pink slips for people who worked in the publishing industry, all those 30 year old songwriters moving back in with mom and dad and such. Those 21 year old song writers who are expected to live on $16.49 dollars for a million streams? Has anybody on the CRB looked at the actual royalty revenue generated by the song writers and publishers over the last 10 years?

    Well then I thought more about it and it became so obvious to me. Maybe I was wrong in thinking that the industry they were talking about not disrupting was the music industry? I must have been confused. What’s is now obvious is that the “industries involved” must be the tech industry. Clearly the CRB has done an outstanding job if this is the case. They have made sure that those pesky song writers, the people creating the content, are not allowed to earn their living disrupting the tech industry.


    Reply
    1. jw

      Most of the disruption has come from mechanicals, rather than performances.

      Think of it this way. If Living On a Prayer gets played on the radio, on average 50,000 are going to hear it & each songwriter is going to net 7 cents or so. That makes each listener’s value $0.0000014. If one of those listeners moves away from terrestrial radio & starts listening to the Bon Jovi station on Pandora & Living On a Prayer comes on, each songwriter is going to get something in the neighborhood of $0.000014, that’s 10x more. And the performer of the song will get paid 10x THAT. So for someone like Jon Bon Jovi who both wrote & performed on the song, a radio listener is worth $0.0000014 per terrestrial radio play, but $0.000154 per Pandora play, which is 110x more. (Of course these are just ballpark figures.)

      Pandora pays out generously to artists & songwriters. And while they’ve got ~150m users, which is around the size of 3,000 stations, it’s not like terrestrial radio where most of those stations all have the same playlist, so plays don’t accumulate the same way they do on terrestrial radio. In a given market, 50,000 people may be tuned into the classic rock station & all 50,000 are going to hear when Living On a Prayer comes on. But if those 50,000 classic rock fans are all listening to Pandora instead, they could be tuned into any number of specific stations… the Bon Jovi station, an AC/DC station, a T Rex station, a Creedence Clearwater Revival station, etc, many of which will include Living On a Prayer, but most of which won’t. So more money gets paid out per play to a much, much larger pool of songwriters, but Child/Bon Jovi/Sambora don’t get the lump sums they’re used to getting from broadcast radio.

      The drop in music sales is the bigger issue here, which Pandora is being used as a scapegoat for. When the industry switched from bundled (i.e. cds) sales to individual sales (i.e. mp3s), the increase in single song sales didn’t make up for the loss of sales of album cuts. So when consumers used to have to buy 10 or 12 tracks at a time, they switched to buying just one or two singles. And not only is that potentially 90% less money going to songwriters, it’s also potentially 90% less going to publishers, the consequence of which is less cash on hand to sign songwriters to publishing deals.

      The transition from individual sales (mp3) to on demand streaming (i.e. Spotify) is another issue entirely, & has pluses & minuses, given that payouts become more merit-based. That is to say that songs that are listened to less are going to pay out less, & songs that are listened to more are going to pay out more. The up side here is that, even if this makes it harder for young songwriters & artists starting out, the increased payouts on hit songs will allow publish companies & labels to float young songwriters & artists through recording & publishing deals. This is a return to the way things functioned during the physical (i.e. bundled) sales era.


      Reply
      1. VolFan

        The move to downloaded individual mp3 songs instead of albums of 10 to 15 songs on a CD will go a long way to making better songs. “Why?” You may ask. Because every album that has ever been sold contains filler songs that are below average and never intended to be successful in the market place. When consumers can buy individual songs (or stream them) the songwriters who cannot write or do not develop their craft will make nothing. They will either get out or improve. It will also cut into the practice of shutting out anything except the formula songs as has been the norm in country for a long time. Better songs will rise to the top when the labels cannot control everything that is available. Of course one may question the judgement of the public to go after the highest quality songs. Refer to the super success of Achey Breaky Heart.


        Reply
  43. BluesSlider

    Sadly, the story of songwriters getting ripped off by publishers and record companies is so common that the idea of this being the consumer’s responsibility doesn’t connect with most people. And anyone can make the argument that new pop music is junk compared to their favorite era, Whether it’s Dylan vs. Britney Spears, or Cole Porter vs. Hilary Duff. Most pop music has always been junk, the good stuff stays with us generation after generation. The system of paying royalties for songs is what kept those songwriters fed, clothed, and housed. That system is broken, and it doesn’t look like it’s gonna get put back together.
    Funny thing is, there was a very similar argument about copying machines. Book publishers pointed out that allowing these copiers in libraries would make it possible to copy whole chapters of books which they had, up till that time, been able to charge a fee for sending out reprints. So they negotiated as an industry and a small part of the price of every copier sold in the US was paid to a fund which was distributed to the publishers (I have no idea whether this was distributed to authors).
    So, since the distribution of music always winds up on some form of media, why not have a 0.1 cent per gigabyte royalty on all media, I think that comes to $10 a terabyte. All blank CD’s, DVD’s, USB sticks, flash drives, SSD drives, SATA, IDE, and anything else that can store data when the juice is turned off. Then that gets distributed according to downloads, which have to be audited by a auditing firm that has the ability to confirm that websites are reporting honestly.


    Reply
    1. Casey

      Because that would be stupid.


      Reply
    2. Anonymous

      Fuck that.


      Reply
  44. RyanL

    GGG, you sir, are a badass. I have deeply enjoyed your logical and humorous ( I don’t think anyone else is seeing the humor) arguments picking apart these weak minded people. We differ in one important aspect, I am a musician/songwriter. I used to play guitar for about 8 hours a day + all throughout high school and part of middle school. I have written lyrics for hours and done studies into literature reading some of the most complex philosophical and aesthetic texts of all time. I’m 21 now and I’m finally putting all my material together to create really high value songs. I’ve spent countless hours over some lyrics to make sure it is perfect. The best part is, I have a few friends who have done this with me. We are here to change the industry. And there are many likes us, already. The music industry will come back with real value very soon. The vomit-inducing pop industry of today will not thrive much longer. Get ready.


    Reply
  45. Anonymous

    Desmond Child should be happy that I should even know about his stupid fucking song, which is probably also a Bon Jovi cover. Thanks for saving him from obscurity, Pandora. I love how musical artists are so biased that if their song is played at you in a random algorithm that you owe them some kind of money, regardless of how shitty their song may be.


    Reply
    1. jw

      Desmond Child actually co-wrote the song with Jon Bon Jovi & Richie Sambora, & track being played is the Bon Jovi version. He’s the (co-)songwriter, not the artist.


      Reply
    2. GGG

      That IS the Bon Jovi song; he’s a co-writer (probably 99% of it actually).

      If only there was some sort of website, a wikipedia if you will, where you could have looked that up in 3 seconds instead of looking like a moron…But I’m a dreamer, what can I say.


      Reply
  46. Christopher Buttner


    Reply
  47. Brett smith

    I have been a songwriter/musician for more than 30 years and this whole conversation is confusing. GGG is more right than wrong. As a songwriter, it kinda ticks me off when I hear a song that gets radio play have crappy lyrics or no heart. A lot of these songs were written by pro songwriters that HAVE to pump out a new song every day. They are contracted out. It seems to circle back to big business. I have a family to support so I can’t survive by just writing music. (I wish I could). There is a lot of crap music out there on the radio. As long as kids are the main listeners of top 40, it’s going to stay that way. I don’t know how to fix it. When someone can make millions off a video of him riding an invisible horse, something is wrong. I’ve had good songs that I’ve written in a day and then spend months perfecting. Also had songs I’ve worked on for years and can’t seem to finish. I still keep writing because the music is bouncing around in my head until I get it out. There is so much software out there now, people think they can grab some midi sounds, throw it on a track with a generic drum machine and call themselves a songwriter. I’m done. Long live the songwriters.


    Reply
    1. anon

      it doesn’t matter if you think a song has heart or is well written or not. Let the consumer be the judge, and if that consumer listens 6 million times, that writer should be paid fairly for it. if a song you consider to have “heart” in it gets played 40 million times, the writer should be paid accordingly. I may prefer a shirt or shoes or some products over others, that doesn’t mean the products I don’t think were designed well should be getting less of a margin of the units they sell, they should be getting a fair margin regardless and the consumer should be the judge of it its no good or not, if a song has no heart and is no good, that the free market will react with listeners not listening to it as much as other songs. the point being, you aren’t allowed to be the judge of if a song is worthy of fair compensation, every song is worthy of fair compensation based on how many times people listen to it or purchase it etc etc etc


      Reply

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