An Open Letter to Pandora, from 125 Concerned Musicians

The following is an open letter to Pandora, signed by 125 concerned musicians.

It has just been posted and signed.

A Musicians’ Perspective on Pandora.

We are big fans of Pandora.  That’s why we helped give the company a discount on rates for the past decade.

Pandora is now enjoying phenomenal success as a Wall Street company.  Skyrocketing growth in revenues and users.  We celebrate that.  At the same time, the music community is just now beginning to gain its footing in the new digital world.

Pandora’s principal asset is the music.

Why is the company asking Congress once again to step in and gut the royalties that thousands of musicians rely upon? That’s not fair, and that’s not how partners work together.

Congress has many pressing issues to consider, but this is not one of them.  Let’s work this out as partners and continue to bring fans the great musical experience they rightly expect.


Bryan Adams, Alabama, Greg Allman, Steve Angello, Rodney Atkins, Sara Bareilles, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Clint Black, Jack Blades, Blondie, Jonatha Brooke, Jackson Browne, Jimmy Buffett, Oteil Burbridge, The Cab, Colbie Caillat, Camper Van Beethoven, CoCo Carmel, George Clinton, Keyshia Cole, Common, Easton Corbin, Cowboy Mouth, Cracker, Randy Crawford, Robert Cray, David Crosby, Joel Crouse, Sheryl Crow, Drew Davis, Taylor Dayne, Dead Kennedys, Raheem DeVaughn, The Doors, Down, The Dream, Vikter Duplaix, Missy Elliott, Lupe Fiasco, The 5th Dimension, Flyleaf, John Fogerty, Guy Forsyth, The Game, Vince Gill, David Gilmour, Genevieve Goings, Martha Reeves, Rihanna, Eric Roberson, Darius Rucker, Rush, Bobby Rush, Joe Sample, David Sanborn, Skid Row, Michael W. Smith, Britney Spears, Dave Stewart, Survivor, T.I., Susan Tedeschi, Robin Thicke, George Thorogood, Toto, Butch Trucks, Derek Trucks, Josh Turner, Frankie Valli and Bob Gaudio (The 4 Seasons), Dionne Warwick, Roger Waters, Bobby Whitlock, Whodini, Chuck Wicks, Otis Williams (The Temptations), Ann and Nancy Wilson (Heart), BrianWilson, BeBeWinans, Zac Brown Band, Andy Grammer, Amy Grant, CeeLo Green, Gyptian, Warren Haynes, Don Henley, Hootie and The Blowfish, Mallary Hope, Bruce Hornsby, Mick Hucknall (Simply Red), The J.Geils Band, Jaimoe, The Jazz Crusaders, Billy Joel, John Paul Jones, Mick Jones (Foreigner), Journey, Jim Kerr and Charlie Burchill (Simple Minds), KISS, Jana Kramer, Ludacris, Maroon 5, Nick Mason, Duff McKagan, Megadeth, Janelle Monae, Alissa Moreno, Jason Mraz, Nas, Graham Nash, Ne-Yo, Stevie Nicks, Night Ranger, Ted Nugent, Owl City, Christina Perri, Katy Perry, Pink Floyd, Robert Plant, John Pointer, The Pointer Sisters, Primus, Marc Quinones, Joel Rafael, Trisha Yearwood, Bonnie Raitt.

A pdf of this letter has been posted on the Music First Coalitions’ website, here.

31 Responses

  1. Casey

    “Pandora is now enjoying phenomenal success as a Wall Street company. Skyrocketing growth in revenues and users. We celebrate that. At the same time, the music community is just now beginning to gain its footing in the new digital world.”

    They have to be joking… Pandora is suffering considerably as a Wall Street company. Revenue growths are slowing, users are slowing. Competition is growing….

  2. Tony Clark

    I have Pandora on at my retail store and think it’s a great deal for the dollar. I would be happy to pay a bit more to pass to the artists.


      You might not want to publicize that in this space…ASCAP, BMI, and SESACE are watching.

      As a business owner, you must pay public performance royalties for broadcasting Pandora in your store. If you are not paying these royalties, you can be liable for hefty fines and lawsuits. You should check out our “For Businesses” page at

      We are a new kind of commercial music service for businesses…LEGAL and FREE.

      Better Business Bureau: What do you mean if I’m a business owner, I must pay public performance fees to play music in my establishment or risk hefty fines and judgments up to $150,000 per song? Read the article published by the Better Business Bureau appealing to business owners:

  3. Billy

    It’s either low royalties, or no royalties at all. Think about it.

  4. Saumon Sauvage

    This is like employees asking their boss for a raise. They are in the right, but they’ve got no leverage.

    • davceydavy

      No, it’s like asking them to not cut their already meager pay more than half.

  5. Billy Coda

    Screw Pandora. There are so many alternatives in the place of Pandora that are much better in selection and bit rate. The amount of ads they place in their stream is evidence of their greed (or depending on your perspective, desperation).
    Try Earbits. Good undiscovered bands.

    Try I ♥ Radio. Same field of music as Pandora.

    Try true capitalism.

  6. Earnest Scribbler

    Those who signed this letter can simulate Pandora’s reaction by retreting to a quiet room and hurling rocks in each others’ faces.

  7. The Highway Girl

    I’m all for equality when it comes to Internet and traditional radio, but when you see the mansions Pandora execs are living in and the cars they’re driving it makes them look like the greedy record labels of the digital age. Come on guys…split your earnings with the artists 50/50. That’s what partners do!

    • Just another voice in the air

      Your plea is probably the most compelling argument for Pandora to lighten up its demands. However, this is not a sufficient reason for them to decrease their benefits, as this is standard practice for a publicy traded company (to have high executive pay).

      Let me make something blisteringly clear: I’m not fully defending their “excessive” spending. I’m just trying to point out that it is not illegal nor untirely unethical for the execs to llive their lifestyle. Here’s why:

      Even if they were to completely level their paychecks and dump it into shareholder returns or even direct royalites, the artists would STILL be comlaining AND Pandora would still not be a profitable company. Many argue a faulty business model, but that’s just rubbish; lopsided royalty mandates and extraneous middlemen agencies are the problem here, hiding behind the PR onslaught of the offended public and artist community.

      • The Highway Girl

        Agreed! It just makes Pandora look like they don’t care about the artist’s plight. You are correct, however. It doesn’t have anything to do with the company’s royalty payments. Perhaps if Pandora paid their executives less, they might reach profitability faster.

        • Cake, Let Them Eat...

          It has EVERYTHING to do with artist royalties. Top execs taking $100s of millions off the table is hoarding money that could go to artists and build the business, plus it shows investors one thing:

          this company isn’t gonna last, so we’re looting it.

    • Jason

      The second link is already pulled down by Pandora. Can you post a cached copy?

  8. Adam

    This letter does not address a single issue involved in this discussion and is completely useless. If te artists were able to write compellingly about suggestions for pandora to become more profitable that’s one thing. No pandora, no money for musicians.

    • The Highway Girl

      Okay as an artist here’s my recommendation. Forget SoundExchange and pay artists and their managers directly. Yes it will cost more initially in admin fees, but less overall since SX is overcharging them. Secondly, stop paying your executives so much! Oh and, more transparency!

      • jonweisberger

        Whoa, that’s barking up the wrong tree. Direct licensing will benefit only those artists (or songwriters, for that matter) whose music Pandora can’t afford not to have available; the rest will be faced with a choice of accepting drastically lower rates than current ones, or of having their music dropped altogether.

        In my end of the music business, the fact is that satellite radio royalties – whether you’re talking from the sound recording copyright or the underlying song copyright – amount to a lot more in actual dollars than the royalties earned with the purportedly oppressive higher rates paid by operators like Pandora. If they want to pay the lower rates, let them earn those by getting their revenues up to where that still generates some usable royalty income for artists and songwriters. Because right now, these checks for $0.01 and $0.02 and even $0.14 aren’t getting it.

    • jonweisberger

      “If te artists were able to write compellingly about suggestions for pandora to become more profitable that’s one thing.”

      I guess, but not a thing that has any bearing on this issue. The job of musicians is to make music and attempt to derive income from it as a matter of right. The job of a music radio station or webcast or stream or yada yada yada is to figure out how to make a profit while fulfilling legal responsibilities – like, for instance, paying royalties to copyright holders. Why is it incumbent on musicians to tell Pandora’s management how to run its business? You might as well say that the manufacturers of the company’s servers have a responsibility to “write compellingly &etc.” and that if they don’t, there’s no need to pay them for the servers.

  9. Joe Burke

    OK, I’m genuinely concerned here. Are any of the people posting here involved in music in any way at all? Have people come to the point where music is completely devalued?

    Musicians already get screwed by nightclubs and other venues, record labels, radio and dozens of Internet based sites that use their performances for free or next to free.

    Just so you all get a sense of perspective, even the most basic album will cost thousands of dollars to produce, mix and master. Then there is the cost of physical media (CDs, Vinyl, etc.) promotion, touring, instruments, accessories and supplies. There’s rehearssals, transportation costs and the countless hours learning the craft that are involved in creating that song that you are paying $0.0001 for when you listen to Pandora and other services like them. So when these services ask the musicians to give even more, you might want to consider what the musicians have already given.

    • Older music vet

      OK, I’m genuinely concerned here. Are any of the people posting here involved in music in any way at all? Have people come to the point where music is completely devalued?

      I am. I buy for and/or am on several commitees that select talent for various festivals and venues. I am an artist manager. I have serviced radio for numerous artists. I am a musician with over 30 years of professional and hobbyist experience. I have been engaged in broadcasting for over 30 years. I have serverd on various boards for music and broadcasting. I also do foh sound for venues and at festivals. Essentially I make my money in music. I have also been called upon by congressional offices to discuss matters relevant to funding public/community radio.

  10. Erik S. (

    Pandora is taking advantage of certain major publishers pulling digital performance rights from ASCAP. The publishers have effectively lowered ASCAP’s leverage by doing so, arguably working against the songwriters they are supposed to represent, and Pandora is jumping on the opportunity to pressure the fees down knowing ASCAP’s catalog and market share suddenly shrunk.

  11. Visitor

    Wow, I’m impressed by the tone of that letter! The kindness.

    I could never sign anything like that.

    I think Pandora, Pirate Bay and Spotify should die.

    • Just another voice in the air

      You are far and away the lamest troll on this website. Thread and thread again, you sound like a wanabee Jeff Price, which isn’t anything to write home about.

      These services don’t need to “die”, the industry as a whole just needs to let natural market forces dictate the true value of music as a consumer product, regardless of how “low” and “appalling” that number might be

      • Visitor

        Finding a “true market value” would be impossible now given how distorted the market is from piracy. Illegally subverting property rights is the antithesis of a “natural market force” but it has been allowed to exert massive downard pressure on the industry for over a decade. The damage is already done.

      • Visitor

        ‘Visitor’ is the default name for all the lazy suckers who can’t be bothered to fill the Visitor Name form on this site.

        And ‘trolls’ are mythical creatures that shouldn’t be confused with people who don’t share your opinions.

        As for Pandora, Pirate Bay and Spotify: I’m an artist and I need them like I need a bullet in my head.

  12. jw

    This should not be an issue. Pandora is being made out to be something it’s not. Ad revenue will never make up for dwindling recorded music sales, this is a lesson that ought to have been learned a loooong time ago. Anyone who’s even glanced at Pandora’s financials would know you have to be a total moron think Pandora should to be paying more. I’d love to know how many of these artists have even read a summary of their sec filings.

    “Year over year, Pandora Media, Inc. has seen their bottom line shrink from a loss of $1.8M to an even larger loss of $16.1M despite an increase in revenues from $137.8M to $274.3M. An increase in the percentage of sales devoted to cost of goods sold from 58.74% to 62.50% was a key component in the falling bottom line in the face of rising revenues.”

    Pandora is obligated to it’s shareholders to fight this fight, it’s a matter of black & red for them. What leg do these artists have to stand on? We ought all be in agreement that cards are stacked against internet radio. I mean, hell, I’d love for everyone to pay me more than they owe me. But what good is going to do in the long run to squeeze Pandora until it pops? You can only lose money for so long.

    Personally, I wouldn’t miss Pandora if it disappeared (I think it sucks, honestly), but this is a very sad commentary on where we are & how we got here.

    Also, pretty sneaky how Mr Lowery got on here twice as Cracker & Camper. Can we change that to 124 concerned musicians?