Pandora Wants You, the Working Musician, to Sign This Letter to Congress…

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This is part of a broader attempt by Pandora to win the hearts-and-minds of working musicians, and bolster support in Congress.

Here’s an email shared with Digital Music News; we blotted out the name of the artist (and some other identifying details) but everything else is intact…

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31 Responses

  1. Big Swifty

    Paul, was that underline beneath “and to grow as fast as possible” in the original text or was it added later.
    Either way it does give a hint at what Tim is really concerned about.
    The rest of the text is simply marketing.

    • Paul Resnikoff

      No alteration there – it’s underlined in the original.

  2. Lie Witness Blues

    “We want more Pandoras”
    Tim, Please look in the mirror. Do you really believe this bulls–t? Because no one else does.

  3. steveh

    From a UK perspective this is utterly disgusting and incomprehensible.
    It’s totally mediaeval – with the big Lord expecting his poor serfs to support him in his argument with the King.
    And let me repeat in the UK and in Europe all terrestrial radio pays performance royalties to artists, labels and to writer/composers. Not either/or – to ALL of these.
    What’s wrong with America? Why can’t they do that in America?

    • Visitor

      “And let me repeat in the UK and in Europe all terrestrial radio pays performance royalties to artists, labels and to writer/composers.”
      And it pays pretty well, too.

  4. GGG

    He really needs to just stop talking. The people that actually care about this news see right through it. It’d be smarter for him to just be quiet and not try and act like he’s some white knight for artists.

  5. Jeff Robinson

    Absolutely ironic still Pandora still filters music to be played.

    If they played all music across-the-board, they MIGHT have an angle here, but it’s just not the case. Music is reviewed and either accepted or denied by them. I know numerous independent musicians who have submitted to Pandora and been denied. It’s hilarious.

    To any artist reading this: DO NOT SIGN THE PANDORA LETTER!

  6. hippydog

    Did anyone else just puke in their mouth a little bit?
    I dont even have a vested interest (I’m not a “working” musician) but I wanted to tie this letter to a brick.. I cant even imagine what real working artists must feel when they read this..

  7. Steve

    No. Nobody puked in their mouth. You were just being melodramatic.

  8. RaquelGarciaAndersen)

    Pandora is choking on advertising and it’s getting worse.

  9. visitor

    the pandora executive team needs to be completely replaced. this is ridiculous, the guy is a joke and so is the CTO.

    • danwriter

      Westergren also conveniently omits the fact that NARAS has been lobbying Congress regularly on several topics in recent years, so the RIAA isn’t the only lobbying entity they get to hear from on this matter.

  10. NARAS member

    FWIW, Here is the email message that Recording Academy members received from Neil Portnow regarding this:

    Dear Recording Academy Member:

    Would you sign a petition to get paid less money?

    While the question seems absurd, you may be (or have already been) asked to do this by Pandora radio, which is seeking to lower its payments to those who create the music that drive its business. Pandora’s “letter of support” is being circulated as they prepare to embark on another legislative effort to reduce royalties to featured artists, session musicians and producers.

    Just two months ago, Pandora’s CFO stated, “The rates that we pay are statutory rates that are fixed, they are set in stone through 2015. Based on those rates, we are confident we can build a really good company…It’s all about monetization.”

    We agree. So why is Pandora telling Congress it needs to lower its payments (already a tenth of a penny per play) to artists?

    In a letter sent to artists, Pandora says it wants to speak for “working musicians” in Washington. But they know you already have a voice in Washington. Just a few weeks ago, hundreds of Academy members made their voices heard loud and clear at GRAMMYs on the Hill, telling Congress to protect fair wages to creators. With all due respect to Pandora, we do not need Wall St. media companies speaking for music creators.

    Your Recording Academy will continue to fight any efforts to reduce your ability to earn a fair wage from your music. Before signing onto any letter of support by Pandora, I encourage you to learn more about the issue at

    Kind regards,
    Neil Portnow
    The Recording Academy

  11. Steve Merola

    Anyone who signs this is a Silicon Valley employee. No one wants less money for their work. I wouldn’t be surprised if Pandora fakes signatures on this.
    Without music they have only zeroes & ones…….which equals nothing.

  12. Musical Slavery

    It’s impossible to discribe how disgusting this is. Selfishness and greed have reached and unprecedented height in the U.S. Business moguls stoop so low as to want to rob even the pennies musicians get in return for their thousands of dollars in investment, their years of time, and daily hours of practice, creation, production and the like.
    Sadly, too many unaware music consumers now treat song writers, performers, musicians, as if we should all be grateful to even be listened to.
    Sad day for the arts. Pandora and all the millionaire / billionaire greed-mongers behind this should be red-faced with shame.

  13. Joe DiMaggio

    Pandora pays 65% plus in licensing fees.

    Sirius pays 8-18% depending on whom you ask.

    Someone explain why pandora needs to pay more?

    • voice of reason

      Pandora claims to pay 65%, but it pretty simple why that is: they simply do not sell enough advertising or charge enough for their ads &/or subscriptions.
      Imagine there are a couple of guys competing in the food service industry. They both serve hotdogs, hamburgers & soft drinks. Mel is making good money, Tim is not. So Tim comes to the government & says “Hey, look. My expenses are way too high. I am not making a profit. I want you to force my meat suppliers to lower the price of meat by 85%. I can make a profit then.” Tim goes to the newspapers & gets a bunch of people riled up about how unfair it is that his meat purchases cut into his ability to make a profit.
      But then, because you’re smart, you decide to compare Tim & Mel’s businesses. The first thing you notice is that Mel charges more for his burgers & hotdogs & soft drinks. You point this out to Tim, and he says “But the customers want to pay less! Why should they be forced to pay more than they want to?” The next thing you notice is that Mel sells a much smaller “meal deal” for more money than Tim charges for his largest “meal deal.” And he only has two “deals!” Mel has several meal upgrades, but they are four and five times the cost of Tim’s most expensive meal. And yet, Mel has lots & lots of customers. You point this out to Tim, who replies “But the customers want to pay less! If I charge more, or reduce the size of my drinks & burgers, they will leave! It’s those damned meat suppliers! They’re greedy and they need to be forced to lower their prices.”
      You point out that the meat suppliers need to make money, too, in order to keep their business afloat. Tim says “They need to find a new business model! Maybe they can sell t-shirts.” You would most likely suggest to Tim that perhaps he is the one who needs to find a new business model, or he could simply raise his prices to closer to what Mel charges.
      Does this sound absurd? Of course it does. But this is essentially what Pandora Radio & others are asking with the proposed Internet Radio Fairness Act (IRFA). The lowest priced Sirius subscription runs thirteen times as many ads as the free version of Pandora! And the Pandora “premium” offering is about $4 per month, while the top of the line Sirius package is about $18 per month. There are other aspects to the issues here, to be certain. Each facet of the IRFA is designed to diminish the earning potential & negotiating powers of the creators & performers, and the entire thing should be rejected by our lawmakers.

      • Casey

        And just how do you propose they should sell more ads when they already have unsold ad inventory? Or how they can raise the rates they charge for ads when their advertisers already balk at the price they charge? Perhaps more importantly, how they can raise the rates for Pandora One when people already don’t want to pay $3 per month and can buy a better premium service from Slacker for just $4 and unlimited on-demand from Spotify for $5? And SiriusXM doesn’t run any advertisements on their music channels, which are the ones that they have to pay royalties for.

        Pandora can’t increase the amount of ads they sell because they can’t get enough advertisers as is. They can’t raise their already high rates without losing more advertisers and adding to their unsold ad inventory. And they can’t raise the rates of Pandora One because their users have already told them $3 per month is too much for what they get, which is restricted by DMCA. They are more or less screwed, so they have decided to try to lower their operating expenses. The most logical business move they could possibly make.

        • steveh

          In other words, Casey, Pandora’s “business model” is fucked and they should fold up their tent.
          It’s just not acceptable that a music service should survive if they can’t give a decent shake to the creators of the music.

          • Casey

            Maybe so. They grew too quickly. I think they will be able to fill their ad spots in coming years and ultimately increase their revenue as advertisers realize the value of mobile listeners. They could probably get licensing down to 40% of revenue in the next couple years. The problem is they face a massive royalty increase when the pureplay agreement runs out. They seem pretty convinced they won’t be able to strike another pureplay license. So they could be put back into a position like they are in now.

  14. Visitor

    Don’t accuse Pandora of being misguided when NARAS itself probably doesn’t have a sense of the rates it allegedly supports in the name of artists. By following without thinking the proposals of the major labels — who probably want nothing more than for Pandora and other statutory services to have to be subject to extraordinarily high royalty rates so that they have to negotiate direct licenses, which are not subject to a 50/50 artist split — the artist community better watch out what they wish for.
    Under the RIAA-led rate proposals, Pandora would be paying over 100% of its royalties just to SoundExchange. How long do you think a company can survive at those royalty rates? And SoundExchange and the RIAA have NEVER proposed a rate reduction in any rate setting proceeding — either before a CARP or the CRB.
    The current CRB-established statutory royalty rates for webcasting are too high. Very few services pay these rates. The vast majority of services pay some alternative rate established under one of two Webcaster Settlement Acts. If NARAS keeps supporting the rate proposals of the major labels, don’t be surprised if services stop operating under statutory licenses, negotiate direct deals with label licensors, and then artists get zero from their labels because they are not recouped.
    So get off the high horse and claim that Pandora is arguing for too low a royalty rate. Look at all those record labels getting sued for not properly accounting to their artists and ask if they are intentionally seeking too high a royalty rate.
    Learn the facts before you make accusations.

    • Visitor

      So, when SX is proposing webcasting rates, it is actually executing an evil plan that allows RIAA members to negotiate… now wait… lower rates. I know Amercia loves conspiracy theories but surely you can do better than that. If this had any legs the major lables would have already jumped on the Clear Channel offer — they haven’t.

      • Casey

        The majors don’t want to jump on Clear Channel’s offer because does not want to pay much. Clear Channel needs to cut their operating expenses signficantly.

    • Visitor

      BING F’n O !
      Most folks commenting here on this slanted rag are just jumping on the punching bag bandwagon and have no clue of what actually at stake or on the table.

  15. Michael Towns

    This is all well and good, but it misses the boat. If Pandora or anyone else really cared about indie music, folks should be asking Congress for something akin to the local sound and culture act. It should be illegal or less legal for corporations to play music that does not include local acts over local airwaves. There really is a dearth of local music and film on American Airways. A national culture is fine, but we need more local story telling in our media.

    • Visitor

      Basically how it was to some degree (at least big ass megacompanies couldn’t own every radio station), but that was eliminated in “deregulation”. A huge portion of radio these days is ClearChannel and 2-3 other big companies.

  16. steveh

    I just read a funny phrase:- “loser generated content”.
    Guess that’s what Westergren is asking for….