Several Artists Are Now ‘Strongly Considering’ Removing Content from Pandora…

The ‘nuclear option,’ as one source put it, would involve forcible removals of song catalogs from Pandora in response to continued artist hostility. Which may have seemed absolutely unthinkable just months ago, but now seems appropriate against a rising artist backlash.

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The dangerous wheels are just starting to spin, according to a number of sources connected to labels, publishing catalogs and a number of unhappy artists.  Indeed, one infuriated – and highly-influential – executive is now planning to publish detailed instructions on exactly how to remove content on Digital Music News.  These instructions, currently being vetted by an experienced music industry attorney, could appear on these pages within a week.

Which means, artists and rights owners may start tearing down plum catalogs soon thereafter.

The extreme thought process follows an avalanche of negative publicity against Pandora, stirred by an artist backlash that now includes David Lowery, Martha Reeves, and Pink Floyd.

And that’s just in the past few days.  “There’s now the growing sense [among artists] that they’re getting screwed by Pandora,” one attorney told Digital Music News.

“Which would explain why they are strongly considering this option.”

The one-two punch of Pink Floyd and David Lowery has been incredibly and unmistakably damaging to Pandora.  In a weekend op-ed in USA Today, Pink Floyd excoriated Pandora for ‘tricking artists into signing their own paycut,’ specifically an 85 percent royalty chop.  David Lowery, a dangerous rabblerouser in the eyes of companies like Pandora, recently published a royalty income report showing income of $16.89 after more than 1.16 million plays on Pandora.

Exactly how an artist can instruct Pandora not to play its content is a tricky question indeed.  And the answer seems to depend on what rights the artist actually holds (if any).  For example, there seems to be little recourse for those that only hold recording assets, simply because copyright law mandates that companies like Pandora can stream recordings according to set royalty rates.

For those that control their own publishing, or even have a piece of a publishing credit, the game changes entirely.  Look no further than Sony/ATV, the mega-publisher that recently forced an expensive renegotiation with Pandora after dumping ASCAP representation on digital rights.

That is something other publishers and songwriters can also execute against, and subsequently deny Pandora rights to play the accompanying recording.

Currently, Pandora is taking legal action to prevent independent dealmaking from the likes of Sony/ATV (and other exiting ASCAP or BMI members).

More as it develops.  Written while listening to Martyn.

57 Responses

  1. Visitor

    “Indeed, one infuriated – and highly-influential – executive is now planning to publish detailed instructions on exactly how to remove content on Digital Music News.”

    Great initiative!

  2. Visitor

    Removing content is indeed the only solution.
    It’s wonderful to see right holders begin to realize that streaming was a failure; an attempt to compete with piracy in a furious death race to the bottom.
    Professional music production is extremely expensive and can not be based on streaming revenues.
    Streaming companies are the Amanda Palmer’s of music distribution. They just want you to work for free. And that won’t do.
    We need a revolution. An exodus.
    And I think we’re going to get it now…

    • Saumon Sauvage

      Not just removing any content, but specifically the content that is the bread and butter of the digital services.

      • aaa

        I’m totally on board. All of you should pull your content.

        Oh wait, someone will just make more and we’ll listen to that instead.

        • Visitor

          Just because Arthur Miller wrote a few great plays doesn’t mean the value of Shakespeare is in decline.
          Nobody will listen to anyone “instead” of the greats. There’s no historical proof of your assertion.
          Even Pandora has admitted that “popular music” is their most played music. You really think the masses want to hear music they’ve never heard before? Do you have data on that?
          If major music pulls from Pandora, they are back where they started when they were a startup and their users started to complain they wanted more well known music, so they abandoned the genome, and turned to the crowd. And the crowd wants what they already know.
          Bottom line is that Pandora is a public company. Nothing they say or do is going to be in the interest of any group other than their shareholders. Period.

    • BBQ Vegetables

      Still wondering if anyone can answer the actual question.
      Terrestrial paid him $1,522.00. – for HOW MANY plays?
      Sirius paid $181.00. – for HOW MANY plays?
      Pandora paid $16.89. – for HOW MANY plays?
      If your answer is “1” to all of the above, you probably think you don’t pay taxes, too.
      We know how many plays on Pandora – according to the article, 1.6m. This is easy, 1.6m spins on Pandora is 1.6m plays to 1.6m individual sets of ears.
      For the $181 payment from Sirius, how many people were listening to each play? 50,000 to each play? 100,000 to each play? 500,000 to each play? does anyone know how many people are listening to anything on sirus at any time?
      Let’s examine the most recent royalty statement posted online:
      This person, and apparently everyone writing these articles and everyone commenting, believes that 179 spins on Sirius nets this person $181. But how many were listening? Pandora already tells us – 1.6m. So how many are listening right now to the average station on sirius? 10,000? 50,000? 100,000? 500,000? Let’s work a low number – 25,000. So for each of the 179 spins, let’s say 50,000 people are listening to that station at any one time. So, 179 (x) 50,000 = 8,950,000 SPINS.

      Now, we’re finally comparing apples to apples. So, $181 / 8,950,000 = 0.00002022 Sirius payment PER SPIN
      Pandora, $16.89 / 1,600,000 = 0.00001056
      Now that is pretty close to the same royalty rate.
      But wait, there’s more. Sirius pays 8% royalties? here:
      Pandora pays 60% royalty rate:
      How is it that Sirius’ 8% royalty rate is resulting in a payment very close to Pandora’s 60% royalty rate?
      Can we villify Sirius now?

      • GGG

        Even making this as black and white as possible won’t change these people’s minds. It’s pathetic, and why our industry will be in this shitty limbo forever. All or nothing, no possible compromise.
        For people who comment here, especially Visitor, it seems the only solution is locking CDs in a vault and charging $20 for the privilege of looking up their glorious work of art. Then another $50 to actually play it.

          • beecee

            glad to see some numbers here.
            people need to look at streams on panorda compared to terrestrial radio.
            how much money would one make if they were in a 2 million listener market of terrestrial radio and all 2 million people happened to be tuned in hearing your song?

          • GGG

            “Joel Tenenbaum illegally downloaded and distributed music for several years. A group of recording companies sued Tenenbaum, and a jury awarded damages of $675,000, representing $22,500 for each of thirty songs whose copyright Tenenbaum violated,”
            I did no such thing. Sorry. Your attempt to villify me has failed haha.

          • Visitor

            “Your attempt to villify me has failed”
            Sorry, but you vilified yourself.

          • Fatso

            The music industry has vilified itself, by ruthlessly destroying the lives of a few select individuals, such as this guy. Also, there is just no way to stop piracy, unless a better alternative is being offered. After so many years it can’t be that hard to realize, and the decline of legal MP3 downloads and CD sales will no doubt continue.

          • GGG

            Also, why don’t you respond to BBQ’s post/numbers? Instead of taking the “oh you’re a pirate!” easy way out, yet again. Says a lot about you.

          • Visitor

            I’m sure Mr. Lowery will go into details about his numbers.
            As for you being a pirate: You brought it up, my friend. Don’t expect sympathy from artists and other right holders.

          • GGG

            When did I ask for sympathy? Simply pointing out you run from every argument all the time. Do you disagree the audience for a Sirius spin is thousands of times greater than a Pandora spin? Do you have problems with their payouts? If so, why are you not attacking them? Should radio be shut down all together? Should we shut off all access to music except buying a physical copy?

          • Visitor

            “Do you have problems with their [Sirius’] payouts?”
            Who doesn’t.
            “Should radio be shut down all together?”
            Whatever for? I love terrestrial radio. Most fans and artists do.
            It’s not on demand so it doesn’t kill sales; it pays alright — particularly in Europe — and it’s one of the three most popular ways to discover new artists and songs. YouTube and iTunes being the other two.

      • CF

        This. Exactly this. The per play cost is important. Because when I look at what terrestrial is paying it is FAR less than the streamers. Now one could argue it should be less because people get some control over what they are listening to on Pandora. But to some extent one gets control with terrestrial by switching to a radio station that plays the type of music I want to hear.
        The other way to look at this is why are the radio stations so profitable compare to the streamers. None of the streamers make money and its not because they are too small. Pandora has broad reach in the US. Part of this is the lower CPMs they get compared to radio. But most of it is the higher licensing costs compared to terrestrial.

  3. BBQ vegetables

    For the love of Elvis, will someone please calculate the per play rate on Sirius and terrestrial. The per SPIN rate is not the same. One must divide audience by payout.

    Pandora reports per spin. 1 audience. Sirius reports per play, with how many people listening to that play? 10? 100? 1,000? It seems to me once someone does this, we will vilify Sirius and terrestrial and we will find Pandoras per play/ per person rate is higher.

  4. irresponsible journalism

    Amen. Reporting these sensational one-to-one transmission royalty numbers without comparison to one-to-many transmission royalties is just bad journalism. In reality, David’s plays equate to a few AAA commercial radio spins. No one expected to make a killing from that kind of activity even at the peak of the music industry. I’d like to hear what the Lowerys of the world think is fair and then see that compared to commercial radio royalties.

    • Visitor

      See numbers above.
      And these streaming stories are in fact solid journalism — they blow whistles, reveal industry secrets, slaughter holy cows, trigger revolutions…
      What’s not to like?

      • GGG

        Typo in this post. Where you said “trigger revolutions” I think you meant, “trigger endless bitching without actually offereing one shred of an alternative solution.” Because that’s pretty much what’s been going on since 1998.

        • Visitor

          “without actually offereing one shred of an alternative solution”
          Nonsense, the solution is to stop thieves like you.
          And again, yesterday’s final Tenenbaum verdict shows which way the wind is blowing…

          • GGG

            Spotify already did stop thieves like me years ago. And you can’t say the solution to stopping piracy is stopping piracy. What are you, 8? You need an ACTUAL solution. Lawsuits are certainly one way to go, though it hasn’t really worked out to well over the last decade. Streaming is, in theory, a great solution. Just needs better pay for artists. And “artists,” like yourself.
            I think we should agree that once this is tackled the next important fight would be to stop people like you from embarrasing our culture by perpetuating this shitty, vapid songwriting that exists for no other purpose than to sell perfume and shoes to 12 year olds. We should try to enact laws of musical integrity.

          • Visitor

            “Streaming is, in theory, a great solution”
            It just didn’t work out in practice.

          • GGG

            Agree. So why not try to fix it, instead of just killing it?

  5. beecee

    Does anyone think this sets a bad precedent and that as artists we really should be lobbying Congress for higher rates?
    While Pandora sucks for trying to lower rates, it is not like this is historically the first time that a broadcaster has tried to do that.
    But Pandora shouldn’t be our target, but rather the body that sets the rates.

    • GGG

      Yes, we should 100% be doing this as an actual solution. Streaming/internet radio as vehicles are not the problem. The rates/audience is.

      • Visitor

        “Streaming/internet radio as vehicles are not the problem. The rates/audience is.”
        Rubbish. Streaming companies can’t pay decent rates!
        Take all Mr. Westergren’s millions and spread them out and it won’t make the slightest difference.
        Or look at Spotify:
        The rates would be ridiculous, even if tripled. And Spotify can not triple the rates. It can’t even double them. Spotify loses money and releases by the hour.
        We have to face it:
        Streaming just didn’t work out.
        It was an experiment, and it failed.

        • GGG

          So what’s the alternative? Yelling at people to stop being jerks and buy music again? Hasn’t worked for over a decade, what makes you think it will work in the near future?

          • GGG

            Ok, so we can sue a bunch of people for hundreds of thousands of dollars that will take a lifetime to pay back. Totally fine. Not even being sarcastic. But they’d have to start suing a shitton of people ASAP for this to really become a deterrent.
            So now you have to think about the MILLIONS of people that know where to go and how to get around a simple IP track. All the Anonymous people, all the 4Chan people, all the people who just simply know how something like Tor works.
            This is where the crux of my argument is. There are fundemantal reasons people don’t pay for music and we have to figure out how to monetize how they DO consume it. This is where I believe in what streaming can become. Because you saying “we have to stop piracy” is not going to do anything. That’s not a soltuion. We are now a couple generations into the “give me everything right now” mindset thanks to technology being able to give us everything right now. You can spend some time fighting that, sure, but it’s silly to not try to evolve with it.
            So maybe everyone should get off Pandora and Spotify and call for a revolution. But it should not be to shut them down. It should be to get off free models, and/or raise prices, etc.

          • Visitor

            “Because you saying “we have to stop piracy” is not going to do anything.”
            You couldn’t be more wrong, it makes all the difference!
            If you want to cross the fence from pirate to artist, this is the time to do it. The times are changing, I’m not trying to talk up a storm here, I’m describing reality. Take a look around you:
            We have just started the first global effort ever to stop mainstream piracy. Everything’s in place; governments, artists/right holders, anti-piracy companies, court decisions, ISPs, tech. Even Google is listening now. This is happening, GGG.
            And to top it all, we no longer have to fork 80-90% over to Gatekeepers Inc.
            So this may indeed turn into a new golden era for music.
            But first things first:
            We have to respect ourselves and stop giving our work away for free to Mr. Westergren and Mr. Ek.

          • GGG

            For starters, I meant literally just saying that, which is the vast majority of what I’ve seen for years and years.

            Also, mainstream piracy is not really a mainstream culture thing. The vast majority of the pirate community is a more “underground” culture, which thanks to the internet is very, very large. Your avg music consumer probably doesn’t even know HOW to torrent, for one. Even if they do they might get 2 albums a year. So mainstream piracy is not people who don’t know how to get around restrictions. That’s the issue. Again, it’s your Anons, and 4Chans, and Redditors, your diehard music nerds, etc.

            Initiatives you indirectly mentioned will certainly knock off a chunk of the outliers and be helpful, but it still won’t hit the bulk of the pack, in my opinion. And again, this is why I think you need a solution that can benefit from the apathy of that community. I frequent a number of music forums and people post Spotify links all the time. If you think previously they posted iTunes links and everyone bought it, you’re dreaming. It just went unheard or was found on YouTube. Or was pirated.

    • Visitor

      “we really should be lobbying Congress for higher rates”
      The solution is to remove content from the streaming services now and then lobby.
      Artists and right holders should remember this:
      They don’t pay you, so you don’t have anything to lose!
      If the companies are able to offer significantly better solutions later on, they are of course welcome to do so.
      But I think you’ll notice — sooner rather than later, hopefully — that there’s only one way to make money from streaming:
      Start a streaming company.

  6. What about...

    Why can’t artists withdraw their rights from SoundExchange and deny a license for the master? If they can opt to license through Music Report Inc rather than SoundExchange then it strikes me that they should be able to choose to license directly… or not. What’s the language in the DPRSRA regarding that option?

  7. Dee Anthony

    It’s a statutory license; you can’t withhold anything. Read the statute.

    • Visitor

      Pandora facts:
      Every 1,000 plays of a song on Pandora is worth about 8 cents in performance rights for the songwriters and composers ($0.00008 per stream).To put that in context, Miranda Lambert’s hit song “The House that Built Me” was streamed on Pandora nearly 22 million times, earning its songwriters and publishers roughly $1,788.48. Co-writer Allen Shamblin received only $894.14. Lady Antebellum’s 2011 Grammy-winning Song of the Year “Need You Now” was streamed nearly 72 million times on Pandora, earning its four songwriters and publishers $5,918.28. Co-writer Josh Kear received only $1,479.57.In 2012, Pandora founder Tim Westergren cashed out $9.9 million in stock options – more than the $7.6 million the company paid in total licensing fees split among all ASCAP members that same year.SOURCE:

      • GGG

        Hilarious how you see “facts” out of Pandora’s mouth complete bullshit, but “facts” from ASCAP, a company currently in legal battle with Pandora, as A-OK totally legit.

        • Visitor

          “ASCAP, a company currently in legal battle with Pandora”
          ASCAP is a non-commercial organization, and it is in a ‘legal battle’ with Pandora only because Pandora sued the artists in order to lower the rates:

          Thing is that streaming site CEOs can’t make a decent amount of millions per year if they have to pay artists $0.00008 per stream.

          • GGG

            Doesn’t matter why they’re in a legal battle, or who started it. Point is they don’t like Pandora. No reason not to make them look bad/worse.
            And I’ve never defended Tim, and in fact called him a shyster yesterday I think, so…I agree?

          • Visitor

            “I agree”
            Scary. 🙂
            Might be the sign of a coming apocalypse, or something.

  8. jw

    This really should be where the shit hits the fan. Lowery has fucked this up so bad that it’s created a shitstorm of truth. Every publication that ran his story ought to print a huge retraction.
    It should become obvious that a one-to-one transmission of a song on a personal Pandora “radio” station is NOTHING like a one-to-many transmission on an ACTUAL radio station. And that these arguments should be based on LISTENS & not PLAYS.
    This is all very simple. It’s beyond me why people can’t understand it. You do the math & things become so incredibly obvious that you’d have to be very dense or else blindingly greedy to miss it. The variable to solve for here is how many people are tuned into these radio stations when the song receives a play.
    Can’t we all agree on that now?

    • Casey

      Even if Pandora paid as much as Spotify or Rhapsody, people would still be arguing this. They absolutely cannot comprehend the difference between plays and listens. Just like they compare a single stream to a download.
      In the end this will hurt the artist more than it will hurt Pandora. They will simply end up excluding themselves from the largest radio service on the internet. It’s not like sales are going to surge after they pull the music. If anything they will drop, as Pandora has proven to boost sales (otherwise Apple wouldn’t be launching a radio service to compliment sales….)

  9. Troll Police

    This comment section has become Troll Haven.
    Is there a sign posted that this is the underpass of a bridge?
    Fuck Pandora. They need to go away. No one will be missed.

  10. Truther

    Pandora seeks to eliminate their competition to satisfy shareholders.

  11. Visitor

    “David Lowery […] recently published a royalty income report showing income of $16.89 after more than 1.16 million plays on Pandora.”


    And let’s get all the Spotify facts out in the open as well.

    Again: Pandora and Spotify are absolutely worthless for artists.

    • GGG

      Yes, let’s get all the Spotify facts out. For example, I wonder if Paul will publish a story about how Spotify non-holdout Kanye is number 1 on Billboard….

      • GGG

        Thank you for this, interesting.

        Visitor, as a big and famous songwriter, it’s odd that you actually thought $16 to a songwriter would be what Pandora ACTUALLY paid out.

        • AAA

          Cited sources and years of experience. Though it doesn’t really take years of experience to know how royalties are paid out… you wouldn’t know it from from this crowd.

  12. Erik P

    What amkes you think that the author of this article is right & David Lowery is wrong?

    • AAA

      Cited sources and years of experience. Though it doesn’t really take years of experience to know how royalties are paid out… you wouldn’t know it from from this crowd.

    • jw

      What amkes you think that the author of this article is right & David Lowery is wrong?
      This is hilarious.
      Someone tell please explain to me where David Lowery’s credibility comes from. I’m inclined to believe that pretty much anyone can get a gig at the University of Georgia these days.

      • WillieLee

        You seem to be unaware that David Lowery is talking about his own royalty payments for being a member of Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven. That along with publishing his actual royalty statement is where his credibility comes from while the people who counter have not offered audited statements.
        His article talked about his percentages of the songwriting which was somehow turned against him because he has bandmates and they used a record label. I guess they should have just gone on the internet back in the 80s!