Dear New CEO of Pandora: Will You Please Stop Screwing Our Songwriters? Signed, NMPA…

Fresh start?  Doubtful, but, the National Music Publishers’ Association is being hopeful.  Here’s a letter they just mailed to Brian McAndrews, the newly-hired CEO of Pandora.  (Somehow it landed in our inbox.)


  • Save

19 Responses

  1. Richard Zedalius

    Cry me a river… It just doesn’t make sense that Pandora should pay more than any other radio, and it is great that they are working on changing that. Pandora is clearly a victim of unfair treatment from a greedy industry, and shouldn’t let bullying like the above hold them back. In this case the level of pathetic whining is quite amusing though. Seriously, those lazy musicians who expect to live off recordings from perhaps 30 years ago, should get a job. Almost everyone else needs to get up in the morning to make a living and so should they. With the amount of money a lot of artists can make from concerts in mind, they shouldn’t expect a lot of sympathy from anyone.

      • Richard Zedalius

        Okey-dokey. I will fuck off to and :)

    • David

      But according to Pandora’s own publicity, they are not just another radio station. They claim to offer a personalised service based on your own preferences. So either they are lying, or they should not be treated like any ordinary station.

      • Richard Zedalius

        It is a modern radio station using modern technology. That doesn’t mean that the music industry, should allowed to exploit this trivial fact and out of nowhere demand even more money. I don’t see why Pandora should be punished for innovating and offer consumers a modern radio experience? The music cartels and their endless attempts to hold back innovation has to be stopped. The patience with them must have a limit.

        • David

          Your own words were that ‘it doesn’t make sense that Pandora should pay any more than any other radio’. But if Pandora is not like ‘any other radio’, then it does make sense. If Pandora’s own claims about its service are true, then it is closer to a streaming service than conventional radio, so it should expect to pay closer to streaming royalties. Pandora should count itself lucky that a legal loophole allows it the privilege of a compulsory licence, unlike pure streaming services.

          • Visitor

            If you can’t yourself make a decision which song you want to listen to, then it is a radio. That the radio stations is modern and adjusted to what the user want to hear, is no excuse for the lawyers of the music cartels to again attack innovation. I believe a lot of people is getting really tired of their greed and games.

        • Visitor

          its interesting that you would refer to the music industry as a cartel and paint them out to be the thugs in this situation when you have a company (pandora) with $3.2 billion market captilization that pays songwriters $.00006 per play. without the music that pandora plays, they have no business, period. the songwrtiers creating that content are entitled to be, at the very least, fairly compensated. less than $60 for a million plays is hardly fair if you ask me…

    • Esol Esek

      The notion that Pandora is a parallel to radio of 20 years ago, before the mass web, is completely asinine and willfully or ignorantly dishonest.

  2. Joda

    Does terrestrial radio allow you to instantly purchase music the way Pandora does?


    So why the fuck would they get special treatment?

    Pandora is a better deal proposition.

  3. FarePlay

    Ah Richard, such envy for success. Do you feel that way about everyone who has made it BIG?

    If only. Granted I don’t hang out with Mick or Keith or dine with Elton, but the musicians I do know drive beat up old cars and trucks. Such rage and contempt. Sad.

    What I really don’t understand is why you aren’t pissed off at Westergren, now he’s a wealthy guy.

    • Richard Zedalius

      It is great that people get wealthy, if they work hard and deserve the money they earn. Mr. Westergren is such a person and I am only happy if he is very rich. Discussing the music industry, however, a lot of people doesn’t work hard for the money they earn. They just keep getting paid for something which they created perhaps 30 years ago. The problem is that the current system doesn’t encourage creativity and hard work. To change this, a small start could be to limit copyright to around 5 years. The music cartels, which are all about control and destroying innovation should be severly weakened by such a move. Other than that, the artists working in the industry, should expect to make their money from concerts and not from a old and increasingly irrelevant copyright system.

      • Yves Villeneuve

        How do you know Westergren works hard? Should investors be forced to sell their shares because a certain time has elapsed? Don’t be ridiculous.

        Lots of musicians work hard but does not mean every single creation will be successful. Being a musician is same as being an entrepreneur. There are wins and losses and they should not be forced to divest from their successful creations/investments.

        Each music creation is a business enterprise.

  4. Visitor

    Paul, didn’t you once say you would post a how-to-remove-songs-from-Pandora FAQ?

  5. David

    There are two distinct issues about Pandora’s royalties:

    a) is the total payment to rights holders fair?

    b) whatever the total payment, is the share going to songwriters and publishers fair?

    On point (a), the total payout per play is about a tenth of a US cent, which is less than an on-demand streaming service like Spotify (but how does it compare with YouTube?), but probably more than the average payout per listener of terrestrial radio. As Pandora is functionally in between a streaming service and a radio station, this is not obviously unfair.

    On point (b), if the payout to songwriters/publishers is $.00006 per play, that is about 6% of the total payout to rights holders (a tenth of a cent). Of course this is less than in the case for terestrial radio, because in that case the other rights holders get nothing (in the USA)! But it also seems low in comparison with record sales, where songwriters/publishers get around 10% of the retail price, artists get around 15-20% (subject to repayment of advance royalties), and record companies take the residue after manufacturing and distribution costs. Prima facie, a share as low as 6% does seem unfairly low.

    • Casey

      It does seem a bit low, but how much would 1M listens on terrestrial radio make songwriters/publishers? I truly don’t know without doing some digging, but I can’t imagine it is as high as $60. I don’t know how much songwriters get paid from Spotify for 1M on-demand plays, but I would assume it is more than $60 or at least it should be. So Pandora falls in the middle of them, which does seem fair based on its functionality. Perhaps the rate is just low across the board?

      • David

        I agree the payout per listener of terrestrial radio is probably lower, but that doesn’t affect the point that the distribution between different rights holders seems unfair, if my figures are correct.

    • Visitor

      Traditional radio can afford to pay songwriters more because they pay performance artists zero. Once traditional radio is forced to pay royalties on recordings, you bet the royalty to songwriters will go down a lot, and will make Pandora look generous in comparison. Something always got to give.