This has been brewing for several weeks, but now it’s official: after heavy opposition and destructively-bad PR, Pandora has decided to walk away from its Internet Radio Fairness Act, or IRFA. The legislation, painted by Pandora founder Tim Westergren as a solution to equalize radio royalty rates and generate more income for everyone, was fiercely opposed as a mechanism to merely cheat artists through lowered royalty rates.
Representative Jason Chaffetz, a major Pandora supporter, told The Hill that another version of IRFA could hit the House floor. But at this point, without Pandora’s backing, the initiative seems completely dead. Apple, which largely struck its own deals with rights owners, has little interest in this sideshow.
This doesn’t mean Pandora is giving up entirely, they just need to do it more quietly. “Pandora will focus on other paths of resolution,” a Pandora press person stated, while referring to an under-the-radar process involving the Copyright Royalty Board. Pandora’s Tim Westergren now has a policy of not corresponding with Digital Music News, based on ‘unfavorable’ coverage of IRFA, massive stock cashouts, and a very questionable campaign to rally artist support.
Opponents came from all corners on this one, including a massive number of songwriters and artists. The latter category included names like David Lowery and Pink Floyd, both of whom excoriated Pandora and Westergren for attempting to trick artists into debilitatingly-low royalty structures. The recording industry, including the major labels, also opposed IRFA and successfully rallied public and artist opinion against Pandora’s efforts.