After years of acrimony, Pandora is now ringing the bell on a fresh licensing deal with Sony/ATV, the largest music publisher in the world.
Updated: It has now been clarified that Sony/ATV does indeed have the right to strike a separate performance rights deal with Pandora, but cannot withdraw a license from Pandora while still a member of either ASCAP and/or BMI. That is the conclusion of US Department of Justice consent decrees on the matter, themselves potentially subject to revision at at later point.
“We believe that this agreement with Pandora is a major step in the right direction to ensure that our songwriters are fairly compensated for the use of their music on streaming services,” Marty Bandier, Sony/ATV Chairman and CEO, declared in a statement emailed early this morning to Digital Music News.
“This is a significant milestone in our long-standing effort to strengthen ties with the music maker community,” said Brian McAndrews, chief executive officer of Pandora.
The attorneys we spoke to this morning didn’t have any splashy quotes, merely confusion over how this deal could be happening. As in, legally, how it’s possible given federal court rulings that prohibit direct publisher agreements alongside existing PRO relationships with either ASCAP or BMI. “Is Sony/ATV now going to license every mom & pop?” one lawyer asked Digital Music News.
Pandora has previously executed direct licensing deals on the recording side, specifically with indie label consortium Merlin and classical label Naxos. But those were executed within the (relatively) reduced legal entanglements of the recorded music world, which has far fewer governmental regulations than publishing.
Those recording deals and payouts, funneled through SoundExchange, will not be affected according to the companies. “The public performance royalties Pandora also pays to rights holders of master recordings are not affected by this agreement,” Pandora stated.