RIAA lies about Pandora's royalty rates

Have you heard a lot of Internetular argle-bargle about Pandora’s crazy-low royalty rates? How they compare unfavorably to satellite rates, and how the company’s trying to cut them? You have? Me too. Turns out (unsurprisingly), it’s RIAA lies. For example, the comparison to satellite streaming rates is pure spin – it compares the rate of… READ THE REST

And not a single person was surprised


Scalia is scum, but I will thank him if his rantiness against gay marriage succeeds in popularizing “argle-bargle.”

Shocking. Shocking I say!

Anyway. When will these old fossils up and die already? Seriusly why are they still arund much less able to influince anything?

Well they are already having their funding cut back, so this is the current attempt to make themselves seem needed to fend off the evil pirates. Of course if they started ignoring the RIAA and dealt with reality, they might discover that the RIAA has cost them much money and time meeting consumer demand and having an increase in profits.


A lot of people I know posted about the rates the first time around. I wonder how many of them this news will filter down to?

Unfortunately the RIAA still has rights to a number of artists that ‘we’ want to listen to. So they have to play ball if they want those artists in the stable.

The fucking asshole RIAA should be happy that Pandora at least gives their represented artists some money. They get $0 from me and will never get a cent more.

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Let’s be intellectually honest, though. Equating Pandora plays to satellite or FM plays is also spin – Pandora is a much more personalized platform. Each song is closer to being user-chosen than on radio platforms, so each play is ostensibly more valuable to the listener.

Overall, what I don’t understand about this whole kind of argument is this: What happens if what people want to pay is less than what it costs to make the content that they want to consume? Books and some kinds of music often require little overhead… a creator could cut costs and make something cheaply enough to profit from. But movies or quality TV… I think that’s often more expensive to content creators than the viewers are willing to shell out.

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Went to Pandora once. Typed in Curve. Discovered Frou Frou, then Imogen Heap. 7-8 years later and a buttload spent on albums and concert tickets, I daren’t go back. Too expensive.


I thought the RIAA was just a lobbying group holding no rights themselves.
They “speak” for/“represent” all of the member labels, but the rights still belong to the individual labels.

Small independent artists like Zoe Keating clearly [disagree][2]. So do big artists like Pink Floyd, who [say][3] that Pandora is being dishonest about their petition. Organizations like MusicFirst confirm that Pandora is pretty much lying to musicians. The enemy of your enemy is not always your friend.

(PS - there’s a 2-links-per-post limit for new users; otherwise I would have provided more citations.)
[2]: http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/08/how-you-turn-music-into-money-in-2012-spoiler-mostly-itunes/260678/
[3]: http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2013/06/23/pink-floyd-royalties-pandora-column/2447445/

Why isn’t the large quote credited? Who said that?

I bet this number “85%” is the difference between the desired rate that they attempted to negotiate and the current one, or perhaps the difference between the negotiated one and what ASCAP actually wanted. So Pandora is suing ASCAP now, as they shook hands, man. This quote ends with saying that “Any characterization of Pandora as being out to cut publishing rates flies in the face of the facts.” Of course it doesn’t really, they certainly weren’t trying to negotiate a higher rate!

Doctorow’s intro is pretty misleading as well, webcasting rates do compare unfavorably to satellite radio. Again, the comparisons between multicast and singlecast radio are apples and oranges. Each needs a sustainable rate, neither has one.

David Lowry wrote a long rant on this which I tried to break down on BoingBoing’s Google+ Group. Short answer, I think his math is transparently terrible. On the G+ post there was a little back and forth discussion, but as far as I can tell the question is: what is the average expected audience of one radio play? That would give you a formula for comparing the how well each compensates artists <cough> rightsholders for their product.

I read the Keating article. How does that constitute disagreement? She gets more money from NPR than from Pandora because radio continues to have radically greater reach than streaming services?

I don’t buy ALL the music I listen to either, I never did, so why should I expect every single listener to make a purchase? I think that a subset of my listeners pay for my music, and that is a-ok because…and this is the key…there are few middlemen between us.

But I confess, bringing up “MusicFirst” as authority sets off some alarm bells.

I’ve pretty much bought 90+% of the music (and concert tickets) I have in the last 5 years because of Pandora.

Looks like it’s a little more complicated than that.

I rushed my earlier comment a bit because I only had a few minutes. Mainly I wanted to point out that there’s been some serious criticism of Pandora recently from musicians claiming that they’re being dishonest. The Pink Floyd article is definitely the central source I was trying to point out. The Keating link is mainly to show that independent artists are only getting a tiny amount of money from streaming services. As for the MusicFirst link, I apologize. I went looking for an article that talked about the recent controversy and came up with that. I did a very brief search on MusicFirst, specifically to find out whether they’re RIAA shills, and failed to discover that they are. I’ve read some general articles on the controversy recently from other sources, but couldn’t remember where offhand. Here’s another recent article on the subject.
It could be that Pandora is right and the criticism is unreasonable. I’m no expert. I just think that posting Pandora’s claims as though they’re unquestionably true is a bit hasty.

The article you quote there is exactly the one I discussed on the Boing Boing G+ Group (tl;dr: David Lowry doesn’t math so good).

I might also point out that if Lowry is relying on broadcast royalties to survive, he’s going to starve to death, Pandora or no Pandora.

I love Pink Floyd to death, but the authors of “Have a Cigar” have made packets of money in the recording industry while remaining pretty clueless about it’s workings. I don’t hold it against them: I would expect my grandparents to understand iTunes either.

There seem to be two questions that are floating around:

  1. Should Pandora pay a comparable amount to other broadcasters?

I would have a hard time explaining why they should pay more.

  1. Is Pandora paying a comparable amount to other broadcasters?

That depends on radio listenership, which is a closely guarded secret (well, I can’t find good numbers), but my reasonable guesses suggest that they probably do.

Neither of these addresses the fact that if I were a musician, knowing my own musical purchase behavior, I’d do everything in my power to get my tracks on Pandora, whether I was being paid or not. I think it’s hands-down the best way to discover music: essentially it’s everything radio should have been.

Again, excellent points. And you’ve clearly looked into this a lot more deeply than I have.