MusicFIRST–a 127-person roster including musicians from all genres, including OKP names like Robin Thicke, Eric Roberson, Nas, Ludacris, Common, Janelle Monåe, CeeLo Green, Lupe Fiasco, Raheem DaVaughn, and Missy Elliot. Backed by the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), the AFL-CIO, and the NAACP, musicFIRST is rallying against the Pandora Royalties structure — more specifically, against its push for Congress to pass the Internet Radio Fairness Act (IRFA), which if passed will reduce the amount of money Pandora and other Internet radio services have to pay for music.
There are two perspectives on the legislation: Pandora’s and musicFIRST’s. In an open letter against the IRFA, musicFIRST states:
“Pandora is now enjoying phenomenal success as a Wall Street company… Why is the company asking Congress once again to step in and gut the royalties that thousands of musicians rely upon? That’s not fair and that’s not how partners work together.”
Instead of pushing for legislation, musicFIRST argues that Pandora should approach musicians directly to negotiate payments. On the other hand, Pandora makes the claim that things are not fair as they currently stand:
“Today, the discrimination is extraordinary. In 2011, Pandora paid over 50% of revenues in performance royalties, while SiriusXM paid less than 10%. Internet radio brings millions of listeners back to music, plays the songs of tens of thousands of promising working artists, enabling them to build their audience while receiving fair compensation.”
While Pandora would like to believe that they are combatting unfairness by lobbying for IRFA, the Recording Academy (another musicFIRST supporter) believes differently. In a letter of their own, they argue that Pandora is not addressing the real inequality in the radio industry: “terrestial radio pays nothing… Radio broadcasters are the only business in America that can use another’s intellectual property without permission or compensation.” Ultimately, this whole dispute strikes me as odd. Basically, a whole bunch of rich people are trying to stay rich or get richer. Am I the only one who’s seeing it that way? What do you think of the pandora royalties structure, players? Speak your truth in the comments section.