Courtesy of USA Today
Pandora founder Tim Westergren is staunchly defending his Internet radio service, blaming disputes over artist royalties on a “deliberate and orchestrated campaign” by the Recording Industry Association of America.
In a blog post published on Pandora’s website, Westergren denies the company is supporting a congressional bill that would cut artist royalties by 85%.
“That is a lie manufactured by the RIAA and promoted by their hired guns to mislead and agitate the artist community,” says Westergren. “We have never, nor would we ever advocate such a thing.”
As for royalties, Westergren says Pandora would pay about $1,370 for a million plays, which “might be equivalent to a single play on a large FM station.”
“Although we compete directly with AM/FM radio, which pays zero performance royalties, we have always supported fair compensation to artists,” he says.
The controversy over artist royalties from Pandora stems from commentaries by several artists disputing how well they are compensated. One songwriter claims Pandora paid him only $16.89 for more than 1 million plays of his song.
In an USA TODAY editorial, members of the legendary rock band Pink Floyd blasted Pandora as a ripoff. “We hope that many online and mobile music services can give fans and artists the music they want, when they want it, at price points that work,” says the editorial from Pink Floyd members Roger Waters, David Gilmour and Nick Mason. “But those same services should fairly pay the artists and creators who make the music at the core of their businesses.”
Westergren says artists speaking out about Pandora have been “mislead,” and adds the company will press forward. “We are undaunted, and we are passionate about the future of music, and an ecosystem that allows those who create it to thrive.”
The debate over artists royalties for Internet radio plays is bound to grow as more services enter the market. Several companies including Twitter, Google and Apple have launched or will launch streaming radio services, while others such as Spotify continue to thrive.
Shares of Pandora are up 0.4% in pre-market trading.