Artists Say Pandora Radio Is 'Unfair'

A coalition of over 125 artists and musicians say that Pandora is out of line for asking Congress to cut streaming royalties by 85%.

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A roster of 125 major American musicians have signed an open letter slating the streaming service Pandora for trying to cut its royalty rates.

Pandora has been asking Congress to push through the "Internet Radio Fairness Act" which will cut streaming royalties by 85%. Many industry observers feel the current streaming rates are already too low, and further cuts will do untold damage to artists and labels.

Artists who signed the letter include Rihanna, Missy Elliot and Billy Joel.

"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," reads the letter by the coalition of artists and business people. The full letter will be published by Billboard later this week.

Pandora is pushing for the new law because its success is costing it more and more to run. Every time a track is streamed, it must pay additional licensing and rights fees, which it claims is becoming harder to support with advertising.

"The current law penalizes new media and is astonishingly unfair to Internet radio," Pandora said on its website. "We are asking for our listeners' support to help end the discrimination against internet radio. It's time for Congress to stop picking winners, level the playing field and establish a technology-neutral standard."

42 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Rorok_89
    the "Internet Radio Fairness Act" which will cut streaming royalties by 85%. Wha? Fairness Act? Fairness to who?
    racertj5
    Fair because the "traditional" radio stations pay a hell of a lot less than internet radio.
    zomgguitarz1234
    "traditional" radio stations also don't let you pick which band you specifically want to listen to without advertisement interrupting you for 10-15 minutes.. Well idk, pandora might have ad's I haven't been on there in ages.
    Goblumich07
    they do, but it's pretty much one 30-second ad every 5-6 songs or so. Not a four-minute commercial break.
    xplosive59
    It would of made sense if small bands that were signing it but ****ing Rihanna? Like she needs more money!
    HighVoltageMT
    85% cut? Ouch - I am all up for artists making more money, because being a committed musical act is hard work and takes up a lot of time and money. IMO the world has devalued the end product (the music and songs), but the costs that the musician faces (studio time, musical gear, travel expenses) have only increased. This sit doesn't like artists like Rihanna or Missy Elliot, but many major acts such as Metallica, Muse, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Tool have worked their asses off to get to where they are. I could possibly understand if Pandora wanted to cut royalties by a reasonable amount, but 85% is way too high!
    baumaxx1
    Aren't the royalties already peanuts? I'd happily have banner ads in spotify despite having a premium subscription if it meant the artists got more money.
    TimLarkin
    Ya royalties aren't that much for each song, but multiply that by however many artists Pandora has, how many times each song is listened to, and then take into account that streaming went up 700% in the UK alone this year, and you've got a massive debt to pay.
    baumaxx1
    Yeah, the business model needs tweaking. If they make it too expensive, people will just pirate, and if it's too cheap no one is making any money. Incorporating an online music store or partnering with one might help supplement some of the streaming revenue.
    Crimson.King
    So the times have changed and Pandora's business model is now out of date and unsustainable? They need to change their business model. That's the way a free market works. Running to congress for help is ridiculous.
    Acou97
    This. I don't know Pandora, never used it, but it sounds like it lets you explore new artists you maybe never heard of before. Maybe they offer you the chance you buy these artists albums in something similar to itunes instead of trying to rip them off of their hard earned money, disagree or not they work hard for their paycheck Either way my opinion Pandora might already do this
    racertj5
    The issue is that pandora and other streaming services pay extremely high royalties compared to "traditional" radio. Basically the rates were high because these services were so new but now that they are catching on and there are more people every day listening to these sites it is time for things to be put on an equal footing.
    K!!LsWiTcH
    if they want a level playing field than level the playing field fairly. raise terrestrial radio royalties a little more cut internet radio a bit. 85 percent is unholy. the problem with terrestrial radio is that the same stuff is constantly being played earning the same people royalties. honestly most of this industry needs a ****ing overhaul, bad.
    Camron62\m/
    at least it's better than Jango. by far. i use Pandora for metal, so i'm not complaining.
    bearmod
    Cutting them by 85% is insane. I could see cutting them by a few percent but at 85% they might as well get nothing at all.
    elcapitan1800
    If you look at it over time, it probably makes sense. When internet radio wasn't so popular, if the artists were going to profit at all from it, royalties needed to be high. Now that it has grown exponentially in popularity, I could understand the argument to lower royalties. Better than Pandora going bankrupt or charging for a membership
    Wayfærer
    Pandora went almost out of business several times because they weren't getting enough funds to pay both for royalties and their own expenses. They're still struggling now, hence their request for a price cut. Yet the fact is, the service is creating exposure for a lot of artists who need it to establish themselves, and as a result increases these bands' album sales in the long run. It would be a shame it they had to shut down while taking so little from the artists.
    Dude475
    Of course the ones who sign the letter are major pop crap people. Pandora is great. I wouldnt listen to half of the music i listen to now if Pandora wasn't around. I wouldn't know about gojira, decapitated, dirge within, allegeon, after the burial, exodus, god forbid, periphery, and many other intold great metal bands. So, I say screw you artists who dont like pandora!
    LiamPodmore
    It isn't about not liking Pandora, it's about Pandora trying to cut the royalties that the musicians are entitled to. How would you feel if someone turned around and cut your salary by 85%? I'd have signed this letter if i was an artist on Pandora. Liam
    revin214
    My understanding about the "fairness" thing is that Pandora (internet radio) is charged a much higher royalty fee than other avenues of music distribution.
    Dude475
    Yes but artists that signed this letter I can safely assume that the artists don't like pandora.
    Wayfærer
    I'd feel fine knowing that at least I'm getting something, which I wouldn't if the service went bankrupt and out of business.
    LiamPodmore
    I'm not saying that the Artists royalties shouldn't be cut at all, because if that's what needs to happen to keep the site up and running (Though i don't use it myself) then that's fair, but to cut them by 85% is beyond excessive in my opinion. Liam
    cwm1990
    Agreed, I mean artist should get paid for their performance, which means more touring and not sitting on their asses while radio stations play them non stop, specifically pop and hip/hop. You dont see death metal bands fighting this thing and they make way less than everyone, but they are out touring no matter what.
    InMemoryOfDio
    I think Billy Joel is a "cut above" those "major pop crap people." Just saying.
    Dude475
    Billy idol maybe but billy don't like billy Joel. And I wouldn't know about exodus. Did they sign thi or something?
    morbidguitar
    i dont know or care what pandora is but it sounds ghey.
    colster6000
    Now there's a witty and insightful comment...why did you bother?
    morbidguitar
    same reason you replied to it
    dewitt
    ...because you're extremely bored and dissatisfied with your life, so you're just reaching out for some kind of attention from someone, somewhere?
    colster6000
    I replied to it so you and other UG readers might think twice before posting similar comments in the future. The comment sections on UG articles would be much more interesting and informative if all the comments such as yours were eliminated.
    ismeri
    you are living in the dark ages if you still listen to pandora. spotify is available in the usa now and surpasses all other internet based radio.
    C8PT81N
    i don't see the issue...they can always limit a certain artist to x number of times per day per account...if it cost them that much money, they would've thought of that to save money. so why are they attacking how much they have to pay royalties? if they want the "traditional" radio style, then they need to do like radio and have certain stations playing through the same playlist instead of being able to shape them. extra features, extra money...just like buying a car, or a baseball ticket, or house.
    xAfflictionx
    I'm all for the Internet fairness act, from what I know pandora does pay a lot more than traditional radio and I don't see that as fair.
    Emberwolf06
    They pay more because you have more control over what you hear. On traditional radio you essentially select a genre and listen to whatever the DJ selects. With Pandora I've made it so some playlists essentially only play 2-3 artists that I like, and generally, I hear most of their discography.
    PsiGuy60
    Somehow I don't think the royalties are the issue with Pandora's business model.