Billy Joel, Rihanna fight Pandora for royalty payments

Billy Joel, Rihanna fight with Pandora: Billy Joel, Rihanna, and 125 other artists are opposed to a proposed change to US law that, they say, would cut by 85 percent the amount of money an artist receives from Pandora.

REUTERS/Bernardo Montoya
Singer Rihanna performs at a concert in Mexico City November 14, 2012. Billy Joel, Rihanna, and Missy Elliott are among 125 artists campaigning against changes in royalties from Pandora. .

Some of music's most notable names including Billy Joel, Rihanna, and Missy Elliott have signed an open letter to Pandora Media Inc opposing the online music company's push to change how artists are compensated.

Pandora is currently lobbying lawmakers in U.S. Congress to pass the "Internet Radio Fairness Act," which would change regulation of how royalties are paid to artists.

A group of 125 musicians who say they are fans of Pandora argue the bill would cut by 85 percent the amount of money an artist receives when his or her songs are played over the Internet.

RELATED: Spotify vs. Pandora

"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," said the letter, to be published this weekend in Billboard, the influential music industry magazine.

A statement with an advance copy of the letter was released on Wednesday by musicFirst, a coalition of musicians and business people, and SoundExchange, a nonprofit organization that collects royalties set by Congress on behalf of musicians.

"Internet radio and the artists whose music is played and listened to on the Internet are indeed all in this together," Tim Westergren, Pandora's founder and chief strategy officer, said in a statement.

"A sustainable Internet radio industry will benefit all artists, big and small."

FLASHPOINT
The issue of how musicians are paid for Internet streaming of their songs has been a flashpoint for Pandora.

Pandora is a mostly advertising-supported online music company, founded more than a decade ago, that streams songs through the Internet. In October, it said its share of total U.S. radio listening was almost 7 percent, up from about 4 percent during the same period last year.

Pandora's success has been double-edged - the more customers it gains, the more money it has to pay overall for rights to stream music.
So far, that rate is set until 2015.

Pandora, along with other music services such as Clear Channel Communications, is supporting the bill on grounds that different providers, such as satellite and cable, pay different rates.

"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."

The Internet Radio Fairness Act is a bipartisan bill sponsored by U.S. representatives Jason Chaffetz and Jared Polis along with Sen. Ron Wyden.
Shares of Pandora closed 4.6 percent lower at $7.31 on the New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday.

RELATED: Spotify vs. Pandora

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.