Musicians return fire in royalty debate


Digital DownloadsNo less than 125 musicians collaborated on a letter published in trade pub Billboard expressing support for internet radio, but not if that success is won by extracting money from musicians. As such, they oppose the Internet Radio Fairness Act.

Common, Dead Kennedys, Missy Elliot, Vince Gill, Don Henley, Billy Joel, Maroon 5, Martha Reeves, David Sanborn, Michael W. Smith, and Roger Waters are just some of the artists who signed the letter.

They say they are big fans of Pandora and welcomed its successful IPO – but they are not pleased that Pandora is going to Congress to try to slash the compensation paid to musicians whose work is used to make Pandora a success. They say their royalties could be cut by as much as 85% if IRFA is passed.

“These artists have joined together to tell Pandora it’s time to go back to the drawing board. We all want Internet radio to succeed, but it won’t if it tries to do so on the backs of hard working musicians and singers,” said musicFIRST Executive Director Ted Kalo.

“This issue is critical to the tens-of-thousands of recording artists we represent – all of whom rely on this digital performance revenue stream to make a living,” added SoundExchange President Michael Huppe. “It is important that we protect artists and the long-term value of their music, which is, after all, the foundation of Internet radio.”

A copy of the Billboard message can be seen here.

RBR-TVBR observation: This issue is generating a lot of noise – now we’re waiting for the next step – a congressional hearing. The issue will likely fall under the jurisdiction of the judiciary committees, although commerce could have an angle on the issue as well. As of now, no such hearing has been announced. And since time is running short for the 112th Congress, we suspect this issue is still going to be a hot topic in 2013.

But as we’ve said before, you never know what will and will not happen in a lame duck session. Stay tuned.