Pandora want help from (drum roll please) ME!


Tim WestergrenIt’s not often that I find story material in my personal email box, but today was the exception. I found a nice note there from Pandora’s Tim Westergren, asking me to twist the arm of one of my state’s senators in support of the Internet Radio Fairness Act.

Here’s what Westergren wrote:

“I am writing to ask for your urgent help. An important piece of legislation has just been introduced in Congress that could end long-standing discrimination against Internet radio. I’m asking that you contact your Senator to urge them to support the Internet Radio Fairness Act.

“This bipartisan bill will correct the incredible inequity in how different digital radio formats are treated under the law when it comes to setting royalties. The difference is quite extraordinary. In 2011, Pandora paid over 50% of our revenues in performance royalties, while SiriusXM paid less than 10%.

“As a lifelong musician, I’m fully supportive of artist compensation, but this situation can’t continue. Internet radio is bringing millions of listeners back to music, and is playing the songs of tens of thousands of promising artists who would otherwise never be heard. It should be given a fair chance to succeed.

“To voice your support for this initiative, please reach out to your Senator today and say you support the Internet Radio Fairness Act.”

RBR-TVBR observation: In this case, it appears that what’s good for Pandora is also good for AM and FM broadcasters. The bill Westergren refers to, introduced by Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) in the House and Ron Wyden (D-OR) in the Senate, would presumably help broadcasters who are trying to stream content.

I’m on Westergren’s emailing list because I am in fact a registered user of Pandora, although not so much lately.

We know musicians are opposed to the Chaffetz bill, and would much rather see one from Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) that is currently in draft form. But we have to say, when we were using Pandora a bit more frequently, we were actually going out an buying some of the music we heard there that was new to us, and further, we used new finds on Pandora to initiate our own searches for similar musicians.

So we know for a fact from first hand experience that Pandora does help musicians sell music, just as radio does. So is it really such a bad thing for musicians for the service to thrive?

For the record, Mr. Westergren asked for my help influencing Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), but made no mention of my other two representatives, Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC) or Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC). Perhaps he doesn’t want to overextend me, but really, there’s not much to overextend – none of the three has made it a point to consult me as they go about their duties in Washington.