Internet radio war heats up, just in time for summer…
By Fred Mills
It’s hard to say where the judgment of the court of public opinion might fall—at very least, though, one could surmise that said opinion would be divided depending on whether you are a music creator or a music consumer—in the case of Pandora internet radio versus the major record labels. But things are definitely getting very interesting, according to a report published late yesterday afternoon at Billboard.com. Writes reporter Ed Christman:
“In another tactical move to keep its publishing costs from rising, Pandora has filed a motion with the ASCAP rate court, making the case that publishers looking to cut their own direct deals with Pandora are in fact bound by the ASCAP consent decree and cannot withdraw their digital rights from the performance rights organization. According to sources familiar with the filing, Pandora is asking the judge to rule on whether publishers like Universal, BMG Chrysalis and Warner/Chappell, which have all filed a revocable notice with ASCAP of their intention to withdraw certain limited “New Media” rights as of July 1, are in fact obligated to keep those digital rights at ASCAP for the purposes of Pandora licensing.”
Translation: Pandora, which still isn’t operating at a profit but has been making steady inroads in its quest to eventually operate in the black and remain the dominant player in the still-evolving web radio saga, wants to keep its royalty rates low, while the labels want to see them rise. Recall that not long ago Pandora bought a terrestrial radio station in South Dakota then filed with ASCAP to receive the same (favorable) royalty rates that Clear Channel’s iHeartRadio gets (because Clear Channel owns terrestrial radio stations and this allows iHeartRadio the same rates as the earthbound ones).
Since this is not an advocacy article, I suggest you read the entire article at the above link. Why? Because, dear readers, ultimately this may affect YOU and what you pay for your premium internet radio and streaming services—or, not unlike the scenario when you wander into your local bar and hear music being played over the stereo, what you might actually be able to listen to.
UPDATE: In fairness to all viewpoints (and yes, this is a complicated issue, not a black and white one), you should consider reading this editorial by Jeff Price, founder of TuneCore. I don’t agree with all that he proposes, since my own viewpoint stems from being a consumer first and foremost. But he still has a right to voice his opinion: http://www.hypebot.com/hypebot/2013/06/pandora-goes-for-the-artist-jugular-how-to-fight-back.html