Pandora: Approaching a "Last Stand"

A lot of folks (yours-truly included) have been loving Pandora lately because they've been using the excellent native iPhone app (Read a Lightning Review of Pandora). With any luck, these folks could be mobilized to help Pandora out -- they're facing crippling and unfair royalty fees from SoundExchange. It's an issue that we reported on a bit last year over at our sister site, WMExperts. The gist is this: the RIAA and SoundExchange are looking to enforce new royalty rates for Internet Radio that are so high that it's fair to say they're meant not to pay artists, but to destroy a medium. This article on Pandora's plight over at the Washington Post [via] is a pretty good summary of the state of the Internet Radio fight, and here's a pretty good summary of the article:

"We're approaching a pull-the-plug kind of decision," said Tim Westergren, who founded Pandora. "This is like a last stand for webcasting." [...] Westergren, seemingly wearied by the constant haggling over the issue, signaled that Pandora's investors may also be impatient for an end. "We're funded by venture capital," he said. "They're not going to chase a company whose business model has been broken. So if it doesn't feel like its headed towards a solution, we're done."

Our take: the actions taken last year by and the huge masses they were able to mobilize managed to shine enough light on this issue to delay what looked like the impending death of Internet Radio. Now we're back for Internet Radio 2: The Revenge, and since Pandora's now on our iPhones, this time, it's personal.

Or better: We might be approaching Pandora's Last Stand, but let's make sure they don't stand alone.

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Dieter Bohn

Dieter Bohn is former editor-in-chief of Smartphone Experts, writing across iMore, Windows Phone Central, Android Central, and more. You can find him on Twitter (and everywhere else) @backlon.

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Reader comments

Pandora: Approaching a "Last Stand"


Pandora should pay the RIAA $X million in royalties, and then turn around and charge them $x*5 million for all the free marketing for downloads, CDs, tours, etc. they provide.
Fair certainly is fair. Quid should be pro quo.

I hadn't bought a new album in probably 2 months. Since I started using Pandora again, I've purchased FOUR via their amazon link.
I hope to god they're:
a) Getting some sort of affiliate cut from that and
b) Tracking that I clicked their amazon (affiliate?) link so they can show the RIAA they're driving purchases.

All the royalty-representation, artists-must-get-paid talk from SE is a red herring - their sole purpose is to act as an RIAA proxy. Services like Last, Pandora, imeem: They disrupts the existing RIAA models. The real issue here is control and preserving the RIAA food chain.
Everybody from labels, users, artists and their lawyers can't figure out why they are so hell bent on destroying, crippling, or regularing every new innovation that hits the music scene -- and it boils down to that simple truth. They're using a collection right - stupidly handed to them on a silver platter by the US government with no oversight - to prop up the failing RIAA core business models.

i remember when internet radio started and nobody even knew how to listen to it, then just a few years later there was some huge boom where half the world's radio stations went onlineand nobody even thought to ask the RIAA. Most of those stations ran exactly the same Ads they ran over the air - in most cases the broadcast was also exactly the same as over the air.. Anyway, enough of me being old.

  1. Inevitably, the RIAA will win. They have their own massive resources as well as the support of the entire conservative business world.
  2. How can a industrial association possibly posses so much legal power? I'm more afraid of the RIAA than the FBI.