A BUNCH OF MUSICIANS have signed a letter that asks the music streaming website Pandora to spare them a thought and give them a leg up into the growing digital economy.
The 133 artists include Blondie, Bryan Adams, Sheryl Cole, the Doors, Katy Perry, Rihanna and Brian Wilson. They are represented by the Music First coalition.
According to the letter (PDF) they have stood on the sidelines and watched as Pandora prospered, even helping it when it needed their help, but now it is their turn to ask or help. Cole, Adams, the Doors?!? say that they are standing at the gates of the digital economy and ask Pandora to hold it open for them.
Rather than hold it open, they say, Pandora is slamming it shut and is asking Congress to "gut the royalties" that artists rely on with its support for the The Internet Radio Fairness Act.
"Pandora's principal asset is the music. Why is the company asking Congress to step in and gut the royalties that thousands of artists rely on?" they ask.
"Congress has many pressing issues to consider, but this is not one of them. Let's work this out as partners and continue to bring fans the music experience they rightly expect."
On the Music First Coalition website things go further and Pandora is accused of being dishonest, and of misleading people when it says that it pays too much in the way of royalties. Rather, says the musicians group, Pandora is pulling in $600m a year in revenues at a time of otherwise "slow economic growth".
In a statement Pandora defended its position, saying that internet radio and artists are united by the same goal, and that is a market that supports artists of all shapes and sizes.
"Internet radio and the artists whose music is played and listened to on the Internet are indeed all in this together. A sustainable Internet radio industry will benefit all artists, big and small," said Tim Westergreen, founder and chief strategy officer.
Westergreen said that without previous intervention from Congress internet radio sites, like Pandora, would be paying over "100 percent of their revenues in royalty fees", adding that this would have killed the industry dead. However, he said that the intervention was only a short term thing, and needs replacing.
"The short-term solution is about to expire and we believe there should be a permanent fix. The Internet Radio Fairness Act (IRFA) is the right permanent solution. We look forward to partnering with all parties on building a sustainable and equitable future," he added.
"Passage of the IRFA will mean more jobs in a sustainable industry, more choices for listeners, and more opportunities and revenue for working artists and their record labels. When the digital music sector is allowed to grow and innovate, everybody wins." µ