Deconstructing: Pandora, Spotify, Piracy, and Getting Artists Paid

November 20, 2012

“Who the [heck] is this guy and why is he trying to sell me a warm sack of [poo]?”

This question lit up my mind last week, as I sat in the audience for the Future of Music Coalition Policy [sic] Summit in Washington, DC. The guy in question was, in fact, a US Senator — Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) — while said warm-sack-of-[poo] was the Internet Radio Fairness Act (IRFA), which Sen. Wyden is sponsoring in the Senate.

The IRFA has the stated goal of correcting inequities in royalty rates that are paid to songwriters and musicians based upon type of radio transmission. Real inequality exists in the royalty rates between terrestrial radio, cable/satellite radio, and Internet radio (like Pandora). Some rates, like those for Internet radio, are arguably too high while others, like terrestrial radio rates, are probably too low. “Fairness” for artists and businesses would mean taking all of these rates into legislative consideration at the same time: raising some while lowering others. But that’s not what Sen. Wyden was there to support. […]