Three members of Pink Floyd published a letter in USA Today recently urging fellow musicians to disregard a letter from Pandora asking musicians to sign a letter supporting the Internet Radio Fairness Act. Pandora, the online music service, which allows listeners to create their own “stations”, thinks the Act will level the playing field. That field is unlevel because Pandora pays higher royalties for the music it plays than do satellite and broadcast radio. Broadcast radio pays nothing -- a vestige of a time when radio play promoted record purchases.
Pink Floyd’s gripe is that the Act levels the playing field by cutting the current Pandora royalties by 85%. Pink Floyd “don’t need no education” to tell them that is a bad deal. And the band is also unhappy with what it considers Pandora’s deception in making the request for support. According to the USA Today letter, the Pandora letter is filled with platitudes about “supporting Internet radio” but short on any discussion of what that means – i.e. an 85% cut in royalties.
The alternative method for leveling the field apparently would be to remove the restriction on broadcast radio paying royalties. That would alter the entire landscape – which would either be A Great Day for Freedom or Absolutely Curtains. In any event, it will, like so many other issues, come down to Money.