Yesterday on Capitol Hill did not quite go the way that the Internet Radio Fairness Coalition had in mind. At all. More about that will be written. Mr. Chaffetz–more about him later, too–had asked Mr. Goodlatte for a hearing on the so-called Internet Radio Fairness Act, and a hearing he got. I would say mostly a “listening” but that’s good, too. The hearing was scheduled for 11:30 am and in a brilliant move, David Israelite of the NMPA scheduled a performance by five of our community’s top songwriters in an adjacent meeting room just prior to the IRFA hearing.
The writers were Lee Miller performing his song “You’re Gonna Miss This” (as recorded by Trace Adkins), Kara DioGuardi performing “Sober” (as recorded by Pink), BC Jean performing “If I Were a Boy” (as recorded by Beyoncé), Desmond Child performing his song “Livin’ on a Prayer” (as recorded by Bon Jovi), and Linda Perry performing her song “Beautiful” (as recorded by Christina Aguilera).
Of course there was a masterful political element to the timing and messaging of these songwriters, but first think about this–these writers performed their songs with a single instrument accompanying them. Just one instrument and the voice, about the simplest instrumentation you can have.
And of course–the song. These songwriters reminded the audience comprised of Members and staffers of the importance of the songwriter, and they did it by letting the songs speak for themselves. By performing these songs–not with the vast instrumentation and production values of the recordings that interpreted the songs, they really and truly demonstrated conclusively that which every record company executive knows that is not a hype, not a self interested spin–it really and truly does all start with the song.
The combined Pandora earnings for these songwriters in the first quarter of this year was $587.39. For over 33 million spins.
And Tim Westergren wants to pay them less.
It’s too bad that Tim wasn’t there for the sing along that Desmond Child led on the chorus of Living on a Prayer. Since he used to play in a band and all, you would have thought that Tim would naturally gravitate to hanging out with his own kind.
I guess Tim was too busy to show up for a reminder of the investment that these writers are making in his company by giving him a break on royalty rates that all songwriters richly deserve.
When Pandora, and the NAB, and David Pakman and Google complain about royalty rates, remember that’s just about greed. By handling themselves the way they have, all these people have demonstrated once and for all that they just don’t get it.
That’s OK, they are not our friends. We don’t have to be friends with everyone we do business with.
But here’s the real deal: Without great songs there are no great records and without great records there is no Pandora.
And that’s the fact.