Pandora’s “Grass Roots” Bait and Switch Part 2: What does Pandora have in common with the Saudi Arabia, AIG and Google?

Continued from More on Pandora’s Bait and Switch Campaign, Part 1

In other news from the latest proud owner of a local radio station who doesn’t care about the locality of their local radio station–

Pandora’s Bait and Switch Campaign:  Pandora Wants to Cut Royalty Payments But Nancy Tarr Doesn’t Tell You That

Pandora got the IRFA message–they are now trying to drive a wedge between the stars who are having what passes for hits these days, and the independent artists who aspire to have hits or to at least make a living.  How are they doing this?  By dangling the bait of “promotion” in front of artists who yearn to break in.

Here’s how it starts.  An independent artist will receive this email from someone at Pandora, in this case from Nancy Tarr:

Dear <firstname><lastname> I hope you don’t mind this unsolicited email. I’m reaching out to introduce myself and to start a conversation with you about your music on Pandora and about some broader policy issues.

What comes next?  Investment opportunities in the Horn of Africa?  The true importance of owning gold?  Or some other spammy pitch?

No, Nancy Tarr’s email is ostensibly about Pandora’s “artist dashboard” system, which is basically 12 year old “heat map” technology that is pretty meaningless because it doesn’t do the one thing that independent artists need: Direct contact with their fans.  Also known as an email address.  (MTP readers will remember our discussion from February about how “subscribe here” buttons could be added to “buy here” buttons on music services like Pandora so that fans could elect to join an artist’s email list–with no other involvement from Pandora.)

If Nancy Tarr’s email gets the artist to respond with a pulse, the artist then gets another email from Nancy Tarr:

From: Nancy Tarr <XXXX@pandora.com>

Date: [April 2013]

To: <ARTIST >

Subject: RE: ARTIST – Introduction to Pandora Listener Analytics for Artists

Dear <firstname>,

Thank you for taking the time to write back to me.  I am going to attach a couple of documents for you, a sample of an Artist Dashboard Pandora is researching as well as Pandora’s Artist Best Practices (you may already have this).  Please let me know what you think of the dashboard – and if this information may be helpful when you are setting up your tours.

I am also glad you are willing to talk about helping working musicians raise their voices in Washington, DC.

[Never mentioned by the artist.]

As I mentioned in my first email to you, Pandora is interested in raising the voices of working class musicians like yourself [and here comes the wedge] to policy makers in Washington, DC.   In that spirit, we’re working to pull together a “letter of support” for internet radio from working musicians.

Our aim would be to share the letter with members of congress.  Would you be willing to add your name and your bandmates to the following letter?  If so, please reply to this email with your permission [how about the bandmates’ permission?].  We already have over 250 signatures.  In the next several weeks, we will hand deliver this to members of congress, particularly those overseeing legislation in this area.  Eventually we’d like to collect over a 1000 signatures.

The primary intent is not to advocate a particular position, but make members aware of the missing voice on this issue, and for that matter other issues surrounding copyright, royalties, licensing, etc.  [Like what?] If we get enough signatures, perhaps members will reach out and actively include working musicians in the process, which we view as critical to the long term health of the music industry.  [You mean like…whatchamacallit…unions?]

Please let me know your thoughts on the Artist information I attached as well as the Letter of Support.  I look forward to talking soon.

The letter of support is below.  Thank you.

Best wishes,

Nancy Tarr

[“LETTER OF SUPPORT” STARTS HERE]

We are working musicians.

We do not have the promotional budgets of major acts. We have built our careers outside of the traditional music business, relying on our own ability to build an audience through years of touring, creative grassroots marketing and the enduring support of friends, family and our fans. It is not an easy life but our passion for making music keeps us going.

And now we have internet radio.

For the first time in our professional lives we are experiencing what it’s like to have a the power of radio in our corner, introducing thousands of new fans to our music all across the country.

Internet radio is young but it is already beginning to really make a difference for us and for thousands of others just like us. We are finding new fans, selling more music, and playing to larger audiences.

We are all fervent advocates [or dupes?] for the fair treatment of artists. We are also fervent supporters of internet radio and want more than anything for it to grow; and to grow as fast as possible. We want more Pandoras.

As policy makers shape the future of radio, we urge you to listen to ALL musicians. Don’t ignore us.  We are not on top of the pop charts, but we are large in number and we represent the next generation of music in America and around the world.

Who is “Nancy Tarr” and Why is She Sending Me Emails?

So–who is Nancy Tarr?  First of all, she’s that most elusive of commodities at Internet companies–a live person.

She has been on what I’d call the wrong side of artist royalties for a long time now, including as a consultant for Qorvis Communications–the Washington DC PR consultants protecting Google, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, AIG, and other wealthy individuals such as Mubarak buddy Ahmed Ezz.  Her title is the very “working class musician” mouthful “Social/Cause Marketing, Celebrity/Community Engagement Online/Grassroots Coalitions.”  According to SourceWatch, the Qorvis offices were raided by the FBI investigating violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

In working class English–sounds like a very advanced manufacturer of Astroturf to us.

Don’t Tell Them Pandora Wants to Cut Their Royalties

At the end of the day, Pandora wants to cut artist royalties to enrich Pandora and its executives.  That’s the fact.   We saw just how far they will go to accomplish that goal with the announcement–after their shareholder’s meeting was over–that Pandora intended to pull the stunt of buying an FM radio station to try somehow to bootstrap owning one small station in an area they have no connection to as a desperate attempt to pay songwriters even less than they already do.

And this is the really offensive part–nowhere in Nancy Tarr’s emails does she reveal what seems pretty clearly to be her true role.  Or that the point of her unsolicited email is to trick the artist into signing up to Pandora’s “artist letter” without ever revealing its purpose: Duping artists into supporting Pandora in cutting the royalties for all artists in order to increase Pandora’s profits.

If this wasn’t clear before the latest action of Pandora’s board in using the stockholders’ money in this bizarre purchase of a radio station, it should be crystal clear now.

Imagine if you’d signed up to this campaign first and then found out about Pandora’s little radio station buying stunt?  Which you would have given that this letter went out in April.

Now that is a cold blooded example of the 1% using bait and switch tactics to accomplish Pandora’s one true end.

Screwing the vulnerable.

3 thoughts on “Pandora’s “Grass Roots” Bait and Switch Part 2: What does Pandora have in common with the Saudi Arabia, AIG and Google?

  1. Can’t say I’m surprised, after reading the information regarding the IRFA. Pandora, Spotify, and Google’s streaming services are a bunch of bloodsucking leeches. Without artists, they WOULDN’T HAVE A BUSINESS TO MAKE *ANY* MONEY FROM!!!!!! They pay them what, a 1/10 of a penny for every stream? Vs. 99 cents for a download off itunes or another legitimate download site? It’s ludicrous.

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  2. I’ve had just about enough of their shenanigans.
    Pandora Needs to Go OUT OF BUSINESS !
    I don’t care if they are the biggest streaming service, or the smallest. They’ve overstayed their welcome in OUR industry.

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  3. Hi Chris,

    When it comes to royalty rates paid by terrestrial radio vs internet broadcasters, wasn’t there some brouhaha a few years ago that Pandora was fighting having to pay increased rates? Does that somehow tie in to all this?

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