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Posts Tagged ‘SoundExchange’

@mikehuppe: “We are Making Major Progress on Music Licensing Reform – Together” #irespectmusic — Artist Rights Watch

While several pieces of music legislation have been introduced in the Senate, there is not a single comprehensive package yet. We are encouraging our Senate allies to bring these many issues together into a single, comprehensive Music Modernization Act, like the bill passed in the House.

via @mikehuppe: “We are Making Major Progress on Music Licensing Reform – Together” #irespectmusic — Artist Rights Watch

SoundExchange Reaches Out to Help Texas Flood Victims

August 30, 2017 Comments off

Press Release

For SoundExchange members based in Houston and throughout the Gulf Coast, SoundExchange wants to make sure you receive your royalties in this time of tragedy.

sound exchange logo

SoundExchange’s Senior Director of Artist and Industry Relations Linda Bloss-Baum sent the Texas Music Office a statement today that reads:

“Our next royalty distribution will be made in late September.  If you currently receive your SoundExchange royalties via physical checks, you can update your account so we can send you your royalties via Direct Deposit. We hope this makes it easier for you to access your royalties at this difficult time. To update your account, please complete our Direct Deposit form.

“We will also need either a voided check OR a bank authorization letter. If you use a bank authorization letter, the bank authorization letter should be on bank letterhead with your account information (routing number and account number). It should indicate the name on the account, and be signed by a bank official.

“We have a dedicated member of our industry relations team standing by to expedite getting our artists and rights holders set up to receive their royalties via direct deposit.  Please send the form and support document to tiarap@soundexchange.com and we will rush to get it processed for you.”

#irespectmusic The New Improved Performance Rights Act: Because You Believed

April 10, 2015 5 comments

Congressman Jerry Nadler and Marsha Blackburn, John Conyers and Ted Deutch will introduce legislation on Monday that responds to all of you who supported artist pay for radio play.  The thousands and thousands of you who signed the #irespectmusic petition, the hundreds of you who attended #irespectmusic events, the hundreds of you who responded to the Copyright Office’s request for comments on the Music Licensing Study and the “NABtweets” campaign on Grammy night, and who supported the Turtles fight against Pandora and SiriusXM.  All the bands who have hosted #irespectmusic shows around the country, all the fans who wore the “#irespectmusic AND I VOTE!” button at election time.

marsha blackburn

Janita, Rep. Marsha Blackburn, Blake Morgan and Tommy Merrill

nadler

Tommy Merrill, Rep. Jerry Nadler, Blake Morgan and Janita

deutch 2

 Janita, Rep. Ted Deutch, Blake Morgan and Tommy Merrill

Some of you joined this movement recently, some of you were around for the last effort at a performance rights act, some of you have been in it since we all started fighting Pandora’s end run around fair treatment for artists with the Internet Radio Fairness Act in 2012.  All of you know in your hearts that we all have to stand up to the multinational mass media corporations like Clear Channel and Google, the fast buck artists like Pandora and Spotify, and the underhanded data merchants like YouTube.

But the one thing that we could do right now to put fair compensation directly into the pockets of artists is to achieve the idea that #irespectmusic has been fighting for–pass the Fair Play Fair Pay Act.

Some of you were there last October at New York’s Bitter End at the historic first #irespectmusicandIVOTE! event and heard Congressman Nadler’s stirring speech foreshadowing the Fair Play Fair Pay Act 2015.

You were there to let the government know that you expect fair treatment for artists and songwriters.  You were there when Zoë Keating stood up to YouTube, when Jann Arden stood up against Big Radio, when Blake Morgan stood up against Spotify, when David Lowery rewrote the narrative that Big Tech imposes on the world and when Gloria Steinem said artist rights are human rights.

We have to thank Reps. Jerry Nadler, Marsha Blackburn, John Conyers and Ted Deutch who have been dedicated to this issue for years, and of course to SoundExchange who has also carried the flag for all of us to help get this bill introduced.

We all know that getting a performance royalty on terrestrial radio is a very old story–90 years old.  The music industry establishment has been fighting the broadcasting establishment over this issue for a very long time.  And face it–the broadcasters have been winning this fight for a very long time.

Not only are we fighting the broadcasters this time, we are also fighting Pandora, Google, Apple, the Consumer Electronics Association–everyone who wants to deny artists fair pay for radio play.  These companies have many tentacles into our music industry establishment and many pressure points they can bring to bear.

So why should we believe that this time it will be different than it has been for the last 90 years?  The biggest reason is that this time it’s not just the establishment–this time it includes you.  You said here am I, send me.  It includes you every time you get a friend to sign a petition, every time you use the #irespectmusic hashtag.  Every time you pick up the phone and ask your representative what they are doing for artist rights to save our culture.  Every time you support a local artist at an #irespectmusic show.

Because here’s the reality–if past is prologue, the historical record shows conclusively that the establishment can’t get it done alone.  We all have to pull together and as long as all artists are treated fairly, that is exactly what we should do.

But today, my friends, is your day.  Your fearless rejection of technodeterminism and fast buckery and your vocal respect for culture and creativity has helped these representatives be effective.

Your unequivocal and unflagging support for the human rights of artists is what makes this day possible. It’s why I write this blog, it’s why we fight.  We all have this in common.

True, we have a long way to go to make this bill a reality.  But I’m looking at the Fair Play Fair Pay Act and it looks pretty damn real to me.

And for today, that’s good enough.

Tonight lift a glass to Satchmo, Count, Duke and Ella, Buddy Rich, Billie Holiday, Joe Cocker, Charlie Parker, Ian McLagan, John Coltrane and all the others who didn’t make it this far.  And to all those who did like our inspiration Aretha Franklin, and for all those yet to arrive.

And give yourselves a hand.

Tomorrow we fight, but tonight we celebrate.  Because you believed.

Because we all did.

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RESPECT Act: SoundExchange Takes Steps to Protect Artists from Sirius XM and Pandora

May 29, 2014 1 comment

We’ve seen quite a bit of “new boss” activity this week:  Google screwing indie labels, Amazon screwing authors and now yet another missed opportunity for Sirius and Pandora to demonstrate that they care about the artists who deliver them riches.  Yes, it’s that old and unimproved digital radio, now with even more exploitation.  Meet the new boss, worse than the old boss.

This time, however, Sirius and Pandora are behaving so badly that it requires passing new legislation just to get their noses up to the fair compensation line.  SoundExchange is taking steps to protect “legacy” artists from the most recent attack on artist royalties from Sirius XM and Pandora. Why?  Because Pandora and Sirius want to use recordings from pre-1972 without respecting the artists enough to pay them royalties, not to mention getting a license.

And pre-72 recordings are…well, how to say it?  The entire legacy of contemporary music perhaps?  Yes, that about sums it up.

Here’s a screen capture I took today from Pandora of The Beatles, pre-72 (Let It Be was released May 8, 1970):

Pandora Beatles

And a pie chart for Sirius showing the uses of Beatles music by channel, again from today:

The Beatles on Sirius 5/26-5/29 2014 http://www.dogstarradio.com/search_playlist.php?artist=the+beatles&title=&channel=&month=&date=&shour=&sampm=&stz=&ehour=&eampm=

The Beatles on Sirius 5/26-5/29 2014

 

And here’s Janis Joplin:

Janis Joplin on Sirius 5/26-5/29 2014

Janis Joplin on Sirius 5/26-5/29 2014

Jimi Hendrix:

Jimi Hendrix on Sirius 5/26-5/29 2014

Jimi Hendrix on Sirius 5/26-5/29 2014

Charlie Parker

Sirius Charlie Parker 5/26-5/29 2014

Sirius Charlie Parker 5/26-5/29 2014

Louis Armstrong

Sirius Louis Armstrong 5/26-5/29 2014

Sirius Louis Armstrong 5/26-5/29 2014

And Roy Orbison

Sirius Roy Orbison 5/26-5/29 2014

Sirius Roy Orbison 5/26-5/29 2014

So you can see that Sirius (and I am confident that searches for Pandora channels would deliver similar results) wants to use the music but doesn’t respect the artists. (Pie charts are available from  Dog Star Radio’s invaluable searchable database of Sirius playlists available at http://www.dogstarradio.com/search_playlist.php)

Somewhere around December 2013, both Sirius and Pandora decided to stop paying royalties on ALL pre-72 recordings.  These litigious companies had to know that nobody would take this lying down.  Particularly since you can see from these examples that both services are using the music and not paying for it.

Why is 1972 the date at issue?

One of the quirks of U.S. copyright law is that sound recordings did not get federal copyright protection until February 15, 1972.  It’s not that the recordings didn’t have any protection before 1972, they did, but that protection was provided by state law.  This is the center of the Turtles case against Sirius filed in 2013 in California, New York, and Florida.

Congress established the compulsory license and royalty for sound recordings online in the 1990s and the pre-72 issue was not addressed. The gist of the argument that Sirius and Pandora make is that because the compulsory license each service relies on is in the federal Copyright Act and because pre-72 recordings are not protected by federal copyright law, no royalty payment is required for pre-72 recordings under the federal Copyright Act’s compulsory licenses administered by SoundExchange.

SoundExchange is now essentially being forced to deal with this issue because Sirius and Pandora both have decided to stop paying on these recordings while continuing to play them.  Or rather, while continuing to play the most popular ones.

Let’s be clear–this is not about feeling sorry for “legacy” artists.  These are some of the best known artists of all time–which is why they are still getting played on Sirius and Pandora–in many cases 70 years after the records were released.  The reason Sirius has “40s,” “50s,” “60s” and “70s” channels is because it profits them to do so.

And the artists should be paid because they deserve that respect.

Representatives George Holding and John Conyers are introducing a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives to handle this issue–the RESPECT Act.  We haven’t seen the legislation yet, but I anticipate that it will be consistent with the SoundExchange filing in the Copyright Office Music Licensing Study request for comments.   It is not necessary to go to full “federalization” of the pre-72 recordings in order to clarify that they are to be included in the royalty payment.

Whatever the result, what is not correct is what Pandora and Sirius are doing now–playing the music without paying the artists.  This is yet another missed opportunity for these two public companies.  They could very easily have said that they’d continue paying artists rather than rely on a loophole.  They could easily have joined with artists to fix this ambiguity. But…they didn’t.  More bad advice and lobbying malpractice.

And here’s some of the artists they could have joined with, all of whom are supporting the RESPECT Act:  The Allman Brothers Band, The Beach Boys, Roseanne Cash, Melissa Etheridge, Al Green, B.B. King, The Moody Blues, Cyndi Lauper, Martha Reeves, members of Steely Dan, The Supremes, The Temptations and Three Dog Night.

So once again, the Congress has to put other pressing business on hold in order to deal with Sirius and Pandora, public companies who want to get something for nothing.  And make no mistake, Sirius at least is making money on this deal.  Here’s the before and after on their “music fees” as told to their customers:

Before December 2013:

sirius music fee old 1

After December 2013:

sirius music fee 1

Do you get the impression from this advertising that Sirius is charging more but paying less?  If you were a fan of the “decade” channels would you have any idea that Sirius was stiffing your favorite artists?  This is verging on false advertising.

More on this as it evolves, you can get the latest from Project 72, the new effort from SoundExchange to make this right and #respectallmusic

 

A Guide To Music Performance Royalties, Part 3: An Interview with Mike Huppe of SoundExchange

February 11, 2014 Comments off

[Editor Charlie sez:  This interview first appeared in a 2 part series in the Huffington Post .  It is also available as a podcast.  This series continues the Guide to Music Performance Royalties Part 1 and Part 2.]

Background: As we developed in Parts 1 and 2 of this series, there is an important distinction between songs and recordings that is frequently lost on the public.  When you hear a recording of a song, there are actually two distinct copyrights involved, the song (also called a “musical work”) and the recording of the song.

When recordings are played on terrestrial radio, the writer of the song gets a royalty and the performer of the song on the recording gets nothing (neither does the record company). Almost every other country in the world besides the U.S. recognizes a performance right for recordings so that the artist does get paid for radio or internet airplay.  (See the “I respect music” campaign and petition and our interview of campaigner, recording artist and entrepreneur, Blake Morgan.)

U.S. law changed in 1995 to pay a royalty for digital transmissions of certain kinds (satellite and Internet radio), and SoundExchange collects those royalties. If you are a featured artist or sound recording owner you can register at www.soundexchange.com.

The following chart extends the chart we started developing in this series and adds the “post digital” column and digital royalty column.

Note that the term “LOD” in the Record Producer box refers to the “Letter Of Direction” that artists sometimes send to SoundExchange authorizing the organization to pay a share of the featured artist’s performance royalties to a producer.  While individual producer rates will vary, the LOD is pretty typical “custom and practice”; the law only requires that performance royalties are paid to featured artists, non-featured artists and sound recording copyright owners.  The producer’s share percentage is negotiated by the producer as part of the producer’s engagement by the artist and is usually expressed as the producer’s royalty (say 4%) divided by the artist’s royalty, including the producer’s royalty (say 16%).  In this example, the producer’s LOD would provide for the producer to get 4/16ths or 25% of the artist 45% share of royalties collected by SoundExchange.  (Engineers, mixers or remixers who receive a royalty can also negotiate for a share of the featured artist performance royalties.)  The rate in the SoundExchange LOD typically tracks the producer’s share of flat fee income (e.g., master use fees).  See Record Producer Agreements: Accountings and Producer Letters of Direction.

Just to be clear, this chart and explanatory material does not come from SoundExchange.  It is something I created to help explain the high level division of royalties.

Post-digital income (Post 1995/1998)

Digital (non-interactive webcast, Simulcast)

Physical (CD, Vinyl)

US Radio/TV (OTA)

Ex US Radio/TV (OTA) For US Writer/Artist

MP/TV/Commercial

Songwriter Yes, PRO Yes, mechanical from publisher Yes, PRO Yes, PRO Yes, sync license from publisher
Music Publisher of Song Yes, PRO Yes, mechanical Yes, PRO Yes, PRO Yes, sync license
Recording Artist (“Featured”) Yes, SoundExchange Yes, from record company No No (unless qualified see PPL) Yes, master use from label
Featured Recording Artist if Sound Recording Owner Yes, SoundExchange Yes, from aggregator or distributor No No, unless qualified (see PPL) Yes, master use (often all-in fee)
Session Musician/Vocalist Yes, SoundExchange Yes, from union No No (unless qualified see PPL) Yes from union
Record Producer Yes, artist share from SoundExchange (if LOD) Yes from artist No No (unless qualified see PPL) Yes from artist
Record Company Yes, SoundExchange Yes from sales or license No No (unless qualified see PPL) Yes, from master use

To help you understand more about the performance royalty for sound recordings and the role of SoundExchange in collecting and paying , we were able to interview Mike Huppe, the President of SoundExchange.

MTP:  Tell us a little about SoundExchange.  I think a lot of artists and musicians are unclear about what SoundExchange does, so perhaps you can explain how the digital performance royalty for sound recordings in the U.S. came to exist and what is involved.

Huppe: SoundExchange has been collecting performance royalties for sound recordings since 1995. To give a little background, most people in the U.S. are aware of entities like ASCAP, BMI and SESAC. For decades those groups have collected performance royalties for musical works [or songs] — the actual musical notes and lyrics that a songwriter creates. Until 1995, the sound recording side of the business, meaning the recording most people would recognize on the radio or on the internet, did not have performance rights in this country.

In 1995, for the first time ever in the U.S., the Congress established a performance royalty and a statutory license for the sound recording for certain types of digital transmissions. SoundExchange was entrusted with the collection and payment of those performance royalties. We administer a statutory license under the U.S. Copyright law, which means if a service like Pandora or iHeart Radio wants to stream a sound recording digitally, they can either obtain individual licenses from 5,000 rights owners or take advantage of a government license. According to federal law, that service would then simply file a two-page paper with the Copyright Office, meet the terms of the statutes, and then send their royalties and data every month to SoundExchange.

MTP:  Just to give some perspective, how much money has SoundExchange distributed?

Huppe: To date, SoundExchange has distributed more than $2 billion in total. In 2013, SoundExchange distributed approximately $590.4 million in royalties — that’s enormous growth since our distribution of $20 million in 2005.

We’ve had tremendous growth over the past 3-4 years as a result of a variety of factors which include an increase in the rates in 2006-2007 and a radical shift in the way people consume music. More and more people are accessing music through digital devices, mobile devices and through streaming content rather than downloading it. We’ve seen explosive growth–comparing 2005 to 2013, total payments increased over 2000%.

MTP:  I still run into artists who have never heard of SoundExchange, what do you do to encourage artists and sound recording owners to register?

Huppe: That’s a great question and you are absolutely right. SoundExchange’s name recognition and brand is certainly more recognizable now than it was 10 years ago, but you are correct there are people who don’t know who we are or confuse us with some of the other performance rights organizations, not recognizing that these other groups collect for a completely different right — for the song instead of the actual sound recording.

We do a lot in our effort to reach artists and rights owners. Every month, we get reports from people that we’ve never heard of, and who have never heard of us. Outreach is an ongoing effort, but the money comes to us, and it’s our job to find and ensure these individuals to sign up.

On first impression, we sometimes hear from those that haven’t registered that SoundExchange royalties “sound too good to be true.” Understandable, but we have a dedicated team of staff who are focused solely on tracking down performers and labels to get them to claim their money. We try to track and contact them through a variety of methods to get them to register, including: regularly placing ads in print and online news outlets; targeting individuals via social media channels like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube; speaking on panels; sponsoring events or exhibiting at tradeshows. We host regular “how to register” webinars; and have even coordinated with music conferences, like at SXSW, where we put up large banners and hand out flyers with band names asking them to register.

In addition, we’ve partnered with various industry organizations such as AFM, SAG-AFTRA, MySpace, CD Baby, HFA, among others to match their lists against ours and conduct email, mail campaigns — all with the message: “Do any of you know these people? If so, can you please contact them?” We are perfectly open to those third-parties doing the branding and getting the benefit of finding money — we just want to ensure the creative community gets paid for their work. We executed over 150 matches in the past few years resulting in tens of thousands of emails to various folks sharing that SoundExchange has money for them. We are quite confident that we are doing more than our fair share of reaching out and contacting those we owe money to, because it’s the right thing to do.

The real reward is when we register that individual or band where the money truly makes a difference. Approximately 80% of the checks SoundExchange sends out are for less than $5,000. We often hear from artists who express gratitude that we found them or those who might have registered with us, and forgot until they receive a check in their mailbox.

MTP: How many services use the statutory license and how many people does SoundExchange pay royalties to?

Huppe: Currently, we collect digital performance royalties from more than 2,000 services that send SoundExchange monthly reporting logs and payments. We take the data from all those services, clean it up, match it across various algorithms, sort it across numerous payees and then every quarter send out anywhere from 18,000-25,000 checks to all the registrants who come through SoundExchange to collect their money. As of today, we have more than 100,000 artist and record label accounts. When the money comes in, 50 percent of money goes to record labels or whomever owns the master and the other 50 percent goes to the performer — 45 percent goes to the feature performer and 5 percent to non-featured. We pay performers directly, regardless if they are recouped through their record label.

[MTP: That last point is very important because artists, particularly artists who are no longer signed, can be unrecouped and might not be entitled to royalties under their recording agreements. SoundExchange pays the statutory royalty to these artists without regard to whether they are recouped under their old or current record deals.]

MTP:  Where do you see SoundExchange in the next 5 years?

Huppe: I am very excited about where SoundExchange is going. We are a very interesting and unique organization — certainly unlike any other in this country. We’re optimistic about where the music industry is headed and see opportunity for SoundExchange to help digital music services thrive.

SoundExchange is currently one of the top digital revenue sources for most record labels in the U.S. We are growing fast because of all the ways music usage is changing. What we do is increasingly being relied on as a revenue stream for performers and record labels alike. SoundExchange checks have become a very real source of income, and it’s exciting to hear from those who are grateful for what we do.

Although we squabble over royalty rates with the service providers, we view ourselves as partners that enable music service to do what they do best — creating new ways to listen and discover music. In the long run, we want them to succeed. It’s in their best interest, our best interest and the best interest of the consumer to have a very full and vibrant webcasting market. We want them to create new business models, new ways of listening to music and we feel that SoundExchange enables all of that. We are the back office to a lot of these new business models emerging on the web.

In the next five years, we see ourselves growing, providing an important role in some of these business models and we hope to continue to increasing digital royalty payments (remember we went from $20M in 2005 to $590 million in 2013). One of our main responsibilities is fighting for the long-term value of content — a battle we will never shy from. We believe that content is critically important, it is the backbone of many music services and what they provide. Content is the blood and sweat of the performers and the investment of the record labels. We are constantly fighting to maximize the value of content so that those folks can get paid for all the revenue they bring to services.

We will also have an authoritative repertoire database in place that will not only be a resource to the industry so that people can go and find out about the ownership of sound recordings, but also to improve the tracking of collections and more timely payments. We are also in the process of rebuilding our technology and distribution platform in order to scale better and handle the explosive growth. Once we complete that platform I believe there are many other services SoundExchange can provide to the industry beyond processing this license. The possibilities are endless.

We are very excited about where we are headed and what we can do for the industry. And again, the fact that we are a non-profit, the fact that our board represents artists, unions, independent labels and major labels really makes us uniquely positioned to do these things for the greater good of the industry.

More on Pandora’s Bait and Switch Campaign

June 12, 2013 Comments off

MTP readers will remember the short lived legislation to lower artist royalties that Pandora backed last year.  That was called the “Internet Radio Fairness Act” and it never came to a vote.  The House IP Subcommittee  held a hearing at which, I think it is fair to say, Pandora lost and lost big.

We Will Not Be Moved

This was in no small part to two things:  Artists came together: 125 artists came together to sign an open letter to Congress that supported digital music but rejected Pandora’s lust for profits.

Songwriters also came together and a group of them performed at the House offices to demonstrate how the songwriter royalties that Pandora pays are grotesquely out of whack.  (Right after Pandora, Clear Channel and Google joined together to use their lobbying clout on that legislation, Pandora also sued songwriters to get a lower royalty for them.)

The other event was that independent artist David Lowery of Cracker and Camper van Beethoven challenged Senator Ron Wyden at the Future of Music Policy Summit about the Pandora legislation–and Wyden really didn’t have much of a response.

In short–the artists locked arms and said we will not be moved.

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

Pandora got the 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 Nancy Tarr at Pandora (who lists herself as a “grassroots” consultant to one of the biggest spin factories in DC):

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.

Tomorrow–Baiting and Switching

Trickle Down Innovation Alert: Mr. Pandora the secret censor

October 11, 2012 Comments off

“Have you seen the bigger piggies in their starched white shirts

You will find the bigger piggies stirring up the dirt

Always have clean shirts to play around in.

In their sties with all their backing

They don’t care what goes on around

In their eyes there’s something lacking

What they need’s a damn good whacking.

Everywhere there’s lots of piggies

Living piggy lives… Clutching forks and knives to eat their bacon.”

Piggies by George Harrison.

Hidden in the deceptively named “Internet Radio Fairness Act” is one of the most insidious anti-artist provisions we’ve seen in many years.  Don’t be fooled–these people are trying to silence artists and use lobbying power to cram down terms to satisfy Wall Street.  And if they can outlaw speech by the AFM and AFTRA, just think what Congress can do to the rest of our industry and beyond.

Pandora’s Big Lie

So here’s the latest milk and cookies tripe from behind the Pandora curtain according to Business Week:

“We envision a future in which Internet radio can offer more as the sector grows and innovates — but this is only possible if Internet radio can compete on a level playing field with the other forms of digital radio,” Mollie Starr, a  Pandora spokeswoman, said in an e-mail.”

The Ministry of Truth at Pandora would like you to believe that this is all for your own good, you see, and what’s good for Mr. Pandora is good for “middle class musicians” to borrow a phrase from One of the Most Influential People in the World, Tim Westergren.  (You should also read the excellent reporting by Glenn Peoples “The Truth About Pandora’s Payments to Artists” where Glenn takes apart the latest heaping serving of bunk from the 1% in Pandora’s board room.)

Westergren and Pandora’s Ministry of Truth (or Minitrue as Orwell called it) wants you to believe that Less is More.  Yes, the Chris Anderson crap pile under the Wrong Tail has returned.

This is a tough sell.  Westergren is out there touting how much they pay to specific artists in a very questionable method of calculation according to Glenn Peoples (which makes perfect sense to me) and he’s wrapping Pandora’s name around the names of these artists while he discloses what he would like you to believe they will make–under the current rates.

Here’s the argument: Pandora is so cool because Pandora pays all this money to artists.  And now Pandora is so cool because they want to cut those payments in half by spending big lobbying bucks!!  And it’s good for the artists because the benefits to Pandora (and presumably Sirius and  Clear Channel) will trickle down to “middle class artists”!

Complete mindless crap, right?  Only makes sense on Wall Street in the confines of the 1%.

This line of argumentation is less insidious than it is pitiful.  We feel for Pandora’s lifers who are now being forced to serve The Man 2.0.  It doesn’t justify being a shill for the money, but we get it.

Pandora’s Thumb on the Scales of Justice

But what is more insidious than innovation trickling down their legs is what else is in the Internet Radio Fairness Act.  The Molly Starrs of this world at Pandora’s Minitrue want you to stay focused on the glittering generalities about innovation trickling down and how less is more and so on.  She holds the bright and shiny object in one hand and hopes you are too dumb to notice the knife in the other.

Pandora wants to fire the judges that rule on their rates and reinstall them with judges who they must think will be more pliable. We discussed Pandora’s court packing plan already.  (And they must be pretty confident that they are going to win that part because if they lose those judges they wanted to fire will be ruling on them in a courtroom near them.)

Enter Pandora the Union Buster

But here’s another even more insidious part of IRFA:

Section 5(a)(1)(B): `Nothing in this paragraph shall be construed to permit any copyright owners of sound recordings acting jointly, or any common agent or collective representing such copyright owners, to take any action that would prohibit, interfere with, or impede direct licensing by copyright owners of sound recordings in competition with licensing by any common agent or collective, and any such action that affects interstate commerce shall be deemed a contract, combination or conspiracy in restraint of trade in violation of section 1 of the Sherman Act (15 U.S.C. 1).‘.

You would not necessarily catch this unless you knew about the efforts by Clear Channel and Sirius to enter into direct license agreements with record companies and bypass SoundExchange.  Direct licensing is bad because it allows the record company issuing the direct license to collect the artist’s share of revenue and apply it against unrecouped balances.  SoundExchange protects the artist from this practice and pays artists directly.  Plus, direct licensing essentially guts the ability of artists to audit Pandora and Sirius because SoundExchange conducts collective audits.  Which of course, is an innovation that Pandora and its fellow innovators do not like one little bit.

In fact, Sirius is actually suing SoundExchange and A2IM on this basis because they allege that SoundExchange and some labels had the temerity to stand up and advise their members about the bad effects of direct licensing.  (So did we: See “Clutching Forks and Knives to Eat Their Bacon: How Sirius Wants to Gut SoundExchange“.)

So what Pandora’s lobbyists are trying to accomplish here is to make it illegal with the wave of a lobbyist’s pen “to take any action [including the action of speech] that would…interfere with, or impede direct licensing by copyright owners of sound recordings in competition with licensing by any common agent or collective…”

Aside from the fact that this provision is probably an unconstitutional burden on First Amendment rights of speech and association–you know, CENSORSHIP–this provision would directly prevent artists who own their own recordings from being represented by any collective, whether it’s SoundExchange or a collective they form on their own (unions have an anti-trust exemption under the National Labor Relations Act that not even Pandora wants to touch).

And as we’ve always said, what the tech companies really want is to break up any form of collective that empowers creators and keep us all weak and alone so they can treat us how they like.  If you have any doubts about this, see the Google Books case where Google lawyer Daralyn Durie  tried to force individual authors to bring individual lawsuits against Google instead of acting as a class against the Leviathan of Mountain View.

According to Business Week:

Google attorney Daralyn Durie told Judge Denny Chin in federal court in Manhattan that authors and photographers would be better off fending for themselves because their circumstances varied widely, especially since the copyright issue for authors involves the display of small snippets of text.

Never fear, she was laughed out of court.  That time.

So you can see how the Pandora trickle down innovation approach would further this goal of weakening artists.  In fact, I’d like to hear an explanation from the Congressmen who are proudly carrying this bullying tripe, Messrs Chaffetz and Polis, as to exactly what the purpose of this section is, and what the implications are.  I think you have to be kind of sick to be proud of this obscene overreach.

This collective busting section of IFRA boils down to this formula:

[People who disagree with Pandora] + [cannot interfere or impede Pandora in what Pandora wants to do] + [and they can’t form a collective bargaining group] + [to do things Pandora doesn’t like] = [and if they do so, or conspire to do so, it may be a crime or a violation of civil law] (See DOJ Antitrust Division Criminal Enforcement Manual.)

For example, if Chaffetz and Polis are successful in passing this bit of collective busting overreach, why wouldn’t this kind of law be used by the National Association of Broadcasters to try to prohibit ASCAP, BMI and SESAC from protecting their songwriter members in negotiations?  Or empower various employer groups (public or private) to run to Congress to try to prohibit unions or collectives from advocating for their members on central commercial issues in their industries?

And like the man said:

In their sties with all their backing, they don’t care what goes on around

In their eyes there’s something lacking, what they need’s a damn good whacking.

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