Here’s a byline you don’t see everyday: Roger Waters, David Gilmour, and Nick Mason.
If you don’t know (a forgivable misdemeanour, as they were never the most photogenic or flamboyant group), these are the remaining members of Pink Floyd (original songwriter and guitarist Syd Barrett died in 2006; keys player Richard Wright in 2008).
Unfortunately, the occasion of their “reunion” is not a gig but rather an op-ed published by USA Today about not getting proper compensation, specifically from Internet radio provider Pandora.
The company has been sending around a letter to artists whose music it is licensed to play asking for their support for legislation that would equalise royalty rates.
Pandora pitches the legislation as a way to support up-and-coming bands by giving them greater exposure on their rapidly growing platform. Currently, satellite radio pays about 7.5% of its revenues for royalties, while cable TV pays about 15%. As a result of the current legislation governing Internet radio, Pandora must pay 50%.
But the Floyd are calling B.S.:
Of course, this letter doesn’t say anything about an 85% artist pay cut. That would probably turn off most musicians who might consider signing on. All it says about royalties is “We are all fervent advocates for the fair treatment of artists.” And the only hint of Pandora’s real agenda is the innocent sounding line “We are also fervent supporters of internet radio and want more than anything for it to grow.” The petition doesn’t mention that Pandora is pushing the growth of its business directly at the expense of artists’ paychecks.
The band is not exactly in the poorhouse.
But indie artists have raised the same issue, arguing that while the figure may represent a lot for Pandora — which saw $125.5 million in revenues last quarter — it ends up being peanuts for most artists given the number of times a given song is played.
The band claims its ready to compromise if Pandora is in the mood to do so, but it seems clear they’ve recognised what sort of animal they’re dealing with.
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