There aren’t a whole lot of things that could bind together artists as divergent as Rihanna, Journey, Brian Wilson, Camper Van Beethoven, Primus, Ludacris, and Amy Grant.
No, it’s not the weirdest Coachella lineup ever—instead, these artists (along with over a hundred more) have come together in the name of the one thing they can all agree on: They’d all like more money for their work.
Yesterday, an open letter signed by 125 musicians showed up online, asking streaming radio service Pandora why they are lobbying for a Congressional measure that would decrease the amount of royalties the company would have to pay out to artists for their songs.
“We are big fans of Pandora,” the letter reads. “That’s why we helped give the company a discount on rates for the past decade. Pandora is now enjoying phenomenal success as a Wall Street company. Skyrocketing growth in revenues and users. We celebrate that. At the same time, the music community is just now beginning to gain its footing in this new digital world.”
The nut of the letter is this bolded paragraph: “Pandora’s principle asset is the music. Why is the company asking Congress once again to step in and gut the royalties that thousands of musicians rely upon That’s not fair and that’s not how partners work together.”
The issue of how to pay artists for online streams has been a heated conversation since high-speed Internet allowed for actual dotcom-based radio. Internet radio doesn’t have the same kind of (admittedly unscientific) monitoring systems that terrestrial and satellite radio have in place to compensate artists.
There’s also the question of exactly what sort of income pool artists are actually drawing from. Like regular radio, Pandora relies mostly on advertisements to raise income, but it seems impossible that Pandora would be able to draw in enough to cover their seemingly massive overhead.
According to Billboard, this argument will likely play out in Congress some time in 2013.