[JPL] Pandora radio on deathbed?

MICHAEL P STRATTON dreamtrane at sbcglobal.net
Mon Aug 18 08:31:47 EDT 2008

I followed the link on this interesting article and
found that it was written by Howard Mandel. Good work.

I interviewed Tim Westergren, the founder of Pandora,
two years ago when he was just getting started. His
conception of the possibility of what Pandora could be
was fascinating and seemed to have some political

As Westergren described it, the music industry in the
U.S. is broken. It is designed to support and promote
the mega hit makers, the Top Ten, with everyone else
struggling to get their music heard. 

Westergren said that there is plenty of great music
out there, plenty of great new artists to be
discovered, and plenty of music fans. He was trying to
facilitate a model to bring them together. 

He was, in his own words, attempting to create a
'musical middle class'. 

Interesting that at a time when the economic middle
class is shrinking that an attempt to establish a
musical middle class would struggle, no?

I don't know who is hurt by Pandora, but I have a good
sense of who feels threatened. Do the big labels worry
about what would happen to them if their services
become unnecessary?

Food for thought.

Mike Stratton

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> Pandora radio on deathbed?
> The wonderful web radio giant Pandora.com -- and
> lesser web radio sites, too
> -- are reportedly about to be done in by per-song
> performance royalty rates
> doubled last year by a federal panel. Pandora's
> founder says he'll have to
> shut it down soon if the terms can't be changed.
> Read the whole story in the
> Washington Post 
> 367_pf.html, and wonder who has it in for the free
> dissemination of music
> that we don't know but might like anyway.
> Pandora was the topic of an earlier post on this
> blog, and it's a service I
> continue to use, enjoy and promote to friends and
> family. I don't know of an
> easier way to declare one's listening preferences
> and have Pandora's
> friendly Music Genome Project stream complementary
> sounds -- some known,
> some unfamiliar --into my computer as long as I feel
> like sticking with it.
> I'm all for artists (writers included!!!) receiving
> compensation for the
> dissemination of their copyrighted works on the web.
> Traditional radio pays
> no such royalty fees, satellite radio is assessed at
> a lesser rate. I'm in
> an awkward McCain-like position of not understanding
> the precise economics
> or legalisms in this case. Does this involve the
> competition of web radio
> with traditional radio and satellite radio? What is
> the role of
> SoundExchange, the Recording Industry Association of
> America, iTunes,
> Rhapsody, Amazon, any lobbyists and/or competing
> systems for delivering
> music online? 
> I wonder who is suffering from the popularity of
> Pandora. Is it really
> underpaid musicians? I haven't heard any of the
> musicians I know complaining
> about this service. A lot of them say they listen to
> it.
> The Washington Post article does not suggest that
> the American public can do
> anything about the apparently imminent disruption of
> service prompted by our
> very own government's Copyright Royalty Board. This
> is a three-member panel
> of judges appointed in 2006 to staggered terms. Here
> are their
> qualifications: Chief Judge James Scott Sledge is
> a retired United States Bankruptcy Judge from
> Alabama . . . [who has] served
> for 12 years on the Alabama State Council on the
> Arts, including two years
> as chairman. He was a director of the Alabama
> Symphony Orchestra, an Alabama
> advocacy captain for Americans for the Arts, and a
> director on the regional
> Southern Arts Federation.
> Judge Stanley Wisniewski holds a Ph.D. in economics
> from Catholic University
> of America and a J.D. from University of Maryland
> School of Law. . .  [H]e
> represented a variety of clients in litigation,
> arbitration and
> administrative proceedings [and] also served on the
> American Arbitration
> Association list of commercial arbitrators.
> Judge William J. Roberts began his legal career in
> the Copyright Office in
> 1987 . .  served as an attorney advisor in the
> Copyright General Counsel's
> Office and was promoted to senior attorney for
> compulsory licenses. He was a
> Copyright Arbitration Royalty Panel attorney for the
> entire 12-year history
> of the panel. Since the inception of the Copyright
> Royalty Board, Judge
> Roberts has served as interim senior attorney. He is
> an adjunct faculty
> member at the George Mason University School of Law
> where he teaches
> copyright law.
> These backgrounds of these eminent jurists (as
> reported on Board's website)
> says nothing about their knowledge of or
> philosophies of the web. Just who
> is being protected? How will increased fees be
> distributed? Who benefits,
> overall? California Congressman Howard Berman is
> trying to broker an
> agreement that would relieve web radio from these
> performance royalty fees
> which sites like Pandora say are financially onerous
> -- and the good
> Congressman has an impressive list of successes with
> initiatives that at
> first glance resemble tilting at windmills. Seems
> like all we citizens can
> do is wait, and hope determinations are made in our
> interests. How often
> does that happen? Anyone have a petition to sign?
> What a'bout a
> letter-writing campaign? 
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