the candler blog

An Actual Musicians Middle Class

Music, Technology

Tim Westergren, founder of Pandora:

This revenue stream is meaningful. I remember the many years I spent in a band when earning an additional thousand dollars a month would have been the difference between making music an avocation and a hobby. We’re talking here about the very real possibility of creating, for the first time ever, an actual musicians middle class.

Wow.

Pandora was founded on the principle of supporting artists and we’re proud to pay performance fees. We think artists could and should ultimately earn even more. But all of this revenue is coming from a single company. A predatory licensing fee orchestrated over ten years ago by the RIAA and their lobbyists in Washington has devastated internet radio. Few now deem it worthy of major investment, including most notably, virtually every major broadcaster. After spending years building an audience, the original three largest webcasters (AOL, Yahoo! LaunchCast and MSN) fled the business after the last rate hike was imposed. This is not a recipe for a sustainable industry. It is a destructive stranglehold that is putting at risk a much larger reward for musicians everywhere.

Piracy has long been the boogeyman of digital innovation. Westergren makes what sounds like a rock solid case that the RIAA’s futile efforts to crush piracy has turned out bad for artists and music-lovers alike.

Right now I’m finishing out a monthly subscription to Rdio and I often grab for Spotify1 if Rdio isn’t cutting it, but Tim’s honesty and forthrightness may just bring me back to Pandora. I’ll have to give it another listen.

(via Daring Fireball.)

  1. Mostly for the excellent playlists provided by Britify. (Britify is constantly down; at the time of this post, I can’t connect to their site but am including the link anyway for whenever their servers wake up.)

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