Music Business: Copyright Board Royalties Decision Looming


One of the the great mysteries yet to be solved in the digital age is how to honestly and fairly pay those of us responsible for making the records and playing the gigs. And it is a challenge.

pandora-copyright-board-artists-royaltiesUnfortunately, the suits are at it again. A three-judge panel called the Copyright Royalty Board has been working on setting royalties for Internet radio outfits like Pandora. The Copyright Royalty Board is due to reach a decision in December affecting how and how much songwriters and artists will be paid for their intellectual properties. So far, it’s not looking good for songwriters and everyone who works with them in music creation.

Last week, the U.S. Copyright Office supported a Pandora agreement with Merlin Network, a global rights agency for independent musicians. Basically, this back-room deal is giving Pandora more ammunition to shoot down royalties rate to an all time low – see here (http://www.cnbc.com/2015/09/21/pandora-shares-jump-after-copyright-decision.html. Internet radio companies like iHeart and Janga are also lobbying in support of a lower royalty rate.

In a press release announced the same day as the U.S. Copyright Office’s ruling, Dave Grimaldi, Pandora’s Director of Public Affairs states that “we look forward to the certainty that December’s decision will bring, and are prepared to thrive in a number of potential outcomes.” Basically, this means Pandora and all of the major players in internet radio are about to keep more of the money that should be going to songwriters and artists. This also has the scary ripple effect of even less money to go around for the musicians, studios, audio engineers and others who work to create new music; the less money a hit song makes the less money there is to make the next one.

Mr. Grimaldi’s confidence in a ruling favorable to Internet radio companies is another blow to songwriters and everyone involved in the creative aspect of the music industry. Hopefully, voices will be raised and those involved in these rulings will listen and begin supporting musicians in these decisions instead of the usual industry fat cats. Stay tuned, there will be more information coming out as we get closer to the December ruling.


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