Pandora – The Wrong Fight on the Performance Rights Playground

Dec 3, 2012 by

Before you all go condemning Pandora for trying to lessen the amount of royalties they’re paying, have a quick read of this (and I’ll give you some other links for more research, too.)

For artist performance rights like these Pandora is trying to lessen, regular FM and AM radio in the USA pays NOTHING.  NADA.  ZERO.


Pick your fights and your venue wisely (photo from

Yes, there’s been a bill on the hill called S.379 The Performance Rights Act since 2009 but it hasn’t passed yet. Not to mention there’s been huge opposition from the National Association of Broadcasters.  There’s a great post over on Artist House Music explaining this in detail.  You can also read more from the bill’s biggest supporter the MusicFirst Coalition.  I’ll do a quick rundown on what I know and you can go check out these other outlets if you want to find out more.

Also, please comment on this post below and let’s have a discussion about it.


Fact Check


What DO radio stations pay?

Radio stations pay for the music itself, storing it, and usage of the copyright, not the performance right.  What’s the difference? While a song will most likely have one or two copyright holders, the instrumentalists and vocalists on the recording have performing rights and do not get paid by terrestrial.  They do in every other western country except the USA, every other medium including television, public places, venues and web streaming.  For some reason AM and FM radio don’t have to.

Isn’t this another tax on radio stations?

NO.  They are branding it in this way but the fact is this money will go to the artists who performed the song.

What about small radio stations? 

They will pay less than $5,000 a year to clear the rights for all the music they play. Public radio and college radio stations will pay $1,000 a year. Talk radio and radio stations that carry religious services will pay nothing.

What about The Justin Wayne Show?

Yes, you’ve caught us there. Ever since we started we have asked for free permission to play your music on our show.  We also don’t make any money at all on the show right now.  When we start making money, we will get our web broadcast license with Sound Exchange right away.

Your Takeaway…

So, what I’m saying here is we’ve got to get FM and AM radio here in the USA to play fair and pay performers just like every other organization in the western world.  Then we can start talking about how much Pandora is paying.  We need new media and copyright laws to keep up with this crazy internet world we’re now living in.

Not to mention… why the H-E-doublehockystick has this Performing Rights Act been a bill since 2009? Three years? Really?