By Harry McCracken | Sunday, September 28, 2008 at 8:51 pm
Don’t declare victory just yet, but Pandora, the really cool, wildly popular online music streaming service, may avoid being driven out of business by dramatically higher licensing fees. The House of Representatives has unanimously passed the Webcaster Settlement Bill, which gives online music services such as Pandora more time to work out a deal with the music industry. It’s now headed for the Senate, where its chances of passing look just fine.
Pandora has done a good job of rallying its legions of fans to support it–I got the following e-mail (after the jump) today from Tim Westergren, the company’s founder:
Hi, it’s Tim from Pandora;
Today, thanks to the extraordinary support of many Pandora listeners, we took a giant step forward when the House of Representatives supported Pandora and Internet radio and passed the Webcaster Settlement Act of 2008. Now we need your help so that the Senate will pass it also – and quickly… The finish line is in sight!
After a yearlong negotiation, Pandora, SoundExchange and the RIAA are finally optimistic about reaching an agreement on royalties that would save Pandora and Internet radio. The legislation would give us the extra time we need to finalize the deal.
Please call your Senators Monday morning starting at 9:00 (Eastern) and ask them to support the Webcaster Settlement Act of 2008.
The person who answers the phone in your Senator’s office may ask for the bill number – it’s H.R. 7084 (if they ask for a Senate bill number, you can assure them that in this unusual case, the Senate is actually voting on the House bill number).
Senator Barbara Boxer: (202) 224-3553
Senator Dianne Feinstein: (202) 224-3841
If the phone is busy, please try again until you get through. These calls really do make a difference.
Thanks so much for you ongoing support.
I don’t pretend to understand the Byzantine world of music rights and licensing. (Side note: When I met with the Slacker folks recently, they told me they’d struck their own deals with music companies and therefore weren’t at risk of being run out of business by the rise in standard licensing fees–I’m not entirely clear on why Pandora couldn’t do something similar.)
But it seems unthinkable that we would end up with licensing costs so high that it’s simply impossible for Web-based radio to work econmically, when licensing fees that online stations could afford would put money in the music industry’s pockets. The folks who own music couldn’t be so pigheaded as to destroy the future of radio, right?