Founder Westergren links artists' digital fortunes to Pandora's

Wednesday, November 14, 2012 - 11:50am

Pandora founder and chief strategy officer Tim Westergren told Future of Music Summit attendees that you can already see what the "unfair" royalty structure has done to the Internet radio industry.

AOL, Yahoo!, and MSN were all major webcasters that have left the business. Pandora itself is "a Jekyll and Hyde business" that's doubled revenue every two years yet has struggled to make a profit. He says his company's 75% share of the webcasting industry shows "nobody wants any part of this business," and that includes some major broadcasters.

Royalty reform, such as the Internet Radio Fairness Act (more here), would bring investment and competition to the space, Westergren insists, which means more opportunity for artists to get exposure and royalties. Internet radio is "massively underinvested," Westergren said. "When we see a win-win opportunity, we should all embrace it... We're saying that if you reduce this burden, internet radio will grow a lot faster and a rising tide will raise all boats."

IRFA Senate sponsor Wyden, Pandora founder Westergren will speak at Tuesday's Future of Music Summit

Thursday, November 8, 2012 - 1:10pm

Oregon Senator Ron Wyden (D), who introduced the Internet Radio Fairness Act (S.3609) in the Senate in September will keynote the Future of Music Summit this Tuesday (November 13) in Washington, D.C.

The Future of Music Coalition has also just announced the event will begin with Pandora founder Tim Westergren (replacing CEO Joe Kennedy) in a one-on-one with music journalist Greg Kot.

The sold-out Summit event will be webcast live by Backbone Networks (and available on TuneIn), and listeners will be able to submit questions for speakers via Twitter and Facebook. Backbone, in fact, has also set up a "preview station" using its OnAirStudio and OnAirDisplay software. The preview station is now available and features highlights from past FoMC Summits.

See the full event agenda here.  

The FoMC is a D.C.-based national nonprofit organization to represent musicians' interests. Read more about Tuesday's Summit event here.

In blog post, Westergren shows how even little-known acts are seeing income from Pandora play

Wednesday, October 10, 2012 - 12:00pm

As it's done so well in the past, leading webcaster Pandora is showing an expert's edge in gathering support among its listeners and their representatives in Congress for the newly-introduced Internet Radio Fairness Act. Now, in his blog, Pandora founder Tim Westergren makes the case that a healthy, thriving Pandora is important for the future viability of artists.

Westergren reveals that his service in 2012 will pay $100,228, $138,567 and $114,192, respectively, in royalties for the use of music by Donnie McClurkin, French Montana, and Grupo Bryndis.

"They are artists whose sales ranks on Amazon are 4,752, 17,000 and 183,187, respectively," Westergren wrote. "These are all working artists who live well outside the mainstream - no steady rotation on broadcast radio, no high profile opening slots on major tours, no front page placement in online retail. What they also have in common is a steady income from Pandora."

He also reveals that his service will pay nearly $3 million each in royalties to play the music of performers Drake and Lil Wayne; for Coldplay, Adele, Wiz Khalifa, and Jason Aldean, it's more than a million dollars each.

"For over two thousand artists Pandora will pay over $10,000 dollars each over the next 12 months... and for more than 800 we'll pay over $50,000, more than the income of the average American household."

Further, he cites research from the NPD Group that concludes that Internet radio has a positive effect on both music sales and curtailing music piracy.

While record label-, artist-, and performer-lobby groups and unions like musicFIRST, AFTRA, and the AFM have publicly spoken against the IRFA, it's clear Westergren is looking to appeal to the actual artist members to support royalty reform.

"Making performance fees fair for Internet radio will drive massive investment in the space, accelerating the growth of the overall sector, and just as importantly accelerating the development of new technology that leverages the incredible power of the Internet to build and activate new audiences. That's where the great opportunity lies in the long run. The short-term reduction in revenue would be rapidly swamped by the overall growth of the sector. Imagine the impact on artists if this industry grew to become 25% or even 50% of radio listening," he concludes. "Artists, this is your future. Own it."

Read Westergren's blog here. Business Insider has coverage here

TuneIn, Backbone Networks live streaming conference until 6pm PT

Tuesday, October 9, 2012 - 11:55am

TuneIn and Backbone Networks are live streaming panels from the SF MusicTech conference today until 8pm CT (6pm PT) across three channels.

The streams are free to listen. The direct link to the audio is here (or simply search for "SF MusicTech" from any TuneIn product).

Some of the conference highlights that will be streamed (all times Pacific):

  • A conversation with Tim Westergren, Pandora, at 10:45am
  • A panel featuring Michael Franti at 4:30pm
  • Thomas Hutchings, TuneIn, discussing "The Connected Car" at 10:45am

TuneIn is the free online audio agggregation and tuning service that offers over 70,000 stations of music, sports, news, and current events from around the world. Backbone Networks creates "complete Internet radio stations" and networks of stations, taking care of the technical part of broadcasting. Backbone operates and hosts the largest network of college and high school noncommercial educational (NCE) radio stations, as well as public radio, commercial and sports radio stations.

9/13: Our very first RAIN Summit Chicago!

Friday, December 23, 2011 - 11:00am

RAIN Summit ChicagoRAIN held its first RAIN Summit event in our hometown of Chicago (here). One of the highlights was undoubtedly Pandora founder Tim Westergren's riveting keynote address (coverage here), in which he argued that there is "little doubt that the future of radio is Internet radio...[and] the music industry should be doing everything it can to encourage this shift."

You can see video of Westergren's speech here; watch video of RAIN publisher and AccuRadio founder Kurt Hanson's Summit address here; and video of the day's panels and presentations here.

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