The Problem With Pandora and Why It’s Time to Clean Up the Digital Music Mess
In a victory for Pandora, a federal judge recently rebuffed attempts by music publishers to make the internet radio service pay more for streaming songs. The decision means Pandora will stay on nearly equal footing with other radio stations when it comes to paying songwriters, but in the bigger picture it will do little to fix a music royalty system that is buckling badly in the digital age.
The decision, which dealt a loss to the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), is likely to reignite a bitter debate over whether digital music services like Pandora are shortchanging musicians — or whether these services are simply a scapegoat for a troubled business model. Such arguments, however, may overlook a bigger problem. Rather than blaming Pandora or the publishers, the biggest problem may be with the U.S. government, which created such an irrational and complicated royalty system in the first place.
Here’s an overview of what happened in the Pandora decision, and how the court case is just a symptom of a much larger problem.