Sony, Universal and Warner Music want royalties for older music streamed on Pandora

Pandora Media has hit another hurdle for its streaming Internet music service. On Thursday, four major labels demanded that Pandora pay royalties for music being streamed that was created before 1972. 

Sony, Universal, Warner Music, and ABKCO control the rights to a majority of songs recorded prior to 1972. According to the New York Times, ‚Äčthe issue stems from older music not being protected under federal copyright law and how it should still be protected under state law. This is in stark contrast to music created after 1972, that is protected by federal copyright law. This law requires online and satellite radio services to acquire licenses to use recordings. This restriction is limited to online and satellite services as terrestrial radio stations have an exemption from paying for recordings. Although exempt, terrestrial radio stations are still required to pay royalties to music publishers.

It is currently unclear whether Pandora and other services will require licenses under state law for recordings created prior to 1972. The music industry has pursued these matters intensely, as there has been a significant drop in revenue over the past decade due to a shift from physical to digital and consumers obtaining music illegally.

Pandora offers a free streaming service that can be streamed to a phone, car, or computer with commercial interruptions. They also have a paid subscription service, Pandora One, that is $3.99 a month, with higher audio quality and streams commercial free.

Source: NY Times | Pandora image via Shutterstock

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27 Comments

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Sony is in an interesting position in this case considering they run a service that sort of competes with Pandora: Music Unlimited

I always wondered how that would affect the balance of power so to speak. Sony can pressure services like Pandora with the reality that Sony can offer the same service cheaper thanks to not paying fees for the content itself.

I am glad that I am not much in to these crap music. I really like instrumental musics, which I can get off internet somehow, and I am pretty content with that.

Just because it's older than 1972 doesn't somehow automatically make all that music "crap", and this is a rip-off for people who do like it and have legally paid for it many times over by now.

Romero said,
Just because it's older than 1972 doesn't somehow automatically make all that music "crap", and this is a rip-off for people who do like it and have legally paid for it many times over by now.

May be I did not clear myself, I was not saying 1970s crap intact on the contrary those are the good music. I was referring to crap music played these days.

Auditor said,

May be I did not clear myself, I was not saying 1970s crap intact on the contrary those are the good music. I was referring to crap music played these days.


Just because the music was made recently doesn't mean that it's crap, there's plenty of good music out there.

siah1214 said,

Just because the music was made recently doesn't mean that it's crap, there's plenty of good music out there.

No,
It doesn't mean that it's ALL crap just because it was made recently, but I can just about guarantee you that on a whole cd from just about any artist, it has a few songs of just plain filler crap, which brings down the total quality of that cd.

Unfortunately though,
Most music IS crap now a days! ;)

The record companies really need to get with the program and figure out what century this is!

cork1958 said,

No,
It doesn't mean that it's ALL crap just because it was made recently, but I can just about guarantee you that on a whole cd from just about any artist, it has a few songs of just plain filler crap, which brings down the total quality of that cd.

Unfortunately though,
Most music IS crap now a days! ;)

The record companies really need to get with the program and figure out what century this is!


This has always been the case. We have selection bias when it comes to older music: only really good music is still listened to 10, 20 years later, and only truly great music is still listened to 50, 100 years later, so we get this erroneous impression that all music from an era must be good. In 50 years, we'll have a lot of people saying "oh music in the 00s was so much better than the music in the 50s! What happened to all the good music??".
There's nothing new under the sun.

No arguments there really.
Publishers are working on a broken model of distribution, they need to get into the modern times.

There really needs to be a fixed expiration date for music and movies/TV shows. It could even be something that's after the artists death, say 30-50 years or something. As it stands there's just nothing set, not really. Each time copyrights are ready to expire for something old, like from Disney, they toss out money to the government and get it extended. Steamboat Willy should've been free domain long ago, but nope.

Pandora is raising the price of Pandora One from 3.99 to 4.99 for new customers. They're also dumping the annual subscription model.

current subs get to keep the 3.99 price as a "loyalty price"

Pandora must be getting ready to pay up.

timster said,
Pandora is raising the price of Pandora One from 3.99 to 4.99 for new customers. They're also dumping the annual subscription model.

current subs get to keep the 3.99 price as a "loyalty price"

Pandora must be getting ready to pay up.

Or, you know, pretty standard effects of inflation and increased costs. Pandora's already won similar lawsuits and there's no reason to think they won't end up winning this. Gotta be annoying to them by now. There's a bit more explanation on engadget: http://www.engadget.com/2014/0...er-royalties-for-old-songs/

timster said,
Pandora is raising the price of Pandora One from 3.99 to 4.99 for new customers. They're also dumping the annual subscription model.

current subs get to keep the 3.99 price as a "loyalty price"

Pandora must be getting ready to pay up.

They (sony etc) are slowly but surely pushing the pirates hand again. The idea that MP3 music was cheap enough and easy to access was a reason that people needed to stop piracy of music. As the price goes up, there is less incentive to buy/license music and people will simply revert back to making copies.
This on the other hand, as others have already pointed out, is just blatant ripping the consumer off. The majority of the music has been bought over and over again, and is just begging people to find a cheaper (consumers time) way of getting the music.

Right now, with tracks being say 79c a track on iTunes and the like, people won't bother spending 30 minutes or so to track down a particular track, rather they'd just buy it in an instant.
Pushing these prices up is only going to mean their time becomes more valuable vs how long it takes to grab the music via other means, and while 4.99 over a month is a lot cheaper then buying tracks on their own, a lump sum of 4.99 is a lot more just for a 1-2 tracks from the early 70s they want to hear.

Those greedy !@%#

1972 music should be the least of their worries. That stuff should no longer even be copyrighted.

ians18 said,
Those greedy !@%#

What a load of rubbish - I've already paid for my music prior to 1972 maybe 5 times!. Once on 45, once on the LP, once on cassette, once on CD, and once for an MP3, now the music studios want me (because it'll be me that pays in the end), to pay again - they can go to H*LL
Give me a refund for all the previous copies of music that I've bought in the past, and all the tracks I was forced to pay for on Albums that I didn't want, and once I'm back to ZERO, I'll consider paying again.

dvb2000 said,

I've already paid for my music prior to 1972 maybe 5 times!.

More fool you?

But I agree, this is just penny pinching. :/