Pink Floyd Reignite Pandora Royalty Debate

Although you're not likely to see Roger Waters, David Gilmour and Nick Mason onstage together any time soon, the three surviving members of Pink Floyd recently got together to write an op-ed piece for USA Today.

The editorial, which you can read here, accuses Pandora of trying to rip off artists over royalties from online radio.

"It's a matter of principle for us," Waters, Gilmour and Mason write. "We hope that many online and mobile music services can give fans and artists the music they want, when they want it, at price points that work. But those same services should fairly pay the artists and creators who make the music at the core of their businesses."

Pandora, the Internet radio service, is in the midst of asking Congress to cut musicians' royalties for digital radio plays by 85 percent. A similar campaign failed last year, thanks to a letter signed by more than 125 musicians. This time, however, Pandora is reaching out to several artists, asking them to sign a letter of support for Internet radio. But, according to Waters, Gilmour and Mason, Pandora's letter doesn't mention the massive royalty cut.

"Fine print is one thing," Waters, Gilmour and Mason write. "But a musician could read this 'letter of support' a dozen times and hold it up to a funhouse mirror for good measure without realizing she was signing a call to cut her own royalties to pad Pandora's bottom line."

Meanwhile, songwriter/activist David Lowery of Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven recently posted a blog post titled, “My Song Got Played On Pandora 1 Million Times and All I Got Was $16.89, Less Than What I Make From a Single T-Shirt Sale!”

In the column, which you can read here, Lowery lays out — in fine detail — the royalties he’s paid by Pandora via the current system.

“Why doesn’t Pandora get off the couch and get an actual business model instead of asking for a handout from congress and artists?,” Lowery wrote. P.S., the song Lowery is referring to is Cracker's early '90s hit, "Low." No pun intended!

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Damian Fanelli
Editor-in-Chief, Guitar World

Damian is Editor-in-Chief of Guitar World magazine. In past lives, he was GW’s managing editor and online managing editor. He's written liner notes for major-label releases, including Stevie Ray Vaughan's 'The Complete Epic Recordings Collection' (Sony Legacy) and has interviewed everyone from Yngwie Malmsteen to Kevin Bacon (with a few memorable Eric Clapton chats thrown into the mix). Damian, a former member of Brooklyn's The Gas House Gorillas, was the sole guitarist in Mister Neutron, a trio that toured the U.S. and released three albums. He now plays in two NYC-area bands.