A Copyright Royalty Board decision last week chose to adopt a strict new fee structure proposed by a collection body of the RIAA for all web streams, far out of proportion to the fees paid by other media (broadcast, satellite radio) and previous paid by radio streams. Will the higher fees benefit musicians? Not if you ask the streamers; numerous arguments online suggest the cost of the new fees would actually exceed income, from everyone from small streams to enormous ones, and could threaten services like Pandora.

For additional background:
Webcast royalty rate decision announced at the Radio and Internet Newsletter, which argues this royalty alone (on top of publishing royalties) could easily exceed income for the average webcaster
Copyright Royalty Board Releases Decision – Rates are Going Up Significantly at the Broadcast Law Blog

And on the Pandora blog:
RIAA’s new royalty rates will kill online radio!! and More on the Copyright Ruling

I got the chance to follow-up a recent interview with Pandora founder Tim Westergren, also published today. His outlook, like many other streamers, is bleak, and he explains why.

CDM: We’ve heard lots of estimates and analysis about what the new fees would add in cost, proportionally. Can you quantify what the new rules would mean for Pandora?

TW: For us, tens of millions of dollars. It’s really over the top.

It impacts everybody the same way, proportionally. The smaller you are, the less you’ll pay just because you don’t stream as many songs … but it’s going to hit them just as hard.

CDM: We talked before about having a reasonable statutory rate for internet radio. What happened? And why is there suddenly this enormous cumulative rate?

TW: The real problem goes back to 1998 when the DMCA was negotiated. The RIAA was able to get a different standard inserted for Internet, for the establishment of rates for internet radio. It’s different from broadcast, different from satellite radio. There’s an underlying legal standard called willing buyer, willing seller, which is only applied to Internet radio. It laid the foundation for this kind of really disproportional ruling. That’s where this came from.

This is a fee that the broadcasters do not pay at all, and the satellite providers pay one fifth of this. So it’s this bizarre inequity that has no justification. It’s a reflection of lobbying influence.

CDM: What’s Pandora doing in terms of combating the ruling, or what can interested users do?

TW: For a company like ours, and a business like ours, which is young and relatively less powerful than the NAB or the RIAA or the satellites even, it’s going to come down to listeners — 70 million people who listen to internet radio standing up and saying we’re not going to let this happen. We’re really hoping we can educate and mobilize internet radio listeners. It’s musicians, too, hopefully. This does not help musicians. On the face of it you could say they get paid more per song, that’s good for musicians. That’s true in a complete vacuum. Shutting down internet radio is a disaster for musician — particularly indie musicians. It’s the only place they get played.

CDM: Right, and it does seem like it shuts down this channel, so that the economics only work for other distribution media.

TW: It’s saying to the public, we will not let you listen to internet radio. You will be forced back into the broadcast and satellite world exclusively. I can’t imagine a man, woman, or child who sees that as a bright future.

CDM: Some people have said this will simply drive business offshore, but you’ve noted that that’s a misconception. So no service will be able to legally broadcast over the Internet to the US without this fee structure?

TW: The DMCA is only for people who reside in the US. Pandora is only legal for US listeners. And there is no license that allows any webcaster to stream internationally, unless they have agreements with the actual labels themselves. But anyone streaming music around the world is not doing it legally, unless they have complete licenses, and to my knowledge nobody does yet. But that will be a different framework if that does happen; the DMCA won’t apply there.

CDM: Would there be a way to create just that kind of international framework?

TW: Having one statuatory rate is a good example, because that is what allows companies to be born, because no small company can sign 15,000 agreements with one company. It’s an interesting condition overseas: it’s a very expensive, time-consuming process to get rights, which is absurd. Those rights would gladly be given by labels if they could get out of there own way. I don’t think you’d meet a single musician who wouldn’t be happy to have their music played on online radio anywhere in the world, even without being paid. They just want it up there. I’m a musician myself; I can tell you definitively, I’d be happy to have my music played on any music station without being paid a nickel. I’m happy to pay something — I’m not trying in any way to shortchange musicians; those are my people. I want to do it in a way that’s consistent with reasonable business practices.

“A Lose for Everybody”

CDM: It seems like having burdensome rates for Internet radio would hurt traditional radio stations, since many of them have been launching their own streams, as well as the labels themselves since this channel gets shut down.

TW: It’s a lose for everybody. Not a single winner emerges from that. They’re all wanting to move online; broadcasters have big plans to move online. This is a terrible precedent for them.

CDM: What’s Pandora’s plan, then, in the wake of this new decision?

TW: We’re sort of taking this day by day. They may easily come a point where it’s irresponsible of us to continue streaming, because we’re accruing liability — it’s not fair to our investors. If we think it’s heading the wrong direction, I think we have to stop. We have to turn it off, shutter. At some point you have to make a reasonable calculation to cut your losses.

The problem is, no industry can survive when it’s constantly under threat of some, like, tripling of its basic costs. So any temporary thing doesn’t change the fundamental problem. This is kind of our day of reckoning. Either Congress is going to let this stand and we’re going to stop Internet radio, or they’re going to fix it so that every radio company isn’t under constant threat of bankruptcy. You’ve got a bunch of companies over the last four or five years that started building a business, and now, suddenly, because of an oligopoly, a small collection of power … their business is being turned off. And that’s not a reasonable condition to run a business.

CDM: You talked about lobbying efforts — by whom? The big broadcasting companies? The RIAA?

TW: It’s the RIAA doing it. The RIAA answers to a very small collection of large record companies. I don’t have a particular issue with large record labels, but this is so misguided and counterproductive — even for their own interests. That’s the absurdity of this whole thing. There’s no plan at all: jack it up as high as you can and let’s see what happens because we don’t really understand this ourselves.

Turning Point for Long-Tail Streaming?

CDM: There was a similar uncertainty about online radio a few years ago; is it possible we’ll find a fix now as we did then?

TW: There’s been some misleading stuff said in the press, like they’ve said “all this happened four or five years ago and everybody said they’d be going out of business and we are.” Well, it did happen five years ago, and the reason we are here is because the rates were knocked back to a reasonable level. So that’s completely disingenuous.

70% of the music that plays on Pandora comes off of albums whose sales rank is 10,000 or worse on Amazon.com. We’re playing an enormous amount of music that’s comfortably down the long tail. That music will never again be heard on radio, period. No one will play it.

The hope that I hold out is that when rubber really meets the road, all the folks involved here — the labels, and artists and songs — when they realize just the impact this will have, they’ll back away from the edge. It’s one thing to say, hey, man, I’m going to make the highest price I can — that’s an easy rhetoric. But this demonstrates a real naivety about this digital music universe, to push for that so blindly.

For the original interview with Tim, and a sense at his vision for Pandora as a way of benefiting indie music, see:

Pandora’s Founder on Decoding Taste and Promoting Indie Music

  • dead_red_eyes

    I haven't been happy with the RIAA in years … but these days, I've just had about enough of their crap …

    Anyone catch how Gizmodo [http://www.gizmodo.com] is boycotting the RIAA ? It brings a smile to my face …

    Has anyone had enough of their crap? I've just about had enough. Between taking dead people, paralyzed people, families who've never owned a computer to court, and crap like this … it's enough to make guy snap.

  • dead_red_eyes

    Also, I really hope that Pandora doesn't go under … I've grown quite fond of their site and what they do.

  • Well, and what bothers me about the RIAA in this case is that they're doing something that's in direct conflict with their member labels' best interests. I mean, remember that this is the same record industry that has at times (illegally, of course) PAID stations for play — play that earned them nothing in return other than promotion. In fairness, those payola schemes stemmed out of the pressures of broadcasting and its hitmaking / narrow variety. Now they have essentially radio in a different medium, without any of those pressures, a perfect vehicle for convincing people to buy more albums, and they're asking for rates that will shut it down.

    Sometimes corporate lobbies sometimes wind up with such a narrow, simplistic mandate — and the power to carry it to ridiculous extremes — that they start behaving like evil robots. (It's like the cheesy sci-fi scene. "No, KROG!! I created you! Obey!")

    Sorry for the digg link, incidentally, but I hope more information on this issue will be disseminated. I'll keep the digg badges to a bare minimum, I promise.

  • ColMustard

    It needs to be heard. I don't think many around here have qualms about having a digg badge attached to such an important subject.

  • ColMustard

    Here's where you can sign the petition to let our congressmen know how big of an issue this really is.

  • Having done lobbying in the past, I would strongly recommend that people contact their Congressperson directly. You might even schedule a meeting if this is really important to you — ideally with other musicians from your district.

    Letters to the editor are also extremely effective, especially if you have a smaller, local paper (which are more likely to publish what you write — and may even be more closely read).

    Petitions are on the weaker end of the spectrum as far as effectiveness. What they're best at is getting people involved as a first step, with the hopes of making them take more substantive action later.

    I'll try to put some more resources together for next week for anyone interested in acting directly.

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  • Tim Clark

    The best way to show the RIAA what you think about their tactics is to not give them your money. It's that simple.

    I've stopped buying from the RIAA a while ago. These days, it's all independent music, either from e-Music or a local record store, or out of print rarities / bootlegs I accumulate online. The few times I do have the urge to hear something on an RIAA label, I find a second hand copy online or in a used cd store.

    And it's all because of crap like this.

  • Tim, I share your frustration, but the RIAA only represents the record labels — it isn't literally the record labels. Boycotting the labels doesn't hurt the organization they're a member of. And there's great music on RIAA-member labels, just as there is on non-member labels, so I don't think you have to avoid it. This massive list, by their account, represents 90% of commercial music:


    That to me, though, is all the more frustrating. Many of these labels are important to artists. And its important to both artists and labels that records get promoted and discovered, which is why Internet radio now is important in the way that broadcast radio once was. If they create a structure that makes these businesses unsustainable, that hurts everybody.

    Ultimately, this comes down to issues of law. So the best way to show the RIAA what you think is to call your Congressperson. Hard as the RIAA may lobby, your voice as a voter becomes more valuable than theirs if enough people call / write / and visit their Congresspeople.

  • It's funny because I literally _just_ did an interview on this very subject not an hour and a half ago. I actually have to side with Mr. Clark above: it behooves you, as a consumer, to be aware of what you're buying, and what the ramifications are. I agree that making it painful for labels (specifically indies) to be members of the RIAA is the proper course of action. And this is speaking as someone that owns an indie label. However, the only way they'll know it's because of that, and not because of "losses due to downloading" is if you tell them.

    So if you decide to not purchase an album because of the inherent load of restrictions or ramifications due to it coming from an RIAA member label, make sure you write that label and let them know you voted with your dollars. It wouldn't hurt to write the band, as well, as the bigger artists, especially on indies, have a lot of pull with the label.

  • Fair argument, Chris. But it does seem people should understand that there's a difference between "boycotting the RIAA" and "boycotting labels because they're members of the RIAA" — all the more reason to tell the labels directly. (I don't think the RIAA listens to consumers or artists; that much is clear.)

    One thing I haven't heard at this point, direct from a label owner, is why you would join the RIAA in the first place. I know you pay dues, you demonstrate you're legitimate, and (in an extremely unusual requirement for a trade organization) sign a confidentiality agreement. Presumably if you don't join the RIAA, you don't get (for instance) the royalties that have been collected from Internet streams for the last few years?

    I do believe in royalty rates for labels and publishers; obviously the problem is that there's only an ecosystem here if there's a functional business model — the kind we had a few weeks ago before it got trashed by this ruling. If, on the publishing rights side, ASCAP's licensing fee were so high that people just stopped playing music, that would make no sense. (Actually, that's a perfect example: ASCAP, using a rate structure that does make sense, has record revenues from mobile/online licensing. ASCAP members have some governance of the organization; another route might be for ASCAP members to point out that their royalties are in jeopardy if RIAA sets its rates so high people stop legal streaming altogether.)

    I just don't think just fighting the RIAA will help here. The RIAA is exploiting a regulatory system that is slanted *entirely* to them. It seems we need changes in the copyright law that protect the whole business.

  • i hope this causes pandora to go away, seeing as theyre a useless flash app that is never likely to generate as useful of a hint as to good music as the average college radio station, which already has 128K streams subsidized by ridiculous tuitions..

  • also there was a ton of noise made about this 5 years ago, and none of the streams went away. instead we have many more.

    but its definitely a better time than ever to be a pirate station

  • Most college radio stations get next-to-nothing from colleges, and certainly not out of tuition. Here in New York, for instance, WKCR has faced major funding cutbacks at Columbia University — hardly an impoverished school. Many stations struggle with their broadcast costs. Streams are a way of getting more funding from listeners by broadening reach. Many of them are in fact quite good; computer algorithms will never replace human DJs — that's not the point. You tune into WKCR to hear a DJ; you tune into Pandora to navigate through half a million tunes.

    There was a ton of noise made about this 5 years ago, you're right. The statutory rates at the time were set such that online streaming became viable, creating all these new venues for music and coinciding with big growth in the variety of music consumption. (Partly *because* everyone made a ton of noise.) Had the fees gone up then, many of the stations we have now would never have come into being. (Read the interview above.)

    That's why NPR and KCRW are actively opposing the new rates — even though much of NPR's most popular programming is talk, not music. They're doing it because the rate change is simply wrong.

  • I've been a Pandora customer for about a 3/4 of a year — it's great.

    I stopped buying CD's if it's from a big label — I just buy them from artists directly.

    There's lots of great music, and my money supports good product.

    I'm hoping the RIAA will destroy the industry, so that it can refrom under a different model (hopefully better).

    The RIAA doesn't add any value to my life on this planet.

    I think Saddam Hussein added more value than the RIAA actually.

  • I was prompted to respond by this comment from Tim Westergren:

    "I don’t think you’d meet a single musician who wouldn’t be happy to have their music played on online radio anywhere in the world, even without being paid. They just want it up there."

    Promotion is good but, why can't I have my music up and be paid? It is now, finally, possible to track what songs are actually played. And, as an independent, why can't I opt out? For example, if I want to make some of my cd available for promo but not the whole thing. I was excited (though completely exhausted from the application process) to receive my first check from SoundExchange…around $200 and that was supposed to cover about 5 or so years?…We working musicians are getting beat up by the business from all sides.

    I haven't really followed the rates being set and by all accounts they seem too high. Anything that would ruin the "online broadcast industry" would not be good. However, I am a working musician this year nominated for a Grammy. I have three records on major labels and 7 on independent labels, (three of those are online distribution model limited store availability). We are still touring the world on a regular basis. Why should people make money off my music, whether it be from "stock holders" or advertisement, if I don't make any? It seems to me the whole business model for online streaming is based on the idea that there is this content. It must have value or why would anyone go to the site? It is this traffic that generates "stockholders" and advertisers who are giving money to the site owner. So, where is the artists cut?

    This is all in theory…the reality is that all this stuff is free everywhere and there is not much I can do about it.

    As far as the major labels go, yes, they've had their problems but, they also have their benefits. Most of the great classical composers and artists throughout history have lived off of commissioned work from royalty etc…Our online record distributor company pays direct each quarter but, to date still less than my first advance from the major label…who also paid for tour support promotion, publicity, packaging etc…

  • Genji, I agree absolutely. (And congratulations on the Grammy nomination!) Artists should be paid for plays. It's dangerous to get into the idea that "promotion" should be free — on that principle, at least, I agree with the RIAA. I just don't agree with how they're going about it, because it's impractical and could make the income picture worse. I talked for some time to Tim, and while I think he was arguing there that personally he didn't feel the need to be paid, he was also very clear that he was more than happy to share a cut.

    The problem, of course, is if the royalties exceed actual income, which is what everyone from NPR to Pandora to independent online radio is saying.

    And there's my issue with the whole system by which this decision was made. Rates need to be consistent, not change wildly in a period of a few years. And they need to be set as a compromise between streamers and property owners. This ruling failed on both those counts.

    But, out of this whole discussion, yet again artists and writers are being left out of the discussion. We should be the beginning and end of this conversation, not some afterthought, because without us this is all moot. And I think what we need is a consistent, practical rate system that works for all involved so the business around this new medium can grow — and our business with it.

  • bliss

    "A great deal of intelligence can be invested in ignorance when the need for illusion is deep." – Saul Bellow

  • vvvoid

    Genji – so do something about it. You have at least some power here – if you are valuable to your label(s), they'll listen to you – if not, well they'll ignore you or make you go away.

    Either way it's pointless to bitch if you're not prepared to take a stand.

  • vvoid- I'm not sure what you mean when you say "do something about it". I said I couldn't stop free downloads or streaming. What could I possibly do about that?

    Maybe you misunderstand my relationship with the record companies. I am very grateful for all the work that I get and have worked very hard to be where I am. Most people who are on a label are happy to have that kind of recognition and support.

    Like most artist (and software programmers) I try to walk the fine line between creative free expression, access for all, forward open minded thinking, use of technology, open source etc…and needing to make a living at my trade. Therefore, I am always tentative about saying anything that will alienate me on forums like this. My only intention here is to have my opinion (as well as of others I know) understood. I am not trying to support or defend the RIAA's decisions.

    If I must for your sake vvoid, I will "take a stand" here. I hope you won't consider it more 'bitching'. I am a member of the musicians union local 802. They make sure I get paid a certain minimum amount when I do a recording session with a major label (who all have negotiated contracts with them). The union is my voice, the voice of a someone looking out for my best interest, that's why I pay my dues. The union has never been weaker, as with most unions these days but, the whole point is that, as part of a collective, I can't be "ignored" or made to "go away" because I, as an individual, am not "valuable" to them. See what their point of view is on free streaming on the internet. ASCAP pays me (and of course take their cut)…see what they say. They are also looking out for my interests as they stand to gain when I gain.

    The real root of this is all economics. The record companies, the musicians union and the performance royalty societies feel that their businesses (and therefore revenue to the artists they represent) are being eaten into by the free distribution and streaming of music online. The online streamers feel they cannot operate if their costs are too high. It is a legal battle for the courts, unfortunately.

    Maybe I am completely cynical at this point but, I don't expect my voice or even that of millions of other people to sway the powers that be if there is money involved. (or money=power=control)

    The peoples voice hasn't worked for fixing our voting system, solving campaign financing issues, protesting an unjust war, reducing our blatant misuse of environmental resources, nor for getting universal healthcare or sufficient free education for all. Why should this be any different? Because it's music, something people really care about?

    One last thing to consider: Is the collective online streaming industry capable of figuring out a standardized fair way of paying artists without pressure from anyone? It would be wonderful but, goes against all historical examples.

  • Genji, I agree — this should start with artists being paid fairly. And I don't think it should fall on you or any other artist to pressure the RIAA. That makes no sense.

    But the streaming industry DID have a standardized, fair way of paying artists. Pandora, for instance, was legally streaming music under the restrictions provided by the law (the Digital Millennium Copyright Act) — some of them good restrictions designed to keep people from just using it as a free online delivery mechanism (which would INDEED be bad) and keeping them using it as a recommendation system (GOOD). So did your favorite local public radio station, which actually paid a *higher* rate for streaming than broadcast *before* this ruling. (Broadcast pays nothing. Satellite pays far less than this ruling does. That obviously makes no sense — we should have one fair rate for all three. But the next best thing would be at least a practical rate for online.)

    The question here is NOT free streaming — that question was decided five years ago. Music deserves to have a standard, fair rate for both publishers and labels, period. (And if you're a self-published, self-recorded artist, incidentally, you get 100% of that.)

    The problem is, the rate has to be proportionate to the income received. That's not just about fairness — it's a matter of practicality. Should it have been higher than it was? Maybe. Should it be so high that National Public Radio says their member stations will all have to kill their feeds? I don't think so. Ironically, doing so would push people back to terrestrial radio which has NO such fee at all. The RIAA is claiming victory, but they're actively killing the very format that was actually giving them a good rate. Totally nonsensical.

    Alternatively, you could argue that streaming itself is bad because it doesn't bring in the income that selling music directly does. But to make that argument would essentially mean saying radio itself was bad — and the massive parallel growth of the record industry alongside radio says that's not the case.

    So, just to be clear: we're not talking about free distribution. Free distribution is a very bad idea, in my opinion at least, because it devalues music. I think it was a bad idea with radio. But rates that apply ONLY to digital streams (not on-demand digital deliver, mind you) and make it too expensive to stream at all are an equally bad idea. It could encourage illegal streams that pay artists nothing, and kill quality legitimate streams — both very, very bad.

    There's so obviously a middle road, but that only happens if you find a middle ground between labels, who want the highest rate possible, and streamers, who want the lowest rate possible. Finding that middle ground is good policy.

    So, it is up to us as working musicians — whether we're a lone indie artist or a successful producer — to call our Congresspeople and say give us a fair rate. Complaining is good, as long as it's directed at the right people.

    Hope I'm making sense… and let's keep discussing this. 🙂

  • Adrian Anders


    Call me crazy, but I think ALL streaming music should be free for webcasting. Actually, by lowering the cost for those who stream media, it's benefiting labels (or at least the artists) in the long run by generating popular support for their music. And if by some remote chance it does hurt the labels… too bad. It's not government's role to prop up failing business models. Government should only be concerned with laws and regulations that help everyone to the maximum benefit of society as a whole. Killing or limiting streaming internet radio is something that hurts society as a whole way more than it would ever benefit it.

    As musicians, if our labels don't know how to adapt to the way the market is headed, it's best to part from said labels as quickly and amicably as possible. Let's find labels who are technically savvy enough to not just acknowledge the presence of the net, but actively court the new forms of distribution and promotion available from it. Not trying to change or cripple it to fit an outdated model, but rather find the new business models that become possible through the freedom and lack of scarcity that the web allows.


  • I do think there's an argument for making streaming free, as radio had been. But the fact is that, by setting rates proportional to revenue, online radio was *working* for artists, labels, and publishers alike. And I keep coming back to the fact that ASCAP's revenue from those online streams was growing. That may not be a huge check, but that's some extra money for writers. And it reinforces the idea that what revenue streamers do make off streaming can be shared with artists. Everybody wins.

    I see no reason why you can't get both a promotional and a monetary benefit from streaming — especially when we had a system where everyone was benefiting from that, until RIAA and the courts wrecked it.

  • Carmen, you're being unusually irritating here today (or yesterday). First of all, whether or not Pandora is a Flash application is completely orthogonal to whether the service that it offers is a worthy one. Secondly, the changes that were in process 5 years ago pale in comparison to the ones just adopted by the CRB, plus the whole point of the struggle 5 years ago was that eventually internet radio did get some say in the rate setting process. This time, the entire medium seems to have been completely shut out.

    Genji, I am entirely sympathetic to you concerns and perspective, but I think you are not considering the most interesting case of streaming – where nobody is making any money from it. All of the internet radio stations that I listen to carry no advertising, have no DJs and get by on a minimum of costs – a hosting service, the current streaming fees, and not much more. Wanting to paid part of what other people make from playing your music seems natural, but in truth, I think that a lot of the most intesting online "media" for me is not making money at all. The CRB rates don't appear to take this into account in any way whatsoever.

  • I have no cable or satellite TV.

    I haven't had them for years

    I started watching videos on Yahoo, for free.

    That made no sense to me.

    However, when I went to see how much the music and the videos in a single package would cost?

    I was surprised to find that they were not generally packaged together.

    I don't mind paying 99 cents for 128kb audio version of a song, heck I don't mind paying 2.29 for vhs qaulity video.

    but when I can hop over to blockbuster and pick up a film $9.00 …

    no if Pandora goes under I won't have a vehicle for actually hearing any new music. Since Pandora I have been buying music I would never have known existed. It sparked my interest in music again.

    I just have no tolerance for commercial broadcasting anymore. I have been online for far too long to put up with being yelled at by advertisers.

    My wife bought one of those online video games for 19.95 and she plays it for hours.

    $25.00 for a CD that I may listen to only half of, if that much, means that to get 45 minutes worth of music that I actually enjoy will cost me from 50 to 100 bucks.

    If Pandora goes I'll just rent and by more videos and PC games for my wife.

    I have enough legally purchased music to last me the rest of my life.

    I never knew what a Gothic Operetta was until I started using Pandora.

    If it didn't show up on Yahoo videos I just didn't know about it.

    And even then most of the time without the videos the music isn't worth buying.

    Have you ever listened to Abbey Road in "gapless" mode?

    You should her electric lady land in gapless mode, "mind" blowing.

    You know what my latest kick is? Rummaging through my library with iTunes finding all manner of songs by different artists that I can hear one after the other in gapless mode.

    You just can't do that with CD's

    Anyway I am just a retired old coot who thought he would throw his two cents worth in.

    thanks for taking the time to read this


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  • Lee

    I thinki it's outrageous what the RIAA has done to Internet Radio. As a fan of old school music from the 70's, 80's and 90's, it's very difficult to find music from these by-gone eras on today's radio stations. Yes, some oldies R&B radio stations will occasionally play something I like, but when it comes to picking and choosing the exact songs, articts or genre of music I like there's no better choice than Pandora online radio.

    A portion of the CDM interview struck me as interesting, "70% of the music that plays on Pandora comes off of albums whose sales rank is 10,000 or worse on Amazon.com. (Pandora is) playing an enormous amount of music that’s comfortably down the long tail."

    As far as I know, Pandora strongly adheres to playing (free) music that is not commonly aired on mainstream radio which to my ears is a good thing. (Sorry, hiphop and rap fans, but I like music with real instruments and real musicians, not "noise"). But if you do want to listen to something that's current, you can opt-in (register and become a member) and listen to just about anything you want.

    My point here is I think it's a tragedy to "price" a highly accessible, highly successful and well respected media away from the public. This is a huge lose for "real" music lovers, those who can truly appreciate complex melodies, 3, 4 and 5 part harmonies and true musicianship at work. Pandora provided an avenue to good music to my ears. It's a shame that this media will be lost due to greed.