Why I support the Internet Radio Fairness Act

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Break of Reality has been performing for almost a decade now, and next to performing live, internet radio has proved to be the greatest asset to the growth of our group. Our exposure on Pandora and Spotify has led directly to a huge increase in music sales through digital music stores such as iTunes and Amazon.com, and has created great performance opportunities by exposing our music to concert presenters around the country who hire us to perform. Furthermore, these concerts are being filled largely by fans who find our music exclusively through companies like Pandora.
 
To be more precise, in the first twelve months of being included in Pandora’s music library, our digital album sales increased by 290 percent from the year prior. In the subsequent 12 months, sales rose 406 percent from our pre-Pandora days. The day before submitting this letter, Break of Reality asked its Facebook fans, in an objective manner, how they discovered our music for the first time. With an overwhelming response from our fans, the results were staggering: 44 percent of fans polled discovered our music through internet radio, 31 percent through live performance, 15 percent from a friend, and 9 percent through Youtube and other internet outlets. It is clear that the effectiveness of internet radio with regard to both product sales and promotional power is overwhelming, and the success and expansion of these companies are of the utmost importance for the future of our group.
 
As musicians who have decided not to work with a record label, my band does not have the capital to invest in large traditional media promotional campaigns and is instead focused on finding more viable promotional opportunities. Internet radio creates an unparalleled opportunity for us to reach millions of people who otherwise might not discover music like ours. On a larger scale, internet radio helps listeners discover new artists, enriching the musical landscape of our country.
 
It is disappointing to me to see that some well-known artists have been enlisted in the campaign against the bill. They don’t speak for all working artists. I would imagine that a vast number of independent musicians are largely unrepresented in this debate, perhaps because they don’t have the financial or legal resources to voice their opinion.
 
I hope Congress will allow me and the many other working musicians who support this act the opportunity to help create more appropriate legislation to help innovative companies like Pandora flourish, and great artists find more exposure in this changing musical world.
 
Laird is a member of the cello rock band Break of Reality.