Business success should not trump creativity: Pandora isn't playing fair

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Thursday, we came and performed a few of the hits we penned: Linda Perry performed “Beautiful” recorded by Christina Aguilera, Desmond Child performed “Livin’ On A Prayer” recorded by Bon Jovi, Lee Thomas Miller performed “You’re Gonna Miss This” recorded by Trace Adkins, BC Jean performed “If I Were a Boy” recorded by Beyonce, and Kara DioGuardi performed “Sober” recorded by Pink. Perhaps you heard. Maybe you were with us to sing along.  

In the first quarter of 2012, those five songs were played 33 million times on Pandora. And we were paid a combined total of $587.31. All five of us. 

Getting our music to fans is how we make our living. This used to be through album sales, but lately, it is through downloads and Internet streaming services. And the bottom line is that some of these new services like Pandora don’t pay us enough to make a living. Unlike recording artists, we can’t increase our paycheck by going out on tour. Instead, we have to rely on the fractions of pennies per play that we get from Pandora and other services.  

But Pandora is waging a war on both songwriters and recording artists. They want legislation that would slash what they pay recording artists and record labels. And even though they currently pay songwriters a mere 4 percent of their revenue, Pandora is suing in court to pay us even less too.  

To be clear, this is their war on creators. The very creators who provide content for their business. A business, by the way, we hope can be successful and get our music out to our fans. But we hope that Congress doesn’t value their business success at our expense. We need to be paid fairly for our work.

Linda Perry, Desmond Child, Lee Thomas Miller, BC Jean and Kara DioGuardi are all songwriters.