As the Pink Floyd classic goes, "Money, it's a crime / Share it fairly / But don't take a slice of my pie." Roger Waters, David Gilmour and Nick Mason of the iconic Classic Rock band have penned an op-ed piece for USA Today, criticizing Pandora for its recent tactics to lower its radio royalty payments and saying the company is misleading musicians about its agenda.
The op-ed column says that "Nearly 90 percent of the artists who get a check for digital play receive less than $5,000 a year. They cannot afford the 85 percent pay cut Pandora asked Congress to impose on the music community." The band members note that "Musicians around the country are getting emails from Pandora – even directly from the company's charismatic founder Tim Westergren – asking them to 'be part of a conversation' about the music business and sign a simple 'letter of support' for Internet radio.
"Sounds good. Who wouldn't want to be 'part of a conversation'? Who doesn't support Internet radio? What scrooge would refuse to sign such a positive, pro-music statement?
"Of course, this letter doesn't say anything about an 85 percent artist pay cut. That would probably turn off most musicians who might consider signing on."
The Pink Floyd members add that "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."
The op-ed piece concludes that "We're not saying that the music business is perfect or that there is no room to compromise. Artists would gladly work with Pandora to end AM/FM's radio exemption from paying any musician royalties – a loophole that hurts artists and digital radio alike.
"Other changes and compromises may be possible as well. The open letter to Pandora that we signed last year said, 'Lets work this out as partners' and that's what we should do. But tricking artists into signing a confusing petition without explaining what they are really being asked to support only poisons the well."