June 13, 2013

Top Songwriter Josh Kear Challenges Pandora Op-Ed on Behalf of Fellow ASCAP Members

Josh Kear (left) and Carrie Underwood at a recent Nashville #1 Party

Josh Kear (left) and Carrie Underwood at a recent Nashville #1 Party

Four-time Grammy-winner and six-time #1 songwriter Josh Kear responded today to online streaming service Pandora’s recent op-ed attacking ASCAP’s efforts to protect fair compensation for its members in Washington DC's The Hill. As Kear notes in a post to The Hill’s Congress Blog, "a mere four percent of Pandora’s total revenue is spent on licensing public performance rights." The bottom line? Pandora is stiffing songwriters.

The full text of Kear’s response can be found below and on The Hill’s website by clicking here.

As a songwriter and ASCAP member, I found the recent opinion piece by Pandora’s assistant general counsel (“Why Pandora bought an FM radio station,” 6/11/13) to be long on rhetoric but short on facts.

Unlike Pandora, ASCAP is a nonprofit membership organization that collects and distributes royalties to the hundreds of thousands of songwriters, composers and music publishers it represents. Members like me depend on ASCAP to negotiate fair deals on our behalf, so we can earn a living as more listeners discover and enjoy our music across a wide variety of platforms, including Internet radio.

Savvy readers will note a mere four percent of Pandora’s total revenue is spent on licensing public performance rights from songwriters and composers. That means we make a fraction of a cent every time one of our songs streams on Pandora’s service — while the company's founder has cashed out more than $15 million in stock since the company went public. And yet we’re supposed to be excited that Pandora has now bought an FM radio station, because it will allow the company to pay the songwriters and composers who fuel their entire business even less than a fraction of a penny? It’s hard to follow that logic. Harder still to see how the FCC, which has to approve the sale, would find such a clearly self-serving purchase to be in the public interest.

I like streaming music online as much as the next guy. And I certainly appreciate the opportunities it creates for me as an artist to reach new listeners. But Pandora is misleading readers by claiming to be on the side of artists, when its recent actions firmly prove otherwise. Shame on us if we let them continue the charade.

Josh Kear is a Grammy Award-winning songwriter for such artists as Lady Antebellum ("Need You Now"), Carrie Underwood ("Before He Cheats," "Blown Away"), Luke Bryan ("Drunk on You"), Darius Rucker ("True Believers") and others. His current singles include Tim McGraw and Taylor Swift's "Highway Don't Care," Lady Antebellum's "Goodbye Town" and Tyler Farr's "Redneck Crazy."