If you love Pandora radio or any other Internet radio service, you will want to know about this legislation that is poised to change the face of Internet radio. Read this letter from Tim Westergren, the founder of Pandora to get the scoop on what you need to know.

I know that many of you are fans of Pandora radio. Pandora is free personalized Internet radio service. To use it you simply surf over to www.pandora.com, create a free account, and enter the name of you favorite artist, track, or genre. Pandora will create a radio station based on that choice. Pandora analyses the music you've chosen and will give you not only the artist or song that you entered, but will play similar music from other artists.

It is a great way to listen to music and a great way to find new music. Pandora has Apps for the iPhone, iPad, Android devices and many other mobile devices like the Kindle Fire. These Apps let you listen when you are on the go and you can even sign up for Pandora right on your mobile device.

I just received a letter from Tim Westergren, the founder of Pandora, urging everyone who loves Pandora and Internet radio to reach out to their Senators in support of the Radio Fairness Act, bill number 3609. Here is his letter as well as my comments.

Tim Westergren's letter of September 27, 2012.

Hi there,

This is Tim, the founder of Pandora.

I am writing to ask for your urgent help. An important piece of legislation has just been introduced in Congress that could end long-standing discrimination against Internet radio. I'm asking that you contact your Senator to urge them to support the Internet Radio Fairness Act.

This bipartisan bill will correct the incredible inequity in how different digital radio formats are treated under the law when it comes to setting royalties. The difference is quite extraordinary. In 2011, Pandora paid over 50% of our revenues in performance royalties, while SiriusXM paid less than 10%.

As a lifelong musician, I'm fully supportive of artist compensation, but this situation can't continue. Internet radio is bringing millions of listeners back to music, and is playing the songs of tens of thousands of promising artists who would otherwise never be heard. It should be given a fair chance to succeed.

To voice your support for this initiative, please reach out to your Senator today and say you support the Internet Radio Fairness Act, bill number 3609.


My Comments:

Congress enacted the royalty rate standard for Internet radio 14 years ago, when Internet radio was in its infancy. It's time that it gets updated. There is no doubt that the current royalties are biased and unequal. The question really is if they lower the rates for Internet radio or raise rates for others like SiruisXM radio.

The issue is far more complex than it first appears. There is little doubt that Internet radio stations, like Pandora, give fledgling artists a boost. But would established artists be better off with lower royalties, which might allow Internet radio market to grow or would they be better off with higher royalties that might keep Internet radio smaller?

Record labels and Internet radio are poised to fight this out in Congress, which is why Tim Westergren is asking for your help. If you love Internet radio as I do, I suggest that you look seriously at the pros and cons, take a stance, and voice your opinion to your Senator.

As for me, Tim Westergren is an old friend. We have had conversations on the pros and cons and he has convinced me that we need to support this bill in order for everyone to continue to enjoy Internet radio. Read more on Westergren's blog.

The issue is in the Senate right now, so be sure to contact your Senator to express your opinion. The bill, however, may not be taken up in full force until the next congressional session that begins in 2013, so you may want to contact your Senator again at the beginning of the year.