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Itís no surprise that digital broadcasters like Pandora have gotten frustrated by the discriminatory system in which they have to pay while broadcast gets a pass. But itís disappointing that digitalís response has been to hire its own lobbyist army to try and win loophole protection of its own. The solution here isnít an ugly race to the bottom that would level the playing field by slashing digital royalties (apparently Pandoraís Internet Radio bill would cut rates a whopping 85 percent). Itís to modernize the entire licensing system and create a fair, transparent market where everyone is paid for their work and the playing field is truly, finally level.
If the label and artist communities continue to have our rights ignored, and we can neither work out a comprehensive solution with our fellow stakeholders nor get relief from the Congress that is supposed to keep the playing field level for competitors in a free market, then I fear that our only recourse is to take our case to the courts and remind them of the tenets of the Robinson-Patman Act.
Musicians, labels, songwriters and broadcasters all have important interests at stake, and we know the health of each of these stakeholders are linked. We all love music and want the system to work and thrive. Iím optimistic (foolish?) enough to believe that, if we can just sit down and talk, a framework that is mutually beneficial to all can be crafted. Itís high time that we try.
David Macias is co-founder of Thirty Tigers, a Nashville record label and artist management company.