BMI files lawsuit to get Pandora to pay fair licensing fees

pandoraIt was the move that, in the words of National Music Publishers Association president David Israelite, showed that streaming Internet radio service Pandora was “waging war on songwriters.” After the music service bought a local radio station, it is now facing a lawsuit that wants the company to pay appropriate licensing fees.

Pandora’s purchase of KXMZ-FM, a radio station based in Rapid City, South Dakota was assumed to have happened as a way of establishing the company not as an Internet music station, but a radio broadcaster with an Internet presence. The difference between the two terms has less to do with audience size – KXMZ has an estimated audience of around 108,000, compared with Pandora’s roughly 70 million monthly listeners. Instead, the variable is all in the license fees, since radio broadcasters required to pay a lower fee than Internet broadcasters under current agreements from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers.

The decision to purchase the station, with the implications it brought for license fees, was greeted with disdain by NMPA president Israelite, who said that the deal meant that Pandora “has decided that… it will pursue their business model through lawsuits and gimmicks, and will try to fraudulently sneak in the back door for a rate that wasn’t meant for them” rather than paying the expected amounts. 

Takin action, Broadcast Music Inc., the organization responsible for collecting licensing fees for radio and Internet play, has filed a lawsuit against Pandora for its failure to pay such appropriate costs. In its announcement on Thursday, the group said that it is “asking the Federal Rate Court to set royalty fees for internet radio service Pandora… after negotiations did not result in an agreement.” Pointing out that “this is the first time the organization has resorted to litigation on fees in the digital arena in the 18 years since it signed the first music industry copyright license for the performance of music on the Internet,” the announcement asked that the court set “reasonable, market driven fees” for the company.

Although Pandora has yet to respond to the lawsuit, it did issue a statement saying that the company “values and respects those who create music and seeks to pay a rate that is fair to all artists,” but added that “fairness needs to account both for what artists receive and what Pandora’s competitors are asked to pay.” Citing a recent agreement between the Radio Music Licensing Committee and the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers that offered lower licensing rates for broadcast radio, Pandora said that “this is not a case of Pandora trying to pay less [but] a case of publishers discriminating against Pandora.”

Because of the current breakdown in negotiations – a situation that is unlikely to improve given this move – Pandora has actually been operating without a license since January 1 of this year. So, who’s fault is it?

Smart Home

How’s your Spanish, Alexa? Some Amazon Echo devices pick up a new language

Amazon's Alexa voice assistant and Echo devices are now available for customers in Mexico. Alexa has been customized for the Mexican market with local knowledge, a new voice, and support for the Spanish dialect spoken in Mexico.
Computing

Don't use streaming apps? These are the best free players for your local music

Rather than using music streaming apps, you may want something for playing your local music. Good news! There are some good alternatives. These are the best media players you can download for free on Windows.
Smart Home

How to stream music from Google Home to Bluetooth speakers or headphones

Want to stream music on Google Home, but listen to it through a different speaker or a pair of headphones? Here's how to play streaming music on Google Home through Bluetooth headphones or a Bluetooth speaker.
Music

Here's our head-to-head comparison of Pandora and Spotify

Which music streaming platform is best for you? We pit Spotify versus Pandora, two mighty streaming services with on-demand music and massive catalogs, comparing every facet of the two services to help you decide which is best.
Movies & TV

The best movies on Amazon Prime right now (November 2018)

Prime Video provides subscribers with access to a host of fantastic films, but sorting through the catalog can be an undertaking. Luckily, we've done the work for you. Here are the best movies on Amazon Prime Video right now.
Mobile

New Tidal app will bring a wave of music to your Samsung smartwatch

Tidal fans now have another way to enjoy their music collection. The Tidal app is coming to Samsung wearables, including the Samsung Galaxy Watch, Gear Sport, and more. Tidal will also be bringing its wearable app to other devices.
Music

Music to our ears: Spotify at long last arrives on the Apple Watch

Spotify subscribers are now able to jam out to their favorite tunes on their favorite workout accessory, as the Swedish streaming service has finally released its official Apple Watch app.
Deals

Cyber Monday 2018: When it takes place and where to find the best deals

Cyber Monday is still a ways off, but it's never too early to start planning ahead. With so many different deals to choose from during one of the biggest shopping holidays of the year, going in with a little know-how makes all the…
Digital Trends Live

Hip-hop artist Rakeem Miles talks musical upbringing, ‘Dante’s Toys’

Rakeem Miles may be best known for his musical endeavors, but he's looking to change that with his forthcoming animated show. On Monday's DT Daily, we discuss Miles' origins, what drives his passions, his favorite superhero, and more.
Home Theater

Looking for a podcast? Pandora’s Podcast Genome Project is just the ticket

Pandora has created a brand new service for podcast listeners. Powered by calls the Podcast Genome Project, the new podcast offering uses an advanced combination of algorithms and human curation to deliver the perfect podcasts for you.
Home Theater

Get the most boom for your buck with the best headphones under $100

Everybody wants a bargain, and this list has a bunch. For those looking for a solid set of headphones without spending a big stack of cash, this list is is your starting point. Check out our picks for the best headphones under $100.
Home Theater

5 gorgeous turntables that spin stacks of wax in style for less than $500

Vinyl records are awesome, but they're also finicky. To get the best out of your stacks of wax, it's best to play them on a quality turntable. Here are the best turntables to be had for under $500.
Digital Trends Live

DT Daily: Waymo’s driverless cars, ‘Fallout 76’ tips, and Racella

In today's episode of DT Daily, we discuss Waymo's foray into the ridesharing sector, along with various tips for making the most of the recently launched Fallout 76. We also sit down with singer Racella to chat about her new EP, Waves.
Home Theater

A recent Twitter leak may show the upcoming AirPods 2 model

Apple plans to release new AirPods much the same as it does new iPhones, and a wireless charging case, water resistance, and better Siri integration are among the improvements we can expect in future models.