Pandora Sees iTunes Radio As A Threat

Be forewarned that this is a long post about a portion of the music business most fans aren’t aware of…

This morning I woke up and caught a little headline on a site I like to visit. One headline that I wouldn’t normally expect to see on that site is one about music, especially when it says “Pandora sees iTunes as a threat.” [article link]. At first read I chuckled. Mainly because a little over a month ago Pandora was stating that iTunes Radio was not a threat. Oh how a few weeks can change everything. Now that iOS 7 has come out and iTunes Radio has come in, Pandora obviously sees things a little different.

The Pandora Of The PastPandora-Radio-Review

First off, I want to write that I appreciate the original intent of Pandora’s concept. A curated musical discovery system that was utopian when it originated. Artists outside of the Major Label system desperately wanted to get in on the game. It meant new ears and a new world of awesome.

Then came the issue of submitting. An artist would submit music and wait. Pandora didn’t have a real good system for notification to the artist about anything – other than rejection. The rejection notice generally noted that the music fell outside the spectrum of their guidelines. Yet, if an artist wanted to go comparing music on the service they could find other music that was not recorded as well, or that was poorly written, but somehow found it’s way onto Pandora. They’re their gatekeepers, so it’s their rules.

Sometimes music that got rejected, quietly made it onto the service. But an artist wouldn’t know because Pandora doesn’t inform them.

Artists that got on were happy to be on the service and all was good.

The Pandora Of The Now

Somewhere down the line Pandora started changing in terms of it’s business culture. Let’s call it the corporate greed culture.

In the past couple of years the executives at Pandora have been making strange moves to the outside world. Ones that include asking for the very artists they’re supposed to be supporting, to take up to an 85% discount in pay, otherwise known as a pay cut. But wait… let’s back up a bit.

To be fair, when digital streaming services started it was new territory and copyright law hadn’t quite caught up to the rapid change in the music landscape. Especially when plays vs listenership could now be accounted for. This was unprecedented compared to traditional radio. So a proposed royalty rate was enacted by Congress and because it was to be retroactive – they gave digital streaming broadcasters like Pandora a discount so that it wouldn’t cripple their new businesses.

Take a moment to let that last paragraph sink in. Maybe re-read it in order to read the words “gave” & “discount” again. Yes, companies and broadcasters were initially given a discount that is supposed to end and then go up to a set per stream rate – by law.

Pandora’s Royalty Debacle

While other services are quietly seeing how things play out, Pandora is boldly going on the offensive. They’re suing ASCAP – one of the Performing Rights Organizations (PRO for short, of which there are 4 in America). Pandora has also gone to lobby Congress for a reduction on the discounted royalty rate they are already paying. Asking for as much as 85% off the current discount they already enjoy.

Let’s say you go into your job and the boss says: “Hey, I need you to continue doing your job, but now I want you to be happy with me paying you 85% less. Because I can’t afford to pay you as too many people want my service and I don’t want to raise my price.”

How would you react?

If you’re fine with that scenario, then you’re likely to say artists are overreacting.

What a lot of people miss is that to create the music and solidify it into a tangible form costs money. Sometimes, gobs of it. So getting a recoupment of say $0.0017 of a cent as the majority of what you’re paid when someone listens to the song, you can hopefully see that it’s going to take a huge number of listens before you make even $1. As a hint – it will take 589 full listens to make that buck. Take’s a lot more listens just to buy a Starbucks coffee. Oh, but I didn’t tell you this $0.0017 has to get split up. A portion of that goes to the owner of the master recording. A portion of that also goes to the writer or writers, and also to the publisher or publishers. That’s right, even less money makes it to the writer(s) & publisher(s). ** (see below)

Meaning – it takes even more spins to get to that $1 per person(s) involved.

There is another royalty that is roughly about 1/7th of that $0.0017 that goes to the mechanicals. It’s so minute that it isn’t worth talking about. Other than the writer/publisher has to register with yet another agency to collect on those tiny portions and it takes thousands of streams to realize anything there.

I almost forgot, there is another royalty that is fairly new to those of us in the U.S.. A performers royalty that all digital services have to pay and it’s administered by the 4th PRO in America, Sound Exchange. This is a royalty that nearly every other country in the world collects for it’s artists. Up until a few years ago, the U.S. was like 1 out of 7 countries that didn’t collect anything for the performer. As of this post, it’s still only on digital services (streaming radio, Sirius, etc). Traditional broadcasters are still exempt at this time.

Pandora going before Congress for lobbying on a discount kinda woke a few congress peeps up to the fact that there is a disparity between digital and traditional broadcast. Leaving them thinking that traditional broadcasters now need to start paying that performers royalty too. Not exactly the result that Pandora wanted, nor the traditional broadcasters. Though it is something every performer in the world would love to see!

Going Forward

I don’t have a huge vested interest in Pandora. I don’t own their stock. I do have a friend who works for them. Having written that – I don’t appreciate a CEO (now former) who cashes out millions of dollars a month on his stock while inflating the value of his company, concurrently pandering to artists saying they want to pay more, while lobbying congress and suing a PRO to get a reduction – It’s insulting.

When a CFO says: “We’ve put offers on the table where we commit to paying no less than we pay now in absolute dollars, and with increases on an annual basis. That hasn’t gone anywhere because of a lack of trust.”

Well hell Mr. Herring (CFO of Pandora), you’re damn right we artists & PROs don’t trust you. Think about your statement again. You’re not stupid. I’m not stupid. We’re not stupid.

You’re saying you don’t want to pay more in absolute dollars, while at the same time you want to get more people using your service. That equals a business model that says, get more streams, pay less money per stream. You’re still paying out the same absolute dollars but getting more product out to the end user for the same price – at the expense of the persons whose creations you NEED to make your product.

This is why I like companies such as Apple. They don’t complain, make their deals, operate within the law and are willing to pay better than Pandora. [cough, cough]iTunes Radio[cough][cough]. I’ll take a company that isn’t asking for a discount and using all of my product, over a company that is looking to cash out using the shirt-off-my-back any day of the week.

In Conclusion

I’d like to see Pandora succeed. However, I don’t want to see them succeed when it kills my ROI (return on investment) on my own career, or for any musician. It’s not worth it. I’d rather see another company willing to fight and pay artists, writers, and publishers the non-discounted royalty rate by law at a minimum. I also want Pandora to be more transparent, actually that should apply to any digital music business. When Pandora stops attempting to game the system it’ll be a win/win/win situation for consumers, artists, and Pandora. Until then, be aware we artists, publishers, and PROs are watching Pandora like hawk due to the shenanigans they’ve pulled.

Mr. Herring statesIt has created a situation where meaningful conversations for positive outcomes are going to be hard-fought wins. It’s going to take a long time to get there.

Remember, that Trust and outcome you want Mr. Herring is hard to earn, easily taken away, and harder to re-earn. Stop wondering why there is a lack of trust. Your company lost it’s trust with all the antics it’s tried.


** As a side note, if there is more than 1 writer, a portion of that royalty gets divided by all the writers. Another portion of that royalty goes to the publisher, if there is more than one, they also split the publisher’s share.

I actually own my own publishing, writing shares and master recordings. I’d like to reference the fact that Pandora has yet to pay me the master recording royalty for any streams. I do get the performers royalty via Sound Exchange. Pandora is also the only streaming service that has not requested a compulsory license to stream the few tunes they do have of mine. To be fair about that, it might have been part of the submission process.

Calm Before The Crowdfunding Storm

Calm Before

It’s 7:32 p.m. and I’m sitting here on a Saturday night about to head out with some friends for a long time friend’s birthday party. There’s been a little thunder, lightening, rain, and even some hail. Yes, even some hail. Yet, I’m feeling a little peace as there’s about to be a whirlwind of a storm with my PledgeMusic campaign starting on July 10th. Oh the irony, I’m experiencing a calm before the crowdfunding storm and it’s storming outside for real. Somebody pinch me.

A few minutes ago I read the article that was released on the 5th from the Park Record (read the article). I was interviewed about the upcoming crowdfunding campaign. I’m duly impressed. It’s a really good article. Explains the situation extremely well and even makes the vibe a bit compelling. Major thanks to Scott Iwasaki for grabbing a bit to eat at Chubasco’s and doing a nice low pressure interview over some mexican food. What a process it took for me to get to this point. And yet, there might be another twist in the wind due to a chance encounter on the 4th of July.

Calm Before The Storm

Getting Ready

In the past week, I’ve shot a video, written two songs for outside projects, and been prepping even more of this coming adventure with my crew. Come Wednesday I have the feeling lots of things are going to change and I want to make sure that I’m giving my full and undivided attention to the process. Which will mean even more video, who knows, it might become  a daily process. All the more reason that the last two months of prep are now winding down and I get a few moments of calm before it all hits.

I know come Monday there will be a bit more prep work as the final touches are done up on my PledgeMusic page. The last bits of research and adjustments will get ironed out and then boom – it will start. Stayed tuned because the link to PledgeMusic will be coming shortly and I’ll be calling upon you to help spread the word and donate to the cause. We all need help and I need yours. Thus I’ll have a few extra breaths and a beer or two to celebrate a birthday and the campaign. Enjoy the calm before the impending crowdfunding storm.

Mixing It Up And Down

The light at the end of the tunnel on a recent project is opening wide. A project I’ve been doing for John Michael Kane has been completed today. I’ve been mixing it up and down with a large selection of songs for John and now it’s over.

The beauty is, a lot this music will be getting heard relatively soon on sports programs and other things TV related. John is part of a library that gets his songs licensed on TV. It’s a beautiful thing.

In front of the last mix for John Michael Kane.

This particular song is called “Won’t Stand Down”. Seems like I went alphabetical in the song order or I could been saving the best for last. Either way, I’m happy, he’s happy. We’re all happy with the end result. May the music grace your ears before too long.

— Jody

Music in TV shows

While you’re wondering the time frame on the next CD, I’ve got a little fun music news. Tracks I have written are now music on TV. I can hear you in your head right now asking, hey Jody, where on TV can I hear this music you speak of. Look no further, read down this post and you’ll find out where music has been playing.

NASCAR on FOX – The Daytona 500 Qualifier
NASCAR on FOX – Subway Fresh Pit
NFL on FOX – Various games
Design Squad Nation – Various episodes
30 Clubs in 30 Days – Various episodes
Angels Live ’12 – Multiple episodes
Antonio Treatment – Various episodes
Auction Hunters – Various episodes
Bang For Your Buck – Various episodes
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim ’12 – Multiple episodes
Red Wings Live ’12
Tigers Live ’12
Top 10 Right Now – Multiple episodes
WWE Raw – Multiple episodes

Internationally, I’m being heard in Canada, the Czech Republic, New Zealand, Sweden and the UK. That’s via Radio and TV. Spread the word and let your friends know it’s out there.

Thanks for tuning in. If you’re not on my email list, join up and keep informed about future developments.

— Jody

What Songs Are Left?

Here’s a question that I’ve been getting recently: What songs are left? Meaning, what of the 72 songs that I started with for the next CD are now being considered for the next release. No need to ask any more. Why? Because the list is here [in alphabetical order]…

American Mayhem
Imagine Life
In Disguise
It Burns
Jupiter Bowl
Love Takes A Holiday
New Here
Stand My Ground
Stand Up
Things Left Unsaid
Thump Thump Thump
‘Till We Meet Again
Vaporize Your Heart
Waiting On One Thing
You Can’t Hear

Of those 18, there are a few more that I’ll axe from the list to get it down to the final group. I’m spending time pouring over each song. Debating on the arrangement. Making necessary lyric changes. Ending with any transitions between parts that need to be made. After all that, it will be time to assemble the proper crew to help out with the recording process.

I’d love to get your help with offsetting the costs of the recording process. Please share the love of this page and help it go viral (click here).

Stay Tuned!

— Jody

Morning Rays Music In A Commercial

I wanted to out a dirty little secret… Morning Rays music in a commercial that is running right now. It’s always a treat to create something and forget about it once it’s done. Which is essentially what I do with stuff I write for other people. Yes, I do create music beyond my CDs as much as I want to keep it a secret – it gets out.

Right now there’s a University called Capella University. They’re using a song I wrote called Morning Rays that is being distributed by APM. I happened to hanging out somewhere when all of a sudden I hear this melody that I co-wrote with Robert Navarro.

Here’s the video, as I had to go find it online since I’m a little vain in that respect…

Enjoy and let me know if you’ve caught this song in the commercial or have heard it somewhere else. I’ll feature you for informing me.


— Jody

Don't Kick The Baby Is Smart Advice

For those of Unity 42 and beyond who are not aware, I am part of a side project. I had a musician friend come to me wanting to write a sports anthem and thus started a new project. I can say that don’t kick the baby is smart advice, but Don’t Kick The Baby is also the name of the band or rather the project.

What did we do? We wrote a soccer (football for our worldview friends) anthem. It’s called Go Get The Goal. Much like what I did for Do You Want To Play, we did numerous versions for different leagues. So far we’ve covered the US, England and Australia. Coming soon we’ll be doing versions for Latin teams, and then we’ll be going after many more languages and countries. Our goal is to cover the world with a soccer/football anthem.

As of right now 4 of the 7 albums we’ve done are on iTunes and Amazon. Later this week should see the other 3 being released. We’re excited. We’re so excited we have a Twitter handle and an official website as well. They’re still in their early stages. We’d love it if you’d follow us on twitter and tweet about us as well as finding us on Facebook, spread that gospel of soccer.

It’s said that Don’t Kick The Baby is smart advice, but the smarter advice is to get the song then go out and get the goal. You’ll be happy you did. We’ll be happy you did. I’ll be happy you did. It’s a super win situation.

Happy When I'm With You Lyrics

It appears that a recent request for a copy of a song I’ve written has sparked a little interest across the internet. The song in question makes an appearance in the movie Lucky starring Colin Hanks. Recent traffic to my little corner of the web has shown that there’s a growing interest in this song. Such that people are looking for the words. I’m announcing that I’m posting the Happy When I’m With You lyrics in my lyrics section.

If the interest continues I may very well see what can be done about releasing the song to iTunes and other digital outlets. In the meantime if you’re landing here due to wanting to find a copy of the song and/or lyrics then you’re welcome to purchase the song directly from me. You’ll even get a better version than what could be bought via iTunes or Amazon.

There is one catch…

In order to read the lyrics you’ll have to login to the website. Easy enough to do with your favorite social ID. No extra site info to fill out. Just pick your favorite one and away you go. You’ll get the words directly from me. What can be better?

Thanks for stopping in. Take a look around and explore my sound a little further.

How I Got That Sound With A Taylor

Aw, I’m getting a little choked up. I’m getting featured on Taylor Guitar’s website. This is actually pretty cool. I was asked by Taylor Guitars if I would do a little clip about how I got a particular guitar sound for the trailer Goats. Well, here it is in all it’s glory.

How I Got That Sound

The bonus is, I’ve been asked to do more of them. So stay tuned. As I complete projects that utilize my favorite acoustic guitars (Taylor Guitars ahem hem). Then there will be more of them.


p.s. – There’ll likely be an update before long when Dean Markley also ends up posting this.

iTunes Official Ping

It’s that festive holiday time of year again. The latest update in the online front is iTunes now features 90 second previews of my music that is over 2:30 in length. Christmas Brought Me You is a great example (especially in Grant’s Advent Calendar). Most clips now start at the chorus and play for 90 seconds – a great way to know if you’ll really love or hate a song.
Yesterday (12/09/10) marked the finishing of writing a CD of funk music with my good friend Jesse Stern. It’s been a project of fun and we’re happy to be getting it out into the world.
If you’re on Ping you ought to know I’ve got an official Ping profile: Jody on Ping. I’ve been posting video clips from an interview about Practical Insanity.
In the world of NFL music on Fox Sports – you’re now hearing my musical creations. Additionally Fox Sports is now making Do You Want To Play available to all their affiliates for use to promote games. It should be very soon that you’ll be hearing it used for that purpose.
My writing studio has been seeing a lot of attention as of late. More and more songs are making their way to completion. Pretty soon I’ll have a huge batch of songs finished in pre-production. At that point I’ll be looking for a select group of volunteers to spend time listening to the array of songs. If you’re interested contact me.
Have a great holiday season. Very best to you.