Diary

Watch as Pandora lobbies for Washington to pick winners and losers

Tim Westergren founded Pandora, a company about streaming popular music to people over the Internet. They don’t make the music, they just play it for you.

He’s retaking control of his company. Watch for it to remain hyper aggressive in lobbying for a special deal from Washington to cut costs.

Westergren has been a whiner for a long time. Last year he was whining that half his revenue goes to royalties for music. Apparently this is supposed to be unfair, but I disagree. Given that his entire business is about playing other people’s music for profit, his whining is a lot like a chef complaining about how much of his revenue goes toward buying food. However, he thinks he should get a special cut out and not have to pay.

The firm keeps trying to make deals with the music publishers, but what they really want is the authority to set what price they pay, whether the copyright holders like it or not.

It’s true that radio stations get a special cut out under current law. Like companies that take advantage of freelancers, they claim that the “exposure” is payment enough. A reasonable person might say “let’s eliminate that cutout.” Pandora says “Hey, give us a cutout, too.”

I say, enough picking winners and losers. Let copyright holders decide who to sell to, and for how much money. Period.