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Pandora Must Promote Indie Artists, Expose Music Industry Injustice

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- It took investors a couple years' worth of kicking and screaming to come around to Pandora (P - Get Report). Of course, it's easy to jump on the bandwagon as a stock trysts with 52-week highs.

How long will it take the music industry, particularly artist advocacy groups such as musicFirst, to not only wake up to Pandora and the rest of Internet radio, but do something meaningful to benefit the independent artists it claims to represent?

Every few weeks musicFirst fires off a nasty email that trashes Pandora's efforts on Capitol Hill to secure more reasonable royalty rates for Internet radio. The latest came Friday. Neil Portnow, the president of The Recording Academy spews the usual rhetoric: Pandora wants to "reduce (the ability of artists) to earn a fair wage from (their) music."

Simply put, that's crap. If it wasn't for Pandora and other Internet radio pioneers such as Spotify and Rdio, artists, particularly local and independent acts would make much less before or after reform. In fact, Pandora has done more for local and indie artists in the last 30 minutes than the music industry has in the last 10 years.

The Music Industry Should Go After True Injustice

I spend quite a bit of time in Hollywood. I live a stone's throw away in Santa Monica. When you interact with musicians and get a feel for the local music scene in Los Angeles, you realize just how absurd it is that the music industry paints Pandora as the bad guy.


Last week I went to a show at a local bar. When I arrived, the guy at the door asked who I was there to see. I told him the name of the band. That needed to happen 20 times before the band would make any money that night.

For each person after 20 the band gets to keep the $10 cover charge. I counted about 34 people there for the performance. So that's $140 for one hour of performing (plus setting up and breaking down) to split between the five guys in the band. Assuming you're lucky enough to play somewhere every night (obviously that's not realistic), you're not going to get very far in Southern California (or anywhere) living on $28 a day.

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