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Pandora and Paul Williams: Lots of Bark, but How Much Bite?

Elvis turned to his manager, and in his trademark drawl, playfully noted "I like this guy."

Shortly after meeting Williams, I picked up the July edition of Uncut magazine (with Bruce Springsteen on the cover) and Williams gets a mention in a short review of RAM:

... and, most ridiculously, '70s songwriter Paul Williams crafts a kind of Lloyd Webber techno-utopia on "Touch". Silly and overblown, but wittily, brilliantly so.

Some artists might take that as not the most flattering review. Though I haven't asked him about it, I'm guessing Williams would eat it up. He would laugh. He would be grateful for inclusion. He might even recite part of the review in a bad British accent. I don't know. But there's one thing I do know: The guy doesn't take himself very seriously. This personality trait many of us tirelessly attempt to acquire appears to have developed over years jammed with extraordinary success (Paul Williams wrote the freaking Love Boat theme!) and simultaneous personal struggle. (Sober for more than 25 years, Williams, along with Tracey Jackson, blogs, speaks and has a forthcoming book built around the theme of Gratitude and Trust: Recovery is Not Just For Addicts).

So when I read such harsh words from him directed toward Pandora, I find it hard to believe they're coming from Williams' mouth.

That's the first thing I asked him when we sat down. Do those words ("Pandora is trying every trick in the book to brazenly and unconscionably underpay ...") represent your true feelings? Because they're strong and combative, quite the opposite of what I gathered about Williams from our smalltalk (while we were standing), his physical stature, psychological presence and storied career.

Williams' response: Pandora sued us. And when somebody sues you, you don't respond politely.

Fair enough.

But there must be enough mutual respect between you (Williams) and Pandora co-founder Tim Westergren to set the lawsuits and public animosity aside, to sit down -- songwriter-to-songwriter -- and work out a deal both sides deem fair.

Williams' response: We're not able to do that because Pandora sued us.

OK fine. Can we look beyond royalties and discuss other ways Pandora can help generate revenue for songwriters and composers, like they can do and do do on the performance side?

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