NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The next time you're at a cocktail party and the conversation turns to Internet radio and music royalties, there's a sure-fire way to distinguish between the well informed and the hopelessly ignorant.Do the discussants draw a distinction between performance royalties and songwriter/publisher royalties? All else equal (particularly, forgetting the fact that AM/FM radio does not pay a performance royalty), entities that license music pay two royalties: A performance royalty and songwriter/publisher royalty. Michael DeGusta's blog post and attendant pie chart provide a sound illustration, using the 1,000,000-plus spins Cracker's Low received on Pandora ( P):
Pandora is trying every trick in the book to brazenly and unconscionably underpay and take advantage of the creative labor that produces the core offering of their business -- music written by individual songwriters and composers. ASCAP has an ethical obligation to serve and protect the hundreds of thousands of small and independent songwriters, composers and music publishers we represent to ensure that they receive fair compensation when their songs are performed on any technology platforms.Strong rhetoric. But, and I mean this is in the most positive and glowing way possible, Paul Williams' bark is bigger than his bite. This is a genuine guy with a genuine argument against a company he genuinely wants to see succeed. Either he duped me with his charm or I am as good as I think I am at assessing first impressions. Because there's no question, Williams is a charming guy, grateful for his success. As Williams riffed, he wrote a song for Elvis Presley in the early '70s and, here he is today, with two credits on Daft Punk's smash Random Access Memories. How do you not come across as charming when you humbly relay the story of how you met Elvis in Liza Minnelli's Las Vegas Riviera Hotel and Casino dressing room? Elvis walked in. His reason for not knowing which one of his records Paul Williams wrote: "I don't keep track of that sort of thing." When Williams informed Presley it was indeed Where Do I Go From Here?, Elvis said he liked performing that one and asked Williams which album it is on. Williams reply: "I don't keep track of that sort of thing."
... 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?