Songwriters remind Pandora: You're profiting from our songs

Ahead of a congressional hearing about royalty rates, a group of songwriters sing their famous hits and say that without them, Pandora and Web radio have nothing to sell.

Greg Sandoval Former Staff writer
Greg Sandoval covers media and digital entertainment for CNET News. Based in New York, Sandoval is a former reporter for The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times. E-mail Greg, or follow him on Twitter at @sandoCNET.
Greg Sandoval
2 min read
Lee Thomas Miller, the man who wrote the country hit "You're Gonna Miss This," performed the song ahead of today's hearing on Web radio royalties. Greg Sandoval/CNET

WASHINGTON, D.C.--Five songwriters responsible for well-known hit songs wanted members of Congress to consider this question: What would Internet radio be without the artists and songwriters who create the music played by these services?

The writers: Lee Thomas Miller, BC Jean, Kara DioGuardi, Desmond Child and Linda Perry, performed their songs, all made famous by others, such as Bon Jovi, Beyonce, and Christina Aguilera, on Capitol Hill today. The performance was held an hour before a House subcommittee was scheduled to hear testimony about a proposed bill that would cut the music royalties Pandora and other Web radio services pay.

Pandora and other supporters want to see the Internet Radio Fairness Act (IRFA) passed. The bill would make the statutory rate roughly the same as satellite and cable radio services. The music industry -- including the National Music Publishers Association which sponsored the performances -- opposes the bill and supports legislation that would instead raise the rates paid by satellite and cable.

BC Jean wrote 'If I Were a Boy'; a song made famous by Beyonce. She was one of the song writers who participated in today's performance on Capitol Hill. Greg Sandoval/CNET

The message from the songwriters is that it's harder and harder to make a living writing songs and IRFA would threaten their incomes even more. To demonstrate just how big a part music has played in Americans' lives, Child performed "Livin' On A Prayer," a song he said has become the "anthem of New Jersey."

The audience, in their suits and business attire, sang along with the rock ballad.

"We've all been a part of a lot of your moments," said Perry, author of the Aguilera's hit "Beautiful." "One of our songs was playing during that first romantic kiss. One of our songs was playing in the car chase, the theme song, and when your daughter walked down the aisle at her wedding, and when you celebrated that promotion out at the club...Pandora wants to make money -- more money -- off the thing we created."

CNET will be covering today's hearing which is already under way.