Thursday, September 26, 2013

Jimmy Webb Speaks Out: Pandora Payments "Ridiculously Low"

By Etan Rosenbloom

This week, veteran songwriter Jimmy Webb releases Still Within the Sound of My Voice. The collection finds the Grammy winner giving intimate performances of 14 of his most beloved songs, with the help of some famous friends.


Mike Ragogna: [laughs] Jimmy, you've left a major mark on music and you've left a major mark on a lot of people's lives. You've got to feel good about that.

Jimmy Webb: Well, I feel like it could've turned out a lot worse. I'm very, very happy in serving ASCAP, with the Songwriter's Hall of Fame, to try to create a future for songwriters. I'm very concerned about IP (intellectual property), I'm very concerned about Pandora and the streaming issue, and that the amount of money that's being paid for songwriters' works is ridiculously low. It's laughable, it's insulting for a young girl to get six-thousand streams on Pandora and get a check for two cents, a young girl who's trying to start a career. We are going to pay the price for this as a nation one of these days because one of these days, somebody's going to look around and say, "Where's James Taylor? Where's Joni Mitchell? Where's Lyle Lovett?" There won't be any. There won't be any because nobody is going to work for two cents. And to cut a check for two cents and send somebody a check for two cents is the highest cynicism. That tells you who you're dealing with. You're dealing with someone who is laughing at you and thinks nothing of what you do. Nothing. You don't want to get me started in that direction, I don't think.

MR: [laughs] Actually, I do. Do you see a corner being turned on that at some point?

JW: Well yeah, I do. I personally do. I think that the world will come to its senses and I think that everybody has to give a little, including the record companies and the artists. One of the great problems we have is the fourteen to one disparity between what the artists and the record company receives and what the writers and publishers receive. Is the record company really investing that much money these days? I don't see big tour support. I don't see big billboards, except for maybe a couple of artists on top. I think it's a smokescreen. They're getting fifty nine percent and we're getting four percent, and we're writing the songs? How do you make the record without the songs? How do you have a tour without the record? To me it's like, "Listen, do I really have to explain this to you guys? Are you really just stupid?"

As a songwriter whose greatest success has come from other artists’ recordings of his music (“Up, Up and Away,” “Wichita Lineman,” “MacArthur Park,” etc.), Webb understands full well how essential performance royalties are to songwriters and composers. He joins a growing list of writers (including ASCAP member Josh Kear) who have voiced concerns about Pandora’s efforts to pay songwriters less. Find out more at

["MaArthur Park" is the song about leaving a cake out in the rain.]

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