Pandora acquires Rdio for $75M in cash

Pandora has agreed to acquire key assets from Rdio, a streaming music service that competes with Spotify and similar products, for roughly $75 million in cash.
That’s more than $50 million less than Rdio raised across six rounds of venture financing, according to Crunchbase. Pandora said in a press release that the final figure might change because it’s subject to “certain purchase price adjustments.”
Pandora will acquire Rdio’s technology and talent but not the operating business — which means the Internet radio company won’t be delving into the on-demand streaming business the moment it acquires the portions of Rdio that interest it.
Instead, the company said it plans to “offer an expanded listening experience by late 2016” depending on its ability to “obtain proper licenses.” Pandora, in other words, will give itself some time to assimilate Rdio before it takes on Spotify. (Rdio said it’s service won’t be affected today, but will offer updates on the status in the near future.)
On an investors call following the announcement, Pandora CEO Brian McAndrews said the company opted to purchase Rdio’s assets rather than building it from scratch because Pandora had already determined that it’s strategy was to eventually offer an on-demand component. As such, buying the assets allow Pandora to move quicker, he added.
The deal is a further sign of consolidation in the music streaming market. Apple spent $3 billion on Beats last year, and is shutting down the Beats Music service at the end of the month. Grooveshark, another streaming service, closed in April.
Yet the streaming music market will remain crowded despite that consolidation. Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Prime Music, Google Play Music, Deezer, Tidal, and other services will continue to vie for attention in this oversaturated space.
This is the second major acquisition for Pandora in the last few months, with the first being a $450 million purchase of ticketing business Ticketfly. Between Ticketfly and the presumably soon-to-launch on-demand component of Pandora, hopefully it’ll be enough to keep it competitive with the slew of rivals.
Investors, however, don’t seem to be very impressed by the development, as Pandora’s stock is essentially flat slightly in after hours trading.

Pandora to release day pass for ad-free listening

Pandora is looking to add a paid day pass to its service later this year, company executives revealed during Pandora’s investor day Thursday. The day pass will give users a way to listen without advertising interruptions, and they won’t have to subscribe to the company’s Pandora One subscription plan.

[company]Pandora[/company] Chief Product Officer Chris Phillips told investors Thursday that this could make Pandora a good source of music for a summer BBQ party, where users don’t want to annoy their guests with ad breaks. He showed off a slide that featured a sign-up page for a 24-hour plan for $0.99, but added that the company will be testing the price as well as the question whether the day pass should be for one or three days.

pandora one day pass

A Pandora spokesperson confirmed plans for the day pass Friday, sending me the following statement via email:

“Pandora is committed to delivering an effortless, personalized experience and we recognize some consumers may want an ad-free experience but don’t necessarily want to commit to a subscription. This offering will allow consumers to choose and explore what is right for them or suits a particular event or experience. Pricing and exact timing are yet to be determined but we expect it to be available later this year.”

Pandora currently offers an ad-free subscription tier dubbed Pandora One for $4.99 a month that also offers 192 kbps playback on the web as well as more skips per day than the ad-supported version of the service.

However, Pandora still makes most of its money with its ad-supported service; in Q4, the company generated $220 million in revenue from advertising, but only $47.9 million from subscriptions. Moreover, ad revenue grew 36 percent year-over-year, whereas subscription revenue only grew 24 percent year-over-year.

The music industry’s broken business could change in 2015

The music business has been screwed up for a hopelessly long time, but change is afoot: Congress, courts and the Justice Department are all poised in coming months to shake up how companies and consumers pay for music. The big question, though, is whether this flurry of activity will produce a rational royalty system — or just make the existing rathole even deeper.

Here’s what to watch for in a year that could change the rules of the game for performers, [company]Pandora[/company] and everyone else with a stake in music.

Flurry of laws, hearings

The last month has seen the return of two proposed bills in Congress. One is the Local Radio Freedom Act, which would ensure that traditional AM/FM stations don’t have to start paying performance royalties on top of the songwriter fees they currently pay. The other is called the Songwriter Equity Act, which would tweak the way so-called “rate courts” calculate how much people who write songs should get paid.

Both bills have appeared before in one guise or another, but never passed. This time, the outcome will be determined in part by whether Congress takes up the issues at stake on its own, or as part of a larger royalty reform effort.

Meanwhile, industry attention is turning to the Justice Department, which is holding a hearing on March 10 over so-called consent decrees. These are antitrust orders that apply to ASCAP and BMI, two giant outfits that license songs on behalf of music publishers, and require them to license song rights at a fixed price to all comers. The antitrust orders have been a boon to everyone from cover bands to bars to radio stations because they provide an easy, efficient way to clear copyrights. But music publishers say they are getting short-changed and want the orders, which date from the 1940’s, to be changed or abolished outright.

Finally, some high stakes court cases increase the chances this will be a year of reckoning for the music industry.

Digital on trial

The most contentious of these cases involve an aggressive series of class action lawsuits, brought by record labels and former members of the band The Turtles. In courts from California to New York to Florida, the labels are claiming that Pandora, Sirius-XM and other digital music services have failed to pay for performances that date from prior to 1972.

The legal theory appears far-fetched, but it’s gained traction before some judges. If the cases go any further, they will have huge financial and legal implications not just for Pandora, but for any other service that plays old music on the internet. (The labels also pushed the issue last year through a proposed law, The Respect Act; look for that bill to return if the labels strike out in court).

And, if all that’s not enough to keep track of, there’s also a court clash between Pandora and BMI. This one is about royalty rates, but also about whether publishers who use BMI to license their songs can pull the digital portion of their catalogues or if they must instead be, in the words of one judge, “all in or all out.”

A ruling in favor of BMI could cripple digital radio services, but that appears unlikely given that ASCAP lost a similar case last year.

What the fight’s really all about

All of these disputes are bitter and complicated, but the source of them can be summed up in a sentence: the music royalty pie has shrunk significantly, and what’s left of it is being distributed unequally. As an RIAA report in 2013 revealed, digital sales may be growing, but not fast enough to offset the long-term loss of CD sales. Professor Peter Tschmuck, as part of an analysis of the U.S. music industry, put the RIAA’s data into a chart last year:

Peter Tschmuck chart of RIAA data

These larger forces are why many of the measures now floating around — the songwriter law, the consent decrees, the court cases — won’t do much to change the game. Such piecemeal fixes also do little to acknowledge the current royalty system is broken because it’s built on assumptions of the analog era.

The proper way to approach the problem is instead to require the music industry to recalibrate the entire copyright collection process from the ground up and, especially, to fix two major imbalances in how money is collected and paid. The first imbalance involves a seemingly irrational distinction in how the law treats AM/FM stations and digital radio.

Pandora, for instance, is a favorite punching bag of the industry, but the company also spends the bulk of its revenue paying performers — even as traditional radio stations pay nothing at all. The reason for this, Washington insiders suggest, is that members of Congress are eager to make nice with local stations on which they rely heavily during election campaigns. This is why they are happy to let them pay nothing to performers, while at the same time throwing the likes of Pandora and Sirius-XM under the bus when it comes to royalty rates. But for musicians and for consumers, there’s really no reason why digital and AM/FM should be treated so differently.

The other big imbalance when it comes to royalties is between songwriters and performers. Many people will be surprised to know that when performers do get paid, which is the case when a song is played on digital radio, the rates can be up to ten times higher than what the songwriters (and their publishers) get.

The reason for the imbalance in this case, though, is the consent decrees that set the rates at which publishers get paid. The Justice Department could address this by lifting the decrees, and allowing publishers through ASCAP and BMI to charge what they like. But this could lead songwriter rates to go through the roof, and fatally wound digital radio services once and for all (recall Pandora is already on the ropes). It would also create new licensing headaches for restaurants, bars and other places that play music.

That’s why any solution that looks to pay songwriters more will also have to consider when it is appropriate to pay record labels, which represent the performers, less.

As for the dispute over pre-1972 recordings, the court cases (and the now-dormant Respect Act) appear to be no more than a cash grab through copyright expansion. Judges and law-makers should blanche at the idea of handing out windfalls, at the expense of consumers, for music that is already 50 years old. Such a gift would be a boondoggle akin to ethanol subsidies or the Bridge to Nowhere.

Change is coming.. but for better or worse?

All of this comes at a time when musicians are having a harder time than ever. The record industry that once nurtured them has shrunk dramatically, CD sales are drying up rapidly, and internet royalties are not making up the difference. But on the bright side, the internet has introduced new efficiencies that make it easier to track song sales and distribute payments (which helps explain ASCAP’s surprising $1 billion year.)

A solution from courts or Congress is in order. The danger, though, is that a partial solution will protect parochial interests such as FM stations or labels that own 1960’s recordings without creating a sustainable system for royalties in the digital age. There’s also a risk that changes to the law will simply scapegoat companies like Pandora and Spotify, which represent the future of music, or even kill them off altogether.

In any event, watch closely. This is the year that a lot of long-time log-jams in the music industry appear set to move.

Robots vs. pop stars: Who is better at curating your music?

The Apple rumor mill is getting its groove on these days as new details appear about a revamped streaming service slated to be launched in the coming months. 9to5Mac reported last week that Apple is working on a new music service that uses some of Beats Music’s technology, but is going to be deeply integrated into iTunes and iOS.

Business Insider followed up with another report Monday, suggesting that the project will feature curated streams from well-known musicians. [company]Apple[/company] also recently hired BBC Radio DJ Zane Lowe, and is looking for music journalists who could be writing copy for the new service. All of this suggests that the company is looking to keep Beats Music’s focus on human curation and build a more radio-like experience, possibly with help from many music celebrities.

The question is: Do music fans really want this? Do musicians make for good DJs, and do well-known names help to unlock the 30-plus million song catalog of a music streaming service?

Or would algorithms simply do a better job?

Musicologists and trillions of data points

The debate over human versus automated curation is almost as old as online music itself. [company]Pandora[/company] was one of the first services to embrace the idea of human curation in a personalized streaming environment when it built its Music Genome Project back in 1999.

The idea at the time was to not simply play songs because algorithms deemed them as a logical choice based on the behavior of other users, but actually figure out how each song sounds, which instruments it features and which tempo it uses. Pandora hired dozens of curators to catalog more than one million songs based on up to 450 musical criteria, and its website describes these curators like this:

[blockquote person=”” attribution=””]“The typical music analyst working on the Music Genome Project has a four-year degree in music theory, composition or performance, has passed through a selective screening process and has completed intensive training in the Music Genome’s rigorous and precise methodology. To qualify for the work, analysts must have a firm grounding in music theory, including familiarity with a wide range of styles and sounds.”[/blockquote]

Today, Pandora still relies on the Music Genome Project, but it is also using algorithms and data to make its playlists work.

Others took a different approach and ditched the human expert altogether, instead relying on the wisdom of the crowds and big data analysis to generate that perfect playlist. [company]The Echo Nest[/company], for example, which was acquired by Spotify a year ago, is using close to 1.2 trillion data points on more than 36 million songs to automatically generate playlists for Spotify and other services. The Echo Nest co-founder Brian Whitman will be at our Structure Data conference in New York next month to tell us how he wants to use all that data to reinvent the music industry.

Park rangers, not gatekeepers

Lately, the pendulum has swung back to human curation, with Beats putting a heavy emphasis on its expert curators, and Slacker building a radio-like experience around YouTube stars and other personalities. The reports about Apple’s plans now seem to suggest that the company wants to go further down that road, embracing stars to become both brand ambassadors and actual curators of your music.

However, not everyone is convinced that this is a good idea. Online music industry veteran Tim Quirk, who used to head music programming for pioneering streaming service Rhapsody and then did the same thing for Google Play Music, took to Twitter today to object to the idea that musicians make good curators. Here are some highlights of his arguments:

[pullquote person=”” attribution=”” id=”917022″]Will the future of music look like Sirius XM or like Netflix?[/pullquote]

Of course, many will argue that there is value to expertise, and point to great radio DJs, so of which even are musicians. That’s why I asked Quirk what it takes to bring this kind of personality-driven curation to streaming services. His answer:

“Subtract the personalities. Seriously. They need curation that doesn’t brag about itself.”

In the end, this may all come down to the question what music services want to be, and how they plan to appeal to millions of consumers who have thus far shied away from music subscriptions. Do they want to be more like traditional radio and guide listeners through a catalog of millions of songs? Or do they want to be the celestial jukebox that brings millions of songs to your fingertips, ready for you to go on your own adventure?

In other words: Will the future of music look like Sirius XM or like Netflix? The first company to find a compelling answer to that question may be able to really take music subscriptions mainstream — with or without celebrity DJs.

SiriusXM can fight windfall for ’60s singers, judge rules

Music lovers finally caught a break this week as a federal judge ruled SiriusXM can appeal a jaw-dropping ruling that created a new type of copyright royalty, and that could oblige digital media companies to pay the likes of the Turtles additional money for songs they sang fifty years ago.

The issue concerns so-called “sound recording rights,” which are separate from songwriter rights, and are paid to musicians whenever a recording is sold. In recent years, record labels has been claiming that companies like Pandora and SiriusXM should pay again under state laws for pre-1972 songs — even though copyright law is federal, and that no one has received such payments before. The 1960s Turtles singers, known as Flo & Eddie, have been the face of the campaign through a series of class action lawsuits.

The Turtles’ legal argument is far-fetched but, perhaps due to the complexity of music copyright, some judges have swallowed it, including Colleen McMahon, who initially gave the Turtles permission to go forward with a class action on behalf of anyone whose pre-1972 song has been performed in public or the internet. If this transpires, it would amount to a huge financial punch not just for many bars, restaurants and AM/FM radio stations, but for every digital media company — including YouTube, Apple and Vimeo — that plays Oldies.

On Tuesday, however, Judge McMahon appeared to have second thoughts and told SiriusXM that it may appeal the ruling to the Second Circuit.

“There is indeed a critically important controlling question of law in this case. If the Court’s holding that they do have such a right is incorrect, then significant portions of this lawsuit — including the public performance copyright infringement and unfair competition claims — will have to be dismissed,” she wrote in a decision cited by the Hollywood Reporter, which provides some more legal nitty-gritty on Tuesday’s ruling.

McMahon’s words are a big relief. While there’s no guarantee that the Second Circuit will put a stop to this runaway royalty theory, which has already triggered copycat class actions, it is hard to see how it could do otherwise.

As I’ve pointed out repeatedly, the original decision (and a related one in California) should be reversed for two reasons. The first is that the rulings are just wrong as a matter of law: Santa Clara law professor, Tyler Ochoa, explained why in a mic-drop of a blog post in October.

The other season is that the music industry’s pre-1972 campaign is a cynical misuse of copyright that seeks to trick the public into paying new money for old rope, under the guise of “closing a loophole” (that phrase is industry’s explanation, but it has has unfortunately been taken up by some in the press).

While we do need a new royalty regime for the digital age, it should not involve raising rates in order to grant a windfall for 50-year-old songs. Instead, if everyone is to pay more for copyright (and perhaps we should), let the new money be directed to supporting the many young musicians who would like to earn a living like the Turtles did so long ago.

Apple is latest target in legal shakedown over pre-1972 songs

A controversy over who should get paid when songs are streamed on the internet is about to get a whole lot bigger as a company that claims to own the royalty rights to 1960s acts, including the Flying Burrito Brothers, has sued Apple’s Beats Music and other online radio services, including Rdio and Google Play.

According to a complaint filed in Los Angeles federal court, Apple’s subsidiary Beats Music owes at least $5 million for not paying performance rights over the older sound recordings.

The lawsuit was filed by Zenbu Magazines LLC, a New York holding company. It appears to be a copycat suit to the ones brought by former musicians from the band The Turtles, who are suing SiriusXM and Pandora over the same issue.

If the lawsuits gain traction, they could serve to wipe out large collections of pre-1972 music from the internet, since companies like Apple and Pandora will likely decide to simply stop playing the older songs rather than add yet another stack of royalty payments to the ones they already pay out. If this happens, consumers could lose access to millions of song recordings from before 1972.

As I’ve argued in the past, these lawsuits are simply a shakedown in which music lawyers are attempting to exploit the public’s sympathy for aging musicians and ignorance of copyright law in order to obtain a windfall.

The legal nitty-gritty is complicated but, in short, there is overwhelming evidence that performers, unlike songwriters, never had a right to be paid for public performances of sound recording in the first place — though they are paid when such recordings are sold. The songwriters, meanwhile, get paid in every case.

Here’s a copy of the lawsuit against Beats Music. Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Apple Pre-72 Suit

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Pandora: New copyright claims on oldies music violate free speech

Internet radio service Pandora is striking back against former members of the band The Turtles, claiming that the musicians’ lawsuits — which seek a new set of royalty payments for songs dating from before 1972 — amount to an illegal restriction on freedom of speech, and it is asking a court to put a stop to the Turtles’ demands.

Pandora made the request via a so-called anti-SLAPP (SLAPP stands for Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation) motion filed Friday in Los Angeles, and addressed to the judge who is overseeing an ongoing copyright case launched by a holding company named for Flo and Eddie, the musicians who performed Turtles hits in the 1960’s like “Happy Together” and “It Ain’t Me Babe.”

The purpose of anti-SLAPP laws, like the one in California on which Pandora is relying, is to provide defendants with a quick way to challenge unjustified lawsuits that threaten free speech. In this case, Pandora claims that Flo and Eddie’s copyright claims are baseless, and could intimidate everyone from radio stations to restaurants from playing popular oldies.

(“[T]he point of the anti-SLAPP statute is that you have a right not to be dragged through the courts because you exercised your constitutional rights,” Pandora wrote (original emphasis) in the filing, in a direct quote of an earlier decision.

The move is perhaps a bold one by Pandora since anti-SLAPP procedures are not typically used in copyright cases, and because Flo and Eddie have already had some success in their campaign to wring out extra royalty dollars on behalf of the music industry.

The underlying copyright issues in the case are complex even by entertainment law standards but, in essence, they amount to performers demanding new money for old recordings on the basis of obscure state laws.

Even though copyright law is almost exclusively federal, Flo and Eddie have been making the novel claim that state laws in California and New York require Pandora, SiriusXM and everyone else to pay an extra royalty for performance rights for pre-1972 songs — in addition to the royalties they already pay to songwriters.

Critics of the Flo and Eddie campaign, including me, have argued the royalties amount to an undeserved windfall and do nothing to encourage the creation of new works (which is the point of copyright in the first place). The campaign risks creating a large financial burden not only for Pandora, but to AM/FM stations and YouTube and anyone else who plays music, and is likely to result in many platforms simply removing oldies music altogether.

And, as Pandora points out in its filing, a special performance right for recordings (as opposed to songwriters) never existed at the state or federal level in the first place. In a statement, [company]Pandora[/company] spokesperson Dave Grimaldi suggested Congress should move all sound recordings under federal law:

“Pandora would be open to supporting the full federalization of Pre-72 sound recordings under a technology-neutral approach that affords libraries, music services and consumers the same rights and responsibilities that are enjoyed with respect to all other sound recordings.”

In the meantime, though, judges in Los Angeles and New York have appeared willing to recognize a new state copyright in oldies, so Pandora may face an uphill battle in winning its anti-SLAPP suit.

As the filing below explains, a key part of Pandora’s argument is based on showing that, whatever state level sound recording rights may have existed, those rights were limited to unpublished or unreleased works. Once those songs were released in record stores, however, the California copyright ended, Pandora suggests.

Pandora SLAPP

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Slacker relaunches its radio service to finally land a hit

Online radio service Slacker relaunched its website as well as its iOS app Wednesday, and is scheduled to follow up with an updated Android app by the end of the year, in an attempt to reinvent itself and finally explain consumers what it is all about.

That’s been a problem in the past, admitted [company]Slacker[/company] CEO Duncan Orrell-Jones during an interview last week. Slacker didn’t do a very good job of positioning itself, said Orrell-Jones, who joined the company as its new CEO at the beginning of the year. Part of that was the company’s self-elected image, which looked stuffy when compared to its competition, complete with a logo that looked like that of a classic rock radio station.

NEWSlacker-WEB-player-expanded-hip-hop-r-b

But part of the problem was also that Slacker tried to be a little bit of everything: Personalized radio like [company]Pandora[/company], on-demand streaming of full albums like [company]Spotify[/company] and curated radio stations like Sirius XM. But it didn’t really explain what its key differentiator from its competition was.

slacker tyler oakley

Tyler Oakley is one of a handful of new Slacker celebrity DJs.

With its relaunch, the company now wants to put a bigger emphasis on the humans behind the streams. Slacker isn’t just using human curation, but actually has on-air hosts for some of its radio programming, and the company just teamed up with a number of online personalities, including YouTube star Tyler Oakley and Machinima pioneers Rooster Teeth, to bring more personality to its programming. “We are going to double down on having that human element,” Orrell-Jones told me.

Slacker is also adding a bunch of non-music programming, including podcasts from the Nerdist network and shows from ESPN, ABC and a variety of other [company]Disney[/company] properties (that’s no coincidence: Orrell-Jones is a long-time Disney veteran).

The goal of all of this is to turn Slacker into a service that more closely resembles the best of the radio world and less the complete automation of a personalized streaming service. Orrell-Jones likened that experience to listening to This American Life, or other radio programming that leads to driveway moments, where you don’t want to leave the car after arriving at home because you are immersed in a story.

NEW-Slacker-Web-Stations-Genre

The hard part for Slacker is to convince consumers that this is an experience worth paying for, especially in a world where there are tons of great and free podcasts. The company is offering a free, ad-supported tier that’s also available on mobile devices, and just like Pandora allows limited song-skipping. Orrell-Jones said that this tier is making the company some money, but that the ultimate goal was to get people to sign up for a premium tier. Slacker offers ad-free streams with unlimited Song skips for $4 a month, and full on-demand album streams for $10 a month.

Of course, there’s another tier, but it’s not being marketed by Slacker itself. The company is also powering Samsung’s Milk Music service, which has gotten some traction since it launched earlier this year the U.S. Asked how this fits into Slacker’s strategy, Orrell-Jones told me that the company obviously would like more people to use its own service, but added: “But we’d also like to be part of a winning solution.”

Check out a few more screenshots of Slacker’s new mobile apps below:

This post was updated at 11:02am to clarify that the Android app won’t be available for a few more weeks.

SiriusXM hopes a legal blast from the past will fix Oldies mess

SiriusXM recently suffered a series of disastrous courtroom defeats that threaten to harm not just its own digital radio service, but other companies — from YouTube to FM radio — that also play oldies from before 1972. In response, SiriusXM is pinning its hopes on an oldie of its own, in the form of a 1940 copyright case.

The case in question concerns phonograph records, and SiriusXM is asking a New York judge to use it as a basis to reconsider her finding in November that based on state laws, performers from the band The Turtles deserve an unprecedented copyright payout when companies play their old songs.

According to Litigation Daily (sub. required), SiriusXM believes U.S. District Judge Colleen McMahon overlooked the phonograph decision’s significance. A further report, meanwhile, suggests the company scored a point when the judge this week said she hadn’t considered the case and that it “might require her to rethink the ruling.”

Penned by the famous jurist Judge Learned Hand, the 1940 decision concluded that a radio station did not have to pay an orchestra band leader, in addition to the song composer, each time it played a recording of his performance.

Learned Hand wrote that state law should not let performers, once a phonograph was sold, control how and when it was played:

we think that the “common-law property” in these performances ended with the sale of the records and that the restriction did not save it; and that if it did, the records themselves could not be clogged with a servitude.[my emphasis]

Now, 65 years later, the case could prove decisive in the high stakes dispute between SiriusXM and the music industry. If the 1940 rule does not stand, and the Turtles’ position prevails instead, it will mean bring higher music prices for everyone, and yet another expansion of U.S. copyright law.

Closing a loophole or imposing a tax?

The New York dispute over the phonograph ruling is just one piece of a greater game in which the Turtles and record labels are trying to pry more royalties from digital radio services like SiriusXM and Pandora.

So far, the Turtles won the first round in New York as well as two similar rulings in California. And already, they have tried to build on these victories by bringing a class action suit over pre-1972 recordings against the digital radio service Pandora.

The Turtles claims are also just the tip of the iceberg, since every other performer (or their heirs) will be in a position to make claims over unpaid per-1972 royalties too. This could represent a major financial blow to radio stations and to music websites like YouTube and Vimeo, and would likely lead them to simply pull most oldies music from their playlist altogether.

Consumers, meanwhile, would face the prospect of higher music rates and diminished access to their favorite songs. So far, however, the potential implications of the Turtles’ victories has not been widely recognized.

This may be due to the fact labels have portrayed the lack of performance payments for pre-1972 songs as a “loophole” rather than something, as the 1940 decision shows, that never existed in the first place. Also, in their public statements, the labels have also been careful to omit the fact that SiriusXM and others do pay royalties for these songs in the form of payments to the songwriter, and when they purchase the songs in the first place.

Overall, the call to create new pre-1972 payment obligations may be less about closing a royalty loophole, and more about imposing a new copyright tax. This is especially the case given that copyright is supposed to provide an incentive for artists to create new work — rather than offer new rewards for work performed more than four decades ago.

In the case of showing respect for the oldies, then, SiriusXM and the rest of us should hope that respect extends to judges like Learned Hand too.