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What Radio Can Learn From Pandora's Tim Westergren


(by Ed Ryan) Another Radio Show gathering is in the books. As Dallas, and the "secret meeting" of 2012, fade into history, will the call for radio to speak with one voice also fade away? At every gathering of radio's biggest hitters, speaking with one voice to advance the cause of radio, is brought up on panels and during speeches. When American Airlines finally delivers the radio folks back to their markets, the one voice theme simply fades into the backgound until the next get together. Radio can change that if it takes a lesson from Pandora's Tim Westergren.

A great example of an issue that the industry says its behind is the mobile FM Chip issue. While everyone says they fully support his efforts to install and activate the chips in phones, few are seen as aggressive on the issue as Emmis CEO Jeff Smulyan. That change will only take place if consumers start requesting the chip but the radio industry has done nothing to excite the consumer to get involved.

Another issue radio can rally behind is the "Internet Radio Fairness Act" introduced by Congressman Chaffetz on Friday. Pandora pounced on the opportunity to rally its users with a personalized e-mail from Tim Westergren (see below) urging them to contact their local representatives to support the bill. The Westergren e-mail included the contact information for the users local Congressman.

Constantly bragging about 240 plus million weekly listeners, Bob Pittman, Lew Dickey, Dan Mason, Jeff Smulyan etc. can easily do the same by speaking with one voice using over-the-air commercials, e-mails, text campaigns. If, that is, the industry believes strongly enough in the bill to make the effort. It's also easy enuogh for the NAB to record an industry-wide spot supporting the bill that stations can play across the country.

Here's an easy one. How about replacing some of those PSA's now filling up breaks on your streams with a spot urging listeners to support the bill, which includes your local Congressman's phone number. We know how radio can call people to action. What a perfect opportunity right in front of us.

Hi there,
This is Tim, the founder of Pandora.
I am writing to ask for your urgent help. An important piece of legislation has just been introduced in Congress that could end long-standing discrimination against Internet radio. I'm asking that you contact your Representative to urge them to support the Internet Radio Fairness Act.
This bipartisan bill will correct the incredible inequity in how different digital radio formats are treated under the law when it comes to setting royalties. The difference is quite extraordinary. In 2011, Pandora paid over 50% of our revenues in performance royalties, while SiriusXM paid less than 10%.
As a lifelong musician, I'm fully supportive of artist compensation, but this situation can't continue. Internet radio is bringing millions of listeners back to music, and is playing the songs of tens of thousands of promising artists who would otherwise never be heard. It should be given a fair chance to succeed.
To voice your support for this initiative, please reach out to your Representative today to say you support the Internet Radio Fairness Act.
Representative: (Local Congressman's name is included here)
Click here to email:
If you'd like more information about the Internet Radio Fairness Act you can learn more here
It's crucial that Congress hears from fans of Internet radio today. Thanks for your support, and thanks for being a loyal listener.

Tim Westergren
Founder, Pandora

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