Pink Floyd doesn't reunite often. When the surviving members of English rock band, Roger Waters, David Gilmour and Nick Mason, do come together you can expect them to make a lot of noise. In an op-ed for USA Today, Waters, Gilmour and Mason sounded off on Pandora's attempt to slash already low royalty fees for its Internet radio service.
"Nearly 90 percent of the artists who get a check for digital play receive less than $5,000 a year. They cannot afford the 85 percent pay cut Pandora asked Congress to impose on the music community," the trio wrote.
Those numbers are generous compared to the measly $16.89 check that Cracker frontman David Lowery received for more than one million plays of the band's 1993 rock hit "Low" on Pandora over last three months of 2012. Lowery is just one of many of musicians joining Pink Floyd in voicing their displeasure with the "Internet Radio Fairness Act". In an open letter to Congress, 125 musicians, from pop star Brittany Spears to Led Zeppelin rocker Robert Plant, signed the letter in hopes of starting a dialogue to work toward fair compensation for artists.
The heavily opposed act, which fizzled in Congress toward the end of the legislative cycle last year, is framed by Pandora as an "end to the long-standing discrimination against Internet radio." Pandora's grip with the government stems from the music service's royalty fees being set by a panel of copyright judges appointed by the Librarian of Congress. Last month, the Supreme Court shot down a challenge to the authority of board, further fueling speculation that the "Internet Radio Fairness Act" would once again become a priority for Pandora.
With more than 70 million users, Pandora spends a large chunk of its profits on acquiring content. But that doesn't shake Pink Floyd one bit.
"You don't hear grocery stores complain they have to pay for the food they sell," the band wrote. "Netflix pays more for movies than Pandora pays for music, but they aren't running to Congress for a bailout."
For now, the Pink Floyd are merely re-starting a debate. But if Pandora comes any closer to pushing the "Internet Radio Fairness Act" through Congress, don't rule out a 2013 version of Metallica vs. Napster.
Follow Chris Longo on Twitter @east_coastbias