Big name stars unite against cuts to artists' pay

Kristen Hainen and Marie Knowles

A who's-who of musicians and singers, including stars from Motown, rock and roll, country, rap and jazz have released an open letter to be published in this weekend's Billboard Magazine.

They are opposing Pandora, the online music streaming service and its plan to cut artists' pay when music is played over internet radio. Click here to view the letter.

The performers who include Rihanna, Common, Dead Kennedys, Missy Elliot, Vince Gill, Don Henley, Billy Joel, Maroon 5, Martha Reeves, David Sanborn, Michael W. Smith, and Roger Waters join peers from across all genres and generations in their protest.

They praised Pandora - "We are big fans" - and celebrated the company's commercial success. But with massive growth in revenues and a successful IPO under its belt, they asked why Pandora is pushing Congress to slash musicians' pay. "That's not fair and that's not how partners work together," the open letter explains.

"These artists have joined together to tell Pandora it's time to go back to the drawing board. We all want internet radio to succeed, but it won't if it tries to do so on the backs of hard working musicians and singers," said musicFIRST Executive Director Ted Kalo.

Internet radio companies such as Pandora are pushing Congress to pass the "Internet Radio Fairness Act" which could slash by 85 percent royalties paid to musicians and artists when their songs are played over internet radio. Musicians and singers across all types of music depend on these royalties, which are often their only compensation for their work.

"This issue is critical to the tens-of-thousands of recording artists we represent - all of whom rely on this digital performance revenue stream to make a living," said SoundExchange President Michael Huppe. "It is important that we protect artists and the long-term value of their music, which is, after all, the foundation of internet radio."