Billboard Magazine Clueless On Pandora
During a recent interview with Wilson, Bill Werde, editorial director at Billboard, gave the Internet radio royalty discussion, as it pertains to Pandora (P) , shockingly shallow treatment.
Wilson wrote about the exchange at his blog . He asks readers to skip to the 7:45 mark of a video that captured part one of the powwow.
I didn't think Billboard was a shill for the music industry, but after the way Werde not only disrespected, but blatantly mischaracterized Pandora, I have to wonder.
There's no excuse for this, particularly from a respected publication like Billboard that -- credibly and rightfully -- called Pandora co-founder Tim Westergren out for a blog post about how much his company compensates artists .
Werde compared Pandora to Live Nation (LYV) because the two firms have similar market capitalizations. I know. I don't understand why either.
Echoing what he calls popular sentiment in the music industry, Werde refers to Live Nation as the product of "10, 15, 20 years of work" by some of the greatest minds in the business. (Giggle). He then falsely states that Pandora came "along relatively recently."
It's incredible, but Werde got everything wrong inside of roughly 15 seconds.
Pandora may have just gone public, but it has been around, as a company, since its December 1999 founding. Westergren and Will Glaser came up with the Music Genome Project -- the proprietary technology that powers personalization and discovery on Pandora -- earlier that year.
Unfortunately, Fred Wilson makes the mistake of picking up Werde's weak argument and going with it.
Wilson continued to connect Pandora and Spotify's valuations to their requests for, as Werde called it, "relief" from hefty royalty rates. So, in other words, because these companies are overvalued, the music industry looks at the royalty fight and scoffs -- you have these massive valuations, your executives are getting rich and you want to pay us less. Give us a break!
Wilson was correct on one thing: Anything having to do with market cap distracts and keeps the two sides from reaching an agreement. True. And that's because one thing has nothing to do with the other.
Wilson also accurately pointed out that the music labels are out for themselves; they do not partner with artists as much as they enter into shrewd financial transactions with them. Very true.
High valuations might annoy industry executives, but they certainly would not back down from their positions if private equity and the public market undervalued Spotify and Pandora.