Krukowski discloses some of his band’s royalty payments from Pandora and Spotify. For one song, played 7,800 times on Pandora in the first three months of the year, the band got 21 cents. The 6,000 plays on Spotify netted them $1.05. And Pandora is fighting in Congress to dramatically lower royalty payments to artists.
This leads Krukowski to a smart read of how the economics of Silicon Valley are at odds with the people who actually make the stuff that makes the technologists their millions:
When I started making records, the model of economic exchange was exceedingly simple: make something, price it for more than it costs to manufacture, and sell it if you can. It was industrial capitalism, on a 7” scale. The model now seems closer to financial speculation. Pandora and Spotify are not selling goods; they are selling access, a piece of the action. Sign on, and we’ll all benefit. (I’m struck by the way that even crowd-sourcing mimics this “investment” model of contemporary capitalism: You buy in to what doesn’t yet exist.)…
Leaving aside why these companies are bothering to chisel hundredths of a cent from already ridiculously low “royalties,” or paying lobbyists to work a bill through Congress that would lower those rates even further— let’s instead ask a question they themselves might consider relevant: Why are they in business at all?
The answer is capital, which is what Pandora and Spotify have and what they generate. These aren’t record companies— they don’t make records, or anything else; apparently not even income. They exist to attract speculative capital. And for those who have a claim to ownership of that capital, they are earning millions— in 2012, Pandora’s executives sold $63 million of personal stock in the company. Or as Spotify’s CEO Daniel Ek has put it, “The question of when we’ll be profitable actually feels irrelevant. Our focus is all on growth. That is priority one, two, three, four and five.”
— The woes keep coming for Andy Coulson and Rebekah Brooks, News Corp.’s hacking leaders with close ties to prime minister David Cameron. They’ll both face criminal charges for bribing government officials. This is both disgraced editors’ third set of criminal conspiracy charges.
The Guardian reports that the new charges raise the odds that News Corp. will face criminal charges in the U.S. under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act:
Mike Koehler, professor of law at Southern Illinois school of law and author of the blog fcaprofessor.com, said the charges “would be hard for the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission to ignore. We have been hearing allegations for a year and a half now, now we clearly have charges against high ranking officials at a foreign subsidiary,” he said.
The paper slags this story by The New York Times, writing this:
The developments also bring to a crashing halt the recent perception in America that News Corporation had begun to recover its confidence after months on the defensive as a result of the phone-hacking scandal. Only on Monday, the New York Times ran an article headlined Clouds Lifting Over Murdoch, He’s Out to Buy Again…
But the new charges will increase pressure on the company. Koehler said US authorities would be looking to see how high up the chain of command the bribery scandal reached. “The question will be what did James know and when did he know it,” he said.