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This Pandora Exec Explains How Tech Has Changed the Music Economy

Kelsey Davis, Manager, Digital Media, Consumer Technology Association (CTA)

The way we purchase, store and listen to music has drastically changed in the last decade — from CD collections to on-the-go streaming — and it’s all thanks to technology. With this new technology also comes challenges with the music licensing system.

We had a chance to speak with Katie Peters, head of government relations for Pandora Media, about today’s music economy.

How did you get started in your field? What is your background?

The best part about my career is that I am always learning new things!  I have a typical D.C. background: BA in Political Science and a law degree, but I really wish I had paid more attention in class to physics and corporate law—I frequently find myself doing research related to these two areas.  I moved to Washington DC to intern on Capitol Hill, and was subsequently hired by the office after my internship ended.  The Member had a growing tech presence in his district, and my responsibilities included building relationships with constituent tech companies and developing a pro-tech agenda for the office.

What do you handle in your current position at Pandora?

I am fortunate to lead an awesome team of Public Policy professionals at Pandora Media.  Our organization is responsible for government relations, public affairs, and policy.  We work with policymakers, trade associations, and the media to advance Pandora’s public policy goals. 

How has technology changed the music economy?

At its core, the value of technology is the ability of artists to connect with their fans.  Technology has fundamentally altered so much of the music ecosystem, beyond just the economics of it. While the evolution has been rocky at times, we seem to be coming to a place of equilibrium.  The benefits of technology are being realized in:

  • Greater ticket sales to live events.
  • Increased and diverse opportunities for more music makers to earn a living.
  • Valuable data available to artists and managers, allowing them to better connect and engage with their fans.
 What can policymakers do to ensure that the music licensing system benefits both artists and customers?

Pandora strongly believes we can identify solutions that benefit everyone in the music ecosystem.  All stakeholders have critical roles to play in the creation and distribution of music, and it all starts with the music maker. 

One area where reform is needed is the treatment and compensation regime for music recorded before February 1972. Due to a quirk in our copyright laws, artists who recorded music before 1972 are not compensated for digital plays of their music in the same manner as post-1972 artists. Congress should step in and ensure that a fair and equitable federal payment regime is in place for these artists.

To hear more from Katie and other music economy experts, join us at SXSW! Modernizing Music Licensing will take place at 12:30 PM on March 14.