Rihanna, Missy Elliott and Billy Joel in US royalties fight

Up to 125 musicians are campaigning to stop online play royalties being slashed

Rihanna, Missy Elliott and Billy Joel have kicked off a campaign to stop royalties being slashed in the US.

They are among 125 musicians who have signed an open letter opposing online music company Pandora Media Inc’s attempts to change the way artists are paid. Pandora is currently lobbying lawmakers in US Congress to pass the ‘Internet Radio Fairness Act’, which would change the regulation of how royalties are paid to artists.

Musicians claim that if the act is passed, it would cut royalties that artists receive from plays online by 85 per cent, reports Reuters.

The letter states:

Why is the company asking Congress once again to step in and gut the royalties that thousands of musicians rely upon? That’s not fair and that’s not how partners work together.

But Pandora argue that other content providers, such as cable and satellite, pay different rates for rights. The company said in statement: “The current law penalises new media and is astonishingly unfair to Internet radio. We are asking for our listeners’ support to help end the discrimination against internet radio. It’s time for Congress to stop picking winners, level the playing field and establish a technology-neutral standard.”

Pandora’s unhappiness also stems from their success – more customers and more plays means the company must pay more in overall licensing and rights fees to stream the music. The company is a mostly advertising-supported online music company, founded more than a decade ago, that streams songs through the Internet.