Set, Match and Game to Pandora and Chris Harrison: MERLIN Gives Pandora the Rate Cut They’ve Always Wanted.


The Trichordist

Harrison trounces performers and labels with MERLIN deal.  Congratulations. 

In the past I’ve had rather unkind things to say about Pandora and their chief legal strategist Chris Harrison.  But today I’d like to sincerely congratulate them on a game well played.  Pandora and Harrison have successfully outflanked performers by exploiting us where we were  weakest (and stupidest).  That weak spot?  The independent label rights licensing association known as MERLIN.

MERLIN led by Charles Caldas represents over 20,000 independent labels.  In a jaw-dropping bonehead move ,Merlin cut a direct deal with Pandora to license songs at about 1/2 the rate proposed by Sound Exchange IF Pandora plays Merlin songs more often than everyone else.  Isn’t that called payola?  Pandora is an FCC broadcaster after all!

We at the Trichordist knew what would happen next. Pandora would present this as evidence of a “willing seller” rate and then ask  the Copyright Royalty Board  to…

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Tiny Ruins & Sharon Van Etten @ Mohawk – Oct, 18th 2014

There’s a pretty killer double-bill this Saturday at The Mohawk. Two great, soulful young songwriters from opposite ends of the globe will be performing with their bands. I couldn’t tell you whose idea it was to have these two acts tour together, but it was a perfect decision.

Tiny Ruins (The Opener)

Tiny Ruins is the moniker and band name of Auckland, New Zealand-based songwriter Hollie Fullbrook. Without an ounce of kitsch or pop-inclinations, Fullbrook’s songwriting is not the sound of the times; it’s the sound of her own times. Otherwise put: timeless. It’s solid, thoughtful, carefully arranged, and perhaps most notable on the most recent record, carefully produced. Fullbrook is consistently able to maintain a Nick Drake-like delicacy to her guitar and vocal delivery putting the songs themselves at the center of each performance. As an avid fan of great songwriting, that’s something I’ve grown to really appreciate (and recognize)–putting the song first. It’s something I generally strive for in my own work.

Following two EPs and a debut LP, Tiny Ruins just released a second LP, Brightly Painted One, a markedly more mature and polished record–both in songwriting and in production than its predecessors. Brightly Painted One is also the group’s first collaboration with a new producer, Tom Healy, who did a superb job capturing the magic and weaving such a beautiful record together.


Sharon Van Etten (The Headliner)

Sharon Van Etten’s music has been one of my favorite creations to have come from the past five years. From the time when we were both living in NYC (where I first heard her music and where Van Etten still lives) to present and beyond, I feel like hers is one of the most honest voices out there today. Honest in content and in delivery. Something about the timbre of her voice and the way she holds and bends notes vocally can command attention from even the gruffest of audiences. I recall Bob Boilen (or one of his All Songs Considered podcast cohorts) reiterating a story of watching Sharon Van Etten play to a loud, rowdy  bar full of drunks and, “…halfway through the first song, and the whole room dropped what they were doing, shut up, turned and listened.”


Any fans of The Succulents out there are highly likely to enjoy both of these bands. We certainly do. I tend to lean towards substance over flash,  timelessness over contemporary fads and fashion. Saturday night at The Mohawk will be end-to-end timeless substance. I’ll be there. Come out, say hello, support the truth-seekers, find new loves, and raise a glass with me to what promises to be a great night of music.