Irving Azoff Calls Pandora ‘Shitty,’ Bemoans Era of ‘Idol,’ ‘The Voice’

From The Wrap:

Live Nation Executive Chairman Irving Azoff railed against Pandora on Tuesday at TheGrill, TheWrap’s annual media conference, saying the online radio company is “on our shit list.”

Moderator Judd Apatow pressed Azoff on everything from the music exec threatening Sly Stone with a gun, to the evil of Steve Jobs, to the music-licensing business, but Azoff reserved his harshest words for the digital radio company.

Pandora has been petitioning Congress to drop the rate artists get paid for licensing music online.

“It’s horseshit,” Azoff said. “The market cap for Pandora is like $1.8 billion. That’s roughly the market cap of Live Nation, and they are whining about wanting to pay artists less.”

The veteran music manager and executive who is one of the industry’s most powerful figures, added that the quality of Pandora was “shitty” compared to Spotify, iTunes and iHeartRadio.

Pandora was one of the earliest stars of Web 2.0, luring millions of users with its algorithm-based, personalized radio. However, its stock price sits at about 50 percent of what it was 15 months ago.

It is also one of several companies that some claim has disrupted the music business — another issue Azoff addressed.

“It’s way different now. It’s way more difficult,” Azoff told the crowd. “The odds are stacked against you.”

In an earlier age, a hit record would help you sell out three days in Los Angeles, he said. Now you can’t get a hit, and if you do, you open for someone in a club.

It used to be that no one wanted to go on a music competition show. Now everyone wants to appear on “American Idol” and “The Voice.”

And even when you succeed on these shows, success is fleeting.

“There are 64 contestants on ‘The Voice. There have been 10 or 11 years of ‘Idol’ and 100 or 110 Top 10 people,” Azoff said. “I can count on one hand the number of people who’ve sustained off of that. It shows that even with the massive exposure of network TV how hard it is to make it in music.”

Azoff identified piracy as the first hit to the industry, swiftly followed by iTunes and other digital outlets. Moreover, as in most content industries, everything has been segmented into niches with major radio stations focusing on one genre instead of a wide swath of popular music.

But while Apatow was lobbing grenades at Steve Jobs for ending the era of music albums — and the cost of Apple products — Azoff wouldn’t go there.

“Steve Jobs ruined music,” Apatow asked, somewhat facetiously.

“I wouldn’t say that,” Azoff said. “Steve Jobs changed music forever.”

He then told a story about the Eagles and iTunes that illustrated how the emphasis on singles has hurt artists.

Jobs called Azoff and said he couldn’t fathom an iTunes store without the Beatles or the Eagles. So iTunes launched without the Beatles — and five years in, the Eagles had made just $550,000 off of iTunes royalties.