There is a great divide in popular music that can be traced back to 1972. It’s not the fading of artists like Chuck Berry and the rise of new stars like Michael Jackson. It isn’t even the forced nostalgia of Don McLean bringing us back to the day the music died. Instead, it’s a legal divide, one that strikes to the heart of copyright royalty issues and could have a great impact on streaming music services like Pandora.
See, songs recorded before 1972 are not currently protected under federal copyright, unlike those recorded after that date. This means that Pandora, and other companies like it, do not have to pay royalties for classic tunes from Buddy Holley and pre-jumpsuited Elvis. Of course, these services are already paying a great deal of money for the right to use more recent songs, so any change to the current paradigm would have a huge impact on their cost structures.