RAIN 7/10: Pandora's survival strategy relies on lobbying and PR more than ever

Paul Maloney
July 10, 2012 - 11:45am

National Journal's Influence Alley blog has put an eye towards the lobbying efforts of Pandora and its efforts to reform the way webcasting royalty rates are set by the U.S. Copyright Royalty Board.

In 2007, when the webcaster fought for its very survival against a royalty determination that would have it paying 70% of its revenue in royalties, Pandora relied on the crowd-sourced power of its listeners to bombard lawmakers with calls, e-mails, and faxes. Now, they're a little more sophisticated, a little more "establishment." Columnist Elahe Izadi writes, "They've grown up Washington-style."

Pandora founder Tim Westergren has reportedly been a frequent visitor to Washington, D.C. Pandora's secured the public relations services of Story Partners, and two lobbying firms (Wheat Government Relations and TwinLogic Strategies). In fact, Pandora's lobbying spend from January 2011 through March of this year reportedly totals $230 thousand (according to OpenSecrets.org here, which is where we got the chart).

"We're looking for greater parity, specifically in the language in the way our rates our set. We're not looking for a specific rate," Westergren is quoted. And it's not necessarily parity with broadcasters (which, you may know, do not pay royalties for the use of copyright sound recordings).

Izadi writes, "The U.S. Copyright Royalty Board is tasked with setting rates for Internet and satellite radio companies, but they use different rules to determine those rates. Satellite companies such as Sirius XM can argue for lower than-market-value rates." Sirius will pay somewhere between 7% and 8% of its revenue for these royalties this year. Westergren says he's simply trying to get "the same leeway to advocate for lower royalties."

Read National Journal's Influence Alley here.

Michael Schmitt
July 10, 2012 - 11:45am

CNN SoundwavesCNN Radio and CNN Digital have launched Soundwaves, a new service offering audio news reports (combined with text, photos and videos) in an easily sharable digital format.

Soundwaves (much like NPR.org) offers news audio in combination with a text article and occasionally other media, like photos or videos. The audio clips themselves -- presented via SoundCloud -- are available to share on the web or download. SoundCloud users can also subscribe to CNN to get radio audio stories directly in their SoundCloud dashboard.

"Soundwaves is a new frontier for CNN Radio," said Tyler Moody, vice president of CNN Radio.

You can find Soundwaves here and read more about it from CNN here.

Michael Schmitt
July 10, 2012 - 11:45am


Pandora's active listener count and share of U.S. radio listening showed growth in June, according to new stats released by the webcast. But its total listener hours were roughly flat month-to-month.

Pandora says it delivered 1.08 billion listener hours in June, which is up 77% year-over-year. That figure is down 1.8% from May 2012.

The service's active listener count reached 54.5 million during June, up 51% year-over-year and up 2.3% from May. Pandora held a 5.95% share of U.S. radio listening in June. That's up 3.37% year-over-year and 2.6% from May.

You can find more from Pandora here.

Michael Schmitt
July 10, 2012 - 11:45am

Rockie ThomasDigital advertising company AdsWizz has hired Rockie Thomas as Vice President of Business Development.

Thomas has served with Tribune Broadcasting and McVay New Media. She "has grown into one of the most well-known influencers in the online radio industry," writes AdsWizz.

"From currently owning her own online Metal radio station, ChroniX Radio, to constantly being tapped as a visionary spokesperson at media conferences, Rockie's virtuoso status came to fruition due to her wide-reaching experience in the industry."

AdsWizz provides ad serving and audience measurement technologies to CDNs, agencies, ad networks and online audio publishers, including more than 100 pureplay webcasters and traditional radio broadcasters.

Executives from AdsWizz will join us at the upcoming RAIN Summit Europe, including VP of Sales & Marketing Patrick Roger. Find out more about RAIN Summit Europe here.

You can find AdsWizz's press release here.