$50k spent on lobbying in Q1 alone shows "they've grown up Washington-style"

Tuesday, 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 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.

FCC website spills the beans on details of new SiriusXM 2.0 device

Friday, October 14, 2011 - 11:00am

This week the website DigitalRadioMag revealed details of the first new SiriusXM 2.0 hardware it says was "outed" by a test report and label information posted on the FCC's website. While nothing hereSiriusXM 2.0 points to the "Pandora-like personalization features" that were teased in August (here), Forbes and are now reporting some of what was revealed to the FCC.

The project is apparently codenamed "Lynx." The new radio features "universal docking capability," which was characterized on the FCC website (presumably by SiriusXM itself) as "add accessories for your home, office, additional vehicles or even outdoors." This apparently means "portability," in that you can listen to the unit in the car, then pull it out of the dash and bring it outside or in your home or office to listen. The SiriusXM PowerConnect FM Transmitter wirelessly connects the unit via FM to the car's radio receiver.

The new radio can connect to content via satellite (naturally), but also WiFi, Bluetooth, and USB -- attributes this as "likely a response to the growth of Internet radio stations, HD radio and the use of smartphones and tablets."

DigitalRadioMag also noticed an Immersion logo in a diagram of the inside of the unit, indicating the radio will likely feature Haptic Touchscreen Technology made by that company. Finally, the appearance of the unit and its interface (backlight color theme, the "trim ring") can be personalized.

The new SiriusXM 2.0 system is expected to be officially launched this quarter. Read more from Forbes here, here, and DigitalRadioMag here.

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