After YouTube’s Indie Label Catastrophe, Why Did Spotify Let Google Buy Its Way Onto Their Board of Directors?

You’ve all been following YouTube’s absolutely tone deaf “take it or leave it” brinksmanship strategy with indie labels represented by Merlin and WIN.  This one sided “negotiation” appears to still be grinding on.  Why would it take so long?  Why wouldn’t YouTube simply say, we’ll treat you like everyone else and close up the problem.

So what is Google’s next move to calm the waters?  Google buys its way onto the Spotify board and the Spotify board allowed them to do it.

If we ever needed proof that Spotify intends to keep screwing artists and songwriters, we just got that confirmation.  Without so much as blinking an eye, Spotify embraces Google like a long lost brother returning to the family.  Whether this is just the first step toward Google buying Spotify or a step toward a “powered by Spotify” Google music service will be told in the future.

But what we definitely know is that two companies have joined together to pursue their common goal of paying minuscule royalties to songwriters and artists.

By welcoming Google onto its board, Spotify has lost the last shred of a fig leaf for screwing artists and songwriters.  With Spotify, you just get reamed because the deals are awful and you’ll never participate in any of the stock that Spotify gave to major labels and their senior executives (and probably some select superstars).   These under the table advances and equity shares in exchange for lower royalties are so bad that even the U.S. Copyright Office has raised it as a concern!

But with Google you get reamed because the royalty rates are absurdly miniscule when paid by Google’s legitimate front businesses like YouTube and are actually negative when you take into account the pirate sites Google profits from through its unscrupulous AdSense business.

Doesn’t Spotify have enough artist relations problems without adding Google to the list?

Not if Google writes a big enough check!  There’s a couple ways that Google could invest in Spotify.  They could buy newly issued shares (probably in a new series of preferred stock) OR…Google could buy existing shares from existing stockholders.  For example, if you were an executive of a major label who had gotten Spotify stock and you were thinking of “pulling a Jimmy” and getting some island money, one way you could do it would be to sell your shares to Google (sometimes called a “selling stockholder”).

But whatever happened, Spotify has now embraced the pariah of the music business.  Google is on their board, votes on everything the board votes on, including royalty rates, under the table money, the works.

Not only that, but why would Google allow Spotify to renew their deals through the Harry Fox Agency when Google owns Rightsflow?

If Spotify had artist and writer relations problems before, that’s nothing compared to what they’re going to have.

Why is Billboard Writer Defending Pandora Radio On Anti-Gay Politician Contributions?

glenn peoples billboard


You can see the whole conversation here. 

Why is Billboard writer defending Pandora Radio on Founder, CEO, 1/2 the Board and other top executives giving money to anti-gay politician Jason Chaffetz.  You know the guy that tried to nullify a bunch of same sex marriages in Washington DC?  I really don’t’ understand why the writer is “helping” me or Pandora Radio on this one.  The Billboard writer could easily go on record and explain the “nuances” of why Pandora apparently chose a well known anti-gay demagogue to sponsor their Orwellian named  Internet Radio Fairness Act. How does this soomehow this makes the $13,000 dollars they gave this politician ok.   And why is Billboard demanding that I soften this story?

Just saying…

UPDATE Pandora Radio’s Gay Marriage Problem Just Got Worse: CEO and 1/2 Board of directors also supported radical anti-gay politician


Looks like Pandora’s anti-gay marriage problem just got  much much bigger.  This is no longer just a Tim Westergren problem.  Looks like it’s a company wide problem. Pandora’s Founder, 2013 CEO and HALF the board of directors donated money to a radical anti-gay congressman from Utah,  Jason Chaffetz.

This looks bigger than the Mozilla scandal. Not just a single executive, this is five key executives and directors.


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These guys can’t claim they didn’t know this politician’s views as Chaffetz is quite famous for grand standing on this issue.  Among other things Chaffetz is the guy that sought to have the federal government step in and nullify the votes of citizens of Washington DC and have gay marriages banned in the city.  Essentially he wanted to un-marry same sex married couples in Washington DC.

In 2013 CEO Joseph Kennedy donated money to Chaffetz (Kennedy has since stepped down).   Pandora board members Peter Gotcher, David Sze and Westergren also donated money to this demagogue. And tellingly Rena Shapiro Pandora’s political ad director donated to the anti-gay Chaffetz. I think with this many high level Pandora insiders donating money to this candidate it’s a reasonable question to ask whether the company has an anti-gay bias.

And this revelation could not come at a worse time for Pandora.   For Pandora has recently and very publicly embraced Rev Jesse Jacksons PUSH campaign to increase diversity in Silicon Valley. And diversity includes sexual orientation.  Silicon Valley’s brogrammers  are well known for their misogyny and homophobia.   The fact that McAndrews embraced Rev Jackson’s campaign so quickly and readily brings Hamlet  to mind.  The lady doth protest too much, methinks.  

As SF Bay View reported:

 CEO Brian McAndrews of Pandora said in his letter to Rev. Jackson, “Thank you for reaching out. We were excited to hear from you because we have been discussing our own path towards transparency and amplifying our efforts around building a more diverse workforce….. We hear your urge for data transparency . . .There is no doubt that knowledge leads to awareness, and to actions.”

Well Mr McAndrews? Here is my contribution to your quest for “transparency.”  The upper management of your company apparently supports a radical anti-gay politician.  What does that say about your attitude towards diversity?

Gentlemen we’d love to hear from you.  So would many of your listeners.


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Westergren Chaffetz

Pandora’s Tim Westergren Supports Radical Anti-Gay Politician Jason Chaffetz UT.

Tim Westergren David Shankbone 2010 NYC.jpg
Tim Westergren David Shankbone 2010 NYC” by David ShankboneOwn work. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Forget Mozilla’s anti-gay CEO.  We have confirmed that Pandora’s Tim Westergren contributed  funds to radical anti-gay politician Jason Chaffetz  for his 2014 race.   This is the guy that among other things tried to legislate away Washington DC’s same sex marriages.

Wow.  I guess Pandora not only has no R E S P E C T for Aretha Franklin,  they must not think much of their gay subscribers and employees either!

You’d think that in the wake of the Mozilla scandal companies like Pandora would know better.

But first a little backstory cause this is not just simple homophobia or ignorance .  It’s a very nasty story of anti-gay demagoguery, political corruption, corporate skullduggery and pay-to-play politics.

Last year Pandora pushed the Orewellian-named Internet Radio Fairness Act.  The way that Pandora presented the bill was that it would level the playing field for internet broadcasters against those “bad” terrestrial broadcasters.  The problem with this characterization is that the bill did no such thing. It was a sharks belly stew of gifts for the broadcast industry.  Internet and Terrestrial. Why else would Clear Channel support a bill that would help internet radio “compete with it’s 840 terrestrial stations?  The real reason the internet radio AND terrestrial  broadcast industry supported this bill is that it would have used the awesome power of the federal government to mandate lower performer royalties by 80 percent!

Wow. I wish I could go to congress and have them mandate that my suppliers  charge me 80% less for everything they sell me.  But I digress.

Those of us outside Washington have come to expect this sort of pay-to-play nonsense from Washington, and so it’s not really a surprise that these politically connected firms could get this into a bill and then get it seriously considered by congress.

What was surprising is that Pandora was pushing a bill  sponsored by a well known anti-gay demagogue, Utah politician Jason Chaffetz.

Now we didn’t’ make a big deal about it before because it could have just as easily been the National Association of Broadcasters, Clear Channel any of the other ethics impaired corporations that had a relationship with this politician.  Surely the “progressive” leaders of an internet radio station based in Oakland a city that Rev. Jesse Jackson recently called the “rainbow city”  would never support an anti-gay politician!

Think again.

Below is a screenshot from clearly indicating that Tim Westergren founder and spokesperson for Pandora personally gave money to this anti-gay demagogue. Apparently a thank you for sponsoring the bill Westergren pushed so strongly.  That is Westergren personally supports this anti-gay demagogue.


Westergren Chaffetz


Now remember this  is for this upcoming 2014 election.This is not a long time ago. This is long after Chaffetz’s  various anti-gay outbursts were known.  This is after Chaffetz famously sought to overturn the will of the voters in Washington DC, essentially nullify their votes and institute a federally mandated ban on gay marriage in Washington DC.   That’s right Chaffetz wanted to impose his religious (?) views on 650 thousand citizens of a city 2000 miles from his home district in Utah. Imagine if you were a same sex couple in DC, and you had your marriage nullified because a Utah politician wanted to grandstand for voters back home?

Tim Westergren had to know what this guy stood for and yet he personally donated money to him.

This revelation could not come at a worse time for Pandora.   For Pandora has recently and very publicly embraced Rev Jesse Jacksons PUSH campaign to increase diversity in Silicon Valley. Diversity includes sexual orientation as well fellas.   Silicon Valley’s embarrassingly misogynistic and homophobic brogrammers have started to become a liability for these companies. Notably Pandora embraced the effort so quickly and readily that Hamlet comes to mind.  The lady doth protest too much, methinks. 

As SF Bay View reported:

 CEO Brian McAndrews of Pandora said in his letter to Rev. Jackson, “Thank you for reaching out. We were excited to hear from you because we have been discussing our own path towards transparency and amplifying our efforts around building a more diverse workforce….. We hear your urge for data transparency . . .There is no doubt that knowledge leads to awareness, and to actions.”

Well Mr McAndrews, here is my contribution to your quest for “transparency.”  Your companies founder apparently supports radical anti-gay politicians.  What does that say about your attitude towards diversity?


Chris Harrison: Please Explain Why Pandora Has No Respect For Aretha Franklin?


Songwriter Enemy #1 is also Performer Enemy #1?


Hello Chris:

Now I’m not 100% positive that you were the person at Pandora that made the decision not to pay royalties on pre-1972 master recordings, but given your history of screwing songwriters (multiple lawsuits, ASCAP, BMI, DMX legal trickery etc etc) it seems like the requisite set of skills required to repeatedly screw songwriters is the same set of skills required to screw performers.  So it seems likely it was you. But if in fact you weren’t in charge of this moral outrage I’m sure you were at the meeting. After all looks like you are in charge of Pandora’s legal team that will be defending this decision. And who better to explain this to the public. You seem eloquent.  You wrote this persuasive article for The Hill where you nearly had lawmakers and investors convinced you had actually purchased a terrestrial radio station (minus the actual broadcast license oops!).

So give it a shot.  What could possibly be Pandora’s moral and ethical rationale for not paying these performers while other internet radio stations and streaming services appear to pay these performers?  Please explain it to us. Why doesn’t Pandora R E S P E C T Aretha Franklin?

I Can Prove Songwriters Abused by Unscrupulous Webcasters. So Why Are Songwriters under DOJ Supervision?

We’ve heard a lot of misleading rhetoric by blowhard broadcasting/webcasting lobbyists on Capitol Hill.  Songwriters are somehow a threat to these multi-billion dollar corporations and so songwriters must be kept in the yoke of the DOJ consent decree.

Now let me give you some cold hard facts. Below is an actual example of the webcasters violating the terms under which they may receive a compulsory license.   This is a  “Notice of Intention” that they are legally required to file before playing one of my songs. It is outrageously deficient. Therefore they are illegally playing my music.

But this is not just an isolated example.  I have dozens of these NOI’s and  90% of them appear deficient as they are notices of intent to distribute songs that have been made available for years. I have spoken to many other music publishers and songwriters. All of them agree that the majority of the NOI’s they receive are deficient.  Usually because they are sent after the music service uses the songs.  This appears to be mass copyright infringement.  Mass copyright infringement is a RICO predicate. So why the hell am I the one under DOJ supervision?

Virtually all the digital media companies (except Apple) do it this way. I’m telling you, these people make Morris Levy look downright honest.

So why am I forced by the DOJ to let these mass infringers use my songs?  Why does the federal government force me into a contract but then does not allow me to audit these companies. That’s right the federally proscribed compulsory license does not allow for an audit.  I’m supposed to take these companies at their word. Companies that I can demonstrate are lying?

Yet industry groups representing these abusive web casters held a semi-secret “hearing” on Capitol Hill to urge Congress and the DOJ to not only keep songwriters under the consent decree but expand it!!  This is essentially the bad guys running a protection racket with the DOJ as their muscle.

That’s why I protested this panel and gave the actual shirts off the backs of three songwriters to these lying and theft-enabling lobbyists.

This is songwriters “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not gonna take it anymore” moment.  Let the DOJ know that you aren’t gonna take it anymore.   They’ve asked for comments.   Click here for instructions.



Let me explain specifically how this notice is deficient and therefore invalid. I also intend to send a more detailed report to DOJ.

First this notice was mailed on July 14th.  So I received this notice before the listed date of distribution (July 23rd).   So on  July 22nd I checked to see if these songs were available on this service.  They were.  I even played the two newest.   The other songs were released in the late 1980s. These songs were from a major label album that has long been available on this service.  Yet they are only now getting around to sending the “Notice of Intention” to distribute these songs?

Finally since the service is exercising the compulsory license they are required to send me accounting statements monthly.  Where are my statements?  That’s another violation of the law!

Again it’s the webcasters that need DOJ supervision not Songwriters.  I have dozens of these notices.

MRI bad NOI  redacted 2


MRI bad NOI  redacted 1



The Revolution Will Be Webcast But Gil Scott Heron’s Estate Will Not Be Paid for Use of Recording.

Pandora has stopped paying performers who recorded before 1972. A bizarre interpretation of copyright law by Pandora, Sirius and Clear Channel has led these companies to seemingly collude and simultaneously stop paying artists on all pre-1972 sound recordings.  We suspect this is likely the work of Artist Enemy #1 Chris Harrison of Pandora.  That means the Estate  of Gil Scott Heron will not be paid  performer royalties for Pandora’s commercial exploitation of this song. It should be noted that as much as we criticize Spotify they at least ask permission and then pay for the right to use this song. Pandora does neither.


Contact Pandora and ask them why they have stopped paying artists like Gil Scot Heron on Pre-1972 recordings.

You can find their main office phone number and other contact info on this page:


Did Pandora’s Chris Harrison Intentionally Mislead Congress and Investors When He Claimed Pandora Purchased Radio Station?


Pandora’s Publicity Stunt: Pandora bought  South Dakota terrestrial radio station minus the broadcast license.

Back in June of 2013 Pandoras Associate Chief Counsel Chris Harrison (Songwriter Enemy #1) wrote an article for The Hill that implied that Pandora had purchased a radio station in South Dakota. The idea was that they were somehow now equivalent to Clear Channel and deserved the same percentage of revenue deal for sound recordings that Clear Channel receives.  Never mind that much of Clear Channel’s content IS NOT MUSIC and terrestrial broadcast has enormous capital costs so percentages of revenues are not comparable.  THE REAL PROBLEM and why this is misleading is that Pandora did not own the broadcast license of this station.   Transfer of this license requires FCC approval and as far as we can tell it appears Pandora had not even filed for transfer of this license at the time of this announcement (we could be wrong but we can’t find evidence, glad to correct if we are wrong).  Do you really own a radio station without a broadcast license? It’s not really clear what it is that Pandora actually purchased.

A year later this broadcast license is not in the hands of Pandora. And indeed the foxes in the henhouse over at the  FCC (much to our surprise) rejected Pandora’s license.  There is a rule that a company must demonstrate it has less than 25% foreign ownership to own a radio station broadcast license and Pandora could not demonstrate this. However silly this rule may be, it’s still a rule, and Chris Harrison as an attorney with long experience in radio surely knew this.  Right?  So shouldn’t Congress and the SEC ask Pandora and Harrison if they intentionally misled Congress and investors?

Maybe they didn’t mislead investors and they really didn’t understand the requirements for purchasing a broadcast license.  But this implies that the top legal staff of Pandora is incompetent.  What does that say to investors?


Pandora’s Chris Harrison Songwriter Enemy Number #1?


Informal Trichordist  poll calls Chris Harrison Songwriter Enemy #1.  Here’s  some reasons why songwriters feel this way about Pandora’s litigator in chief.

We don’t know quite why, but Pandora seems to have put Tim Westergren on ice. If we had to guess, we’d guess that this is because Westergren has served his purpose to the corporate overseers at Pandora. You know, you’ve done good job, Tim, we’ll take it from here.

Tim’s made bank on his project, we figure he’s closing in on $20 million or so. Pandora is sitting on top of about $200 million in cash. The corporate overseers gave the old management team a chance to get their numbers up the old fashioned way—screw the artists and songwriters. This artist friendly crap is over. Tim Westergren, Joe Kennedy, etc., got iced. The big dogs want the real cold blooded types now because they’re gonna get their money. And the shirts off our backs.

Enter Christopher Harrison. You may not have noticed him until recently, but he’s now firmly in charge of the artist screwing crew. Our bet is that he’ll do what the Wall Street overseers want every time like a good boy and roll over for the tummy scratch and a big green bone in his mouth—cash or stock. For whatever reason, from what we can tell he’s had a big one for creative types for a long time, especially songwriters and most particularly ASCAP.

The rumor is that this started when Harrison was at the DMX background music service. The story goes that he got the company to partner up with Music Reports (you’ve probably gotten a few thousand NOIs from them along with penny checks) to try to make an end run around the songwriter PROs. DMX—apparently led by Harrison—went out to make direct deals with publishers. The rumor is that they went to a big publisher and paid them money under an NDA to get them to give a low rate. Then they supposedly told a bunch of other songwriters and publishers what the rate was and convinced them to take most favored nations on the rates, but left out the part about the up front money. Some people might call this lying.

Then the rumor is that Harrison took the direct deals to the rate courts and showed them as evidence of a “free market rate” and the rate court Song Czars forced the PROs to take the chump MFN rate on all the songs that DMX didn’t have direct deals with, thus rat stumping all songwriters, including foreign writers.

Pretty slick!

Since the DOJ supervises pretty much anything to do with Songwriters  it’s mighty mighty curious they have never investigated this.

So if you’re a corporate overseer at Pandora and want to find someone whose really got a major big one for songwriters and artists, Harrison has to be on your short list. He’s already made his bones. If the rumors are true.

And if you look at the last Congressional hearing where Pandora appeared, guess whose bright and shiny…face…showed up at the witness table. And he you can tell he. Just. Loves. It.

He’s a serial songwriter stumper. Songwriter enemy Number 1. Can’t you just see him rolling over and barking for the corporate overseers to throw him a bone?

Other notable outrages committed by Pandora under Chris Harrison 

- This addendum compiled  by David Lowery

*Apparently colluded with Sirius and Clear Channel to stop paying royalties to legacy artists with pre-1972 recordings.  The bizarre rationale simultaneously taken by all these companies is that there is no copyright for pre 1972 recordings. ( Where is DOJ on this collusion?)  As a result Pandora will pay no royalties to civil rights icons The Freedom Singers.

The revolution will be webcast but performers won’t be paid.

Write Pandora and ask them why they are doing this:  and  Institutions should consider the moral implications of investing pension funds in this company.

* Under Chris Harrison’s leadership Pandora has repeatedly sued songwriters. These suits have cost songwriters at least 10 million dollars in legal fees..  It likely cost the US Taxpayers and Pandora just as much.   This was all so Pandora and Chris Harrison could save $4 million dollars in 2013.. These suits are so cost ineffective you have to wonder if Pandora is simply doing this to pump up their stock price.  Fake good news for the wall street stock analysts that are pedaling this crap to little old ladies and pension funds?  You need buyers when  all the  top executives  are selling tens of millions of dollars of stock each year while the company is hemorrhaging  money.  I am not a lawyer but where is the SEC investigation of this?

* Pandora may have pretended to buy a South Dakota radio station and trumpeted this to stock analysts  and the US Congress as a way to lower payments to performers.  The problem is we have been unable to find any evidence that Pandora actually owns this station.  If you have contrary evidence please send it to us.  We are stumped.  If it turns out Pandora did not buy this station they should be investigated for all manner of fraud.

* Under Chris Harrison’s direction Pandora pushed the Orwellian named Internet Radio Fairness Act.  I say Orwellian named because it claimed to level the playing field for internet broadcasters to compete with terrestrial broadcasters like Clear Channel.  Yet Clear Channel supported the bill.  How does that work.  In truth it would have slashed digital royalties owed to performers by as much as  %85 percent for Clear Channels on their web simulcasts. False and misleading statements again. How do the feds let these guys get away with this over and over again? Especially since this was trumpeted to stock analysts.

*Pandora used the virulently anti-gay Rep  Chaffetz of Utah to co-sponsor the IRFA bill.  They also contributed money to this demagogue.  Again institutions should consider the moral implications of investing in Pandora.

*I believe Pandora (and Sirius) has engaged in false advertising by claiming to pay royalties to artists performers that they no longer pay royalties to under their bizarre interpretation of the copyright act.   I don’t understand why the feds have given them a free pass on this?

*I suspect that Pandora lobbyists or  operatives  under the direction of Chris Harrison instructed Greg Barnes (DiMA and moderator of the semi-secret hearing on Capitol  Hill monday July 21st 2014) to block me from asking questions during the public panel.  Fact: I observed a woman in the row in front of me frantically texting someone. Later I observed her smartphone displayed the following two texts. “David Lowery” and “Watch out.”  Shortly before this Greg Barnes had visually indicated that he would take my question  but after the frantic texting, he told me that he was only accepting questions from “staffers.” How did he suddenly know I wasn’t a staffer? Was that a result of the text message?   (He then took a question from a law student.)  I could be  mistaken but I’d like to remind you that Pandora could  easily clear this up by publishing the text messages of all operatives and lobbyists sent from that room at that time.

*Pandora false and highly misleading statements about me personally on national television and to national  press. These were  to counter a blog post explaining how I was paid less than $17 dollars in songwriter performance royalties for a million spins of the song Low on Pandora.    These statements  were clearly intended to damage my credibility and personal reputation. Yes a 6 billion dollar company has to resort to the dirtiest of tricks to counter a single songwriter. I believe that Chris Harrison wrote or at least approved this carefully constructed obfuscation. I could have easily launched a lawsuit against Pandora but I did not. I suggest shareholders consider the reckless nature of those at the helm of this company.

Here is the statement.  It accuses me of grossly misstates Pandora’s payments to songwriters when I did not.  I have the royalty statements to prove it.

“Mr. Lowery misrepresents and grossly understates Pandora’s payments to songwriters,” a Pandora spokesperson said in a statement. The spokesperson said that Pandora must pay BMI and ASCAP, the organizations that represent songwriters and publishers, along with other parties — adding up to “many times more” in songwriter royalties than what Lowery noted in his post.

See how they did that?  To date Pandora has not retracted or apologized for this false and misleading statement despite my request to do so.






“Fifteen years of utter bollocks”: how a generation’s freeloading has starved creativity | New Statesman

Arguments for digital piracy are drivel – it’s high time we steered away from this cultural cliff, argues author Chris Ruen.

Piracy may feel like victimless “free culture” to the user, but they are in fact participating in a digital black market. It’s not about information wanting to be free, but rather it’s about exploitative black marketeers and willfully blind tech companies wanting to get rich. They are simply capitalising on loopholes in the regulatory framework. In this sense, mass digital piracy is a symptom of underdevelopment. It’s the Internet Third World, with outdoor markets hawking counterfeit goods and purveyors bribing the local cops to look the other way.

Tech companies will go on skimming profits off the top of this black market until enlightened governments cooperate to squeeze out these illicit profiteers in an effective and transparent manner. As Google’s own Chief Economist Hal Varian has written, “all that is required is the political will to enforce intellectual property rights”.