I Can Prove Songwriters Abused by Unscrupulous Webcasters. So Why Is It 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 hundreds 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:  investor@pandora.com  and pandora-press@pandora.com.  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”.


Early Results of Poll Indicate How Far Pandora Has Fallen In Eyes of Songwriters

It’s still early but it’s interesting to see how Pandora’s 18 month assault on artists has left them the clear favorite to win the “Shirts Off Our Backs” campaign. Pandora has gone from being seen as the most artist friendly service to being synonymous with the screwing of artists. Given the fact Pandora can not operate without either the protection of the DOJ OR the goodwill of songwriters, it’s fair to ask if a year from now Pandora’s investors will lose the shirts off their backs.

Fascinating that Sirius which has stopped paying royalties to Pre-1972 performers seems to be getting a free pass.  Maybe Sirius should thank Chris Harrison for making them not look so bad.


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#ShirtsOffOurBacks” Vote Which Enemy of Songwriters Should be Focus of New Campaign

Yesterday I crashed a nearly secret kangaroo court style “hearing” on Capitol Hill. I presented the National Association of Broadcasters, The Digital Media Association and Computer and Communications Industry Association with the shirts off the backs of three songwriters.



In brief I did this because these three Washington DC lobbying organizations represent companies with a market cap of over a trillion dollars.  Clear Channel, Google, Amazon, Pandora, Apple, Sirius/XM, Yahoo, Microsoft to name a few. The Lobbyists were there to urge the Department of Justice to keep in place the “temporary” DOJ supervision of  songwriters (first enacted in 1941) and extend it to the final three percent of songwriters who’ve managed to escape the decree by joining the tiny SESAC songwriters organization.

That’s right, these companies with more than a trillion dollars in market need the DOJ and federal courts to protect them from Songwriters. Crybabies.

Since this panel I have been barraged by songwriters suggesting we start a campaign.  WE MAIL THE SHIRTS OFF OUR BACKS TO ….??

Well thats just it.  Who would we mail our shirts to? lets have some FUN with this. And I mean that. This is all in good fun. At least for the time being.

The obvious three choices are the lobbyists that represented NAB, CCIA and DiMA on the semi-secret panel.  That would be Schruer, Barnes and Oxenford.

Chris Harrison the Assistant Chief Counsel to Pandora  needs to be on this list because I have a sneaking suspicion he has coordinated much of the anti-artist activity over the last few years. IRFA? Not paying royalties on recordings before 1972?  Certainly he’s been screwing over songwriters since the DMX case and he is the guy constantly suing songwriters in rate court. He’s probably songwriter enemy #1.

But there are also the two Judges or “Song Czars”  that set the “reasonable” rate for songwriters (less than $17 dollars for a million plays on pandora remember? )  that would be Stanton and Cotes.

There is the unnamed Chief of the anti-trust division who will investigate songwriters “collusion.”

Drummond is there cause Google gives money to virtually every anti-copyright organization in the world.  Oh and don’t forget the YouTube indie label ban!

Donnelly of Sirius is there for going along with Pandora and  cutting off royalties for pre-1972 artists.

Walls is there just cause Clear Channel is Clear Channel.

These are all people engaged in the public policy issues in Washington DC.

Vote away.

A Stain on the People’s House: The Fraud of DiMA, CCIA and NAB’s Secret Meeting in the People’s House

Originally posted on MUSIC • TECHNOLOGY • POLICY:

Yesterday, the lobbyists for Pandora, Sirius and Clear Channel held a “staff briefing” in the Rayburn House Office Building entitled “Governing ASCAP and BMI”.  What they left out of that title was any reference to songwriters–of course if the title was “Governing ASCAP and BMI Songwriters” that would have had a certain antebellum tone.  Not what Pandora was going for.

So understand what this is:  An invitation only meeting held in the public offices of the U.S. House of Representatives conducted by lobbyists to advance their agenda.  These kinds of meetings happen frequently on Capitol Hill in the people’s buildings and can only be held if a Member of Congress authorizes the use of the meeting room.  What that means is that somebody’s lobbyist calls and asks for the space, and then lobbying teams work on inviting the “right people” to the presentation.  And if you think that the presentation…

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Here’s How Piracy Hurts Indie Film | IndieWire

The fact is: pirate sites don’t discriminate based on a movie’s budget. As long as they can generate revenue from advertising and credit card payments—while giving away your stolen content for free—pirate site operators have little reason to care if a film starts with an investment of $10,000 or $200 million. Whether you’re employed by a major studio or a do-it-yourself creator, if you’re involved in the making of TV or film, it’s safe to assume that piracy takes a big cut out of your business.

We know piracy won’t go away altogether, and we won’t always agree on the best way to go about disrupting it. But we can agree on a vision for a digital future that better serves audiences and artists alike, and that future depends on reducing piracy.


Why I gave the National Association of Broadcasters, DiMA and CCIA the Shirt off my Back during Congressional Panel

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Diverse group of Washington DC lobbyists.


The major webcasters and broadcasters decided to convene a nearly secret last minute congressional panel to urge Congress and the DOJ to keep in place the 73 year old “temporary” consent decree that forces songwriters to let companies like Clear Channel, YouTube, Sirius, Pandora, Amazon and Spotify use our songs without any negotiation whatsoever.  The consent decree also empowers a single appointed-for-life federal judge to arbitrarily decide what a “reasonable” rate  is for songwriters.   In effect we have been forced by federal courts to provide  subsidy to corporations that have a combined market cap of more than a trillion dollars.

As I demonstrated in this an earlier post  as a songwriter I received less than $17 dollars from Pandora for over a million spins of my song Low. 


How is this a “Reasonable” rate?

The panel was hosted by Greg Barnes of DiMA.  Other panelists included David Oxenford National Association of Broadcasters and  Mathew Schruers from the  CCIA.   The companies represented by these lobbying outfits (Amazon, Clear Channel, YouTube/Google, Spotify, Pandora, Microsoft, Yahoo have a combined market cap of over a trillion dollars.  YET THERE WAS NOT A SINGLE REPRESENTATIVE OF SONGWRITERS ON THE PANEL.   This is particularly appalling considering that songwriters are the ones living and working under the consent decree.

I had prepared a short set of comments detailing my experience as a songwriter, especially the financial  effects of the consent decree on my digital royalties.    I parked myself in the second row and waited for the moderator Greg Barnes to start taking questions from the audience.  Mine was the first hand up and Barnes indicated that he would call on me but first he wanted one more comment from Oxenford.  It was during Oxenford’s comment that I noticed the lobbyist (?) seated directly in front of me pulled out her smartphone and started frantically texting something.  Curious I leaned forward and could clearly read my name and then the  phrase “watch out”.   Funny stuff.  I wanted to say “Hey dumbass, I’m sitting right behind you.” But I resisted.

Curiously it was immediately after this that Barnes suddenly announced that they would only be taking comments from “Staff” members and I would have to wait “til the vey end and time permitting only.”  He then proceeded to call upon a college student from GW.

SERIOUSLY? The Digital Media Association is in the business of selling songwriters music but their chief DC lobbyist is afraid of having a songwriter speak.  Spineless coward.  If that’s not clear, Yes, Greg Barnes, I am calling you a spineless coward. And I’m standing by it.

When the college student finished his comments I raised my hand again.  Once again Barnes told me that they were only taking questions from staffers despite the fact he had just demonstrated that they were in fact taking questions from anyone.

This went on for a while and I realize that Barnes clearly intended to not let me ask a question.  For amusement I started to stare down the not-quite-slimey representative of the National Association of Broadcasters.  He suddenly found something in his lap extremely interesting and wouldn’t look up.  If I was absolutely certain that he was not suddenly transfixed by the unexpected appearance of  a colony of miniature unicorns dancing on his lap I’d call him a spineless coward as well.  But as I actually couldn’t see his lap, I can’t rule out the possibility of miniature unicorns, and so for now I’ll give him a pass.

The night before this event I had been warned that it was likely that I would be blocked from asking any questions or making any comments.  Considering the fact I was gonna have to get up at 5:45 am to make it to the panel I wasn’t really in the mood to go to all this effort for nothing.  I had to have a plan B.

A few days before a songwriter friend remarked that the current licensing system for songs and digital services was so fucked up that songwriters really had nothing left to lose except “the shirts off our backs.”    I remembered this.  I went across the street to the local grocery store bought some gift bags and wrapping paper and proceeded to gift wrap  three shirts that had been worn by me and my bandmates  as “gifts” for the  NAB, CCIA and DiMA.  I figured that at the very least I could present them with the shirts off our backs and eke out a photo op.

Of course it didn’t go that way.   Clearly Barnes was terrified of having an actual songwriter air a viewpoint that was contrary to the party line.   When he asked for questions again,  I asked that as the only person in the room forced against their will to live and work under the consent decree I be allowed to speak.  He refused.

So shit, I did what I had to do. I marched up to the panelists and presented each of them with a gift wrapped “shirt off of a songwriters back”.    They looked like they were gonna pee their pants.  It was priceless.

“I got less than $17 dollars for a million spins on Pandora, that’s your consent decree at work.”   I told the room and walked out.

The whole thing was so fucking stupid on the broadcasters/webcasters’ part.  If they’d just let me speak they could have spent the final 15 minutes to counter my questions and statements with measured doses of non-sensical legalese and mock concern for the plight of the independent songwriters.    But by acting like spineless cowards they totally screwed themselves.  Just goes to show that if you  put on a “Show trial?” you very well may end up with a show you didn’t expect.

Welcome to Washington gentlemen.

For those of you keeping score it’s now

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Broadcasters 0