Pandora loses key royalty rate lawyer Chris Harrison

Pandora‘s VP of Business Affairs and its Assistant General Counsel, Chris Harrison, has left the company.

Harrison is well-known in music biz circles as Pandora’s legal enforcer.

He has been at the sharp end of its attempts to drive down the royalties it pays to record labels, artists, music publishers and songwriters.

These include Pandora’s purchase of South Dakota terrestrial radio station KXMZ FM – which Pandora plans to use to reduce its statutory payments to ASCAP and others.

Fortune reports that Harrison will soon confirm a move to Pandora rival Sirius XM.

In a statement confirming Harrison’s departure, Pandora said: “Chris has been a valued team member, and we appreciate his many important contributions.

“Chris has been a valued team member, and we appreciate his many important contributions.”

Pandora statement

“We have a very strong team in place, and are confident our music licensing activities won’t skip a beat as we move ahead.”

Pandora is currently involved in two battles over the statutory rates of its royalty payouts: one with the publishers, represented by ASCAP and BMI, and one with SoundExchange.

The latter revolves around a decision from the US’s Copyright Royalty Board later this year, which will determine Pandora’s rate until beyond 2020.

Pandora is attempting to bring down its average stream payout rate to labels to $0.0011, while SoundExchange is demanding a move to $0.0025.

As it stands, Pandora is currently paying out around $0.0014 per streamed track to recorded music rights-holders.

In addition, BMI currently receives 2.5% of Pandora’s revenue thanks to a legal victory from May. That should amount to a payment of around $25m this year.

Meanwhile, ASCAP rate court ruled last year that Pandora must give 1.85% of i

Its total payments to labels and publishers in FY 2014 stood at $446.4m – close to half of its total revenues of $920m.Music Business Worldwide

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