Pandora Media has tapped a former spokesman for Uber as the Internet radio service’s director of public affairs in Washington.
Taylor Bennett joins Pandora’s five-person public policy and public affairs team in Washington, which works out of the technology work-sharing space 1776. He replaces Pandora’s previous director of public affairs Dave Grimaldi, who in December was appointed vice president of public policy at the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), a trade group for media and technology companies.
Pandora has been steadily increasing its lobbying presence in Washington as the fight between music streaming companies and artists over royalty payments has escalated. Pandora hired its first in-house lobbyist in 2014 and spent a record $1.3 million to lobby lawmakers in 2015, mostly on copyright and trademark issues. Similarly, Spotify has also stepped up its Washington game, hiring lobbyists for the first time in 2015.
“The music industry is evolving, the way it’s regulated and experienced, and Pandora is at the center of that,” Bennett said.
Pandora and other Internet radio sites have long tussled with artists’ groups and record labels over how much in royalty fees sites should have to pay to broadcast their music. In December, a panel of judges ruled that Pandora and other online radio companies must pay 17 cents per 100 plays of songs through 2020 — an increase from the previous rate of 14 cents. The ruling was seen as a compromise between the 11-cent rate Pandora wanted and the 25-cent rate sought by SoundExchange, the body that handles licensing and payments on behalf of record labels.