Skip to content
Subscriber Only

Pandora Buys a Radio Station, Just to Make a Point About Royalties

Pandora Buys a Radio Station, Just to Make a Point About Royalties
Photograph by Apostrophe Productions

Here’s one to add to the head-scratching acquisitions in the technology industry: Pandora has purchased a radio station serving the fine people of Rapid City, S.D. All 70,000 of them.

It’s telling that the deal was announced in an editorial written by Christopher Harrison, Pandora’s assistant general counsel, in the Hill, a Washington newspaper covering legislative minutiae. Pandora’s future relies more on laws and courts than on its ability to successfully run KXMZ, Hits 102.7. (Today’s Hits Without Rap!) In its announcement, Pandora argues that owning an over-the-airwaves radio station should legally entitle it to better royalty rates. But the move is better understood as a thumb of the nose toward the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, which negotiates royalties paid to publishers that hold the rights to songs.