Critics have called this a form of payola. Mr. McAndrews dismissed that as a “silly criticism,” saying, “The only payment happening here is from us to Merlin — you could argue it is the opposite of payola.” Merlin, which is expected to file a response to Pandora’s filing soon, declined to comment.
The Copyright Royalty Board case, which will set rates for all webcasters for 2016 to 2020, will be decided by the end of the year.
Mr. McAndrews played down the tension over royalties and described a three-pronged strategy for Pandora in 2015 that involved improving its app for users, increasing advertising revenue and making good on the company’s long-promised offer to help musicians.
“In the content industry, there is always going to be some tension between distributors and content providers,” Mr. McAndrews said.
“What’s important is, are you having a dialogue?” he added. “Are you educating each other on where you’re coming from, and are you trying to find win-win solutions? And that’s what we’re doing.”