With Congress set to address pre-1972 copyright laws, labels are lining up against the satellite radio service -- with the two sides preparing to battle over millions.
After facing off with Pandora, SoundCloud and YouTube of late, the music business has a new No. 1 frenemy: SiriusXM.
Though the nine-year-old satellite radio service has paid record labels and artists hundreds of millions of dollars annually while promoting unsigned and emerging acts on its niche music channels, SiriusXM's relationship with the industry has grown more contentious recently. The issues between them range from whether SiriusXM should pay to play songs copyrighted before 1972 -- the subject of an imminent bill in Congress -- to the rates it should pay for the music on its service during the next five years, a matter currently being argued before the Copyright Royalty Board.
And now, following SiriusXM's $480 million investment in Pandora in June, some label insiders fear SiriusXM will use its new clout to upend the direct licensing deals Pandora inked last summer, which led to its on-demand subscription service. One label executive says that SiriusXM seemed more interested in using Pandora as "a giant free tier to drive their in-car subscription products." A representative for SiriusXM declined to comment.