So 2008 brings another battle in the war over the value of music. As an ordinary Pandora member, I received a very disappointing email yesterday morning. But as a rights owner myself (the state51 conspiracy includes about 70 incredibly great indie labels, and does digital licensing and distribution) I found it perhaps a little …
Access Pandora from outside the US
I strongly disagree with you. Pandora has been a great tool for me in terms of discovering new artists that match my taste in music and lead me in buying their albums/cds. If you find a service similar to Pandora (a service that doesn't suck) let us know.
You can still access Pandora from outside the US by following steps described at:
Speaking of people being a little disingenuous
"Pandora is of course not alone in attempting to exploit structural deficiencies in the way recording rights are licensed."
Indeed it isn't. Others include the state51 conspiracy and Playlouder MSP.
Anyone know of a way round this?
I mean, I really love pandora.
There must be a way i could still get a pandora stream here in the uk, right?
The Pandora service is/was incredible in that it matched music genre and taste, not just peddling the latest rubbish from some dodgy independent label. I like styles of music not individual artists/songs and do not blindly follow someone if they change their style.
You've got it wrong Paul and it seems to me that you are the one crying crocodile tears.....not Pandora.
Sorry, who is this 'guest' of the 'guest opinion'? And why is s/he such a prat?
Yes, Pandora may have stalled on discussions (I don't know either way). On the other hand, exactly how was it supposed to pay the punitive charges that were being levyed - I seem to recall some discussion of a levy against every 'station' created (ie every single playlist for every single user)?
And, given the way in which they streamed the music (one track at a time, in a way that pushes people to buy new albums that they would otherwise not have heard of), why are people such as this 'guest' pushing it to pay extortionate licences, rather than accepting that they can only pay a small fee, but that the difference will be recouped in additional sales generated by those listening to Pandora and buying elsewhere?
Oh, and ffs, one does not "progress" discussions. This is the UK, not the US.
LastFM provides a similar service - haven't heard any rumours of it being barred from 'broadcasting' to the UK
Sure he's a guest and he has an opinion but it is just a pure diatribe against a competitor. I am appalled that The Register ran this piece.
Here you go....
This still works http://globalpandora.com/
A great shame
I think it's a great shame this has happened. I found it a wonderful "tool" to discovering new music. Thanks to Pandora I discovered that I liked the music of David Bowie. I promptly went out and bought some of his music.
So, as far as I can see, it's the music companies themselves are loosing out. Better to have a %% of something rather than 100% of nothing.
How-to use pandora in the UK
Once it starts playing, minimise your web browser. Since I prefer firefox, I'd use IE just to open pandora.
Next time you need to use it, delete the Local Settings->Macromedia->XYZZY->pandora.com folder.
Now if only I could to subscribe to Pandora in the UK - it's worth paying for.
Blinkered Greedy Fools
I'm a UK based user of Pandora, and will be disappointed when it goes off line to us.
Its a real shame that record companies can't see that sites like Pandora actually generate revenue for them! Surely I'm not alone in having a list of new CDs to buy simply because Pandora has introduced me to a new Artist / Group!
Responding to points raised....
Dimitris: I am not sure what you are disagreeing with. I too think Pandora is a great discovery tool, and we worked quite hard to get it properly licensed for the recordings we represent. We agreed a deal. They chose not to sign.
Duncan: I'm not sure I understand your point. There are rights in recordings and we try to license them as efficiently as possible.
Knid: I refer you to Dimitris. There are many proxies available for people to circumvent the block Pandora have put on UK customers.
Ian: Again, I spent a lot of time agreeing a deal with Pandora that they then decided not to complete. I want them and everyone else to be able to operate in the UK and the rest of the world.
Coward: Pandora agreed terms, which were not punitive, with us, but then would not finalise the deal. You seem to be remembering some of the discussions about the US compulsory licence, which does not apply in the UK. Sadly listening services such as Pandora do not generate much downstream revenue by pushing their customers to buy albums. And thankfully language is flexible enough for me to use 'progress' as a verb without being misunderstood.
Geoff: Pandora has barred itself, after a long time broadcasting without licences. Hopefully LastFM will manage to sign licences and will continue to offer its service in the UK.
Nice work, genius...
The guest opinion is yet another example of a sector of the industry so blinded by their immediate need to take a slice of the action for doing fuck all that they're oblivious to the obvious and massive benefits in allowing consumers to see/listen to something they didn't know about and have the opportunity to make a purchase.
Apparently, these 'business people' don't feel consumer demand is an suitable driver for the entertainment industry. They had to be dragged over hot coals before they'd even offer their product in a downloadable electronic format - now we're entrenched in seeming endless debates about rights management of one kind or another.
I think we'll get there eventually but in the meantime, they're doing a great job of ensuring the easiest way to find what music you want is to share illegally.
Damn the Music Industry
Pandora went to PRS because they're the only organisation who really tries to represent licensing the whole British music industry. Unfortunately since the industry is filled with idiots PRS aren't ever given the power to do their job properly and can't negotiate decent rates since some middleman somewhere loses their control.
So, Pandora has one other option. It can go the last.fm route. But I'm betting going to every single label and distributor is a massive pain in the ass. You're distributing to eMu - go on and look at the labels and distributors there. Its a mess. Can you blame Pandora for not wanting to have to take on the same administrative burden when in the US they can just go to SoundExchange.
Thats why they don't want to go to you because it means they have to admit defeat to the insane way the British music industry runs itself. Its time labels stopped screwing about setting up even more "digital distributors" and came up with a common ground for music licensing thats actually commercially usable.
In the meantime theres always TOR. And in the long run there'll be an EU commission waiting to rule that companies over here can't obtain licenses from other licensing bodies who aren't complete idiots.
I've spent quite literally hundreds of Euros on bands I hadn't even heard of - and almost certainly never would have - before I found Pandora.
Kudos to Paul for responding....but its still rather disappointing....
I think Paul should be congratulated for being brave enough to respond to some of the comments placed....but you've missed the point of a station like Pandora Paul.
Even if they agreed a deal with you, that wouldn't exactly allow me to search for music across the industry as a whole would it?
I can understand your frustration, but I'm afraid you are going to struggle to get anyone to agree to your points who has listened and used Pandora.
Jerome: Pandora is a potential customer, not a competitor.
Jules: We were ready and willing to get a percentage of something and had agreed terms, but Pandora decided that they would not deal with us.
Andy and Rich: Some people do indeed go on to spend money on music they have discovered, but on average not many and not much money. We weigh up all these factors when we negotiate deals.
Killian: It would be very nice to get money for doing nothing, and if we could we might even be worth the $280m that CBS paid for LastFM! We certainly have tried to be anything but reluctant in getting the music we represent on sale, experimenting with selling MP3s in 1997, and being one of the first independent companies supplying iTunes.
Coward (no. 2?): PRS represents its members, who are composers and publishers, and so they can't issue licences for the sound recordings. We try to make sure that it is simple and efficient to use the music we represent, and many download shops and services seem to manage without too many problems. I do wholeheartedly agree that the music industry should do more to make music easier to license and use, and I spend as much time as I can trying to make that happen.
Sorry but I agree with the general consensus that Pandoras only contribution to artists (and their record label) should be the exposure and subsequent demand they generate. It is a sad fact that what is not an immediately obvious quantifiable benefit is somewhat overlooked by many businesses in favour of a quick buck. Get past this short-sighted myopia and you might turn the sorry state of your industry around.
The record companies are amazing, aren't they?Not only do they make Ebineezer Scrooge look like a philanthropist, they also expect radio stations, TV networks and now internet companies to PAY THEM for the privilege of advertising their wares to the populace.
Who was it who said something like 'a pop song is just basically an advert for itself'?
Gotta disagree. Pandora is a damn fine service. In terms of revenues for artists I've been turned onto a number of bands by Pandora that I'd never heard of before and subsequently bought their material on cd or itunes.
It's a shame.
Thanks for responding Paul. It looked to me like Playlouder MSP is in a similar space to Pandora, but whatever... What annoyed me was an 'article' that reeked so much of sour grapes.
www.globalpandora.com is easier
I am in France and I tried many solutions in the past, but all too technical.
Instead I recommend www.globalpandora.com which really is great.
The music industry should pay Pandora...
I can't help thinking the record company representatives are shooting themselves in the foot here. Lke some of the other posters here, I am one of the decreasingly few people who actually pay for the music they listen to. Thanks to Pandora, I have spent more on music in the past 6 weeks than I had spent in the past 2 years. I have at last been able to find music I actually like and had never heard of. From my perspective, the Music Genome project's music selection process is far more accurate than any other method I have tried and I certainly have no wish to listen to music that I don't like on the off chance I spot something that is worth listening to.
I use Pandora as a method of finding music that I want to buy, not as a traditional radio that drones on in the background, very rarely playing something I like. From my perspective, I think the record companies should be embracing Pandora and realise that it is selling their music and making them money, not denying them a minimal income stream. Just because I cannot buy music through the US based Pandora interface, doesn't mean I do not then go to iTunes or Amazon in the UK and order it there. I don't know how you can say that Pandora isn't selling music since that would be very hard/impossible to trace once a user leaves the Pandora site - you just don't know and there are quite a few people here prepared to state the contrary.
I really hope someone from the UK music publishing industry reads the responses to this article and reconsiders their position. Pandora has led me to spend hundreds of pounds on music I would never have known about and for artists who are unknown in the mainstream music business. This industry seems to aim at one hit wonders and an audience of teenagers - precisely the sort of people who don't have much cash, aren't keen on spending it on music and look for 'other ways' to get the music they want.
Coward #2 again - I should have written that as PPL dealings are generally a nightmare. PRS are actually a pretty reasonable bunch - when I've previously tried licensing music for film dubs they were more than happy to assist me. Composers and writes tend to be happy to get more money! PPL on the other hand were no help whatsoever.
My point is this - its time PPL made their licenses commercially viable and tried to help people who want to license better. At the moment their internet radio licenses utterly pointless - the story shows Pandora can't afford it. Maybe its time to push for a compulsory license approach for internet radio services in this country? Whilst its only just about working in the states at least its a sensible approach - licensees shouldnt have to deal with dozens of people to access music. If PPL got its act together it would certainly be the most sensible place to distribute funds from.
Pandora and iPlayer easily available via proxy
last.fm provide a very similar service with UK licencing from the very organization that Pandora have stopped negotiating with.
last.fm have all the interested investors for a European internet radio station like this backing them which is why it can pay and why it'll be very hard for anyone else to muscle in on this biz.
British expats can get the iplayer by proxying internet connection through putty on windows or openssh on mac/linux (use the -D option) to a UK shell account and changing the settings (including DNS lookup to proxy end in about:config) for firefox. Works well for me and I am paying only 75p/month for a UK shell account with no bandwidth limit. Bit cheaper than when I was in the UK using my TV with licence!
The same would work with a US proxy for getting Pandora.
Paul, you say:
"Some people do indeed go on to spend money on music they have discovered, but on average not many and not much money."
I belong to those people (maybe 50% of my measley CD budget in the last years), as apparently do some others here. Maybe you should think harder about how people dicover music nowadays.
Not that it is my business to care about yours ...
As an aspiring Artist myself i agree with what you are saying about Artists being paid for their work and this is the way that things work, however i feel that any less well know artist could potentially benefit from Pandora style operations, where else could your tracks be heard along with major artists potentially spurring on the listener to seek out your work, effectively what I'm trying to say is that Pandora-esque services are potentially a publicity platform for lesser known artists assuming that the service provider includes signed and un-signed artists
I feel this type of service has potential if implemented correctly
Coward #3, Schultz, DavidC et al.: We certainly recognise that Pandora is able to help people discover music, and some of them go on to buy it. You can measure this directly, by monitoring the 'buy buttons', and indirectly by analysing sales patterns generally after radio play. What we try to find in all our deals is a balance of benefit to both sides. We are all trying to make money off the hard work and creativity of composers and musicians. If other people make money, for instance by selling advertising in streaming services, it's our job to try to get some of that for the labels and artists. And for the future there are more and more people who listen to interactive radio instead of buying music, because it offers such a good experience at no risk. Part of our job is to figure out how to make sure labels and artists get paid for that too.
Coward #4 (R.I.P Pandora): Creating a career path as an artist is incredibly difficult with the music industry going through such dramatic changes. However I think it is important to set a fair price for your music, which you can then discount if you feel the other benefits are worthwhile. Bear in mind that copyright law gives you a far greater share of public performance royalties that you would normally get from sales.
Coward #2: PPL has a very hard job reconciling the interests of the major labels, the independents, and the performers, and sometimes the gaps are too big. Internet radio needs efficient global licensing and we would happily join any scheme that did not end up damaging our business.
Phil: LastFM do not have a PPL deal, and even if they did it would not include the music we represent. LastFM is owned by CBS, an American broadcasting corporation.
actually, i will shed a tear
Forgive me Paul if I do shed a tear for the innovator.
The "music industry" will never realise that modern technology has (or will) totally invalidated its business model.
To put it simply - My mom makes her own CDs in her study and she no longer needs them..
The widespread adoption of digital storage media has killed them, stone dead. And dinosaurs never saw it coming. Agressive DRM just made customers angry and trying to play hardball with innovators like Pandora has added a further nail to its coffin.
Many people would be prepared to throw a couple quid at Pandora : it ADDED VALUE to the process of me finding and hearing music from the artist I like (and indeed might like)
.....however, the overheads added by expensive licensing would make it uncompetitive in the "where shall i turn for 30 mins of news market"
people wont pay 20 quid a month for that. Maybe 20 quid a year.
...trouble is everyone get feckin greedy and the service has to die..
Paying for discovery. Really?
"Many people would be prepared to throw a couple quid at Pandora : it ADDED VALUE to the process of me finding and hearing music from the artist I like (and indeed might like)"
I find it odd that people _say_ they'll pay a couple of quid a month for a service that is no longer available, or doesn't exist.
But when Omnifone launches exactly this kind of discovery service, with access to the global jukebox, people say they won't pay for it at any price!
My mistake about last.fm licensing with the PPL. I did believe that last.fm was seeking licensing though - are they going individually to every label then? Also how do the last.fm and Pandora music libraries differ in content?
Opinion yes, factual no
I appreciate that you just wrote this to be controversial and generate more hits and comments for the Reg, but aside from being your own opinion, it's not actually correct.
The PPL has only just set the royalty rate for Pandora's kind of service (what they call 'customised radio stations'). In fact, if you check their website you'll see that the PPL says it will announce a figure in 2007. Aside from being slow to update their own site, they've been incredibly slow in deciding what to charge until this year. Pandora have been 'in talks' with the PPL for quite some time now and the hope was that they'd come out with a figure Pandora could work with.
The rate they've decided to go with is, apparently, £0.0773p per song per stream (waiting for confirmation as it's stunningly high). Since Pandora has an estimated 200,000 users listening to 14 songs an hour that racks up to some gut-wrenching figures, considering most people have it on in the background for hours at a time.
And, I haven't even mentioned what the MCPS-PRS wanted here...
For those of us who haven't become entirely jaded and cynical hacks there's a petition running at the No.10 website (I won't put a link, but search for 'savenetradioUK' and a Facebook group called 'UK Pandora users - save Pandora' is logging developments.
Nice angle though, I'm sure it's racking up the impressions. ;)
Maybe it's not a business?
>> there's a petition running at the No.10 website for 'savenetradioUK' and a Facebook group <<
Petitions don't pay no bills.
By your own figures, Pandora has a bigger audience than most new cable TV channels. Yet an hour of content "costs" Pandora only 1p per viewer hour. Again, this compares very favourably with TV - and is not exactly "gut-wrenching"
Instead of organising Facebook groups and petitions, shouldn't you er... be dipping your hand into your pocket?
Yes, not a business at these royalty rates
I'm not entirely sure why you're pointing the finger at me personally, Anonymous Coward, but sure, I'd pay a few quid for Pandora. That's not the point. It's a radio service. Do you pay a subscription to listen to normal radio? In fact, the service that MCPS/PRS based it's calculation on couldn't make it work!
It's also not 1p per viewer hour anyway, it's 2.43p per hour per stream.
I'll be sticking up the full calculations on the Facebook group for people to mull over and I'll be doing a write-up for work, but the per track cost of paying both the MCPS/PRS and PPL EQUATES TO BETWEEN 80% - 94% OF GROSS REVENUE.
Hopefully that's clear enough for most people.
So actually your title of 'Maybe it's not a business?' is true in a way. Pandora and other music services that want to pay UK royalty fees can't afford to operate legitimately in the UK, because the Alliance and PPL charge too much... so go sign the petition. ;)
Carry on missing the point
Paul, apart from you & your music industry peers, Pandora in the UK will be greatly missed. It is an innovative cross platform service that gives people exactly what they want. Its an advertising site, just like radio (wireless or internet). And consumers don't pay for adverts (directly at least).
Until the music industry wakes up (and there's no sign of it yet) and realises that their business model needs to be based on vastly increased sales at vastly decreased prices, their revenues will only reduce.
Pandora is a major tool for increasing people's awareness of music they never knew existed (mainly due to the record industry's iron fisted control of distribution, until now). Try to kill the service shows the industry STILL hasn't learnt from Napster - and that was 8 years ago!
Once again, a 'service' not paying properly for its content goes down and seeks to place the blame on others. Pandora may have tried to do it correctly but the subsequent whinging from the users is similar to that of a busted P2P site. Bravo to Paul Saunders for taking them on. The music business is in a mess for lots of reasons but one of them is actually that this type of argument is too seldom made.
It costs to generate content.(A point seldom heard: Spend £50k recording an album and you'll get idiots claiming that by seeking to protect your rights you're actually demanding a slice of the action for doing nothing. See Killian above. Nothing? Mate you've ruled yourself out of any coherent debate as you're obviously clueless,or do storks bring music along with babies?)
The owners of that content have the right to do with it as they please. Generally they'll have a pro-active commercial view - as the original piece states, but what most of the posters above fail to realise is that actual sales of a product is only one (and a declining one at that) income stream and in the UK at least, revenue from content exploitation on radio, TV etc. has always formed part of making any project work. Having spent the investment to make the music, being told not to expect proper return to build someone else's business is simply not going to wash.
Response to Chris Thornett
Chris: I did not write this for The Register. I posted it on a mailing list and The Register asked if they could republish it. I can assure you it is correct. If you go back to the article you will see that I say PPL does not represent the music we manage, and that Pandora had agreed terms with us but did not complete the deal. It does surprise me to see that Westergren's figures relating to gross revenue are being taken as the end of the story, and that people seem to want to engage the UK Government to negotiate on Pandora's behalf against UK music businesses.
I'm still very hopeful that internet radio stations will be able to operate in the UK with proper licences for the music they play, and I'm going to carry on working to that end.
And as a footnote, to doublejay1973: Many internet radio stations seem to have shelved the idea of charging. Perhaps they know that people won't pay enough for them to make a valuable business out of it. Your mom is presumably not copying blank CDs in her study. And I think your accusation of greed is misplaced. The situation we are now in represents an inability on the suppliers' side to respond to market conditions, which I describe as a structural deficiency. I felt it was important that Westergren's email should not go entirely unchallenged as it certainly did not describe our experience in attempting to help them license the music we represent.
Care to elaborate Fred Base?
So it's as easy as realising the music biz realising that their business model needs to be based on vastly increased sales at vastly decreased prices. I notice you say 'their' so obviously its not your business but hey, It'll take advice.
Please explain to me how this is to be done? Be sure to factor in the sharp drop in return per unit over the last decade whilst volume drops also which kind of makes me nervous as to your plan. As yet further decreases are clearly necessary please break down the costs and split per unit for this new model. You might also want to mention how with less revenue we are going to compete in the entertainment marketplace for retail, distribution, advertising & marketing services. Finally do let me know what we are to do if your premise is wrong and we fail to sell vastly more at the new vastly lower return.
Oh & please do tell me what your industry is. Perhaps I can return the favour?
Not the end, but a reflection of the problem
No, this is a wider issue of UK internet radio fees, which is why the petition is entitled 'Save net radio UK'. Pandora's gross revenue figures aren't the end of the story, but they clearly reflect how absurd this situation is. If you compare them to commercial radio figures the rates are still excessive.
James Cridland from the Beeb (not the Beeb's opinion on the subject though) sums it up pretty well here:
- The entire commercial radio industry in the UK, after 35 years experience and with 31 million weekly listeners, far outstripping even Google’s online reach, makes 2.57p per listener, per hour.
- For online radio, the UK music industry want rates that are 2.434p per listener, per hour.
You know, I'm starting to think Gary Jule's 'Mad world' would be a great theme tune for the campaign...
Chris' corporate welfare campaign
Pandora has a global brand and a strong position in its niche - it is one of two services that everybody knows. Pandora has listener/hour numbers advertisers would kill for. So why can't Pandora be successful at 2.43p per listener hour?
Chris, everyone who uses content wants it to be cheaper. But you're making out that poor Pandora are the victims here when in reality one of the following is true:
a) the internet is too immature to support streaming on-demand music services
b) the internet is mature enough, but Pandora are really bad businessmen, and can't take advantage of it.
c) a combination of a) and b) !
I think it's c) but I guess it's not as sexy to start a Facebook group saying "the Internet is broken" or a petition titled "Pandora couldn't organise a p*ss up in a brewery". This way Chris Thornett gets to be an internet hero for the day.
Your "solution" is just another form of corporate welfare. You seem to think the world owes Pandora a living! Wake up, mate - it doesn't.
Response to Chris Thornett
Chris: We agree that internet radio needs more competitive licensing, which is why we went our own way and agreed a deal with Pandora on mutually acceptable terms rather than ask PPL to manage the licence for us. It was not state51 which parked that deal.
It might well have been that no-one in the music industry would follow our example, but we never got to find out, as Pandora preferred to negotiate with PPL. Do bear in mind that PPL does not have an exclusive right to license Pandora or any other internet service.
So James Cridland's calculations are at best theoretical and historical on the cost side. On the revenue side it seems that he and you, and many others, have simply taken Pandora's gross revenue figures as valid and fixed, despite the fact that they have not yet attempted to generate revenues in the UK. An impartial commentator would at least allow some uncertainty!
And as for the comparison, I would hope that interactive radio, with its precise targeting to each individual, can deliver a huge improvement in service to its listeners as well as a far better deal for advertisers, stripping out much of the wastage of broadcast and with much better accountability than that provided by RAJAR. That was one of the drivers for me in constructing a deal for interactive radio in the first place. They absolutely do deserve a chance, and we made sure by agreeing terms with Pandora that we did everything we could to allow them to try.
I don't expect to make any new friends by making our case in this forum, but I feel that it is important to ensure that all sides of this situation are heard. Westergren's public statements are open to interpretation, as indeed are mine. I have an incentive and a duty to increase revenue for the labels and artists we represent, which he does not, but I can only do that by continuing to work with Pandora and all the other innovative services to allow them to use music on fair terms.
Corporate welfare? No this about common sense
Nice of you to call me a hero, Anonymous Coward. That's very sweet of you, but I'm merely highlighting the unfair status quo. You're absolutely right the world doesn't owe Pandora a living, but the royalty bodies do need to assess the maturity of Internet radio and come up with royalty figures that reflect it.
It also sounds like you think 2.434p is how much Pandora is making per listener per hour, it's not, it's how much the royalty bodies want to charge per hour per listener, before they make any money.
And as I've already said, Anonymous Coward, this situation covers all 'customised radio stations' or 'interactive webcasting services', who want to run a legitimate company that ensures that artists are paid the royalties due to them and not just Pandora. The company is being referenced, because it's one of the most popular and it's the one announcing its departure from the UK.
@Paul, I'm sure this situation may well force Pandora and other services to reassess their advertising methods and figure out ways to eek out more pennies from punters. Meanwhile, though it's not looking good for artists, particularly those without major label contracts. Internet radio is a wild west, most of the remaining services either don't seem that bothered about paying royalties or have done individual deals with the major labels to get limited access to their artists.
I'm not sure what the Alliance and PPL expect to gain from this, except to make less money for their clients in this particular niche.
Paul, I also appreciate your position in wanting to get the best deal for your artists, but I'd speculate that without getting an agreement from the PPL and Alliance, Pandora hasn't really been in a position to 'mop up' the remaining aggregators like State51.
The petition hit 1,100 signatures this morning. Not bad considering people have to give their address, but not enough to draw the required mainstream media attention.
The Big Problem
Once again this problem rears its ugly head. Only in the music business can you be inundated with people desperate for you to play their music, whilst their representatives are threatening you with lawsuits for doing just that - and not paying for the privilege.
Royalty collection agencies have a difficult balancing act.
Maximise revenue whilst not pricing your product out of the market, and so raising nothing for the people they purport to represent. There have been some recent serious gaffs on this last point - not just in the UK but elsewhere.