"Rutger Hauer" has shared with us an email he's just received from Pandora, the streaming music service based on the Music Genome Project. It's been entertaining listeners with a choice of music that reflects their tastes. Up until now, at least:
Based upon the IP address from which you recently visited Pandora, it appears that you are listening from the UK. If you are, in fact, listening from the US, and are denied access from Pandora on or after January 15th please contact Pandora Support: email@example.com.
It continues to astound me and the rest of the team here that the industry is not working more constructively to support the growth of services that introduce listeners to new music and that are totally supportive of paying fair royalties to the creators of music. I don't often say such things, but the course being charted by the labels and publishers and their representative organizations is nothing short of disastrous for artists whom they purport to represent - and by that I mean both well known and indie artists. The only consequence of failing to support companies like Pandora that are attempting to build a sustainable radio business for the future will be the continued explosion of piracy, the continued constriction of opportunities for working musicians, and a worsening drought of new music for fans. As a former working musician myself, I find it very troubling.
We have been told to sign these totally unworkable license rates or switch off, non-negotiable...so that is what we are doing. Streaming illegally is just not in our DNA, and we have to take the threats of legal action seriously. Lest you think this is solely an international problem, you should know that we are also fighting for our survival here in the US, in the face of a crushing increase in web radio royalty rates, which if left unchanged, would mean the end of Pandora.
We know what an epicenter of musical creativity and fan support the UK has always been, which makes the prospect of not being able to launch there and having to block our first listeners all the more upsetting for us.
We know there is a lot of support from listeners and artists in the UK for Pandora and remain hopeful that at some point we'll get beyond this. We're going to keep fighting for a fair and workable rate structure that will allow us to bring Pandora back to you. We'll be sure to let you know if Pandora becomes available in the UK. There may well come a day when we need to make a direct appeal for your support to move for governmental intervention as we have in the US. In the meantime, we have no choice but to turn off service to the UK.
Pandora will stop streaming to the UK as of January 15th, 2008.
Again, on behalf of all of us at Pandora, I'm very, very sorry.
So another innovative service bringing new music to audiences is axed - and not even due to the greed of the labels, but down to the increasingly-inflexible collection agencies. It's difficult to understand why bodies which supposedly are there to represent the interests of musicians is forcing closure of services which are building their audiencess and offering to make fair payments for the music.
The irony, of course, is that by shuttering services which set out to do the right thing and pay what they can, the MCPS/PPL are merely encouraging the emergence of models which sidestep the legal structure altogether.
The labels - slowly, too late - are starting to realise their strategies are failing; it looks like we're going to have to wait an age for the change of mind to filter through to their front organisations.