Music is for profit, not fun!

I won’t say that I didn’t see this coming, but I have been dreading it. Pandora may be near shutting down.

Last year, an obscure federal panel ordered a doubling of the per-song performance royalty that Web radio stations pay to performers and record companies.

[Pandora’s] royalty fees this year will amount to 70 percent of its projected revenue of $25 million, [Tim] Westergren said, a level that could doom it and other Web radio outfits.

Some of the stations I listen to, have breaks for ads, and some of the sites have banner ads and the like, but I think that people have been enjoying the freedom in both choice and cost for too long to see any viable way to make money from internet radio. I’d be very sad to see Pandora go away. On those days when I’m not streaming music from my home server, Pandora is a great way to find out about new artists and also laugh at the “similar to…” recommendations they serve up*.

I don’t have a car, so don’t listen to the radio on a regular basis aside from NPR and I rarely catch All Songs Considered anymore. Oddly enough, one of the ways I hear a lot of new music is from ads on tv. The iPod ads aside, I couldn’t tell you what the product is, but I wouldn’t have sought out “Remind Me,” “Love Song,” “5 Years Time,” or “Let the Drummer Kick” if it hadn’t been for ads on the tube.

Between SoundExchange and the RIAA**, the message seems to be that music is a commodity, the fact that it entertains and/or moves you is merely a side-effect. Perhaps next up they’ll be sending around teams of imposing looking lawyers to shake down buskers on street corners and outside metro stations.

* Have you also noticed that if you start diligently rating songs on any station, they all start to become the same station?

** Who just shut down Muxtape.

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3 Responses

  1. OhMyHeart says:

    Sad sad news! Pandora is my first radio love (such pretty graphics! it’s like it KNOWS what I love!), but it’s blocked at my work, so we all use Jango. I hope they don’t go down next. I also think they actually have a wider range of artists than Pandora does, just because my favorite bizarre indie bands Jango introduced me to Pandora cannot find.

  2. Brian says:

    I’ve been getting the daily “All Songs Considered” emails in my inbox, which I find works as an effective way to still learn about new music through that channel.

    From my days at XM, I can tell you people are a lot less interested in discovering new music than you might think. I can’t tell you how many times I’d have people say, “Oh, XM just plays the same music as commercial radio,”–which is just patently untrue, assuming you turn off the more commercial stations and go exploring on other parts of the dial. Unfortunately, that just didn’t happen all that often.

    With Pandora failing and HD radio inevitably becoming just a redux of what’s on FM, it does bode well from Sirius-XM’s long-term survival chances, especially as they increase the availability of data services. In a world dominated by a greedy RIAA and desperate record labels, satellite radio is once again looking like the last great hope for music that isn’t just product to shine through.

  3. Neal says:

    I have a car and I never listen to the radio because all that is ever on are commercials telling me that “WSUK plays more music every hour!” so I never hear new music that way. I usually troll the music blogs and randomly listen to stuff in iTunes. I have found a few via commercials as well. I was shocked and amazed when I saw the latest Kanye West commercial for Absolut Vodka where the dude takes the “Be Kanye” pill and I actually liked the song. I don’t normally care for his music. But when I went to track it down I found out it wasn’t Mr. West at all, but some group called N.E.R.D. You see how much I know about hip-hop.

    The song is “Truth or Dare” by the way. Its from a few years back and I am pretty sure it features Kelis.

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