Save Pandora, Apple

Save Pandora, Apple

Summary: I'm a big fan of Pandora, the Internet's best streaming music site and recommendation engine. Recently it has come to light that the service's future is in jeopardy because of new royalties enacted in March 2007 by the U.

TOPICS: Mobility, Apple, Hardware

I'm a big fan of Pandora, the Internet's best streaming music site and recommendation engine. Recently it has come to light that the service's future is in jeopardy because of new royalties enacted in March 2007 by the U.S. Copyright Royalty Board force Pandora to give 70 percent of its revenue to labels and artists.

Pandora founder Tim Westergren's recently told The Washington Post (via Wired) that the royalties will hasten the demise of the service.

The moment we think this problem in Washington is not going to get solved, we have to pull the plug because all we're doing is wasting money... We're funded by venture capital. They're not going to chase a company whose business model has been broken. So if it doesn't feel like its headed towards a solution, we're done.

I agree with Uneasy Silence that Apple should buy Pandora with a small portion of their US$20 war chest.

Apple should buy Pandora use their predictive and streaming technologies as a promotional tool for the iTunes store. Keep the Pandora application for the iPhone but build in the technology to iTunes. Give both applications the ability to tag and purchase a song via iTunes which is a pure revenue generator for Apple.

Apple could re-brand Pandora as Genius Radio and have a fantastic Web component to the iTunes juggernaut.

While they're at it Apple should also acquire music identification applications Shazam (iTunes link) and Midomi (iTunes link). That way any time you hear music you could immediately identify it, tag it and (ideally) buy it from iTunes. Shazam and Midomi could be rolled into one application and come installed on every iPod touch and iPhone.

C'mon Apple, don't let a gem like Pandora go away, save it!

Topics: Mobility, Apple, Hardware

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  • Pandora?

    Pandora? *yawn* Wake me up when is in trouble.
    • Think "canary in coal mine"

      Sounds like an 1830s miner saying "I'll get excited when
      me mates start droppin'"

      ...except by that time, of course, it's far too late for you
      and any other coulda/woulda/shoulda-survivors to make it

      Those of us who've listened to internet radio for several
      years (six, in my case - thanks, !) have (or should have) been
      paying attention as the Copyright Arbitration Royalty Panel
      (they couldn't put the words in the natural order without
      advertising themselves as CRAP), together with the Best
      Congress Money Can Buy, have been working diligently for
      their paymasters (not [i]you[/i], Citizen; who let you in

      The fat cats trying to perpetuate a business model that's
      been broken for at least thirty years that lets a half-dozen
      companies and their hangers-on control what gets heard,
      when, and how often, are scared to death of internet radio.
      As well they should be. Not because Net radio is going to
      drive the "record" companies out of business; quite the
      opposite. I know that I myself have bought twice as many
      CDs in the last five years as I did in the ten before that -
      and the vast majority were of artists who I'd first heard
      over,, and
      the other Net radio sites. No, what puts the "record"
      company execs' knickers in a knot is the clear realization
      that their leeching jobs - in A&R, management, and so on
      - are obsolete, and some day soon, the Board of Directors
      or some yahoo at a shareholders' meeting, will stand up
      and ask "why are we paying these guys anyway?"

      Or, to put it in a different perspective, Net radio is to the
      music industry as open source (especially licenses like
      Creative Commons) are to the software industry. Anybody
      can put their own music and video on the internet, either
      behind a paywall or to be downloaded freely.

      The real promise of the internet has always been freedom
      from control; the end user, more than any intermediary,
      can and should decide what s/he wants to access.
      Companies that make that easier (e.g., Google) are
      rewarded; companies that go out of their way to be pains
      in the back pocket get whacked. The labels aren't fighting
      for the artist; they never gave the artist more than a couple
      pennies on the dollar to begin with. Rather, they're
      fighting to save their own sorry hides - and if Americans
      continue to allow their blitzing and bribing of the BCMCB
      to continue unopposed, we will surely reap what is being
      sown - a media wasteland with "five hundred channels but
      nothing's on", where a handful of megacorps own any and
      all exposure you have to music.

      Don't want that? Write your Congressfolk and Senators, on
      dead trees. Get seven like-minded friends to do the same
      (and so on). Research the disclosure forms for your Federal
      and state legislators' campaign income, and hold them on
      the hot seat for payola from the labels. We may not make
      much of a difference, but hey, that's what all politicians
      thought of this newfangled internet thingy a decade or so
      back, right?
      Jeff Dickey
  • Pandora is a money loser.

    iTunes already has Internet Radio.

    The iPhone has AOL Radio, Last.FM, etc.

    Pandora is being killed by its inability to raise enough
    money for what it is doing. It has to pay royalties on the
    music it plays - period. That is only fair to the artists and
    copyright holders.

    Pandora should have had a better business model if it
    wants to survive. Any other Internet Radio application has
    to do the same thing. Period.

    So if Pandora dies, it is sad but it is what it is - a money
    losing venture.

    Apple does not have to save Pandora. Apple doesn't do
    Internet Radio. Apple makes profit. Pandora loses money.
    Enough said - that says it all.
    • It's not Pandora's fault

      Pandora's business plan is fine. It was running smoothly until the streaming licenses were revised by the damn greedy record executives who were trying to shore up losing revue from shrinking CD sales. An industry decide it was better to kill an industry than to look for ways to work with it to support both.

      If Pandora goes down, it won't be long before the other streaming stations follow suit including the big ventures like AOL, Yahoo, et al.

      Before stating that a company has a poor business model make sure you actually follow the background explained in the story.
      • Agree, it's a systemic problem

        It seems that every year there is a greater and greater push for short term windfalls instead of a steady, but lower, profit profile. Killing the Golden Goose 611 seems to have been on the MBA course list of many board members of media companies.

        Even so, I wouldn't wish Apple as a Pandora savior. I've found much of their software meddlesome enough that I find it annoying, and have uninstalled it as often as I've installed it. If they save Pandora and make some sort of iRadio out of it...well, I guess I can always go back to FM radio--you know, the technology the media players DIDN'T royalty out of business.
    • Do a little research

      Pandora, nor any other internet radio company, is not trying to avoid paying royalties. The fact is, they do pay royalties. However, the RIAA convinced Congress to charge internet radio streams 3x the royalties anyone else pays for playing copyrighted music. In fact, terrestrial radio pays none of the royalties satellite and internet radio providers pay because a court ruling eons ago agreed that radio was basically "promotion" for an artist's music.

      See the Electronic Frontier Foundation's webpage to educate yourself before making another erroneous statement.
  • RE: Save Pandora, Apple

    Yes - what a wonderful strategy, Jason. iTunes would flourish even more. And it would save an excellent service like Pandora.
  • Benefit for Both

    Using the iTunes genius, I have found some serious flaws, ones that are not easily fixed, ones that will not be fixed with how the system is currently set up.

    Pandora does this right, in the sense that they have music that goes together. When creating a playlist using Genius, I find that I start it with a Hip Hop song and then it adds some rock, alternative, and techno, rarely does it add any more hip hop.

    Instead, if iTunes bought Pandora and used it instead of genius, using the pre-compiled lists built in it to search through your music to find things that really go together one would be able to attain better symmetry in their songs, and if there are people with similar tastes it gives grayed selections of songs that they can buy that go with what they have.

    As an internet radio Pandora ultimately fails. I am sad to see that because they have a lot of good music and the code looks solid, but the facts are there and they can not do it without the help of a parent company. The current coders are what are needed, the iTunes coders for Genius have done a spectacular job of screwing Genius up, so this way, Pandora stays under Apple and Apple gets a better service.
  • Internet Radio

    Pandora is sinking because it's not needed. The record labels
    have gone to a lot of trouble to discover, sign and promote only
    the very best musical talent. 8-)
    • Internet Radio

      That is exactly why Pandora is needed. My Pandora stations play artist I've never heard of and that record labels don't spend money to promote.
    • I wish it was true...

      Maybe I'm too cynical, but as much as I'd like to
      agree with your statement, I think the record
      companies go to far more effort to sign bands that
      they can sell, regardless of talent. These days,
      watching MTV drives me nuts: the music just plain
      • And pretty soon,

        the M in MTV won't mean music. TRL is dead!
  • iTunes Sucks, Gotta be a better answer!

    Apple software on Windows has always been sub standard, and iTunes is no exception, so this is not a solution that I would care to see happen!

    The fact of the matter is that Hollywood would rather destroy the music industry than to allow any decentralization of their power. I mean, lets face it, artists do not make anywhere near the money that the labels and producers make, so them saying that they're doing this "for the artists" is sheer bullcrap.

    Apple is part of the problem, and are not likely to change, so therefore the idea of them becoming part of the solution is ludicrous.
    • iTunes on Windows

      is decent at best, definitely better on Mac than PC.

      As far as your "Apple is part of the problem" mantra, that's
      not entirely true. If it wasn't for iTMS's runaway success in
      music sales, we would either be stuck with $2.49
      downloads on other services with tied-in DRM or illegal
      and risky downloads over P2P networks like BitTorrent and

      I don't think it's really Apple that's hurting the record
      industry - I think it's the overall greed of the record
      industry executives and the RIAA that's hurting the record
      industry. If you listen to 30 minutes of pop radio, you'll
      hear 5 "artists" sing songs that sound exactly the same.
      Same is true with rock radio and hip-hop radio, it's all
      become the same crap with a different color.

      /2 red cents
  • Pandora - competes with

    Pandora is the only serious competitor to the soon to be launched While has some nice features, (which I can't tell you about... just yet) Pandora does it better, smaller and with more class. Pandora does need a better business model, which seems to be non-existent currently. Some one needs to fly in with some $ and grab up this great deal.