Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Pandora - Music My Way, Your Way, About to Go Away?

Thanks to Tim Westergren and the analytical team at Pandora - The Music Genome Project anyone can build up to 100 streaming radio stations that fit their individual tastes...all for free.

Thanks to Pandora underplayed, never-played and ignored artists gain exposure to people who will love their music if given the chance to hear it. And at Pandora the artists receive royalties, unlike the music sharing sites that break instead of make careers.

What makes Pandora different from other streaming radio is the way they chose the songs played on your station. They break each song in their enormous (and growing) database down to individual musical attributes they call "genes". The user inputs a song or artist they like and Pandora streams songs to them that have similar genes or qualities.

After reading an article in Newsweek Magazine about the founder of Pandora, Tim Westergren, I immediately went to the site and began to experiment. I have to agree with him when he talks about the near religious experience of listening to a new artist for the first time. I might of never known they existed without Pandora's help. I now have 30 stations custom tailored by ME. As I write, I'm streaming my U2 station, which gave me Kashmir, a band I've never heard until now and Arc Angels, a talented 1990's band from Austin, TX that never got their due.

What I love most about this concept is it's ability to expose new and ignored bands to an unprecidented mass audience. Because Pandora signs on upwards of 25,000 new users a day, they may very well be responsible for launching the careers of infant bands. By circumventing the "Major Label Industry Machine", they give talented musicians an opportunity to break in and be heard. And instead of having the same artists shoved in my face over and over by the traditional radio format gurus, I get to listen to something different and inspiring.

I've long been frustrated that musical creativity and vision seem to be completely ignored in favor of so called "Star-Quality" bankability, doesn't matter if the artist can't hold a tune in a bucket or insists on shouting degrading and vile lyrics, just because it will buy them more "bling".

Now for the kicker, which totally changed the focus of the article I intended to write and probably turned it in to a near rant.

Pandora may soon be shutting down due to a recently passed ruling that requires Internet radio to pay close to 300 times more in royalties and fees than sattelite or terrestrial radio stations. This effectively triples Pandora's estimated operating expenses. And the debt will only get more catastropic as the company grows and the number of streamed songs increases.

Westergren worries that when this regulation goes into effect all Internet radio, not just Pandora, will disappear. When asked by Create Digital Media about his plan in the wake of this new decision, Westergren answered, " We’re sort of taking this day by day. They may easily come a point where it’s irresponsible of us to continue streaming, because we’re accruing liability — it’s not fair to our investors. If we think it’s heading the wrong direction, I think we have to stop. We have to turn it off, shutter. At some point you have to make a reasonable calculation to cut your losses. The problem is, no industry can survive when it’s constantly under threat of some, like, tripling of its basic costs..."

The company knows it will take a grassroots effort from Internet radio lovers to turn the tide.

Try out Pandora www.pandora.com and if you feel the same as many of their users follow this link www.savenetradio.org to sign a petition voicing your opinion. It will be sent to your state senators and congress people.

I for one am not willing to give up my new discovery that's a win-win-win situation for all involved...artist, listener, and industry.

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