@musictechpolicy: Why Can’t Pandora Find Over One Million Songwriters for its Spotify Competitor?

Pandora Media, Inc. has launched its long-awaited Pandora Premium on-demand competitor to Spotify according to reports from journalists who previewed the platform.

Pandora built Pandora Premium on top of its 2015 acquisition of RDIO’s assets in a controversial bankruptcy and is reportedly leveraging its Music Genome technology that allows Pandora to build on-demand playlists based on an artist’s name or work. Premium evidently transposes Pandora “stations” to Premium “playlists” with what sounds like largely the same functionality, including transferring “thumbs up” ratings in the historical interactive/noninteractive webcasting service. The Premium service evidently uses prior choices to recommend future music in the known-unknown dichotomy. And of course it sounds like you can download all the tracks.

What is different about Pandora’s on-demand service is that it implicates a license for songs that Pandora did not have to obtain for its webcasting service—the mechanical license for on-demand services and downloads. Pandora is evidently negotiating direct deals with major publishers and also is trying to encourage other songwriters to sign up to a “standard” mechanical license.

According to Rightscorp CEO Christopher Sabec, Pandora has filed approximately 1,193, 346 “address unknown” NOIs with the Copyright Office between April 2016 and January 28, 2017. I have been informed by other sources that representatives of Pandora have stated that the company intends to pay statutory royalties retroactively for any songwriter who comes forward and complies with the formality of registration, but I have yet to see a public statement by Pandora of this intention.

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