Phil Sim

Web, media, PR and… footy

The day the music died…

Today, the music died… well on my PC anyway.

I don’t listen to nearly as much music as I used to, but when I do I listen to Pandora. Today, everyone with Pandora accounts outside of the US today received an email that politely stated that, sorry, we’re going to have to cut you off.

Delivery of Pandora is based on proper licensing from the people who created the music – we have always believed in honoring the guidelines as determined by legislators and regulators, artists and songwriters, and the labels and publishers they work with. In the U.S. there is a federal statute that provides this license for all the music streamed on Pandora. Unfortunately, there is no equivalent license outside the U.S. and there is no global licensing organization to enable us to legitimately offer Pandora around the world.

What a sad state of affairs. My hope for Pandora is that my prediction that Apple would buy the service plays out. I still believe that a streaming Pandora service to iPod/iPhone device is the end-point for music distribution and consumption and I’m still surprised this marriage hasn’t happened yet? Maybe, these legal issues are what has been stopping a deal from happening. Maybe, Pandora has decided to do this,  to clean up any legal issues that could be a hangover for a potential purchaser. But then they didn’t stop Google taking YouTube did it?

Whatever, the case, I think this increases the likelihood of a Pandora acquisition. Either it is prepping itself for buyout, or else it’s going to need to go looking for a bigger partner, like Apple, who has the pull to get global agreements in place with music labels.

Full email follows:

Dear Pandora listener,

Today we have some extremely disappointing news to share with you. Due to international licensing constraints, we are deeply, deeply sorry to say that we must begin proactively preventing access to Pandora’s streaming service for most countries outside of the U.S.

It is difficult to convey just how disappointing this is for us. Our vision remains to eventually make Pandora a truly global service, but for the time being, we can no longer continue as we have been. As a small company, the best chance we have of realizing our dream of Pandora all around the world is to grow as the licensing landscape allows.

Based on your email address, we believe you may be listening from a country outside the U.S. If you are in fact listening from the U.S., please disregard this email.

Delivery of Pandora is based on proper licensing from the people who created the music – we have always believed in honoring the guidelines as determined by legislators and regulators, artists and songwriters, and the labels and publishers they work with. In the U.S. there is a federal statute that provides this license for all the music streamed on Pandora. Unfortunately, there is no equivalent license outside the U.S. and there is no global licensing organization to enable us to legitimately offer Pandora around the world. Other than in the U.K., we have not yet been able to make significant progress in our efforts to obtain a sufficient number of international licenses at terms that would enable us to run a viable business. The volume of listening on Pandora makes it a very expensive service to run. Streaming costs are very high, and since our inception, we have been making publishing and performance royalty payments for every song we play.

Until now, we have not been able to tell where a listener is based, relying only on zip code information provided upon registration. We are now able to recognize a listener’s country of origin based on the IP address from which they are accessing the service. Consequently, on May 3rd, we will begin blocking access to Pandora to listeners from your country. We are very sad to have to do this, but there is no other alternative.

We will be posting updates on our blog regarding our ongoing effort to launch in other countries, so please stay in touch. We will keep a record of your existing stations and bookmarked artists and songs, so that when we are able to launch in your country, they will be waiting for you. We deeply share your sense of disappointment and greatly appreciate your understanding.

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3 Responses

  1. Duncan says:

    not a problem with me, not only didn’t I get the email from them, I signed up with a .com email address and I gave them an American postcode, just checked now and it’s still working for me, they must only be geoblocking based on disclosed location or email extension as opposed to actual IP goeblocking.

  2. alan jones says:

    No, I signed up with a .com email address and a 90210 postcode and it’s broken for me. But Thurs evening US time is Friday afternoon Sydney time. On schedule, it has gone down for us. Bugger!

  3. staycooldad says:

    They’ve blocked me based on IP address even though I registered using a .com domain and therefore did not get the email.
    Oddly, though, when I got one of their ‘lobby your congressperson’ emails I wrote back and suggested they should offer a channel to lobby the whole fragging US government and point out that their laws are reducing promotional avenues for US artists.
    Tim Westergren’s response did not seem to understand the potential for international collaboration.
    Ah well … the Last.fm client doesn’t use that much CPU or RAM …

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