For more than two years now I have been eagerly anticipating the day when I could finally write these words: the royalty crisis is over!
Webcasters, artists, and record labels have reached a resolution to the calamitous Internet radio royalty ruling of 2007. Pandora is finally on safe ground with a long-term agreement for survivable royalty rates. This ensures that Pandora will continue streaming music for many years to come!
Many people played a role in getting here. Pandora listeners provided support in extraordinary numbers in Congress, and a group of reasonable and constructive voices on the label and artist side of the table (groups like A2iM) helped forge a middle ground that, while perhaps not meeting all of our aspirations, still represents a thoughtful and reasoned outcome under the circumstances.
For this we are truly thankful and want to express our deepest gratitude to everyone involved.
The revised royalties are quite high – higher in fact than any other form of radio. As a consequence, we will have to make an adjustment that will affect about 10% of our users who are our heaviest listeners. Specifically, we are going to begin limiting listening to 40 hours per month on the free version of Pandora. In any given month, a listener who hits this limit can then opt for unlimited listening for the remainder of that month for just $0.99. In essence, we’re asking our heaviest users to put a dollar (well, almost a dollar) in the tip jar in any month in which they listen over 40 hours. We hope this is relatively painless and affordable–the same price as a single song download. (Alternatively, they can upgrade to “Pandora One”, our premium version which offers unlimited monthly listening in addition to its other benefits).
We hate the idea of limiting anyone’s listening, but we have no choice but to react the economic realities of the new rates.
There continues to be royalty-related activity in Washington DC. On the heels of the above resolution, there is a new effort in Congress to fix the broader issue of how musical artists are compensated across all forms of radio. The system as it stands today remains fundamentally unfair both to Internet radio services like Pandora, which pay higher royalties than other forms of radio, and to musical artists, who receive no compensation at all when their music is played on AM/FM radio. We, along with the artists whose music we play, strongly support the establishment of a level playing field, a truly fair system, as articulated in a new bill called the Performance Rights Act (H.R. 848).
It has been an extraordinary couple of years. Believe me, I never thought I’d be donning a suit and tie to walk the halls of Congress lobbying for a bill. Thanks to all of you for your continued support. It is incredibly exciting for everyone at Pandora to see the vision for the company truly beginning to take shape. We are all looking ahead with renewed vigor to the future.
I’m coming to Richmond, VA next week for a Pandora Town Hall on the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University. Here’s the info:
Where: the Grace Street Theater on the VCU Campus in Richmond
When: Monday, June 29th, 2009 @ 7:00 PM
Where: Grace Street Theater — VCU campus
934 West Grace Street, Richmond, Virginia
Here’s more info about the location.
Look forward to meeting some local Pandora listeners. Will share history and latest news of Pandora – would love to hear what’s on your mind. There will be some cool swag too!
See you there.
Cheers. Tim (Founder)
Check out a demo of our new desktop application, eh!:
Here’s how to upgrade to Pandora One, which includes the improved Pandora desktop application.
If you would like to download this video file, please go right ahead.
In our ninth Viewer Mail installment, we take on a question about the artists and creators of the music you hear:
WHAT IS PANDORA DOING TO PROMOTE MUSICIANS?
If you have any questions that you’d like to have answered, just flip on your webcam or other video camera, tell us your name and where you’re from, and then record yourself asking the question. Then, send us that video file and we’ll do our best to answer your question on-camera.
Here are some of the previous Viewer Mail videos: Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8.
We’re also pleased to announced our new Pandora channel on YouTube. Here’s how you can subscribe for free.
Cheers. Tim (Founder)
One of the great things about my job is that every once and a while I get to see some cool new phone or gadget before its been announced or released. Back in December 08, the team at Palm invited us to come to their offices in Sunnyvale for a sneak peek at their new OS and phone. I went in with modest expectations and was blown away by all they had achieved. I remember leaving the building excited about the chance to help them launch their new phone and to act as an early design partner for their development SDK.
Fast forward 6 months and the Palm Pre is now in the hands of real live users and people are starting to listen to Pandora from their new phones. We’re really excited about the results. Pandora on the Pre is a great listening experience – a fluid user interface with all the standard Pandora features you’ve come to expect on the web. It even runs in the background where it presents a mini playback control panel in the Pre’s dashboard area.
To learn more about Pandora for Palm Pre, click here.
If you’ve haven’t seen the great commercial Palm is running to announce the Pre, click here to get a look – and keep your eyes peeled for a Pandora mention toward the end.
I’m really happy to add the Palm Pre alongside the other Pandora smartphone implementations on iPhone, Blackberry, and Windows Mobile. Covering the entire smartphone space is a big task and we’re not done yet, but we’re devoted to bringing Pandora to every smartphone platform where our listeners want us to be. Yes Android users that means we’ve heard you loud and clear – you’re next!
When you start building something like Pandora you quickly realize there’s going to be a bunch of things that you’d love to do from day one that will have to wait for a later date. We have a long list like that and one staple of that list for the last 4 years has been an upgraded version of Pandora for listeners who want more features, better audio quality, and other things that we just can’t do in the advertising-supported free version of the product. Well, the day has finally come when we can cross this one off our list.
Introducing Pandora One.
For $36/year we’ll upgrade you and enhance your experience with these new features:
* High Quality Streaming: When listening on the web, experience 192K bits per second audio. That’s the highest quality streaming experience on the Internet. More bits means better sounding music.
* Pandora One Desktop: Listen to Pandora from a dedicated desktop application; no need to keep a browser window open. Control playback from the Windows taskbar or the Macintosh dock. Get popup alerts when a new song starts to play. This is the ultimate Pandora experience: simple, efficient, pure.
* No Ads: Pandora One is completely free of any sort of advertising: no audio ads, no visual ads. It’s just you and your music.
* Personalize Your Look: Surround the Pandora player with one of 8 custom “skins” that will make the look of Pandora as personalized as the music.
* Mini Player: Minimize Pandora One into the smallest possible browser window. This makes it easy for the web version of Pandora to live side by side with other web sites and applications.
* Skip All Day Long: With the standard ad supported version of Pandora you’re limited to 12 total skips per day. With Pandora One you’ll be able to skip as many times per day as you’d like (note you will still be limited, thanks to licensing constraints, to six skips per hour).
* Extended Interaction Timeout: Listen for up to 5 hours in a row without interacting with Pandora at all. Just turn it on and let it go. Every time you interact the timer is reset so just one click around lunchtime can get you through an entire workday.
So that’s Pandora One. The highest quality audio. Pandora One Desktop. No Ads. More features. No limits. As with everything we do, we’re very interested in hearing your feedback. Drop us an email or a comment here to share your thoughts. Your feedback will help shape future versions of Pandora One. This is just the beginning.
CTO @ Pandora
PS: If you had previously subscribed to Pandora to avoid advertising, we’ve upgraded your account to Pandora One status for free. Welcome!
Wondering about live music showing up on your stations, eh? You’re not alone in that… here’s Pandora’s founder, Tim Westergren, answering a few questions about that topic:
IF I THUMB DOWN A SONG’S LIVE VERSION, CAN I STILL HEAR THE STUDIO VERSION?
CAN I ELIMINATE ALL LIVE MUSIC FROM MY STATION?
If you have any questions that you’d like to see Tim answer, then flip on your webcam, tell us your name and where you’re from, and then record yourself asking the question. Then, just send us that video file and we’ll do our best to answer your question on-camera.
Here are some of the previous Viewer Mail videos: Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7.
JJ Schultz is one of our software engineers and a fine musician.
Yesterday I was listening to his great podcast on country music. It sucked me in, and I found myself wanting to know what kinds of Pandora stations JJ listened to.
I made my way over to his desk and asked him to share some of his country stations with me. He’s a swell guy, so he shared his two favorite country stations. I thought you might like to try them out as well:
Jukebox at the Ambrose, ND Bar
JJ says: “this one plays a lot of the country songs that I enjoyed as a kid when I used to plug the jukebox at my dad’s bar.”
Midnight to Moonlight Radio
JJ says: “this one is more the stuff that I listen to now. lots of old time country on this one.”
I hope you enjoy these country stations, and if you’d like to hear some of the music JJ has written and recorded, here you go: JJ Schultz Radio
(Feel free to check out his Pandora profile to see what else he listens to.)
If you’re interested in listening to more staff stations, check here, here, and here for past blog posts.
“There are heroes in the seaweed…” – Leonard Cohen
One of the best things about being part of Pandora is knowing that we are, with the help of our listeners, tilling the musical soil, churning up music that for one reason or another may have gotten lost or buried at some point.
I love the idea that we are all keeping so many songs in circulation, and in that spirit, I thought I’d post a few artists that might be new to some of you, that you can explore as new starting points.
Sibylle Baier – I am loving this station based on the solo acoustic folk of this recently rediscovered recording. You’ll hear great lesser-knowns like the incredible Vashti Bunyan, and Ruthann Friedman and Bridget St. John, plus better known folkies like Nick Drake.
Sleep – Where would we be without metal? We wouldn’t be able to cook scrambled eggs, for one thing! So open your ears to the weirdly pillowy doom metal sounds of this station. It’s a good one. And hey – those of you who have never listened to metal – you know who you are – don’t glaze over – check this out :-).
Peanut Butter Wolf – I love the track Here’s a Smirk, and bet it would make a cool station. He got his name from a girlfriend’s kid brother, who dreamed up the peanut butter wolf as his deepest fear. At least something cool came from the poor guy’s nightmares!
Thomas Newman – Road to Perdition Score – I’ve been into soundtrack music lately. It’s interesting how it is made to be secondary, while also being canny and amazingly precise in the reactions it evokes. Here’s a station made from one of my favorite pieces in this score.
DM Stith – Fire of Birds – This is new music from the Asthmatic Kitty label, nice folks who put out some of the most interesting pop music of the day. This is orchestral and experimental folk that lives in that verdant valley between Mount Pleasantmusic and Mount Artsymusic. One of my favorite imaginary places.
Have a great weekend, and don’t forget Record Store Day tomorrow!
You guys have a lot of questions for us, and here is Tim answering a few of those:
WHY DO YOU CONSIDER PANDORA TO BE RADIO?
CAN I LISTEN TO SONGS BY ONLY ONE ARTIST?
WHAT CAN I DO IF I HEAR A SONG TOO OFTEN?
If you have any questions that you’d like to see Tim answer, then flip on your webcam and record yourself asking the question. We would like to meet you, so please introduce yourself. Then, just send it on in and we’ll do our best to answer it for you.
Here are some of the previous Viewer Mail videos: Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6.