This is a blog post I hoped I would never have to write.
As you probably know, in July of 2007 we had to block usage of Pandora outside the U.S. because of the lack of a viable license structure for internet radio streaming in other countries. It was a terrible day. We did however hold out some hope that a solution might exist for the UK, so we left it unblocked as we worked diligently with the rights organizations to negotiate an economically workable license fee. After over a year of trying, this has proved impossible. Both the PPL (which represents the major record labels and some independent record labels) and the MCPS/PRS Alliance (which represents music publishers) have demanded per track performance minima rates which are far too high to allow ad supported radio to operate and so, hugely disappointing and depressing to us as it is, we have to block the last territory outside of the US.
It continues to astound us that the industry is not working more constructively to support the growth of services that introduce listeners to new music, and that are totally supportive of paying fair royalties to the creators of music. I don’t often say such things, but the course being charted by the labels and publishers and their representative organizations is nothing short of disastrous for artists whom they purport to represent…
The only consequence of failing to support companies like Pandora that are attempting to build a sustainable radio business for the future will be the continued explosion of piracy, the continued constriction of opportunities for working musicians, and a worsening drought of new music for fans. As a former working musician myself, I find it very troubling.
We have been told to sign these totally unworkable license rates or switch off, non-negotiable…so that is what we are doing. Streaming illegally is just not in our DNA, and we have to take the threats of legal action seriously.
We know what an epicenter of musical creativity and fan support the UK has always been, which makes the prospect of not being able to launch there and having to block our first listeners all the more upsetting for us.
If you would like to be kept abreast of the situation, please drop us your email so we can stay in touch – there’s a simple way to do that on the home webpage you’re now presented with if you try to access Pandora from the UK. There may well come a day when we need to make a direct appeal for your support to move for governmental intervention as we have in the US. In the meantime we have no choice but to turn off service to the UK.
Since we emailed UK listeners last week to inform them of this impending change, we have been inundated with public and industry support. There have also been many questions – we’ll be very proactive in responding to any comments/questions that pop up on the blog here. There is a lot of confusion around this topic.
Pandora will stop streaming to the UK as of January 15th, 2008.
Again, on behalf of myself and everyone at Pandora, to any resident of Wales, Ireland, England and Scotland that reads this post, I’m very, very sorry.