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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.
Tim (Founder)

Comments

  1. Nate
    January 25, 2008 at 7:22pm
    Thanks to Pandora I have heard artists that I would have never heard of before. My two favorite artists right now, Seether and Godsmack, I would have never heard if it wasn't for this site. Although I live in the USA I feel bad for those living in the UK. Pandora is a great site. The founders are not corrupt like some of their competition and have the right ideas in mind. The music industry is either not aware of this, or, what is most likely the case, is too concieted to see past their own views. I wish to see Pandora continue to survive and manage to spread their site globally.
  2. jason
    January 25, 2008 at 9:41pm
    Before reading this post, I was sure that the RIAA (Recording Industry Assoc. of America) and FCC (Federal Communications Commission) would be the downfall of the music industry. Now I realize that this is a global problem, involving many record labels clinging to outdated economic models. I am sincerely sorry that our European brothers and sisters are now limited by corrupt and closed-minded record labels and government entities. With the rise of XM radio stations in the US, I fear the worst for Pandora in the long run. This problem must be remedied soon, as I fear the US may follow suit and eventually pursue like-minded profit [dis]oriented regulations. This is indeed a sad day for musicians and artists that have the drive to produce globally recognized and appreciated music.
  3. Joy
    January 26, 2008 at 7:29pm
    It is quite difficult not to be aware of the money grubbing nature of the recording companies and the companies who own the rights to music. In many cases, the royalties paid for certain music..especially when that music is of a certain age..are not being paid to the actual artists who performed or the song writers or to any of their rightful beneficiaries. It is all collect by people who own "rights". Too many of the reasons why this is so involve slick practise which was barely legal and certainly not ethical. Having said that, it is shameful the laws anywhere will permit such or protect those who benefit from it. Corporate greed is a disease which has infected the music business to its detriment. I knew this was coming because of talk on regulating internet music even more than previously. It is sad, indeed, that it would interfere with a service like Pandora. It is not at all a good thing. I truly hope some day the situation will change. This is so unfair.
  4. david
    January 27, 2008 at 10:34am
    As someone else mentioned, PPL want 0.0773 pence per song streamed. This works out at like 1293 songs/1 GBP. Couldn't we simply have a subscription model where we pay 1 GBP for 1000 songs (or even many less). I'm confused as to where the problem really lies. It's a real shame, I found (and subsequently bought) some great music which I would never have come across without Pandora.
  5. tmmuggs
    January 27, 2008 at 1:35pm
    Just to let you know: We arrived in Mexico, I started up Pandora, and got the "blocked" message -- you detected the server was in Mexico. I hope that when I return to the USA, I will not find that I am blocked permanently. I'm sure you have thought of this already, but I mention it just in case...
  6. alex
    January 28, 2008 at 7:30am
    my partner introduce me to pandora and its great i even listend to it a work. i even had a fake zip code i made up but now not chance. its a shame as i found lots of great songs which i can no longer access. will miss it.
  7. Dave
    January 30, 2008 at 3:06pm
    Just tried to log on to Pandora for the 1st time this year, only to find a message telling me that it was blocked in the UK! It's a real shame that it's come to this, I found so many different artists that I would never have thought to even look for without Pandora. It's sad for artists and listeners alike that an artists work can't be distributed in such a unique way as Pandora and the music genome project has achieved, and especially now; this is an unprecedented age of information availability, and for such a ruling to come now over something so inherently diverse, personal and inspirational as music, shows an ignorance which is inherent in society today. It is obvious that this decision will make no difference to music piracy or illegal music distribution, and I dare say will even encourage it. There are many who believe that money is more important than growth and evolution. Nevertheless, I will wait until someone sees sense and realizes the universal value that music, uncensored, holds for the development and growth of humanity as a whole. It is such petty divisions between countries, borders and people that will continue to separate us unless we choose differently. I would like to thank everyone who has made Pandora possible, I enjoyed it very much when it was available. I can only hope that you will make a breakthrough with the "powers" that be, and it will not only be available here in the UK soon, but all over the world, for the benefit of all.
  8. Vincent
    January 31, 2008 at 12:53pm
    I'm sorry to hear this... I remember when it happened to my country (The Netherlands) back in the day, and I was very pained by it... I never stopped being a Pandora fan, though, and still regularly check to see if there's any hope of it becoming available for me again someday :) Good luck!
  9. Christopher J Williams
    February 01, 2008 at 3:24am
    This is in deed a huge loss not only to the UK, but globally. Pandora was THE music source of choice in my previous workplace, providing an endless stream of music we wanted to hear and discover. I have just looked back through my Amazon music purchases and can see at least 100 CDs ordered after hearing a previously unknown artist on pandora. None of them would have my money now if it was not for pandora. Would it be possible to allow a limited service within the UK where artists not signed to one of the large players could opt-in for UK airtime??
  10. Marlon Savin
    February 05, 2008 at 4:43am
    I share the same sentiments as the above mentioned. Pandora not only helped to make a day at the office more cheerful, but like so many have said, it enabled us all to easily discover new and diverse material based on our own tastes. As a musician myself, It pains me to confess that I now find myself giving $0.20 cents per track to Russian mp3 websites that I am sure do not forward any royalties to artists! The Russian websites are not restricted to hosting only music from major labels. From experience I can tell you that the bottom line is simple: The big record companies are NOT interested in new music. They are only interested in THEIR OWN new music. As far as I know, Itunes will happily sell the music of any band or artist, regardless of being signed to any or no label. But at the same time who's music do you get rammed down your throat at the front page of the Itunes store? Not "unsigned bob and his super banjo band" thats for sure. I think the person above that mentioned a Pandora just for unsigned or indie artists is on the right track. It could be a way forward....

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