Today marks an exciting new chapter for Pandora. From the first day we launched, we have looked forward to the time when we would begin enabling artists to become active participants in the service. Personalized internet radio has a set of capabilities that make it unique in its potential to empower musicians and activate fans. Where broadcast radio spins a few thousand different songs a year, we play hundreds of thousands. And as we approach 10% of all radio listening in the U.S., the audiences for many of these artists are becoming very meaningful. Combine that scale with the rich understanding of each listeners’ taste and the ability to communicate with them in a personalized, one-to-one way and you have an opportunity to reinvent how music is discovered and promoted, allowing it to flow much more freely between artist and fan.
I spent years in working bands, back before the web came along, and it was the challenge every band faced in building an audience and surviving that was the original inspiration for this company. So much great music has never reached its audience because it never found a home on broadcast radio…without radio, all we had were flyers and a staple gun. We have the chance to change that in a fundamental way.
The first step in making that happen is a partnership with artists and their labels. Close collaboration and the active involvement of musicians and their partners is crucial to a successful design and implementation. Today, the first such partnership for Pandora was formally launched through an agreement with Merlin. Merlin is the world’s largest organization for independent record labels, whose members represent over 20,000 labels. This agreement will give us the flexibility to accelerate the discovery of thousands of bands, and to enable them to begin actively communicating with their audience on Pandora.
This has been a long time coming, and it represents the effort by everyone involved to truly look for a mutually beneficial relationship – one that will support artists while nurturing the growth of internet radio. These are working artists, making records, out on tour, trying to forge careers in trying times – and most of whom have never been on radio. Internet radio is a home for them, and one with a massive and fast-growing audience that could become the sustaining force they all need.
I believe this collaboration is a sign of things to come, and a signal to all musicians about what’s possible. We’re establishing a new precedent that will demonstrate the power of the medium and hopefully serve as a recipe for the future. I can’t wait to get the show on the road.