Recently Pandora Radio announced that it is about to close the book on its Music Genome Project (See Article)
They have been struggling since March of 2007 with license fee increases imposed by the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) and backed by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) that are between 300% and 1200%.
Started in 1999 and quietly launched in 2005, Pandora was a founding block to the next generation of music, personalization. The Internet radio station analyzes my own tastes through what is called a Genome Project of technical attributes and introduces me to other artists that fit my profile by using a DNA fingerprint of mystery musical processes.
I joined the service in 2006 after reading about an innovative digital music server called “Squeezebox”. The “Squeezebox” brought music from my computer right to my living room speakers. It came with a free trial subscription to Pandora Radio and that trial had me ditching my ten dollar a month satellite radio service in two minutes or less! Internet Radio is amazing, free and allows me to find music I would never be exposed to under traditional radio sources. Since then, they have adopted many different platforms to stream music on.
Since 2006, I have spent a small fortune on independent band’s music I wouldn’t have had the pleasure to grace my ears upon. The service gave me access to Amazon.com as well as iTunes to grab my newly found artists.
In May of 2007, unable to afford the necessary licenses, they were forced to block the folks outside of the USA which limited their growth as a company.
I had the pleasure of meeting founder, Tim Westergren in July of 2007 at the Cedar Cultural Center, as he was traveling the country to engage the audience and grow support for their legislation effort appropriately called, “SaveNetRadio”. Hearing Tim speak, finding out he grew up in Minneapolis and putting White Light Riot’s EP, “The Dark is Light Enough” into his hands was a priceless experience.
Looking through the lens, it seems that sacrifices may need to be made at the cost of Pandora and the demise of one company will lead the way for others to grow from. It seems his cutting edge process has been adopted by services such as Last.FM, Slacker, Imeem, and The Sixtyone. Some of these services are better, some worse and some just different.
Tim will go down in my book as a pioneer and a truly modern spirit. His entrepreneurial story was told in October, 2007’s www.Inc.com’s article titled, “Pandora's Long Strange Trip”.
The destination may be the end of a musical service that has made 1 million people’s daily life more enjoyable, but the legacy must live on!