Pandora stops streaming to UK

January 9, 2008 // 9:03 a.m.

Tags: #internet #internet-radio #mpaa #music #pandora #radio #riaa #rights

Music lovers in the UK will be saddened to hear that they will no longer be allowed to access the Pandora streaming Internet radio service. The service was restricted to the UK and US since July 2007 due to worldwide licensing issues, but the new limitations mean that only US users will be allowed to stream music via the site.

The switch-off date for UK listeners is the 15th of January 2008.

The Pandora service uses data from the Music Genome Project to recommend songs from other artists based on whether you liked songs it considers 'similar'. Many in the US see it as a valuable way of being introduced to new artists, and musicians enjoy the free advertising offered by such streaming radio stations. Despite this, it seems that the industry, in the UK at least, isn't quite so keen on ad-driven 'net radio.

Tim Westergren, founder of Pandora, has placed the blame for the closure on the doorsteps of UK rights organisations like the PPL and the MCPS-PRS Alliance.

In an e-mail to members Tim has said that the per-song licensing costs demanded by the organisations are “far too high to allow ad supported radio to operate”, and that the company has “been told to sign these totally unworkable license rates or switch off, non-negotiable.

Tim claims that the music industry in the UK isn't prepared to work 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.” He says the decision to price services like Pandora out of the UK market is “nothing short of disastrous” for the artists represented by the rights organisations and predicts that preventing legitimate, legal sites like Pandora from operating in the UK will result in the “continued explosion of piracy, the continued constriction of opportunities for working musicians, and a worsening drought of new music for fans.

The company is also facing troubles in the US, with rising royalty rates for web radio services seeing any slim profit margin the company can scrape out of on-site advertising vanishing into the mists. Tim predicts that if the cost of licensing a web-based radio service in the US doesn't reduce it “would mean the end of Pandora.

Sad to see the service go, or do you think 'net radio was never a viable business model? Give us your thoughts over in the forums.
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