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Pandora, Facebook Sold Their Souls to Wall Street

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Each day that passes without an announcement -- or even an errant rumor -- that Pandora (P - Get Report) will do more to put the treasure trove of data it collects to work for independent artists and the broad music industry adds to my concerns over the company's long-term success and relevancy.

Pandora and Facebook (FB - Get Report) belong in the same conversation, but not just because they're part of an elite group of mobile advertising pioneers that also includes Twitter, Google (GOOG - Get Report) and Apple (AAPL - Get Report). For better or worse, Pandora and Facebook "sold out" to Wall Street subsequent to post-IPO pressure.

Both companies have convinced investors they have legitimate mobile advertising businesses. At the same time, Pandora and Facebook have reassured Wall Street that their sales efforts -- in size and scope -- will only increase over time. In other words, expect new and different advertising products from both and, in Pandora's case, more commercials per hour.

I can go both ways on the notion of "selling out." It's easy to criticize a company for giving in to Wall Street, let alone the decision to go public in the first place. It's a complicated decision founders agonize over, but often end up viewing as a natural step in their creation's evolution. That said, while you can't argue with Pandora's results -- and the stock's run -- you also can't help but wonder if this short-term success jeopardizes what Pandora could become from standpoints that transcend business.

Why is Pandora Effectively Absent From the Local Music Scene?

I've been beating this drum for quite some time. From May's I Can't Find Pandora's Name Anywhere in Hollywood to June's Pandora Absolutely Must Do Better Now. And I'm not about to stop now.

There's lots of talk about promoting independent artists and helping bring the music industrial complex into the 21st century by leveraging data and digital technology, but very little action from players who can have the greatest impact. Pandora hosts more bands in its Oakland headquarters for private shows than it does in the clubs of cities such as LA, Austin and New York for public performances.

Meantime, startups such as Ticketfly continue to get real work done -- on the ground, in the trenches -- yet it goes largely unnoticed. And that sucks, because it's a big freaking deal.
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