McAndrews, 55, a fan of Elton John and Bruno Mars who played guitar as a kid, says hes interested in providing artists and labels with more data. With Pandora tracking listeners tastes, correlated with their ages, genders, and Zip Codes, there are opportunities to share some data with artists that could be valuable to them, and an opportunity for labels who own either the copyrights or performing rights to make more and more money, he says. Senior executives at Sony Music Entertainment (SNE), Universal Music Group (VIV:FP), and Warner Music Group confirmed that Pandoras CEO has contacted them, but they declined to discuss any prospective deals or possible changes to their royalty structures.
I added the bold emphasis because it's the first time I recall, in both published reports and off-the-record conversations with people at Pandora, anybody saying the company has an interest in sharing data with record labels. Now, Pandora's CEO, Bruno Mars fan, Brian McAndrews, says, but of course we want to share data with the music industry.
Artists, yes. That's old new. Really old news. But labels. Now that's new.
If you scroll through some of my more recent Pandora articles (easily accessible here), it's difficult to not come to the conclusion that this new twist to Pandora's slowly but sort of, kind of, we hope surely plans for its data might have come as a result of my hyper focus on the issue.
If nothing else, this provides hope because, as I argue in my most recent Pandora article (before this one), the future of Internet radio isn't about radio and music, it's about data. That's why Pandora's slowing growth doesn't scare me whereas its hesitant approach to using data, not only with bands and record labels, but also brands does.
So, with this, I'm cautiously proud of Pandora for listening and reacting with what seems like an initial step in the proper direction. As I've said for some time, Pandora's best chance at scoring better royalty rates is showing the music industry what an excellent and profitable partner it can be. To this point, it has failed miserably in this regard, creating skepticism and a few enemies in the process.
--Written by Rocco Pendola in Santa Monica, Calif.