Pandora’s upcoming new browser-based version–which dumps Flash for a pure HTML5 experience–sounds neat.
Tag Archives | Pandora
With the music industry demanding ever-higher royalty rates for online radio, Pandora’s future has been in jeopardy for some time, but now it seems a workable deal has been struck.
The station is “finally on safe ground with a long-term agreement for survivable royalty rates,” Pandora CTO Tom Conrad told TechCrunch today. SoundExchange, which collects royalties for rights holders, agreed to a 40 percent to 50 percent reduction in per-song-per-listener rates in exchange for 25 percent of Pandora’s revenue, through 2015.
Notably, that deal is good for other Internet radio stations, so Last.fm and Slacker could also benefit from the agreement.
Some users will end up paying for this change. Anyone who listens to Pandora for more than 40 hours in a given month — that’s roughly a tenth of the user base, says TechCrunch — will have to pay $0.99 cents to keep listening. The premium Pandora One service won’t be subject to the additional charge.
Given that Pandora can get a little repetitive after extended listening, the 40-hour cap is a small concession to make, and even then, a dollar ain’t much. Besides, my sense from other Pandora users is that they’re so enthralled with the concept that tiny trade-offs don’t bother them. Little reminders to click on the player window and an occasional ad are minor inconveniences, well-traded for a virtual DJ that knows all about your musical preferences.
Up until now, Pandora was pretty much exclusively an computer-based product. While the company moved past the PC with the launch of its iPhone application, not until now has it been available in a more traditional form.
Enter Livio Radio. Along with being able to receive about 11,000 Internet radio stations, it is the first Internet radio device to be fully compatible with Pandora. It even features the “thumbs up, thumbs down” rating system the service uses, both on the device itself and the remote.
Users can use their own Pandora account with Livio, and a Wi-Fi or Ethernet connection is required. The device is now available at will retail for $149.99.
Getting Pandora off the PC is something the company has apparently been considering for awhile, considering off-PC use is on the rise. “We’re always looking for new products that make that easy to do, and have a wide appeal for listeners,” business development chief Jessica Steel said.
I’m certainly excited to see Pandora making a move outside the box (although I guess it’s inside the box this time? I digress). For those of us that listen to a lot of Internet radio, myself included, devices like Livio are useful.
The price though is a little steep. I’d personally like to actually see it to judge whether the quality — construction and sound — is worth $150. I’m not seeing any retail availability yet, however.
With Pandora’s struggle to stay afloat in the news a lot lately, the idea that ads may make their way into its streams did not seem such an impossibility. While it was nice to listen to the company’s offerings free of advertisement, Pandora has come dangerously close several times to shutting down simply because it was running out of money.
Venture capital, especially in this economy, is only going to get you so far.
The ads at least for now are not that intrusive. They are 15-seconds in length, and are used sporadically. Chief exec Tim Westergren says they have actually been around for quite awhile, although in recent days their use has become much more widespread.
The ads only appear in the desktop stream, but ads for the mobile stream are in the works. It may be a good idea: for whatever reason, click-through rates are higher in Pandora’s mobile applications, the company says. They will be targeted based on a user’s profile.
Westergren seems to be trying to deny this has anything to do with its ongoing issues over royalty rates, which I have a hard time believing. If you know you’re going to be paying more for something, you’re going to try to make more more money to recoup your losses. That’s just common sense.
Don’t declare victory just yet, but Pandora, the really cool, wildly popular online music streaming service, may avoid being driven out of business by dramatically higher licensing fees. The House of Representatives has unanimously passed the Webcaster Settlement Bill, which gives online music services such as Pandora more time to work out a deal with the music industry. It’s now headed for the Senate, where its chances of passing look just fine.
Pandora has done a good job of rallying its legions of fans to support it–I got the following e-mail (after the jump) today from Tim Westergren, the company’s founder:
Here’s a good computing rule of thumb: If you discover a mysterious link in your Clipboard for a piece of security software you’ve never heard of, DON’T CLICK ON THE LINK AND BUY THE SOFTWARE!
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