Pandora cuts direct deal with artists
LOS ANGELES (AP) – Internet radio leader Pandora has come to its first-ever direct licensing deal with artists, a wide-ranging agreement with independent label group Merlin that both said would mean higher payments to artists and more play for them on Pandora stations.
That means Merlin-represented artists like Arcade Fire, Bad Religion and Lenny Kravitz could get more rotations as their representatives will be able to lobby Pandora to place their songs earlier in playlists where they fit.
Artists will also get access to Pandora data for the first time, enabling them to make informed decisions about where to tour, who to tour with, what their concert set list should be and what songs they might release next. They will also have tools to directly communicate with fans on Pandora.
For Pandora Media Inc., the move helps improve relations with artists, who have complained that royalties on digital streaming services are too low, especially as CD and digital download sales decline. It’s a departure from its current business model, where it relies on government rate-setting bodies like the Copyright Royalty Board to determine how much it pays artists.
“In a world where it’s very difficult to get onto terrestrial radio, a deal like this gives us an incredible opportunity to get our music in front of an enormous amount of people,” said Merlin CEO Charles Caldas in an interview. “The data that comes out of the back of this should also enhance our business.”