Though available in America for over a decade, and currently the leading internet radio service in the United States after undergoing a huge update to its mobile app to meet demand from its growing user base and recently reporting a revenue of $US 338 million last year; Pandora Internet Radio has now launched in Australia and New Zealand.
Joining the long list of digital music services that have rolled out in Australia in the last 12 months, starting with Rara, JB Hi-Fi Now, Rdio, Mog, Deezer, and market leader Spotify, (with more on the way in Justin Timberlake’s Myspace and Trent Reznor’s Daisy); Pandora has gone live today through the traditional web-based player, along with mobile apps for iOS and Android now available across the country.
“After years of preparation and anticipation we are absolutely thrilled to fully launch Pandora internationally in Australia and New Zealand,” said Pandora Founder and Chief Strategy Officer Tim Westergren.
“Personalised radio is a wonderful medium for listeners to enjoy music they know and discover music they’ll love. Now we begin the incredibly exciting process of connecting the 100,000-plus working musicians in the Pandora catalogue with millions of new listeners. What an amazing opportunity.”
Pandora operates on something called the Music Genome Project, described as “a richly detailed taxonomy of more than a million tracks”, the internet radio service focuses on personalisation that allows listeners to create their own custom stations based on their music tastes.
“Pandora combines the unique power of the Music Genome Project with an incredible trove of listener feedback in the form of over 22 billion ‘thumbs’ up and down delivered contextually on individual stations,” says Westergren.“[Pandora] has changed the way people have consumed and enjoyed music in America for the last 12 years, and I’m looking forward to seeing its adoption in Australia…” – Jane Huxley, Managing Director for Australia and New Zealand
“Together these form a personalisation engine that combines great predictive capabilities with a steady stream of discovery. This is not only valuable to listeners but also represents an unprecedented opportunity for tens of thousands of talented, emerging artists to find their audiences,” says Westergren.
As part of the Australian launch, Pandora has also created a number of specific stations spotlighting genres such as Aussie Hip Hop, Indigenous music, Indie Singer-Songwriters, and Classic Pub Rock.
With over 175 million registered users in the US, with more than 75% of listening occurring through the smartphone apps, Pandora has become a global leader in the mobile market. A fact that’s especially important to the Australian market, one of the world’s most mobile-centric societies, notes Westergren.
“With the huge number of mobile device users in Australia… we anticipate fast adoption of our free mobile apps that allow people to listen to their personalised stations on the go, wherever they are,” says Westergren.
Jane Huxley is the newly appointed Managing Director for Australia and New Zealand, making the leap from Fairfax Media where she handled the company’s product, mobile, video and online strategies.“With the huge number of mobile device users in Australia… we anticipate fast adoption of our free mobile apps that allow people to listen to their personalised stations on the go, wherever they are.” – Tim Westergren, Pandora Founder
“I feel as though I’ve stumbled upon music’s greatest secret and I can’t wait for Australians and New Zealanders to enjoy music in the Pandora way,” says Huxley. “The service has certainly changed the way people have consumed and enjoyed music in America for the last 12 years, and I’m looking forward to seeing its adoption in Australia… My focus for the coming year will be to grow the audience for this great new medium as fast as I can.”
However, the service hasn’t been without its problems in America, after where musicians have rallied against internet radio streaming service, after Pandora symbolically declared war on songwriters in their lawsuit against US royalties body ASCAP. Claiming that they’ve had to pay rising royalty rates to stream music as its user base grows.
“The current law penalises new media and is astonishingly unfair to internet radio,” said a statement issued by Pandora on their website, adding in their lawsuit against ASCAP that the royalties body had established rates that are “ill suited and not reasonable”, based on an ‘experimental’ licensing agreement originally set in 2005.
Meanwhile, Ted Kalo, Executive Director of musicFIRST, has helped co-ordinate nearly 125 musicians – including everyone from KISS, The Doors, Guns N Roses/Velvet Revolver bassist Duff McKagan to Billy Joel, Rihanna and Missy Elliott – to put their name to a letter opposing Pandora’s new bill, claiming that the new act will cut royalties by as much as 85%.
“These artists have joined together to tell Pandora it’s time to go back to the drawing board. We all want Internet radio to succeed, but it won’t if it tries to do so on the backs of hard working musicians and singers,” says Kalo.
Regardless of the controversy, Pandora is bound to make an impact on the Australian market, with ARIA recently recognising the importance and influence of streaming services with the new ARIA Streaming Chart, which launched its first Top 40 list yesterday.
You can head to the Australian Pandora website at www.pandora.com/new/au/music now to hear the specific genre stations, or start creating your own. While the Android and iOS apps are available for download immediately.