Pandora May Turn Off Its Streams: Do You Care?

noah | August 18, 2008 5:15 am

I’ve been putting off writing a post about the possible demise of the Music Genome Project-powered streaming site Pandora–which may be sunk because it might have to pay royalty fees that add up to 70% of its revenues–for most of the day, because I’m not really sure how I feel about it. On the one hand, yes, the royalty structures set up by the fee-collecting regulatory body (and RIAA spinoff) SoundExchange are a bit high, and do encourage a lot of new sites to operate in the dark so they can get out of bankrupting themselves right away. On the other hand, SoundExchange doesn’t solely represent artists on majors, and I’m wary of sites like Pandora that seem to want to have their cake (creating technology that’s all about sampling music for free) and eat it too (not paying musicians under the guise of “promotion” and keeping any revenue for themselves). And on a third, possibly selfishly concealed hand, I don’t really use Pandora; the few times I have sampled it, its utility has been spotty at best; and I’m wary of the online outcry in favor of the service, because of the whole outsized importance of technologically triumphant Digg Nation types in any debates involving the intersection of music and technology. So, readers, I’m opening the floor to you all, in hopes that someone out there can convince me to pick a side. Think of it as a chance to dust off those debate-team-honed skills! [WP]