Pandora To Allow Artists To See Their Listener Data

pandorasubmissions_main

At the SF MusicTech conference in San Francisco this past Tuesday, Pandora’s VP of Business Affairs, Chris Harrison, revealed (in a private chat after his panel) that Pandora is creating a backend interface where artists will be able to login and see their listener data. He didn’t go into much detail, but it’s safe to assume that data will include the number of streams per song, the top locations of where listeners are, full listener demographics, heat maps and other info to help artists understand what kinds of fans they have (and are gaining) on Pandora.

Director of Corporate Communications at Pandora, Mollie Starr mentioned that they don’t have a planned launch date and “have not talked about exact features,” but did mention that “features could include the ability to communicate with fans.”

Being able to analyze listener data could help artists compare their actual streams on Pandora with the reported royalty reports from SoundExchange. There are thousands of artists who are not receiving accurate reports or checks from SoundExchange (myself included) and this could help give artists the ammunition necessary to get SoundExchange to take them seriously in paying out what is owed – or face a class action lawsuit.

Pandora has been an excellent way for independent artists to gain new fans. As an artist, I have heard from (new) fans who discovered me on the service and old fans who listen to my Pandora station regularly.

Screen Shot 2014-05-22 at 9.58.21 AM

Pandora has experimented with ways to help artists over the years like integrating concert listings (which have mysteriously disappeared unfortunately) and iTunes and Amazon links.

With its 73 million+ active users in the US, New Zealand and Australia, this data is long overdue for artists.

Currently, the only artists able to see this data are those who visit the Pandora offices in Oakland, CA.

hand-left Pandora Now Allows Digital Submissions

Harrison mentioned that Pandora currently pays out 46% of its revenue to SoundExchange for sound recording royalties and 4% to ASCAP, BMI and SESAC for composition royalties. If you do the math, I’ll wait while you grab a calculator, Pandora pays out 50% of its revenue to collections agencies. Note, they are paying collections agencies, NOT rights holders or artists directly. And it’s nearly impossible for independent artists to collect all of their sound recording royalties from SoundExchange. SoundExchange seems perfectly content holding onto this money for itself and paying out only the labels that scream the loudest.

hand-left SoundExchange Is Screwing Me Out Of Money And There’s Nothing I Can Do About It

Giving artists the ability to view listener data and demographics is a step in the right direction, but doesn’t go far enough.

Pandora should (re)integrate tour information, physical merch stores (like Spotify does), the ability for listeners to “follow” an artist and get notified when they release new music, merch or tour through their area.

Pandora’s Current Artist Page:

Screen Shot 2014-05-22 at 12.28.49 PM

They could also expand the commenting section and encourage both artists and fans to utilize it bridging the gap between artist and fan over radio.

Pandora could also give artists the ability to create official profiles outfitted with everything above along with embedded videos, photos, bio, lyrics, discography, merch and news updates.

Bio and discography information on Pandora is currently only available via Rovi and lyrics via LyricFind (or directly from publishers). However, BandPage’s  recent partnership with LyricFind will soon give artists the ability to get their lyrics added to many outlets including Pandora fairly easily. Not so with Rovi – which requires a physical press package and doesn’t guarantee your bio will be submitted to their outlets.

iHeartRadio uses BandPage to present artist curated content (like bio and tour dates). If Pandora isn’t going to offer artists direct access to display this important information, Pandora should at least partner with a 3rd party service (like BandPage) to display artist information allowing artists to gain fans and then access that fan data.

Pandora struck a deal with BandPage for concert listings back in January 2013. When asked about why Pandora removed its concert calendar and seemingly cut its ties with BandPage, BandPage’s VP of Marketing and Artist Relations, Doug Scott, said “[Pandora’s] concert calendar has indeed been deprecated. We remain on great terms with Pandora.  We can’t comment on internal business decisions at Pandora.”

Pandora’s Director of Corporate Communications, Mollie Starr explained, “we weren’t seeing a lot of traffic so have taken [the concert calendar] down while we re-evaluate our plans on how to integrate concert information into our site.”

Will Pandora team up with Topspin’s ArtistLink like Spotify did? Unlikely, now that Topspin has been acquired by Beats. Pandora is big enough where they could build a backend interface allowing artists to import all of their data themselves – however this massive project would require a new department at the company. PandoraArtists.com? Would be great to see!

Allowing artists to see the extremely valuable listener data is a great start, though. Once artists are able to use this data to route tours and work with promoters, Pandora’s favorability with artists will increase tremendously.

Pandora’s #1 focus should be finding ways to help the artists that make their service possible.

Unlike publishing companies, performing rights organizations and labels, touring independent artists don’t care as much about how much money they can make off of Pandora streams, they care more about how they can gain fans and then get in touch with those fans. Yes, artists of course would like to see some decent revenue from Pandora, but approaching Pandora as solely a way for artists to make money directly from the service is completely the wrong approach.

Technology companies and artists can work together for mutual success, but both parties need get creative and approach it in drastically different ways.

Ari Herstand is a Los Angeles based singer/songwriter and the creator of Ari’s Take. Listen to his new album, Brave Enough, on Spotify or download it on BandCamp. Follow him on Twitter: @aristake

 

About The Author

Ari Herstand
Writer, Musician, Whiskey Drinker

Ari Herstand is the author of How To Make It in the New Music Business (Dec 2016 - Liveright / Norton). He has been a DIY musician for over 10 years, has performed over 600 shows around the world and released 4 studio albums and 2 live albums. He has had songs featured on multiple TV shows, commercials and films and has shared the stage with Ben Folds, Cake, Matt Nathanson, Joshua Radin, Eric Hutchinson, Milk Carton Kids and Ron Pope. He created the music business advice blog, Ari’s Take in the Spring of 2012 to help DIY musicians navigate the independent world of music. Herstand was born and raised in the Midwest and got his start in the Minneapolis music scene. He rose to prominence locally and consistently sold out the 800 capacity Varsity Theater. He became the go-to musician in the scene for music business advice before he moved to Los Angeles in the Summer of 2010. Currently residing in West Hollywood, Herstand still spends a good portion of his time on the road touring. When at home he splits his time writing music, writing articles, writing his book (out December 2016 with Norton Publishing), playing shows at the Hotel Cafe and acting in TV shows (see him in his co-star appearances on Mad Men, 2 Broke Girls, Aquarius, Transparent, The Fosters, and others)

Related Posts

46 Responses

  1. Avatar
    Steven Cravis

    As a songwriter/composer/publisher/label I’ve had positive experiences with both Pandora and Soundexchange, so I’m looking forward to how this plays out. I agree, Ari, that these features being recently announced could be very important and helpful to artists. From my observations, Pandora plans and builds things carefully, laying a foundation for long term success. This is a huge win win for Pandora, the investors, the advertisers, the rights holders and the listeners!

    • Avatar
      Anonymous

      “these features being recently announced could be very important and helpful to artists”

      Not really.

      But it would be helpful if services like Pandora and the Pirate Bay would remove our music when we ask them to.

      Instead of forcing us to slave for them.

      • Avatar
        Never Mind

        That folks conflate licensed services like Pandora with Pirate Bay is a big part of the problem. Slaves are forced to work involuntarily into the future for no compensation. That you appear unable to recognize the difference between a statutory license which causes payments and slavery speaks volumes.

        • Avatar
          Anonymous

          Pandora is a pirate service — e.g. it does not respect take-down requests from artists.

          This means that artists are forced to work as slaves for their owners.

          “Slaves are forced to work involuntarily into the future for no compensation”

          No, that is a common misconception: Slaves have always been compensated, from the ancient Greece over Alabama to Pandora today.

          • Avatar
            Poopers

            Pandora uses a statutory license. Which means if a song is for sale in the US, they can legally spin it.

    • Avatar
      Anonymous

      “Pandora’s #1 focus should be finding ways to help the artists that make their service possible.”

      #1 Suggestion : Pay the Artists Fairly and Stop Trying to Reduce Their Royalties

      • Avatar
        Paul Resnikoff

        This is most definitely not the top focus of Pandora.

      • Avatar
        Anonymous

        ““Pandora’s #1 focus should be finding ways to help the artists that make their service possible.””

        You can’t ask any company to do that. They’re here to make money, not to babysit you.

        But it goes without saying that you shouldn’t be forced to work as a slave for any company, whether it sells music or cotton.

  2. Avatar
    Jeff Robinson

    This won’t make a bit of difference. It’s in Pandora’s interest to under-report spins. Highly unlikely they will afford something transparent and accurate.

    So many companies are already shaving payments on spins, it’s sort of a joke.

    In the future, there might be some way via a file-sharing folder to allow services like Pandora to access it- so that your music only streams when you are online. You would also be able to do a ‘self-audit’ so that you’d be able to see how many times your songs got accessed by sites like Pandora for airplay. That is going to be the only means of transparency.

    • Avatar
      Paul Resnikoff

      There is no third-party monitoring and counting system in the digital era for the music industry, so we all basically put blind trust in all of the numbers that companies report. Beats just said they have hundreds of thousands of paying subscribers, the truth (on a statement) proved that they have about 110,000, if that.

      Spotify says they have 10 million paying subs, and 40 million overall users. OK, we all believe that, except they were found to be mis-reporting their data with respect to overall users just a few years ago (to inflate paying percentages).

      And so on.

      In physical, we had Soundscan, which monitored point of sale. Now, we don’t have the equivalent. To some extent, companies in the digital music space can report basically anything they want.

      • Avatar
        Jeff Robinson

        You can’t count Soundscan as ‘holy’ here.

        Too many stories of retail chains being paid to fudge numbers for record companies to inflate sales- either in an attempt to ship gold or at the lower end, to get bands signed. The question from the middle-man is always, “What kind of picture do you want to create for the release?”

        • Avatar
          Paul Resnikoff

          Not saying Soundscan is (or, was) ‘holy,’ just saying that it is a third-party monitoring service. Sure, you can list dozens of problems with the service, but it definitely represented an improvement over the old ‘system,’ if you want to call it that.

          Remember when labels were fighting the advent of Soundscan, tooth and nail? Ha, you’re probably too young to remember that.

          • Avatar
            Jeff Robinson

            Paul, I am older than you are…my radio background goes back to the 80’s.

          • Avatar
            Paul Resnikoff

            It was a joke. Of course, I’m old enough to know that deadpan jokes don’t usually survive in nuance-challenged environments (like comments sections)

            😉

      • Avatar
        Calr Spackler

        Paul Resnikoff“There is no third-party monitoring and counting system in the digital era for the music industry, so we all basically put blind trust in all of the numbers that companies report.”

        Pandora pays Soundexchange under the statutory license. Soundexchange has the right to audit Pandora, or any other entity licensed by and paying to Soundexchange, under the statute.

        Soundexchange DOES engage in regular audits of it’s licensees.

        If YOU don’t think Soundexchange is doing that often or diligently enough, then that DOESN’T mean “there is no third-party monitoring and counting system in the digital era.” It only means YOU wish that Soundexchange used the monitoring and counting system – that IS there – in some other fashion.

        Paul Resnikoff“In physical, we had Soundscan, which monitored point of sale. Now, we don’t have the equivalent.”

        As Jeff’s response pointed out, this assertion is laughable. Soundscan never monitored point-of-sale on a census basis. They used only samplings and a ridiculous formula.

        You couldn’t be more wrong, about any more of it. This site is a trove of just blatant, uneducated misinformation that unfortunately masquerades as some type of informed journalism.

        • Avatar
          Wishful thinking

          Audit? Haha. Audit what? There is no paper trail with digital, just numbers in a computer that can be trivially changed before any audit.

          • Avatar
            Carl Spackler

            Now that truly is your namesake, Wishful thinking.

            While it is possible to change server logs after the fact, it would be far more time-consuming and expensive for Pandora to do that than it is to just pay the royalties indicated by the unmolested server logs. Not to mention the potential to lose their license, altogether, if they got caught doing it.

            What other fantasies do you like to entertain?

        • Avatar
          Paul Resnikoff

          Soundexchange DOES engage in regular audits of it’s licensees.

          You’re supporting my case here, I hope you realize.

          If YOU don’t think Soundexchange is doing that often or diligently enough, then that DOESN’T mean “there is no third-party monitoring and counting system in the digital era.”

          Actually, it does. You are talking about (supposed) monitoring and auditing of internet and digital radio (Pandora, Sirius, etc.), not the broader digital eco-system. Which again, supports my point.

          It only means YOU wish that Soundexchange used the monitoring and counting system – that IS there – in some other fashion.

          Um… huh?

    • Avatar
      Casey

      Pandora’s numbers have always seemed pretty solid. Considering how much money they spend on royalties and how public they are with their listening hours and royalty payments, it seems unlikely they are reporting false numbers.

      There are some other net radio companies/stations who’s numbers do not seem to add up and some really small net radio companies who almost certainly do not pay SoundExchange at all. But they are continuously allowed to fall through the cracks it seems. Perhaps SoundExchange feels it would cost them more to pursue it that they would ever make them in return.

  3. Avatar
    john

    jeff, that is one of the weirdest and most unviable ideas ever.

    • Avatar
      Jeff Robinson

      Just imagine, the Venture Capitalists would have to pay as they go with such a system. No longer quarterly or semi-annual payments!

      If not, shut ’em down!

      • Avatar
        Jeff Robinson

        Let’s take this one step further toward the banal-

        Why are musicians so slutty to begin with? If we slut-shame Monica Lewinski in the press, maybe we ought to slut-shame musicians for being so ‘loose’ with their wares? Are musicians so craven to get noticed that they actually submit to Pandora in spite of horrific tales of bad compensation? Or is it just labels who are so slutty with the muisicians product that they will become ‘bed mates’ with any new digital company that pops up in the Silicon Valley?

        Is it just Darwinistic in it’s simplicity? Go with the flow or die?

        The evolving future store here is going to be about a ‘Winston-like’ revisionist story, songs streamed until they aren’t profitable for the streaming services…some services quickly remove songs streamed too much, others keep songs up. Some stop reporting to distributors when a song is streamed too much, others we don’t know a history of.

        An artist I know had 51,000 streams of a song on Google Play and after a month, the song was removed. That same artist was #1 on a music chart on Rhapsody and Rhapsody removed all material from that artist. Now, is that legitimate?

        Paid subscribers were streaming the songs, but the artist was still removed. How is this ethical?

        Quarterly accounting will show very soon whether the artist will ever be paid from these services for the use of the music. If the artist is not paid, this whole system should be shut down.

        • Avatar
          Carl Spackler

          Jeff:

          Artists don’t “actually submit to Pandora in spite of horrific tales of bad compensation.” Pandora is DMCA-compliant (i.e. “non-interactive,” statutorily-licensed) internet radio. Pandora doesn’t need to ask for artist submissions. Indeed, artists can not elect to keep their recordings off of Pandora.

          It would help for you to understand what we are talking about, before you offer up entirely inapplicable comments.

          As for artists being “removed” from interactive services, do you know why they were removed? Who asked or decided to have the tracks removed from these services?

          • Avatar
            Jeff Robinson

            Carl, indeed artists submit to Pandora. I’ve know many that have been turned down.

            https://submit.pandora.com/

            Although Pandora promises a better experience these days…

            Details forthcoming on the other front…

          • Avatar
            Carl Spackler

            The thrust of your comment seemed to be that artists and labels are “slutty” in that they give themselves to Pandora. While I guess it is true that some artists that no one – including Pandora – know or care about can beg to be on Pandora, the point I was making is that’s not the the way Pandora gets it’s material.

            Artists can’t opt out, if Pandora wants their recordings.

          • Avatar
            Casey

            Pandora’s process of adding songs to their library is quite… extensive. There is a reason they have the smallest library of any personalized radio service. It’s not too surprising that some artists do not get added.

        • Avatar
          Anonymous

          Supply and demand bro. There are too many people who want to be pro artists out there.

        • Avatar
          Anonymous

          Going to have to call complete BS on Google Play and Rhapsody removing a track because it is played too much. Removing tracks because they were played too often would do nothing but piss off users. A play is a play. It doesn’t matter what song it is or who sang it. At no point does a song become unprofitable no matter how many times it is streamed. A user who streams thousands of tracks per month might become unprofitable, but there is no evidence of either service terminating user’s accounts for excessive legitimate use.

          Both services have extremely large catalogs with nearly all the hottest songs released available for streaming.

  4. Avatar
    TuneHunter

    Again, Pandora, Spoty and YT delivered last year below $3B in MUSIC revenues.

    They have erased DOUBLE if not TRIPLE that amount from just iTunes, Amazon and terrestrial Radio.

    Pandora on new game board can do with current customer base over $5B dollars.
    They can continue as total free pleasure Radio as well profitable music store for those who want to live it again.
    Same game board can double the music business to 28B in 36 months and we should see 100B by 2020.

    Last and most important 10M or 200M subs and ads around FREE MUSIC have no financial future.

  5. Avatar
    Anonymous

    I just wish Pandora would allow us leave, instead of forcing us to work as slaves.

    • Avatar
      Anonymous

      Are you in their headquarters, scrubbing the floors and washing the windows? No? Then they are not forcing you to work as slaves. In fact they are not requiring any intervention or work on your part whatsoever. But they are giving you free money while you patrol the DMN comments section.

      • Avatar
        Anonymous

        Not sure what you mean — it’s a fact that artists are forced to work as slaves for Pandora.

        I dare you:

        Ask Pandora to stop making money from your work and your name and see what happens.

  6. Avatar
    Anonymous

    http://www.redtapex.com allows artists’ insights into the data of the demographics of their social sites and provides a way for artists to use that to their advantage such as promote their music effectively and planning shows/tours.

  7. Avatar
    Manager

    Be careful what you wish for. From what I have been told, they plan to charge artists for this data.

    • Avatar
      Joshua Hall

      radioairplay.com (jango.com) already does this. It works just like Pandora accept artists pay for plays but have access to fan demographics….ect. http://www.radioairplay.com …..Not saying its good or bad, it just is.

    • Avatar
      Anonymous

      Everybody wants free shit these days, do they not?

  8. Avatar
    Joshua Hall

    radioairplay.com (jango.com) already does this. Artists pay for plays on the radio station and have access to fan demographics.

  9. Avatar
    Paul Resnikoff

    “Being able to analyze listener data could help artists compare their actual streams on Pandora with the reported royalty reports from SoundExchange. There are thousands of artists who are not receiving accurate reports or checks from SoundExchange (myself included) and this could help give artists the ammunition necessary to get SoundExchange to take them seriously in paying out what is owed – or face a class action lawsuit.”

    SoundExchange collects money that it does not re-distribute, until it re-distributes it to major content owners who do not have actual claims to those payouts. They are sitting on hundreds of millions in unpaid amounts, last time I checked, and using that interest to finance an organization that does not function properly. They are unable to process the royalty claims for the most diligent artists, of which Ari is one.

    This is what we call a scam.

    • Avatar
      GGG

      For once I agree with you. Why is there not a fraction of the outcry against SoundExchange here or anywhere, that Pandora and Spotify get?

      • Avatar
        Anonymous

        “Why is there not a fraction of the outcry against SoundExchange here or anywhere, that Pandora and Spotify get?”

        Let’s not compare Pandora and Spotify here, OK?

        Spotify is useless to artists, but it’s not a piracy service.

        • Avatar
          GGG

          Once again, proving you have no idea what the fuck you’re talking about. See, you exist in the top 40 realm. And on top of that you exist on the purely songwriting side.

          Right now, bands I work with range from under 1k FB fans up to 35K. Spotify has been a crucial tool for discovery for all of them. In fact, one band has over 300K more plays on their top song than that YT video. In the interest of fairness, I will say another act’s top YT video has 200K more views than the same song on Spotify. So this basically means, depending on the outlet that gives you press, both services are useful.

          So you really need to stop acting all self-righteous about being pro-artist. You aren’t. You are pro-mainstream pop act.

  10. Avatar
    Veteran - US MUSIC INDUSTRY 1970-today

    I know I’m just a small time loser. But I do write checks and/or am directly responsible for hiring and/or promoting and/or securing or providing airplay on both terrestrial radio and i-Radio for over a thousand acts the past decade.

    There are two perspectives among those I serve. One perspective is similar to that which I have seen in this thread = “it’s not fair; artists should be compensated fairly.” But NEVER does anyone come up with a credible, responsible, inside the business suggestion as to what FAIR really constitutes.

    Yes, it is true. There are innumerable small time operations that are not playing the required royalties. I know some of these folks. I have “battled” some of them on their practices; to no avail of course.

    No system comes without criticism or flaws. I’d venture that most people, out of a true lack of expertise and knowledge, complain about any system they’re engaged with or observe.

    There are some very influential people in this industry we all love who are equally as ignorant of how things actually work as some of those whose comments I’ve read here today.

    What we all want is to see inside the machine … but what then? Would any of us really truly UNDERSTAND what it is we’re looking at?

    Hmmmm

    • Avatar
      me by two

      Yes, actually, I already understand what is happening there “veteran” boy. People are being exploited as big B and politicians cover so they can live the life of luxury off of the backs of the creators and producers. It is plain to see. That you cannot see that is evidence that your long career was simply a waste of a life.

  11. Avatar
    article isgood

    So, just my 2Cents, but for all of the hate for Pandora on this site. They have managed to procure a blanket license for all 3 PRO’s making it more logical for a small business to buy some sort of licensing(even at lower pricing). Now instead of 450/500 businesses not paying licensing fees you may now have 350. Say whatcha will, Pandora has worked pretty hard to satisfy a lot of parameters.