MBW told you back in June that Pandora had started approaching UK rights-holdersin a bid to gain licences to re-launch its service in the territory.
Now Bloomberg’s reporting much the same thing.
Pandora is apparently plotting to execute an international roll-out, but it’s something of a double-edged sword.
While the DSP attempts to push down royalty rates through the Copyright Royalty Board (labels) and rate courts (publishers/PROs) in its homeland of the US, its ability to negotiate licenses around the world with the very same companies it’s attempting to hurt is obviously weakened.
However, recent moves suggest Pandora wants to cosy up to an industry it has typically fought with since being founded in January 2000.
Last month it reached a $90m settlement with the major labels (and ABKCO) over pre-1972 tracks played on its service.
And just last week it announced a ‘modernised’ direct licensing deal with Sony/ATV, which publisher boss Martin Bandier has since confirmed will result in “significant” royalty rises for his writers.
MBW sources tell us that Pandora is in no crazy rush to launch in the UK. It is attempting to build foundations for launch somewhere between mid-to-late-2016, we’re told.
Of course, that depends on whether UK labels and publishers – not to mention PRS – are willing to let it.
The streaming personalised radio platform currently only operates in three territories: New Zealand, Australia and the US.
Although it boasts around 80m unique monthly listeners, Pandora has struggled to move outside of these markets due to licensing restrictions.
Pandora quit the UK in 2008, citing excessive streaming royalty rate demands from CMO PRS For Music.
“They are starting to say and probably starting to think internally that it’s time to lay down their arms with the music business and begin moving forward to a constructive relationship with the industry,” Matt Pincus, founder and CEO of Songs Music Publishing, told Bloomberg.
“Pandora now has to do that, both because they are competing in a global market and the streaming market is beginning to stratify.”
Pandora currently pays out around 45% of its revenues to music rightsholders, although this has risen above 50% in recent years.
It is on course to turn over more than $1bn this financial year.