First of all, sorry, sorry, sorry for so many things recently. Where to begin?
–No the old blog posts are still not ‘back’.
–No you still can’t post. You still have to e-mail.
–Yes, I am working on all this stuff. It may seem like nothing’s happening, but really, a lot of stuff is happening.
Today’s little ditty is in regards to an episode last Friday (only 4 days behind schedule? Wow, I’m getting faster by the minute!).
A couple of you started telling me that you had noticed that your Pandora stations were no longer ‘suggesting’ my stuff in the course of playing stations starring artists that should eventually be flagged as similar to what I do… eg. Paul Simon or Peter Gabriel or perhaps Talking Heads. But… nada… nichts… bupkus. Dadai.
So I contacted Pandora and was told by one person that they could no longer find me in their database. (?!?) I informed the nice young lady that I was playing the JC Harris Station while we were talking. Now how about that? So I was transferred to someone else who said they’d get back to me.
Next day I received an e-mail from another nice person in ‘submissions’ (I bet she’s a fun date) who informed me that I had, apparently ‘fallen off their system’. I should ask my fans to send e-mails to firstname.lastname@example.org and kick the appropriate person into action. I had no idea what she was on about, but I shouted out to you guys and you, as always, responded. (Thanks!)
By yesterday (Monday), I got an official reply from Pandora stating that I was indeed dropped from their system. No specific reason was given but the nice person said two very interesting things:
1. They reserve the right to limit the indie artists they list by genre. IOW: if they feel they have enough of one flavour of music, they see no need to add more–regardless of quality or fan base.
2. They are definitely favouring artists which are distributed through their own indie record distribution system. IOW: if I wish to be listed on Pandora now, it would behoove me to let their sister company handle my records.
I guess I’d be outraged by this and screaming for Perry Mason or whoever (it suddenly dawns on me that any references I make to famous crusading attorney probably dates me. When was the last time you thought of -any- lawyer as being ‘heroic’?) but here’s the sad truth about Pandora… It’s a lot of fun, but it don’t make me no money. The fact is that, in the year or so I’ve been tracking referrals from Pandora, it probably drove less than $200 in sales my way… CDs or singles. So it’s really not much skin off my nose that this has happened.
To my mind, however, there is a bigger question regarding Pandora, Last.FM and all other free web radio stations… Can they make money? Can they make me money? See, the thing I keep trying to get across is that, there’s no way I can eat if I can’t monetise this business we call show. It’s all very well that one gets ‘free’ web radio, but unless I can find a way to get paid for my involvement? Well, let’s just say I already have enough expensive hobbies. There has to be something in it for me.
Pandora is in trouble. What they are finding is the same thing I found out. People listen, but don’t buy. They don’t click through to buy anybody’s records. So record companies and Amazon aren’t happy. Pandora is waking up to the idea that their whole raison d’etre may just be based on a flawed premise: namely that people will listen, then buy. Whoops. Maybe they won’t. Maybe they’ll just listen. And then go do something else.
So they’re already moving towards more ads. In fact, they will soon be introducing audio ads between songs. Also, they need to push the sales of the records their company is distributing, even if it means pushing out guys like me. So, although I find their conduct in my case reprehensible, I understand… in desperate times people do crappy things to survive.
To me, the larger question is going to be, is there any way to incentivize y’all to pay artists like me for music? Are you so used to ‘free, Free, FREE!’ (including all you dread pirates) that it’s just not possible to find a ‘sales model’ that works?