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Pandora and the Easter Bunny

April 3, 2014

When you look back over the last couple years, it’s hard to believe that Pandora was finally unmasked for what we suspected they were all along.  I suppose it’s theoretically possible that the company could have offended more of the people who produce the only product it has for sale, but I’m not quite sure how they’d pull that off.

Yes, if screw ups were Easter eggs, then Pandora would be a gold-plated Easter Bunny, hopping from one little pile to another not missing a single one.

Which is a real shame.  Blake Morgan made a great point in his MTP interview (Blake is the force behind the #I Respect Music campaign).  Pandora could have joined the struggle for artist pay for radio play.  They could have said, we are proud to pay a royalty for music, one of America’s greatest cultural treasures.

We’re proud to pay a statutory royalty through SoundExchange to the heirs of greats like Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, John Coltrane, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Professor Longhair and Miles Davis.  And to living artists like Aretha Franklin, the entire constellation of great Motown artists, as well as Jefferson Airplane, Steely Dan, the Neville Brothers, and the Doobie Brothers.  Not only are we proud of our contribution to these great American artists, but we think that we have shown that it’s possible to pay a fair royalty and still make money, even get to be as rich as Tim Westergren.

And we think that terrestrial radio can, too.  We stand with the music community in asking for fair treatment and artist pay for radio play.

Now imagine if they had done that, instead of all the agita involved with trying to crush artists and songwriters.  They might actually have gotten people feeling like helping them out.

It’s too bad they have made so many mistakes, but maybe if they just let it all cool down, they could start trying to get back some of the trust they destroyed.  Maybe if they try really hard, artists will stop thinking of them as The Man 2.0, running to Big Nanny to try to lobby their way into paying artists less.

A nice thought, right?  We’d rather have that Pandora than the one we’re stuck with.  And I thought, it’s surely not possible for it to get any worse.

But…it is Easter time.  So what screw up could the Big Bunny have hopped over?

There is one thing I can think of that they could do that could actually make it worse for them than it already is.  A good idea is usually only a good idea in context.  So if they had done what Blake suggested–instead of what they actually did–at the time they did the wrong thing–they might have had a shot.  But that time has passed.  But for people who clap on the one and the three, don’t expect too much in the way of timing.

What if they did the wrong thing and thoroughly soured people on the company AND THEN turned around and tried to make it seem like they were supporting a terrestrial royalty in order to get a lower webcasting royalty…now that would be pandering on a grand, grand scale, right?  Which surely you would recognize?  Surely?

Not “Pandora”–“pander”.  Yes, that’s right–Pandora would be pandering.  You see, if my company was called Pandora, I’d be very careful about pandering, because the word “pander” is just a little too close to Pandor-a.   And once you get that stuck in your mind, it’s hard to get it out.

Even for the Easter Bunny.


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