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Pandora’s Spin Machine Trading on Ambiguities Again

November 27, 2015

In case you missed it (and US readers probably have better things to do today as it’s the Thanksgiving holiday here), Pandora is apparently feeding stories to the business press with that special level of duplicitousness we have come to expect from P.  Unfortunately, this time it involves Adele’s “25” record.  But the manufactured news resulted in a $27 million one-day increase in market cap for Pandora.

Here’s the story from the Wall Street Journal–you know, the venerated business publication, the Bible of Wall Street, relied on for correct information by millions of investors.

Investors are giving Pandora Media Inc. a hearty hello on Wednesday, sending shares up as much as 5.8% after the company confirmed that Adele is bringing her latest album, “25,” to its streaming music service, leaving competitors including Apple Music and Spotify in the dust.

News of the album’s availability on Pandora comes after Adele’s camp earlier said she’d decided against making her record-breaking album available on streaming services. Pandora acts more like a radio station than some of its rivals, in that it doesn’t allow users to select individual songs.

So quick–does the Wall Street Journal’s reporting leave you with the impression that Adele “decided”–because she “is bringing” the album–to give the artist-friendly Pandora the right to stream her new album?

How about Reuters?  Did Reuters report the news correctly?

Pandora Media Inc presented its listeners with British singer Adele’s best-selling album “25”, days after streaming companies said the album would not be available for streaming at release.

The U.S. online radio service said all songs from Adele’s album, which broke records in first-week sales, are now available on its radio service, sending Pandora shares up on Wednesday.

“Since “Hello” was added to Pandora’s platform last month, her total station adds are up 1,200 percent,” the company told Reuters in an email.

MTP readers will remember that must be BS because Pandora gets a compulsory license (applicable to Adele’s US distributor).  So Adele couldn’t say no to Pandora.  So quick–do these news stories make it sound like Pandora some how came out ahead of other streaming platforms in some competitive contest?

Wouldn’t it have been more accurate for the Wall Street Journal  (aka The Bible of Wall Street) to advise Pandora investors that Pandora had no competitive success in “getting” the Adele record?  Maybe The Bible could advise investors that Pandora is getting the Adele record because the government forces all artists to make their music available on Pandora.

Not to mention that Pandora is only permitted to include records in a personalized webcasting stream that bears no resemblance to interactive streaming on Spotify.  So The Bible is actually comparing apples…ahem…to Marmite on toast.

The Bible also fails to mention that Adele has participated in the streaming format even when the government didn’t force her to do so.  Her single “Hello” has been available on iTunes, Spotify and other streaming platforms since October 23.  That’s right–all this press that has been ginned up about Adele and streaming is all about “25”–that’s the album.  Even that isn’t entirely accurate because if you buy the album on Amazon or iTunes, you can stream it to your player.

Not only did Spotify get the single, but according to The Atlantic, the single also:

“…broke one-day streaming records on Spotify and Vevo, and appears on track to set a benchmark in the category of one-week U.S. digital song sales. It easily beat competition from a new Justin Bieber song, smashed a record recently set by Taylor Swift, and has already been viewed on YouTube far more times than the Star Wars trailer released a week ago.

Again, having a record setting single on Spotify should count for something in news reporting for investors about Pandora.  Wouldn’t that have been a relevant fact in the who, what, when, where, why, how business?

The news–or shall we say propaganda–drove Pandora’s stock price up about 5%–or somewhere around a $27,690,000 increase on the day of the value of Pandora’s outstanding publicly traded shares.  Probably more than Pandora paid songwriters all year.

The Verge, no friend of the music business, actually got the statutory licensing part right but stuck to the talking points and laid on the equivocation for the “not on Spotify” part:

Adele’s 25 is the biggest album in the world right now, and it’s made it there all without a single stream on Spotify [see what they did there?  The antecedent of “it” is the “album”.  True aside from record setting streaming of the “Hello” single on Spotify]. In fact, it might have made it there because there hasn’t been a single stream on Spotify: Adele and her label made the decision not to stream 25 anywhere online, encouraging people to actually buy the album or its songs outright. But despite the ban, some services [like Spotify, Apple and Pandora] have songs from 25 up streaming…

Of course, Adele and her label are likely a lot less concerned about Pandora streams than Spotify streams. Pandora is just a radio station [no, it’s nothing like a radio station, Pandora pays royalties through SoundExchange and radio does not–see #irespectmusic], so it’s likely seen a bit more as a promotional tool than as something that will cannibalize album sales….[oh, so streaming does cannibalize sales?]

Pandora…doesn’t have a deal with labels [except for Pandora’s direct deals]. It relies on a law governing “non-interactive” streaming services….

 

We could fully expect Pandora to try to pull yet another snow job on the public to drive up their stock price with deceptive information, but it is rather shocking that major business news outlets will let them get away with it.  The Bible is upstaged by The Verge?

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