Quoted: Pandora CEO says free on-demand music streaming is bad

“This gray market is unsustainable. If consumers can legally listen to free on-demand music permanently without converting to paying models, the value of music will continue to spiral downward to the benefit of no one.”

Brian McAndrews, CEO of Pandora, in an op-ed published by Business Insider Tuesday.

McAndrews’ comments come at a key time for the Oakland company, which offers radio-style streaming. It recently announced it is buying Rdio, and is planning to launch an on-demand streaming service. And a new report has declared that Spotify — which allows users to play music on-demand — has overtaken Pandora as the world’s most popular music-streaming service. (However, analytics firm App Annie says Pandora remains the most popular service in the United States.)

Like other streaming music providers, Pandora has had a complicated relationship with artists over royalties. But it recently reached a deal with Sony/ATV on higher royalty rates. And it’s trying to appease artists by giving them a platform to communicate with and market to their fans. By speaking up against free streaming, McAndrews looks to be trying to position Pandora as even more artist-friendly. The Verge notes that “Spotify and YouTube have become the villains, portrayed by musicians as thieves and Nazis.” Most recently, high-profile artists such as Adele and Taylor Swift have withheld their music from streaming services.

Spotify has a free streaming tier, which it has said helps get would-be paid subscribers on board. Apple Music offers a free trial period for its streaming service. Along the same lines, YouTube Music, introduced last month, offers free music videos with ads, with the idea that people will eventually pay for subscriptions to YouTube Red.


Photo from Bay Area News Group archives


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