Pandora now boasts some 70 million users. That, according to TheHill, now accounts to 7% of all U.S. radio listening. It’s a staggering figure, and one that sure is to grow as more listeners turn to their phones, consoles, computers, and tablets to enjoy their favorite music without a monthly cost.
Unfortunately, Pandora’s road to success has been a bumpy one, replete with twists and turns, in addition to heavy fuel charges. What the hell am I talking about? Pandora, thanks to their massive reach and proliferation, has faced stiffed push back from ASCAP, who has attempted time and time again to impose steep licensing fees that would either slow the company’s growth, or worse, perhaps put them out of business.
Now, I don’t claim to be a royalty expert. And based on my days working with Napster, even those with close ties to the labels and artists have a hard time understanding all of the agreements. That said, iHeartRadio has long circumvented the royalty increases as a result of being owned by a terrestrial broadcaster, Clear Channel. It could be best described as a loophole in the system. So, yesterday, in a what seemed like a no-brainer move, Pandora bought KXMZ-FM, a terrestrial radio station broadcasting out of Rapid City, South Dakota.
According to Pandora, they say the move goes beyond the licensing loophole, as they “look forward to broadcasting our personalized experience to the community in Rapid City, an area where over 42,000 residents already use Pandora.” It’s a stretch, but it would seem that Pandora really had no choice.