As Pandora inches closer to the launch of its long-expected on-demand subscription service, it’s aiming to avoid some of the public relations pitfalls surrounding royalty rates and payments that some of its predecessors have encountered in recent years. To that end, the company announced today a new agreement with rights administrator Music Reports to use that company’s platform to increase the openness and transparency of its payment process and manage mechanical licensing and royalty administration.
Pandora, by purchasing pieces of Rdio last year — while simultaneously making overtures to legacy music companies through direct deals and backdoor outreach — announced its intention to enter the on-demand streaming world. That puts the company on the verge of a major shift in focus — its deal with Music Reports will help it complete that transition for rights holders. And continue to present itself as more friend than foe.
“As we expand the listening experience on Pandora, it’s important that we continue to ensure music makers are not only accurately and fairly compensated, but also have more control and greater transparency around the use of their art,” said Pandora founder and recently re-installed CEO Tim Westergren in a statement. “That’s why Music Reports’ opt-in licensing and full reporting infrastructure is so important. I’m thrilled to be working with another partner that puts artists’ interests first.”
Music Reports has long been in the rights administration business, beginning with television synchs for local new stations in the mid-’90s, expanding to more than 100 clients over the past two decades, including SoundCloud, Amazon, Deezer and Guvera. In March, the company announced a new platform with the express goal of clearing up missing or incorrect publishing information distributed to streaming services, one of the biggest obstacles in music’s “Big Data problem” that has left millions of dollars on the table, largely for independent artists. Correcting or completing that data can help free up payments that would have otherwise remained in escrow until claimed by a rights holder.
“Pandora and Music Reports share a commitment to comprehensive licensing solutions so that royalties properly flow to publishers and songwriters,” said Music Reports vp/gm Bill Colitre in a statement. “Music Reports is in a unique position to reach every active publisher in the market, ensuring Pandora can offer them all the opportunity to participate in these new services, on the same terms. This is another huge step forward for music licensing in the United States.”