Over the weekend, a lot of people at the Midem music conference in Cannes were saying that Pandora might return to the UK.
According to a rumour picked up by Music Business Worldwide, the personalised radio streaming platform has been speaking to music rights-holders in the UK.
Pandora is rumoured to have set up meetings with some of the UK’s biggest music publishers to discuss direct licensing agreements.
The radio streaming service is reportedly looking for more wriggle room when it comes to licence fees this time round, having left the UK in January 2008 because it couldn’t afford to keep paying the royalty rates music industry trade bodies were asking for.
Royalty collection society PRS was asking for a 0.065 pence fee per listener per track, which, Pandora founder Tim Westergren said at the time, made up 47% of the £172 billion in revenue the company took in 2007. Westergren also blamed the fees charged by Phonographic Performance Limited, a company which licenses recorded music played in public and distributes the fees as royalties to its members, for forcing Pandora to leave the UK.
PRS and its German counterpart GEMA now handle the licensing of Sony/ATV and EMI Music’s catalogues through a joint venture called SONAR. But were Pandora to make a direct deal with SONAR, Music Business Worldwide points out that Sony/ATV would probably be calling the shots, which might make negotiations a little more flexible.
Since 2008, Pandora’s revenues, which come from advertising and subscription fees, have grown dramatically. The company expects to turn over $US1 billion (around £656 million) this year. The company’s revenue for the first quarter of this year reached somewhere between $US220 million and $US220 million, missing analyst estimations of $US244 million.
Pandora pays just a 0.014 cent fee per ad funded stream to music labels and artists in the US, and 4% of its revenues to songwriters and publishers.