I’ve been a hater on Pandora since day one. I was psyched to see that industry gadfly Bob Lefsetz didn’t mince words on this topic:
This is why the music industry hates technologists. Self-satisfied pricks like Tim Westergren who believe they’re entitled to make a huge profit off the hard work of others, in this case the copyrighted material known as music. And he rationalizes it by saying it’s good for the public. Isn’t that like saying free food is good for the public? And free cable TV? But who’s gonna pay to grow staples and lay the pipe?
Well played young man.
Westergren is a Stanford grad who played piano in local hotels while trying to advance his band but then figured out how to make millions on the backs of better musicians and bands. I’ve probably spent less than 10 hours on Pandora and think its supposed “mentaculus” is a sham; the average college radio dj does a more interesting job of picking segues. It’s kind of a prank on the Turing test or the machine that plays chess; I mean, it’s more The Turk than Deep Blue, but it does effectively capitalize on the same truism that Earthwise does less effectively: there is a vast universe of great unheard bands beyond the industry controlled “Top 40”.
It’s been amusing to be a Luddite concert promoter here in the epicenter of high tech. I’ve produced about 200 shows in Palo Alto, since 1994. Pandora does more for the proliferation of high tech than it does for music. In a related matter, I nearly evaded a fist fight in Old Pro sports bar for saying that Al Davis did as much for his field as Steve Jobs. A guy in a Packers shirt wanted to kick my ass, until a mutual friend interceded.
And excuse the irony of my outro with Joe Jackson in that neither I nor the poster have the rights to this topical performance (although I am not monetizing so I think of it as fair use — and the further irony that I believe the leading search engine overpaid for the leading user-generated content site which is or was principally a borrowed content site, and worth bank, on the backs, et cetera)