Pandora launches in Australia and New Zealand

By | Published on Tuesday 11 December 2012


While it tackles the tricky PR challenge at home of trying to force the royalties it pays record labels and music publishers down (through Congress and the courts respectively) while presenting itself as an artist-friendly service, Pandora has finally taken a step beyond the United States, launching its streaming music service in Australia and New Zealand.

Pandora has only ever officially operated in the US, though in its early days the system for blocking out international users was somewhat slacker than it is today, so it did have many users elsewhere for a time. Founder Tim Westergren always indicated a wish to expand into Europe, though said that royalty demands from collecting societies over here made such a plan unfeasible.

Tracks have been licensed in Australia via the Australasian Performing Rights Association and the Australasian Mechanical Copyright Owners Society, and in New Zealand via PPNZ Music Licensing. It’s not clear what kind of royalties will be paid, though in a filing with the US Securities And Exchange Commission announcing the Australasian launch, the publicly-listed digital firm said it would pay “less than 25% of revenue” to rights owners in New Zealand.

Pandora CEO Joe Kennedy told Billboard earlier this year that expansion of the service overseas was reliant on local rights owners offering what he considered realistic royalty rates. Though the extensive reach of the mobile internet in Australia and New Zealand would also have made those markets particularly attractive, given the number of US Pandora users who primarily stream music from the service via mobile.

Confirming the expansion of Pandora into its new markets, the aforementioned Westergren said yesterday: “After years of preparation and anticipation we are absolutely thrilled to fully launch Pandora internationally in Australia and New Zealand. Personalised radio is a wonderful medium for listeners to enjoy music they know and discover music they’ll love. Now we begin the incredibly exciting process of connecting the 100,000-plus working musicians in the Pandora catalogue with millions of new listeners. What an amazing opportunity”.

Pandora’s Australia and New Zealand division will be led by Jane Huxley, former digital chief at Sydney based Fairfax Media. She told reporters: “I feel as though I’ve stumbled upon music’s greatest secret and I can’t wait for Australians and New Zealanders to enjoy music in the Pandora way. The service has certainly changed the way people have consumed and enjoyed music in America for the last twelve years, and I’m looking forward to seeing its adoption in Australia and New Zealand. This version of Pandora has been built specifically for Australians and New Zealanders and we are going to be all about bringing the best music experience of local and international artists as well as supporting local musicians. It’s an honour for me to be able to introduce Australians and New Zealanders to Pandora. My focus for the coming year will be to grow the audience for this great new medium as fast as I can”.