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Pandora founder: ‘Subscription businesses are destroying music’


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We tend to focus on startups’ tech and business models rather than their founders’ psychology, but new livestreaming startup Sessions is fascinating on both counts – in the latter case, seemingly as a response to CEO Tim Westergren’s experiences at Pandora.

“The big piece of unfinished business for me at Pandora was, ironically, the artists,” he told Fast Company in an interview about Sessions’ launch. “When I founded Pandora, the purpose of it was to build a discovery engine for lesser-known musicians. I wouldn’t say we lost our way, but we got sucked into the music industrial complex vortex.”

Later on in the interview, he returns to the topic. “I worry for the future to be honest. Subscription businesses are destroying music, and they’re destroying musicians. And, unfortunately, Pandora has become part of this now,” he said. “Music is a commodity. It’s a means to drive advertising revenue or subscriptions. There is no fundamental alignment between the artist and the business.” Oof.

But getting back to tech and business models, the interview is worth a read for more detail on how Sessions plans to pay artists. “Audiences can buy virtual gifts for an artist, as well as pay for shout-outs and song requests,” explains the piece. “Artists can also earn money through bonuses based on their weekly rank, which is determined by a gamified points system involving collecting stars and completing missions.”

 

Image by Gallks / Shutterstock.com

Stuart Dredge

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