Pandora, the US-based streaming radio & music recommendation service, is to block UK users from January 15th due to licensing disputes. Pandora has been blocking access from non-US IP addresses since July 2007 but was still attempting to negotiate a deal allowing it to broadcast to the UK. These attempts appear to have failed. In a very honest email, Tim Westergren, founder of Pandora, says:
It continues to astound me and the rest of the team here that the industry is not working more constructively to support the growth of services that introduce listeners to new music and that are totally supportive of paying fair royalties to the creators of music. I don't often say such things, but the course being charted by the labels and publishers and their representative organizations is nothing short of disastrous for artists whom they purport to represent - and by that I mean both well known and indie artists. The only consequence of failing to support companies like Pandora that are attempting to build a sustainable radio business for the future will be the continued explosion of piracy, the continued constriction of opportunities for working musicians, and a worsening drought of new music for fans. As a former working musician myself, I find it very troubling.
It doesn't fill me with pity for the music industry when I see it so stubbornly refusing to adapt to the new environment created by technology. If, like me, this news leaves a Pandora-sized hole in your heart, fear not! Techcrunch reports success using ad-supported VPN service Hotspot Shield to fool Pandora into thinking you are a US user. Excitingly it is also reported to work with Hulu. I can't try it now as it doesn't work on Linux but I can't wait to get home a test it out!