Media

Pandora starts playing music from unreleased albums

Streaming music service Pandora is launching a new radio station today that features songs from albums that aren’t available for sale yet.

The station, called Pandora Premieres, features a slew of unreleased music, interviews and other extra content from both established and emerging artists about a week before you can buy them via retail stores. You can listen to those songs as often as you’d like in any order, (so basically, its on-demand), and kicks off with music from John Fogerty and Laura Marling. The content itself receives a refresh once a week, in which case you’ll have to either buy the album to continue hearing those previously unreleased tracks or wait for them to get played on your custom smart radio stations.

Pandora PremieresThe move marks an important step in Pandora’s attempt to become just as vital to the music industry as the traditional radio stations were decades earlier. I’m curious about whether Pandora is paying for its users to play these tracks, or if Pandora Premieres is primarily a promotional vehicle that music companies can pay for to help sell new albums. And given Pandora’s problems with generating enough revenue, I’m guessing they probably aren’t paying for on-demand licensing, which is far more expensive than the digital radio fees.

If Pandora is getting paid for what it plays on Pandora Premieres (at least in part) by the music industry, then it could prove to be an extremely smart move, too — and one that traditional radio has turned into a source of revenue. This is also something that Grooveshark is exploring with the launch of their new Grooveshark radio service that debuted last month.

Navigating to the new station reveals that Pandora is maximizing its advertising by pulling in a sole sponsor, as you can see from the screenshot above. Beyond that, Pandora’s Tim Westergren only had this to say about the new station in a company blog post:

“Pandora Premieres is also a new and unique vehicle for artists, both established and emerging, to reach and expand their audience. Seeing the impact of Pandora on the careers of working musicians continues to be one of the most gratifying parts of this experience.”

We’ve reached out to Pandora for clarification about its strategy for Pandora Premieres and will update this post with any new information we find out.

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