Pandora Aug. 6 announced its first-ever direct licensing agreement with a record label, striking a deal that London-based Merlin called a "huge opportunity" for its 20,000 members. Merlin is a group of independent labels representing several well-known artists including Bad Religion and Vampire Weekend (above).
Merlin Network - Representing the rights of independent record labels worldwide
This is an important step to advance Pandora's ongoing commitment to build a vibrant and sustainable music industry. It's a true partnership that will grow our collective businesses, help artists reach larger audiences, and give our listeners an even better music discovery experience personalized to their tastes.
– Brian McAndrews, Pandora CEO
Pandora founder Tim Westergren claimed that the deal would "help musicians of all career stages build their audiences."
As part of the deal, Merlin will receive demographic data on the Pandora users who listen to their artists' music, which could in turn help these artists determine where they're most popular for later touring.
Pandora spent much of 2013 in court against the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) arguing over the rates it would pay the group. A New York federal judge ruled in March that Pandora would continue to pay 1.85% of its total revenue to ASCAP, the same amount as under a previous agreement.
Controversial music company Grooveshark plans to launch a Pandora-like streaming radio service in January, the company said Dec. 8. The streaming radio service will pay the same government-mandated licensing fees that other online radio services must pay.