Pandora to let musicians send audio messages to fans

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Internet radio service provider Pandora is giving artists the ability to reach out to their listeners with personalized audio messages. The new feature, dubbed Artist Audio Messaging, was announced yesterday at the Code/Media conference in Laguna Niguel, California. It will initially be limited to a select number of musicians, including celebrated rocker Lenny Kravitz.

In an onstage interview conducted by Re/code’s co-executive editor Walt Mossberg, Pandora founder Tim Westergren said that the feature would allow artists to develop patronage. He sees the audio messages being used to express gratitude, promote merchandise, solicit tips, and announce upcoming tours and albums.

“The revenue it will generate per artist will dwarf royalties,” Westergren said at the conference. “Most artists are blown away by the size of the platform. Most artists don’t know how big it is.”

Pandora listeners will be able to opt out of these messages by disabling them from their station settings.

The story behind the story : This is another attempt on Pandora’s part to mend fences with artists, with whom it has had a strained relationship in recent times over the size of royalty payments. In October, the service launched AMP (Artist Marketing Platform), an analytics tool that provides artists with valuable insights about their fans. These tools could be immensely useful to marketing organizations that know how to leverage them, but it remains to be seen if artists are willing to accept them as a substitute for hard currency.

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