Pandora's relationship with music labels hasn't exactly been cozy, with more than a few legal disputes over royalties. Today, though, it's extending an olive branch. The internet radio service has forged a deal with the Merlin rights agency's 20,000-plus indie labels to help their artists get discovered. The move will use Pandora's music discovery techniques to bring "additional exposure" to these musicians when they're relevant to listeners. They'll also have direct access to playback data (to help decide on set lists and tour locations), and they'll get custom communication channels to reach fans.
The agreement is big, whether you're an up-and-coming artist or just want to hear music beyond the big three record companies. Merlin's labels represent about 10 percent of streaming music worldwide, so you're likely to notice if you listen to enough tunes. Of course, this isn't quite a selfless gesture. On top of the extra attention it draws to Pandora, the pact gives the company a better shot at offering service outside of the US. It has offerings in Australia and New Zealand, but the lack of direct artist connections has made it hard to expand elsewhere. That may prove crucial -- Pandora has to compete against international heavyweights like Apple and Spotify in the online radio space, so it might not want to depend on one country for its success.
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