Over the past few days, I’ve been corresponding with Pandora over our submission to their library. The initial process was fairly straight forward, some brief forms, uploading our music, nothing too difficult. Then a quick submit and…then… the waiting period. Six weeks to be exact.
For us, getting our music in a library where there is a possibility of our music being played for a brand new listener who’s never been exposed to us is an immense opportunity.
An 80 million registered users kind of opportunity. 80 MILLION PEOPLE casually streaming music to find something enjoyable.
So in that case it seemed like a no-brainer. Sign up Skymonk with our newest EP. Now I won’t make any delusions about who we are, at what point our band is at, or how much music we’ve put out. We’re new at this in the grand scheme of things. But every month we bring more and more to the table, we’re growing our fan-base (with your diligent help of course sharing our music and this article for example), playing bigger shows (we just played a show to crowd of around 120 in Hartsville at their Concerts on College series where last year at this time we didn’t even have a gmail account), and consistently improving our live show. Now of course Pandora can’t account for these things. Pandora can’t see that we have a small dedicated following, a dynamic live show, or the fact our gmail account works well, haha, so of course these things, despite their validity in my own mind, probably have absolutely no bearing on whether or not Pandora will accept our music and help us grow as a band, and ultimately as a business.
And that brings us to Wednesday evening.
I received a notice from Pandora that our music will not be added to their library with a link that is to provide “extra” information regarding this decision. This only leads to an FAQ section, “Why wasn’t my submission approved for Pandora’s library?”. This is what it says on their website in the help section.
“We have a deep respect for artists and their work, and we take the responsibility of curating Pandora’s collection very seriously to give our listeners music and comedy that enhances their personalized listening experience.
This decision has been made purely on the basis of what is best for Pandora’s collection. We curate music that works for personalized radio listening, and that we expect will connect with an audience.
Pandora takes this responsibility very seriously, and we aspire to be as consistent and accurate as we can when reviewing submissions. Each submission is reviewed carefully by one of our curators, independent from bias. We proudly invest many hours every week reviewing each submission and we are committed to doing this even with our ever-growing volume. We do not reconsider submissions once an initial decision has been made. That said, suggestions from listeners and ongoing external research help guide future music and comedy inclusions.”
Before I go on some rant about Pandora, which in truth would have been providing our group with a serious leg up marketing-wise, I just want to emphasize if I was runningPandora, I’d turn people down too. I like and use Pandora. It’s their servers, it’s their business, and it’s their brand at stake. So they obviously cannot accept every piece of music on the planet, especially for free. That’s not my issue.
My issue resides in the simple fact that after several requests for specifics, I cannot get concrete feedback. We thrive on feedback, it’s how we got here. It’s how we got to the place where venues, radio stations, music industry folks weren’t smugly giggling as we walked away or worse just ignoring us. Skymonk getting music on Pandora was going to be another big step in the right direction, just like our first live show, our first radio performance/interview, getting music online, recording our first EP the right way in studio with someone who knew what the hell they were doing. One more piece of the puzzle. And just like holding our physical record, custom art on the cover, and getting that 10 year old version of myself on Christmas morning, giddy as an idiot, I was hoping that was what was in store for us when we received correspondence from Pandora (because I actually get THAT excited for our success).
But that’s not the case. We’ve been denied.
But we’ve been denied before. We’ve lost battles of the bands, denied opening spots on a bill for bigger bands that we thought we were right for, denied shows at venues we thought we could fill up, dismissed for press opportunities before someone has even heard our music. This isn’t new and anyone in the same endeavor shares this pain.
I can’t help but be reminded of the times I played soccer as a kid. My dad once asked about why I decided to ‘get in the game’ only after an opposing player knocked me down, kicked me in the leg, or pushed me over.
I never knew why. Still don’t. All I know is it made me work harder, play harder.
But first it made me mad.
It made me so aggressive that my dad joked he was going to start giving kids on the other team $10 bucks to push me over as soon as the game started.
Now after a day to digest what’s happened I’m not nearly as irritated as I was yesterday. The nature of the business requires alligator skin, thick, tough, and emotionless at times but truth be told I’m still pretty irked. Not because we got pushed down but because it’s unclear why. At least not clear enough for me.
I asked the customer service rep from Pandora directly if our music was denied based upon the fact we’re a new band and there is a lower demand, the production quality isn’t as high as they prefer, we don’t have enough facebook likes, or maybe your team simply didn’t like it. Or if there is some other reason I just couldn’t think of.
Again all we got back, in the most polite manner possible, is that our music simply did not fit their specifications for their library and what they thought their listeners would enjoy. This is based upon hundreds of parameters… blah blah blah. They even invited us to submit other material when we release new music. And that’s the way it is I suppose.
But the way I see it the game just started. Pandora came across the center line, like many before, and just kicked us in the balls, which is fine.
Because now I’m fired up. I’m all piss and vinegar as my grandfather would say. And that’s only going to make me work harder.
We’ll be seeing you Pandora.
Until next time,