I’ve spent much of this year on the road, and one of my favorite parts of the day has been waking up in the morning and typing www.pandora.com into my browser window (I know, I should make a bookmark, but with auto-complete I usually end up just typing “pa”). Pandora is an internet radio service that creates custom radio stations based on the criteria you give it. So, for instance, I could tell it that I like the song “Levon”, by Elton John, and Pandora would create a custom station with songs similar to “Levon”. Apparently, it bases its criteria for choosing songs on a variety of factors including instruments, tempo, etc. Also, you can give it feedback by giving the songs “thumbs up” or “thumbs down”, and I believe it takes into account feedback from listeners of similar custom stations. In any case, the system did a great job of choosing songs, and I was exposed to a lot of new music that I liked.
So I was disappointed when I received an email from Pandora a few weeks ago announcing that they would be forced to block their service from users outside of the US. It seems there were licensing issues.
I suppose it’s only a matter of time (probably measured in years, though) before this sort of issue gets resolved, but as a consumer I find this sort of situation very frustrating. I can’t listen to Pandora, I can’t use DVDs I buy in Europe in the US, I can’t purchase from the iTunes Music Store from China without using a US billing address, I can’t even order a computer from the US and have it delivered to Beijing. We live in a globalizing world, but we haven’t figured out how to remove many of the barriers.