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Road to Pandora now goes through Amazon

Independent acts now have to be selling physical CDs through Amazon before Pandora will consider them.

Pandora is a great music-discovery service, so it's only natural that independent bands would hope to get their music placed on it. Unfortunately for them, Pandora just made that a little harder--and a little more expensive.

As I first saw on the Digital Audio Insider blog a couple weeks ago, Pandora recently changed its music submission process, and is now accepting solicitations only from bands who have a physical CD for sale through Amazon.com. That requires the artist to manufacture a CD with proper album art and bar code, which is much more expensive than creating a bunch of MP3s, and to pay Amazon $29.95 a year to participate in the Amazon Advantage program; Amazon then takes a 55 percent cut of the list price of the CD.

This shouldn't hurt too many artists--serious musicians want their CDs to turn up in a search on the world's largest retailer, and probably have a relationship with Amazon anyway. But you were planning on using CD Baby or another site exclusively, or hoping to save money with an online-only release, don't count on Pandora as a marketing mechanism for your music.