Can these former Rdio execs woo the music biz for Pandora?

Pandora quit Europe in 2008 under pressure from collection societies to pay more in licensing fees. It’s set to return this year as a very different beast.

MBW understands that ex-Rdio execs Rich Masio (pictured right) and Iain Morris (pictured left) will both play crucial roles in assisting the company’s global expansion plans throughout 2016.

Morris has been hired as Director of International Publishing for Pandora in London.

He moves over from his role as Vice President of Global Music Publishing at Rdio, a position he held for just nine months.

Morris joined Rdio in April last year from Warner/Chappell, where he was Head Of Digital.

He worked at the major publisher’s UK office for a decade.

Meanwhile, New York-based Rich Masio has been named Director of Content Partner Licensing at Pandora.

Masio, a former IODA/Sony Music exec, was Sr. Director, Global Content Licensing & Business Affairs at Rdio.

He worked for the now-defunct streaming service for nearly five years after joining in early 2011.

“The course being charted by labels and publishers and their representative organisations is nothing short of disastrous for artists whom they purport to represent.”

Tim Westergen, Pandora in 2008

Pandora bought key Rdio assets for $75m after its former rival fell into bankruptcy in November.

However, it didn’t acquire Rdio’s operating business, meaning many staff would have not transferred over with the buyout.

Rdio was losing around $2m a month when it went bust, and filed for bankruptcy owing, amongst many others, Sony Music $2.4m and Shazam $1.2m.

The platform was spending $4 million in monthly operating expenses, including payroll for 140 employees.

Pandora is set to use Rdio’s tech framework to launch a Spotify-esque interactive service this year.

It has recently signed a spate of expanded direct licensing deals in the US with key publishers including Warner/Chappell, Downtown Music Publishing, Songs Music Publishing and Sony/ATV.

MBW first reported last summer that Pandora would be making a comeback to the UK.

When Pandora blocked UK IP addresses from its service in 2008, its founder Tim Westergren emailed customers the following:

“It continues to astound me and the rest of the team here that the industry is not working more constructively to support the growth of services that introduce listeners to new music and that are totally supportive of paying fair royalties to the creators of music.

“I don’t often say such things, but the course being charted by the labels and publishers and their representative organizations is nothing short of disastrous for artists whom they purport to represent – and by that I mean both well known and indie artists.

“The only consequence of failing to support companies like Pandora that are attempting to build a sustainable radio business for the future will be the continued explosion of piracy, the continued constriction of opportunities for working musicians, and a worsening drought of new music for fans.

“As a former working musician myself, I find it very troubling.”Music Business Worldwide

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