Over the past decade, Pandora has become one of the go-to destinations for music discovery. The popular radio service allows over 81 million active users to create customized stations based on their favorite genres and artists. Pandora’s recommendation engine (built on extensive human input) then streams a playlist that is altered by user engagement in real-time. In other words, Pandora is pretty smart at picking the playlist to start with, but the listener can give feedback (a simple thumbs up or down) and then Pandora gets even smarter!
For independent artists, getting music on Pandora can be a great way to build an audience without spending thousands on radio promotion or advertising. If you sound like Coldplay, whenever someone creates a Pandora station based on the music of Coldplay—bam!—your music could get served up, hopefully earning you a new fan or download sale (since Pandora also displays buy links).
But how do you get your music onto Pandora as an independent artist?
Pandora’s Curation team is constantly on the lookout for independent, self released music by monitoring sources of information that focus specifically on this kind of music. These sources include data driven charts, blogs, labels, a variety of editorial properties, and Pandora listeners. Pandora also has an open submission system that allows artists to submit their albums for consideration. Every submission is listened to and considered carefully by someone that is trained to approve submissions for Pandora. And, since Pandora updated the system early in 2014, the submission process is simple — and digital.
How to submit your music to Pandora
1. Make sure you control the legal rights to your work.
2. Make your music available on iTunes, Amazon, CD Baby, or Bandcamp. (Hey, if you’re a CD Baby artist, you’ve already got this covered!)
3. Log into your Pandora account. If you don’t have a Pandora account, create one HERE.
4. Go to Pandora’s Submit Your Music page.
5. Provide Pandora with details about your submission, including your band name, release information (single, EP, or album), link to artist bio, and valid links to a song on iTunes (US), Amazon, CD Baby, or Bandcamp.
6. Verify your submission.
Yep. Now you’ll have to wait to hear if your album is approved. If it is, Pandora will purchase the album from Amazon (digital), iTunes (US), or Bandcamp. If you list the source of your submission as CD Baby and the submission is approved, it is automatically added to the Pandora library. Keep in mind that not every submission is approved, but every submission is listened to and considered in the same way, in the order it is received, by a human being.
How does The Music Genome Project work?
Here’s a little bit about the team of people who’ll be analyzing your music, if you DO get accepted. According to Pandora:
Each song in the Music Genome Project is analyzed using up to 450 distinct musical characteristics by a trained music analyst. These attributes capture not only the musical identity of a song, but also the many significant qualities that are relevant to understanding the musical preferences of listeners. The typical music analyst working on the Music Genome Project has a four-year degree in music theory, composition or performance, has passed through a selective screening process and has completed intensive training in the Music Genome’s rigorous and precise methodology. To qualify for the work, analysts must have a firm grounding in music theory, including familiarity with a wide range of styles and sounds.
Hopefully all this information is helpful to you in submitting your music to Pandora. If your music is accepted, be sure to register with SoundExchange, an organization that pays digital performance royalties to artists, labels, and performers for the usage of sound recordings online. Heck, even if Pandora doesn’t accept your music, you should still register with SoundExchange; there may be plenty of other internet radio stations that are interested in playing your music.
Have you submitted your music to Pandora? Did it get accepted or rejected? What was the process like? Let us know in the comments section below.