Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Pandora and Clorox Don't Mix!

Yesterday, David Dudas -- Sorenson Media's Product Dev expert extraordinaire -- asked me to recommend an artist to him to plug into his online music service Pandora -- so that Pandora, in turn, could create a music station based on that recommendation. Broken Bells -- the new project by The Shins lead singer (James Mercer) and Danger Mouse (Brian Burton) -- was my choice. I asked David to take "The High Road."

So, here's what happens. David plugs Broken Bells into Pandora -- and, voila! Out comes a Broken Bells-ian music listening experience programmed by Pandora's experts! Good so far, right?

Unfortunately, no -- not right -- actually, wrong ... very wrong. Imagine the horror when -- right there, in the heart of David's Broken Bells radio station UI windows -- was a prominent ad for Clorox (you know, Clorox bleech?). That's right, Clorox -- right there, front and center on the main stage -- more prominently displayed than the artists themselves!

First, when was the last time you heard, let alone saw, Clorox? The 1960s? I mean, c'mon.

Second, I know David -- and, let me tell you this. Clorox has absolutely no meaning to him whatsoever (not saying he ain't a clean guy). There is no linkage of any kind to David's musical tastes, or to anything relevant in his life (except for, perhaps, white socks on occasion -- although he isn't really a white socks kind of guy). The point is this -- yes, we understand that Pandora's "free" (i.e., non paid-subscription) version must try to monetize in some way. So, yes, we understand that advertising fits the bill. But, c'mon -- at least have some relevance either to the listener, or at least to the service itself! Whatever happened to the concept of contextual advertising? The last time I saw such jarring advertising was in the last century -- web 1.0!

And this brings me to my third point. Apart from relevance, at least have some elegance! Pandora -- you are supposed to be a purveyor of cool. The digerati praise you as being one of the best and brightest. Even I am a paying subscriber for god's sake! So I am one of you (although I find the overall depth of your catalog to be quite limited). Yet, you allow your ad-driven music experience to be taken over and over-run by an ad network that blindly throws meaningless and completely irrelevant ad inventory directly into the faces of your users? And, you expect them to be enamored with that "experience" and, as a result, upgrade to your premium service?

That won't happen -- certainly, not that way. Note to Pandora -- and all other ad-driven services -- please don't add Clorox! Don't try to whiten our online music and media experiences -- we want our music to be bold and beautiful -- not bland!

Clorox and Pandora don't mix. And, the overall experience didn't wash ...

David's jarring experience is precisely that which will drive away users -- that single moment

Come Together, Right Now -- At Streaming Media East

Next week is one of our online video industry's most important annual conferences -- Streaming Media East in New York City. We at Sorenson Media will have a significant presence at this year's show -- held on Tuesday and Wednesday -- and we will make some significant announcements. I will be there all day Tuesday and Wednesday (reach out to me at bizdev@sorensonmedia.com if you would like to meet).

Among other things, we are partnering with Amazon Web Services and Adobe to bring a free workshop to attendees titled "The Easy Way to Encode, Manage, Publish and Deliver Video Online." Click on this link to read the press release that just hit the wires earlier this morning.

See you there ... and stay tuned for our major announcements. Suffice it to say, we have a few things cooking over here ...