Much has been made of the recent announcement that the Beatles' music catalog will now be available on streaming music services such as Spotify and Apple Music. Actually, the entire repertoire of the Fab Four has already been playing on Pandora since the company's inception — here's why.
As of today, Dec. 24, the most popular and iconic rock and roll band in history is finally available on most on-demand streaming services, including Apple Music, Spotify, Tidal, Prime Music, Google Play, Slacker Radio, Microsoft Groove, Deezer and Rhapsody.
What about Pandora? The hugely popular steaming service isn't listed, not because it wasn't included in the deal, but because it already had the rights to stream the entire Beatles catalog, ever since the popular streaming service was birthed into digital existence. That's because Pandora, along with other radio-style streaming apps such as iHeartRadio, are allowed to play any song they like — any record ever recorded by any artist, without exception.
Pandora, iHeartRadio and other streaming services are treated in a similar manner as commercial radio stations. It's a foregone conclusion that terrestrial radio channels can play whatever songs they choose, and the same goes for Web radio services like Pandora. That's also why listeners can hear every track from Adele's new "25" album on Pandora, even though the artist has famously refused to allow the streaming of the collection on any on-demand streaming service sans the first single "Hello," which she specifically authorized.
However, because Pandora's airplay is regulated by a government-authorized statutory license, the service is prohibited from playing more than four songs by any one artist in a three-hour period. That's why the Pandora stations that center around various artists play more music by "related" artists than their actual namesakes, and also why the service can't offer rewind capabilities.
The freedom to play music its competitors can't gives Pandora an advantage that it has arguably been remiss in publicizing to potential subscribers. That might be because the company is ramping up to soon offer an on-demand service that will compete directly with Spotify, Apple Music and others in the streaming wars. The company's recent acquisition of the now-defunct Rdio, along with the inking of new licensing deals with music publishers BMI and ASCAP, are paving the way for the introduction of the new on-demand tier. The details of how that platform will coexist with Pandora's current Web radio-based service are still unclear, but for now, Pandora remains free to play any song it chooses, from "Hello" by Adele to "Hello, Goodbye" by the Beatles.