Tim Westergren

Pandora listening growth and alliances attract attention from media and critics alike

Wednesday, January 18, 2012 - 11:00am

Pandora has been enjoying some attention from business and mainstream media lately. The webcaster took the opportunity of the International Consumer Electronic Show last week to show off not only their latest audience numbers, but their growing set of automotive- and consumer electronics-alliances.

[According to Pandora's own reporting of their audience, they now have more than 125 million registered users (which comes down to about 40 million "active" users), who listen for an average of 18 hours each month. The Triton Digital Webcast Metrics report for November (here) credits Pandora with its highest-ever share of measured Internet radio listening, 68%.
 
And for the record, more than 450 different electronics devices, from smartphones to DVD players to Dish Network receivers, now deploy Pandora (several of these were announced at CES, see our coverage here, here, and here). With the new alliances with Kia and Acura, Pandora has deals with 16 automotive brands and 7 aftermarket manufacturers.]
 
Jefferson Graham of USA Today interviewed Pandora founder Tim Westergren (with video, here), who said growth still takes precedence over profitability for Pandora (which has had just a single profitable quarter so far). "The opportunity for us is global," Westergren said. "That's the big vision."
 
That won't come at traditional radio's expense, insists Clear Channel CEO Bob Pittman. "Radio is doing very well. It's in every car and most homes. It's embedded in the world. If you want personalized radio, you have to be online, and not everybody can always be online."
 
Currently, Pandora is U.S.-only, because of prohibitive complexities in securing the necessary licensing deals with record labels country-by-country. And Westergren is far from satisfied even with the arrangements here in the U.S., which last year cost the company more than half its gross revenues. "That compares to satellite radio, which pays 7.5% or 8% of gross revenue, and broadcast radio, which is completely exempt from it," he told Fast Company last week (here). 
 
SoundExchange president Michael Huppe told the magazine he finds the comparison unfair. After all, Pandora is focused on growing listening, not profitability, right? "It's a bit disingenuous to simply look at percentage of revenue as a marker that you judge everything by. It's no secret that Pandora's focus over the last five years has not been on generating revenue. They've been trying to work on their product, their brand, and building a huge following. I salute that. But it's not unusual for companies in the early stages to focus on things other than cash flow."
 
Again, you can find the USA Today coverage here; the Fast Company article here.

Pandora using listener preferences for targeted promotion of Portland concerts for artist Dawes

Thursday, December 8, 2011 - 11:50am

Pandora's local powerPandora will launch a series of free concerts, starting in December 13, with ATO recording artists Dawes in Portland, OR. The web radio service will reportedly send out invitations based on listeners' music preferences (like what music they have thumbed-up).

Even the location of the concerts was decided by listener data: "Pandora data shows that Portland-area listeners are 25% more likely to enjoy a Dawes song and 30% more likely to create a Dawes station on Pandora than listeners in any other U.S. city," reports Billboard.

This kind of promotional power for local live concerts was discussed by Pandora's founder Tim Westergren at RAIN Summit Chicago back in September. You can watch his keynote presentation here.

Billboard has more on this story here.

To compete with over-the-air radio, Pandora says it needs the same audience metrics

Monday, November 7, 2011 - 12:00pm

Pandora founder Tim Westergren, speaking to advertising executives last week, stressed the need for a "universal metric" to measure listening to both traditional, broadcast radio and Internet radio services like his own.

"It's really absurd there's not an apples-to-apples" comparison, he told a group of advertising professionals at agency Horizon Media. 

Pandora reported $176 million in ad revenues for its fiscal year ending July 31. Advertisers spent $17 billion on AM/FM radio advertising last year; and as Pandora says it now owns 4% of radio listening in the U.S., the webcaster obviously feels a bigger slice of that pie. 

In fact, this sounds like exactly what audience metrics firm Arbitron is working towards now. Over the past few months, Arbitron has revealed some of its plans for an integrated over-the-air and Internet radio measurement system (in RAIN here and also here). Towards these efforts, the company acquired Finnish mobile audience measurement and analytics firm Zokem Oy (see RAIN here) in July, then partnered with Belgian ad tech firm AdSwizz last month (in RAIN here). Arbitron EVP/COO Sean Creamer explained AdSwizz will, in fact, convert server-based streaming radio data (such as from webcasters) into traditional broadcast radio metrics like Average Quarter Hour, Time Spent Listening, and Cumulative Audience.

Without a platform-agnostic metric, Chief Revenue Officer John Trimble explained Pandora sales efforts involve "doing manual calculations to turn unique visitors and time spent into traditional-radio metrics such as average quarterly hour," reports. Read more here.

MORE SUMMIT VIDEOS ON THE WAY SOON

Monday, September 19, 2011 - 12:00pm

RAIN Summit Chicago photosWe've published hundreds of photos from last week's RAIN Summit Chicago gathering, taken by RTT News (which covered the event).

PRESS PITS UPDATED iHEARTRADIO AS PANDORA RIVAL

Wednesday, September 14, 2011 - 12:00pm

iHeartRadio new player

New articles from USA Today, Forbes and Reuters highlight the newly-updated iHeartRadio from Clear Channel (with custom radio features) and what it means for Pandora.

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