RAIN Analysis: Kassof neatly answers "Is Pandora radio?" question. Answer: "It doesn't matter"

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Issue Date: 
Apr 25 2012 - 12:05pm

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PandoraMedia researcher Mark Kassof today published results of a recent survey he took of adult (18-64) Pandora listeners. In a nutshell, he asked these listeners to score various music experiences on a "1-to-5" scale on how similar or different they were from Pandora (these included Clear Channel's iHeartRadio Internet radio service, the on-demand Spotify service, SiriusXM satellite radio, iPod/mp3 listening, FM radio, compact discs, and YouTube).

Of the nearly 1,200 Pandora listeners in the survey, 95% of them had an opinion when it came to Pandora vs. FM radio. Of that group, nearly half (49%) scored the difference as a "1" or a "2" (a "1" means "totally different").

So, we're at about 548 Pandora listeners now -- all of whom perceive a significant difference between Pandora and FM radio. Kasof asked them, "In what way or ways is FM radio different than Pandora?" By far, the most popular responses (besides "Other" which Kasof said was 30%) were "Not as much choice in listening" (31%) and "More/too many commercials" (26%). No other response scored higher than 8%, most were about 4%.

So, Pandora listeners say the significant differences between the service and FM is "choice" (select genre, choose artists, skip songs, etc.) and spot load. Surprise, right? Naturally, these differences -- perceived as negative -- made a majority of these Pandora listeners regard FM radio as "worse to listen to" than Pandora. Again, no big surprise. (Actually, only 76% said these differences made FM radio worse... 11% said these differences made FM radio better! Wha?)

Nevertheless, most of FM’s differences are clearly negative for these Pandora listeners (we are talking to Pandora listeners, after all).

Here we want to point to Kassof's conclusion:

"They think FM is either totally different or very different. They represent nearly half of Pandora listeners. They overwhelmingly think Pandora is better.

"So, Pandora may not be radio, but that doesn’t make it any less of a challenge to radio. "The question is: How does radio meet this challenge?"

So there it is. Call Pandora "radio," call it a "soulless celestial jukebox/playlist generator," call it a "ham sandwich." It doesn't matter. If it's a rival station, a new online service, or a small white rectangle in your pocket that radio is now competing against for listeners, radio needs to address it. Listeners certainly aren't concerned whether Pandora is "radio" or not.

Read Mark Kassof's blog post here.

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