By Rachel Blackman
Pandora Radio is an online and mobile personalized radio model that utilizes the Music Genome Project.
The Music Genome Project is an algorithm set by music analysts that matches people to other music they may like based on their taste in artist or song . Essentially, the listener may pick an artist/band, genre, or song and, based on the characteristics and technical elements of their choice, music that has similar traits will be played in accordance in a channel format. Comedy has also recently been added to the Pandora portfolio, so there is the option to explore that realm in the same streaming/radio hybrid system.
Pandora also has a blog section and benefits such as exclusive presale opportunities for concerts as well as premade stations for those who just want to listen to a less narrow selection.
There is a freemium version of the service with advertisements between songs, and a premium subscription service, Pandora One, that costs $4.99 a month for no ads.
Pandora Radio is, in many ways, looked at as the originator of the personalized streaming service craze that is so prominent in the world today. Founded in 2000 by Tim Westergren and Jon Kraft, the company began humbly as just the idea of the Music Genome Project.
Come 2005 and beyond, Pandora was fully formed and blew up with popularity. People were discovering music and finding the ease of having it on demand and tailored to their own tastes, a model that every competitor has been utilizing since.
As Spotify exploded and streaming services grew, the attention faded a bit from Pandora, but it is on its way back. At the end of last year, Pandora purchased the concert ticketing entity Ticketfly for $450 million in one of its biggest moves ever. With this merger, Pandora is going to be able to sell tickets through its service, adding to its attraction and uniqueness.
The company is currently in a transition period where it is implementing these new acquisitions in order to get ahead of the game in streaming in 2016 and beyond.
January 28, 2016, Pandora launched a new feature for their app: Browse. Browse recommends and assists people in discovering artists they may like based on their music taste. There is also an analysis level to the feature where listeners can view how many others are enjoying an artist they love, a useful resource for both the creators and the fans. Along with Browse, the app was redesigned to look cleaner and be easier to use.
Another exciting and innovative new idea Pandora implemented March 8th is their AMPcast service. AMPcast allows artists to speak to their followers through audio messages they can record on their cell phones and upload to their music channel, a valuable form of connection for the artists to their fan base that has not yet been utilized anywhere else.
Pandora has been making huge strides in the live music game this year as well. For example, this was their first year as the official streaming partner to the popular and forward-thinking music festival/conference, South By Southwest in Austin, TX. This year, their fittingly named stage Discovery Den hosted hot up-and-coming acts from March 16-19. From hip-hop artists like Kevin Gates and Anderson .Paak to electronic like Louis the Child, Pandora was thoughtful and current in its choices and tapped into young, hip audiences in the perfect setting to do so.
April 6th, Pandora announced the lineup for its leap into the hip-hop world via their Pandora Presents: The ATL concert taking place May 5th. Featuring wildly popular rap and hip-hop acts Young Thug, K Camp, and Dej Loaf, Pandora is targeting a key young and musically active audience that they have not been as present with until now
The company has been going through some executive changes in 2016, including naming cofounder Tim Westergren as CEO March 28th . Westergren is a musician himself and has always seen the importance in discovering new talent, something Pandora is putting a lot of attention into currently and a concept that will keep them relevant.
Along with this change, there was a restructuring of the upper offices including instating Mike Herring as President and CFO, promoting Sara Clemens from CSO to COO, and putting Chris Phillips in the Chief Product Officer seat .
Pandora’s 2016 first quarter financial review has not yet been released, but will be made public April 28. Given the numbers from last year, it would appear as though the company is on an upward trend. Their fourth quarter revenue at the end of 2015 was up 25% year-over-year at $336.2 million, and their total revenues for all of 2015 were $1.164 billion, a growth of 26% year-over-year. It is reasonable to expect that this years numbers will be even greater, especially given their acquisitions of Ticketfly and Rdio and their movement into live music.
Overview/Looking to the Future
Pandora is making big moves towards being a powerful player through their innovative new streaming updates, their live music target on hip-hop in particular, and their company restructuring. It should be fascinating to watch how effective their strategies prove to be in execution.
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