Pandora Radio

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 [1]. 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.

Brief History

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[2]. 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[3]. With this merger, Pandora is going to be able to sell tickets through its service, adding to its attraction and uniqueness.

Next, Pandora purchased the streaming service Rdio’s assets for $75 million in efforts to make it into the digital streaming world as direct competition to players like Spotify and Apple Music[4].

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.

New Features

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[5].

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[6], a valuable form of connection for the artists to their fan base that has not yet been utilized anywhere else.

Live Music

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[7], 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[8]

Company structure

The company has been going through some executive changes in 2016, including naming cofounder Tim Westergren as CEO March 28th [9]. 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 [9].


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[10]. 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.

As for right now, Pandora Media’s stock has gone up 0.04 since its last close with a volume of 9.06m[11].

Finally, Pandora just hit the $2 billion mark on April 18th for artist and songwriter royalties[12].

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.


[1]About The Music Genome Project®.” (n.d.): n. pag. Retrieved 25 Apr. 2016.

[2]Origin Story: The Founding of Pandora Radio.Startup Grind. N.p., n.d. Retrieved 25 Apr. 2016.

[3] Sisario, Ben. “Pandora Buys Ticketfly, a Competitor to Ticketmaster.The New York Times. The New York Times, 2015. Retrieved 25 Apr. 2016.

[4]Pandora’s Rdio Acquisition Sets Stage for Epic Streaming Music Battle.Variety. N.p., 2015. Retrieved 25 Apr. 2016.

[5]Pandora Debuts New Personalized Destination to Discover Music.Press Release Distribution, EDGAR Filing, XBRL, Regulatory Filings. N.p., n.d. Retrieved 25 Apr. 2016.

[6] Lunden, Ingrid. “Pandora Raises Its Social Media Game with AMPcast, DIY Audio Messaging For artists.TechCrunch. N.p., 2016. Retrieved 25 Apr. 2016.

[7]Pandora Reveals Initial Lineup in Its First Year as the Official SXSW Streaming Partner –” N.p., n.d. Retrieved 25 Apr. 2016.

[8]Young Thug, K Camp & DeJ Loaf To Perform At Pandora ATL Concert.Vibe. N.p., 2016. Retrieved 25 Apr. 2016.

[9]Pandora Brings Back Founder Tim Westergren As Newest CEO.Forbes. Forbes Magazine, n.d. Retrieved 25 Apr. 2016.

[10]Pandora Reports Q4 and Full Year 2015 Financial Results.Press Release Distribution, EDGAR Filing, XBRL, Regulatory Filings. N.p., n.d. Retrieved 25 Apr. 2016.

[11]Pandora Media Inc.” P Stock Quote. N.p., n.d. Retrieved 25 Apr. 2016.

[12]Pandora Hits $2 Billion in All-Time Royalties for Artists and Songwriters.Press Release Distribution, EDGAR Filing, XBRL, Regulatory Filings. N.p., n.d. Retrieved 25 Apr. 2016.

[13] Dufree, Rachel. “Pandora and Ticketfly Join Forces to Create the World’s Most Powerful Music Platform.Ticketfly. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Apr. 2016.

[14] “Rdio Adds Free Streaming With Nearly 500 Live Broadcast Stations – Next Geekers.” Next Geekers. N.p., 2015. Web. 25 Apr. 2016.

[15] “Discovery Den at SXSW 2016: Four Days of Your New Favorite Music.” South by Southwest 2016 Music, Film and Interactive Festivals. N.p., 2016. Web. 25 Apr. 2016.




 by: Andrea Lopez


Pandora Image –   [1]

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Pandora App Icon [2]


2101 Webster Street, 16th Floor                                                                               Oakland, CA 94612

Tel: (510) 451-4100                                                              


Pandora is a free progressive music service provider that strives to provide a top of the line variety of music experience to its listeners. Through Pandora, people can experience a personalized interactive experience with the music of their choice on their devices at anytime and any place. [3] 

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courtesy of : Human Genome Project – [4]


By way of a devised system, better known as “The Human Genome Project,” Pandora has enabled listeners to plant a seed -selecting an artist, song, or genre of their choice that will then generate music of the same genre for the listener. [3] This is all composed through a music taxonomy system created through Pandora, ultimately creating a positive listener experience. [5]


Free to sign up for users, Pandora enables listeners to create up to 100 stations depending on their musical preference. By searching an artist, genre, or song, users can create station that will play only music similar to the item searched. The image below exhibits a user’s profile with their selected stations on the left hand side.

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Image of Users Profile [6]


Founded in 2000 by Tim Westergren, Pandora is rooted in Oakland, CA where the company opened their first offices [7]. In less than a decade, Pandora had impressively raked up approximately 30 million registered users and earned $40 million in revenues [8].

Back in 2009, Pandora opened a new world for their users when they introduced the ad-free radio service for 36 dollars/year, Pandora One. However, between 2009 -2013, Pandora experienced an increase in rising licensing costs to SoundExchange, currently still growing. With these new setbacks, Pandora has now increased their monthly subscription from $3.99 to $4.99. Current subscribers are safe for now with their $3.99 monthly payment, but by 2015, the going rate with be the same across the boards with subscribers [8].    

Since the beginning, Pandora has strived to allow an easy streamline service to its users through its free subscription, and now ad-free subscription, which in 2013 was reported to have reached 72 million monthly listeners. [9]


BrianMcAndrews – Pandora CEO          Courtesy of [10]

Mike Herring – Pandora CFO       Courtesy of [11]

Tim Westergren - Pandora Founder  Courtesy of:

Tim Westergren-  Pandora Founder Courtesy of: [12] 



As reported in the SQ Press Release of Financial Results, Pandora reached 218.9 Million dollars in total revenue and is projected to reach 895 Million – 915 Million for the 2014 total yearly revenue [13]. The SQ revenue increased by 38% since the prior year’s SQ revenue results. The suggested increase in revenue is said to have resulted from investments in mobile and local advertising, demonstrated in the 39% advertising revenue increase and the 35% yearly revenue increase in subscriptions [14].

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Pandora Financial Revenue Growth from ’12-Q1’14                                                                          Courtesy of [15]

Pandora’s yearly revenue over a two year span between 2012 and 2014 indicates approximately a 50 million dollar increase. Initially, when Pandora was first launched, they experienced far less competition. As more and more music streaming companies are introduced into the market, Pandora, although still providing service to a plethora of  devoted users, has experienced somewhat of a sluggish increase of revenue despite what was predicted for the company.


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Graph of Edison Survey Results                      Courtesy of [17]

Over the years, Pandora has grown exponentially as a company and dominated in its listener audience numbers compared to its competitors. Among Pandora’s competitors, including iHeart Radio, Spotify,Google Play All Access, Rhapsody,and Slacker, Pandora still exhibited exceeding results in the Edison Research study taken in March 2014 [16]. iHeart Radio, Pandora’s most prominent competitor reported to have 9% of the listener population, while Pandora ranked in                           at 31% of the listener population. Over 2,000 people were interviewed for the Edison Study with a demographic of individuals raging in ages from 12 +. [18]

Click here to read about Forbes content contributor Amadou Diallo‘s personal opinions when comparing three different music streaming services: iTunes Radio, Pandora And Spotify.


Pandora is now available in car radio systems, cellular devices, iPads, laptops to even Blu-ray players. This multi faceted, multi-platform side of Pandora allows for so many options for users to stream their music. [19] It was reported in 2009 that Pandora’s 43 million users accessed their accounts on 100 different consumer devices other than a computer [20]. This is simply a number that demonstrates just how widely attainable streaming music is across  different platforms.

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Pandora’s Many Platforms             Photo courtesy of     [21]


For such a wide scope of listeners in terms of age, Pandora has provided a great service, largely due to the interactive qualities of the site. Not only does Pandora possess the users  profile information about them, the company also takes note of the user’s music preference and times they are actively listening. Through the “thumbs up, thumbs down” buttons on the users profile, further explained at 13:50 of this video, Pandora receives information on media you both like and disliked. [22]


Pandora’s great success has not only sustained  its current prosperity, but promises for it’s bright future as well. In the interview conducted at Hivios first ever Radio Ideas Festival in 2013 between Mark Ramsey and Pandora CTO Tom Conrad, the future plans of the company are somewhat touched upon. Not only is Pandora certainly withstanding any threats from competitors today,but the executive board is constantly looking for new ways of improvement. Conrad alludes to Pandora’s hopes and explorations into livening up the interactive aspects of the site. He goes on to explain the possibility of venturing outside the lines of music and comedy and delving into sports entertainment and possibly weather.

Further explained is Pandora’s intentions of understanding their audiences to a higher level. Already Pandora has taken exceptional steps towards fully emerging their users into an interactive world where their music preferences are key, but Tom Conrad foreshadows taking the leaps as Facebook has when it comes to audience fragmentation. This meaning that listeners are divided based on interest. From this, Pandora understands their audience better catering to their needs and wants.

What's Ahead for Pandora? CTO Tom Conrad talks to Mark Ramsey [23] 

 Look Below for question conducted in the interview:

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A recent article titled “Will Pandora Survive 2015,”  explains the possible decline of streaming music sites due to the increase in royalty rates. [24] With this possibility, it could be possible for Pandora to steer clear merging with big names in the industry like Apple, and instead conducting business with a small scale radio broadcaster, ultimately conserving revenue. [24]. Although, it is safe to say that with constant new artists, no matter big or small, someone, somewhere desires to be noticed. Music is constantly created, therefore driving the industry.


[1] Pandora Company, RT: 11/15/2014

[2] Pandora App, RT: 11/15/2014

[3] Pandora Company, RT: 11/16/2014

[4] Pandora Music Genome Project Photo,, RT: 11/15/2014

[5] About, RT: 11/20/2014

[6] Pandora Image, RT: 11/15/2014

[7] Pandora Biography,, RT: 11/17/2014\

[8] The Verge:Pandora Raises Fees,, RT: 11/17/2014

[9] Pandora Radio, RT 11/17/2014

[10] Brian, RT: 11/15/2014

[11] Mike RT:  11/25/2014

[12] Tim, RT: 11/15/2014

[13] Pandora Investing,, RT: 11/27/2014

[14] Pandora Investing PDF,, RT:11/27/2014

[15], RT: 11/25/2014

[16] Pandora ups subscription price as competition, RT: 11/30/2104

[17] Graph of Edison Survey, RT: 11/30/2014

[18] Online Radio Habits,, RT: 11/25/2014

[19] Pandora Radio’s Dominance Built On Big Data, RT: 11/26/2014

[20] Pandora: Now Playing Everywhere,, RT: 11/27/2014

[21] Pandora’s Many Platforms, RT: 11/27/2014

22] Pandora’s Guide to Mobile App Platforms,, RT: 11/27/2014

[23] Interview RT: 11/30/2014

[24] Will Pandora survive 2015?, RT: 11/30/2014

Pandora Radio

By Andrew Saltman


Pandora Internet Radio is an online music streaming service that provides listeners with automated playlists based on their likes and listening habits among many other things. Founded by Will Glaser, Jon Kraft, and Tim Westergren in 2000, Pandora was designed to bring users individualized radio stations with great music and no “junk.” Westergren currently sits on the Board of Directors, and Brian McAndrews serves as the company’s CEO. The Music Genome Project is the sophisticated formula that analyzes each song using up to 450 distinct musical characteristics by trained music analysts. The analysts typically have four year degrees in music theory or composition and had to pass a selective screening process and complete an extensive training program in order to accurately analyze songs for the project. Pandora does not use any listening machines to analyze any song, as all analysis comes from the human analysts. [2]

Pandora users are able to create up to 100 unique stations (or playlists) based off an artist, genre or composer. Users are allowed to skip six songs per hour per station, and up to 24 skips across all stations per day. Pandora also allows users to refine their stations by liking or disliking each track they hear. Pandora continues to learn listening habits as users continue to listen and like songs. The more someone uses their Pandora account, the more personalized the stations become. [4]


Pandora got it’s start with investments from both angel investors and venture capitalists, and in June of 2011 the company went public through an IPO. According to Pandora’s 2013 Annual Report, stock prices traded on the NYSE started at $16.00 per share on June 14th, 2011. At the end of the 4th quarter in January of 2013 the high stock price came in at $11.90 with the lowest price at $7.08. Revenue has increased dramatically in the five years that Pandora has been publicly traded. Pandora brought in $19,333,000 in advertising and subscription fees in 2009. In 2013, Pandora brought in almost half a billion dollars at $427,145,000 before expenses. [3] In 2010 Pandora had 16 million users listening to 1.8 billion hours of music. Three years later in 2013, 65.6 million users listened to over 14 billion hours of music. Pandora’s most recent audience metrics for March of 2014 were just released (graphic below). Pandora also announced that after June of 2014 they will no longer publicize its monthly key audience metrics. [5]

Current Endeavors

Peet’s Coffee

In March of 2014, Pandora announced a brand new partnership with Peet’s Coffee & Tea. “Peet’s Coffee & Tea, a premier specialty coffee and tea company, and Pandora, the leading internet radio service, announced a new partnership which marks the first time Pandora will feature partner branded radio stations in a brick-and-mortar environment nationwide” (Pandora) [7]. Peet’s coffee will now play its own customized radio stations in all of the stores across the United States. What makes these stations unique to Peet’s is that they will all be curated by a 25-year employee and music aficionado Patrick Main, not to mention the fact that the new Peet’s stations will be available to all Pandora listeners. Peet’s will have four personalized stations that are meant to pair well with their coffees using music outside what is played on mainstream radio. The stations include Peet’s Melodic Indie meant for bright and fresh coffees, Peet’s Jazz Giants reflecting Peet’s Italian Roast and espressos, Peet’s Origins which enhances Peet’s earthy African blends, and finally Peet’s Eclectic Classical station that should be paired with Peet’s French Roast. This partnership is quite the impressive business venture for both Peet’s and Pandora. Peet’s will be able to compete with the music in rivals like Starbucks that already has a partnership with Apple and iTunes. Pandora will also benefit as they are trying to compete with other streaming services like Spotify and Rdio. Peet’s customers hopefully will enjoy the musical selections in Peet’s coffee shops which will help Peet’s retain customers and help Pandora gain more subscribers. This partnership could be the first of many for Pandora as they attempt to gain more market share in the online streaming world.

Royalty Lawsuit

Although Pandora has been doing very well recently in terms of subscribers and partnerships, they have also gained a lot of negative press in regards to their catalog and royalty payments. In April of 2014, the three major labels Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group, and Sony Music Entertainment, along with indie labels ABKCO and RIAA, filed a copyright infringement lawsuit in New York state court against Pandora. The suit on Pandora is for playing pre-February 15, 1972 recordings without making any royalty payments. “The labels say both digital music services (Pandora & SiriusXM) take advantage of a copyright loophole, since the master recording for copyright wasn’t created federally until 1972. But the labels claim that their master recordings are protected by individual state copyright laws and therefore deserve royalty payments” (Christman) [8]. Michael Huppe, the CEO and President of SoundExchange, a non-profit performance rights organization, estimated that artists and labels have lost 60 million dollars in royalty payments for pre-1972 songs in just 2013 alone.

This lawsuit has come after many artists, like legendary guitarist and songwriter Steve Cropper, have complained about the lack of payments from streaming services, especially Pandora. Songwriters are asking to be compensated for their work due to the fact that Pandora and other streaming services are profiting off of their original content. The case filed against SiriusXM in February is very similar and further along in the legal process. We can expect to see some important rulings and clarity in this case shortly, which will directly affect the Pandora case and whether courts believe songwriters should be compensated for pre-1972 works. SiriusXM’s hearing is set for May 14th. These two cases are extremely important for the world of streaming, as many music industry experts believe streaming is the future of recorded music. A ruling in favor of songwriters and artists could potentially ease the tension between the two camps and have all artists begin to support streaming. Currently many artists are against streaming because they don’t feel they are being properly compensated; however, streaming is significantly more convenient for consumers and could notably help reduce illegal downloading. [8]


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Step 2

Pandora also recently announced that they will be taking open music submissions. This will now make it easier than ever for independent artists to get their music out to over 70 million active listeners on the site. This is an initiative that Pandora will continue to pursue in the coming year in hopes to give independent artists a chance to reach a bigger audience. All independent artists need to do is submit their material digitally online for consideration.

Pandora has a bright future in the online streaming world if they can solve their differences with record labels and songwriters. Their initiatives in the consumer space, like with Peet’s Coffee, and their goals to help independent artists will make them a more attractive destination for music listeners to go to for content.


Works Cited

[1] Pandora – Pandora Logo RT: March 25, 2014

[2] Pandora – About Pandora RT: March 25, 2014

[3] Pandora – 2013 Anual Report RT: April 15, 2014

[4] Pandora – Skip Policy RT: March 25, 2014

[5] Pandora – Corporate Overview RT: March 25, 2014

[6] Pandora – 2014 Audience Metrics RT: April 15, 2014

[7] Pandora – Peet’s Coffee Partnership RT: April 7, 2014

[8] Billboard Magazine – Pandora Lawsuit RT: April 18, 2014

[9] The Trichordist – SiriusXM Royalty Payment Sheet RT: April 15, 2014

[10] Pandora – Music Submission for Independent Artists RT: March 25, 2014