Westergren: Pandora’s Growth Will Come From Broadcast Radio

One of the biggest things that Pandora has going for it is its Founder Tim Westergren, who is a smart, hip, passionate spokesperson for the leading Internet radio platform in the US. Westergren is almost as widely recognized as Pandora – he’s definitely a media darling who spends lots and lots of time speaking to the media, listeners, and musicians – making sure everyone loves his creation.

In the last few weeks Westergren has been busy – I caught videos of him interviewed at Ad Week in NYC and at the Future of Music Forum in DC. He says Pandora is driving the transition from broadcast to Internet radio. Yesterday I wrote about a new study by Vision Critical which compares Internet radio audience growth in the US, UK and Canada and comes to a similar conclusion.

Westergren says Pandora is also focused on building a great ad business for Internet radio, something that I agree with as well. Pandora has been out in front with the creation of ad opportunities, they are doing a lot of work at the agency level, and they’re on the tip of every advertiser’s tongue when Internet radio is mentioned.

Pandora recently crossed over the 65 million mark in terms of registered users, an 8% increase since July, which is absolutely phenomenal growth. But it’s a drop in the bucket to Westergren, who points out that all of Internet radio is just 3% of radio listening right now while 90% is to broadcast radio. That, says Westergren, is where Pandora’s growth will come from.

The market really opened up for Pandora when Apple introduced the iPhone and apps, which solved consumer adoption issues for them. Now Pandora is on all the major mobile devices. Next comes consumer electronics – tvs, blu-rays, tabletop – anything that has internet connectivity and audio output is fair game and Pandora wants in. Given their popularity I doubt they have to do much convincing.

So while broadcasters are working hard to get FM tuners on mobile phones, Pandora’s already done that and moved on to every single connected device. Yeah, he’s smart. And frank about his intentions. But is his competition paying attention?

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