Pandora Unleashes Listening

Pandora launched its new website today, and as you might imagine, it is well done. It’s easier to create stations, merge stations and share them with friends. You can also combine any stations that you want into a shuffle, which is much nicer than shuffling all your stations into one stream. You can also adjust your player to look the way you want. Player options are enhanced too – album art, artist info and lyrics to songs are all right there if you want them.

It’s also a well timed release, given that Facebook is about to announce some new integrations with streaming music services at their developer conference tomorrow and iHeartradio will host their big live 48 hour concert to kick off their new platform on friday and saturday.

The biggest announcement was a significant change in their business model – Pandora has lifted the 40 hour monthly listening cap, opening up unlimited, free, ad-supported listening to their users. This may be because they have found it to be less expensive to stream to listeners that way (it’s more expensive to license the music if you are streaming to paying subscribers). But I suspect the decision is more driven by a decision to grow listening as much as possible, particularly given the other listening options that are heating up in the form of iHeartradio, Spotify, and others. That, combined with lots of recent success in selling impression based ad campaigns, is what I believe would be behind a decision like this.

In any event, I spent the day playing with it and it’s pretty nifty. Um. Except for the targeted ad for seniorpeoplemeet.com, a dating service for folks over 50 

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