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?
Online music streaming services such as Pandora and Spotify appear to be driving interest in online in-car audio, according to new data from Vision Critical. In an online survey among a representative sample of 4000+ online consumers in the United States, Britain and Canada, the survey found that one-in-four drivers in the United States, Britain and Canada regularly play personal digital music through their car stereo system, and more than 50% are interested in doing so.
Broadcast radio is still the dominant source of audio in the car, more than three quarters of respondents in all three countries had listened to broadcast radio in their cars in the past week. What’s more, numbers indicating an interest in listening to digital audio should not be interpreted as a threat to that. Digital audio sources may well replace listening to cassettes and CDs says the survey.
Young men were the most interested in listening to digital audio in their cars, so stations offering streamed formats that appeal to that demographic will see the earliest benefits of in-car listening to mobile streaming.
Comparisons among listening in the US, UK and Canada are interesting. Streaming audio programs in cars in Canada, where royalty rates are considered too high for entry by Pandora and Spotify. Without them to drive interest, listening is growing more slowly than in the US and UK where Pandora and Spotify, as well as other services, have thrived.
There were many highlights in the full day of programming presented at RAIN Summit West last monday during the NAB Show in Las Vegas. Two research studies were presented that provided excellent data on Internet radio and digital audio’s growing audience.
Radio Futures 2010 is an independantly funded study on audio platforms and usage in the US, UK and Canada done by Vision Critical. Senior VP and Managing Director Jeff Vidler presented the study, which makes a strong case for the future of Internet radio in the US. Nearly a quarter of the respondents (22%) indicated that Internet radio is playing a bigger role in their lives in the past couple of years.
When asked to list the features of online services that are most appealing to them, 53% said streaming songs on demand was most important, followed by radio with customizable features such as selecting and deselecting artists. Radio that streams music mixes designed by music experts was the least popular feature with listeners.
Also of interest, smartphone users are more likely to use a web based app to listen on their device than a broadcast service on the same device. 31% of smartphone users in the US listened on a web only app, while only 19% tuned in with a broadcast radio app on their smartphone, causing the study to conclude that IP delivery is a preferred audio platform for mobile smartphone users.