Monday, July 21, 2014

Rediscovering Pandora with SVP Heidi Browning

I discovered Pandora several years ago, before I left Chicago for Dubai in 2006.  I did not control what music I listened to, but rather influenced it through my rating and feedback.  Pandora then played music that was increasingly more to my liking.  This was the essence of personalized radio.  I listened to it for a year since arriving in Dubai, but at some point Pandora no longer had the authority to play there.  I returned to Chicago at the end of 2011, and downloaded the app on my iPhone.  But it was so infested with ads, that I quickly deleted the app, and haven't listened to it since.  I listen to music predominantly on YouTube and the car radio, but iHeartRadio was a much better option on my phone.  

So fast-forward to 2014, and Pandora is back on my radar:  Heidi Browning, Senior Vice President of Strategic Solutions, speaks to Forbes reporter Jennifer Rooney.  I am very intrigued about the multidimensional nature of its business model.  It is rooted in music as universal language and as naturally personal and engaging.  Whether or not it's co-branded, and whether one calls it creative partnership or something else, the fact is Toyota is one of Pandora's advertising clients.  

I love how Browning describes the intent behind the partnership: Toyota is building the sound of its brand within Pandora.  Specifically, Toyota Sessions is its station, and as listeners listen and give feedback, Pandora sharpens its algorithms for what they like and thus forges connections between them and the Toyota brand.  Moreover, Pandora identifies up-and-coming artists in Toyota's target markets, interviews these artists to really get to know them, and helps to produce and promote their music.  On this last note, as musicians plan for a live performance, Pandora creates personalized concert series for its listeners, and invites only particular ones to attend the concert.  
When you think about this competitive category, this growing category, and why people are listening, I still think it comes back to the fact that we have been pioneering personalisation for 15 years, investing in The Music Genome Project®, which is powered by people and an algorithm, to deliver the best personalized music experience out there.  And that remains our differentiator in the market.
Browning points out that 78% of that advertiser-coveted generation - Millennials - listen to streaming music everyday.  So clearly Pandora is in good space.  But oh Pandora probably spans all generations, as it covers all genres of music.  

I have a Samsung Galaxy Note now, and let's give that Pandora app another go.  

More to come!

Thank you for reading, and let me know what you think!

Ron Villejo, PhD   

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