On October 29th, PRSA sent out their regular Issues & Trends email. One article specifically caught my eye: “Apple’s Online Radio Service to Challenge Pandora in 2013.” I had recently read an article (“Conference recap: Pandora’s Tim Westergren on vision and connecting with audiences”) a few weeks ago where Tim Westergren, founder and chief strategy officer at Pandora, emphasized how connecting with his audience is essential to his online based company. I am personally a fan of Pandora, but I own many Apple products and see Spotify all over my Facebook newsfeed.
So what’s the difference, what’s the big deal and how are BU students reacting today?
Internet Radio Breakdown
- Pandora: Started in 2000, Pandora allows a user to create up to 100 unique “stations” based on your favorite artist, song or genre. As the playlist continues you can click the thumbs up for songs you like, thumbs down for songs you don’t or skip songs that just shouldn’t be there. They pride themselves on the “Music Genome Project” which uses 400 attributes to mathematically organize music. The only drawbacks are that Pandora only allows you to skip a limited number of songs every hour and they don’t always have the latest music.
- Spotify: Started in 2008, Spotify was started as a small Swedish music streaming service that thrives on social media. Spotify has a close relationship with Facebook and you need a Facebook to register a Spotify account. Through Facebook you can view your friend’s playlists and they can see your favorite music, which makes it really easy to discover new bands. Unfortunately, if you want to listen to Spotify on your account on your phone you’ll have to pay.
- Apple’s Joining the Party: So technically Apple’s online radio hasn’t started. Apple is still having talks with music labels working out how to share ad revenue and finalizing licensing pacts. Apple will be hitting this market hard. They plan to create an app, rather than a web browser, to increase flexibility with users’ playlists and gain earlier access to new releases.
I spoke to a few BU students who gave their opinions about the changing world of online radio:
At the end of Tim Westergren’s interview he’s acknowledged that there has always been competition and he isn’t worried about Apple. He emphasized that it’s not as much about the provider as it is the quality of the playlist itself, most eloquently captured in a Pandora saying: “It’s the playlist, stupid.” Will the winner be the convenience of the Apple app, Spotify’s social presence or Pandora’s playlist formula? We will have to wait and see!