The future of live music has arrived

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Years ago, my band played a show in Los Angeles. It was a prestigious club and it was big deal for us. As is often the case with these shows, we had to guarantee a certain number of people. We knew it would be tight because we hadn’t played L.A. enough to build a local audience, and our local mailing list (as in “postal” mailing list) was pretty small, but we put the word out to everyone we knew and crossed our fingers.

When the time came for us to go on, the sound man stopped us on our way to the stage. He told us we were just short of the audience guarantee (I think it was 150 people) and the manager was pulling us. It was a humiliating moment. We had driven 400 miles, brought a bunch of fans, and now we were being told we couldn’t play.

GG2A3649That moment captured for me the awful challenge that working musicians face. You lug a truck full of equipment thousands of miles a week, sleep on floors, spend hours rehearsing and setting up, and then you sweat attendance every night. The difference between 100 and 300 people at a show is the difference between a slow death and sustainability.

Today marks the day when that starts to change. That era is over.

Today, we shared the news that we are buying Ticketfly – the country’s largest, most-beloved and fastest-growing independent ticketing and digital marketing platform for live events. Last year they sold over 16 million tickets to more than 90,000 events. We’re combining forces to create the world’s most efficient platform for connecting listeners with live shows from their favorite bands.
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50 Billion Thumbs!

Just a few years ago, Jason Derulo stopped by our offices to celebrate receiving the 10 billionth thumb on Pandora. Today, I am proud to share that we have passed 50 billion thumbs. 50 billion. That’s roughly seven thumbs for every person on Earth.

As milestones go, this one is particularly meaningful. Our entire mission is to give listeners the ability to personalize their experience. Thumbs give each listener the power to make Pandora personal to them. Every thumb up and thumb down has not only made your stations better, but helped us make better song choices for every listener. This is a serious group effort – so, thanks!

As you can imagine, it took a lot of songs to hit 50 billion thumbs. While we can’t share every single one, we did want to highlight some of the more momentous thumb recipients along the way.

FINAL_Milestones 50B thumbs no header
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50 BILLION Thumbs

Just a few years ago, Jason Derulo stopped by our offices to celebrate receiving the 10 billionth thumb on Pandora. Today, I am proud to share that we have passed 50 billion thumbs. 50 billion. That’s roughly seven thumbs for every person on Earth.

As milestones go, this one is particularly meaningful. Our entire mission is to give listeners the ability to personalize their experience. Thumbs give each listener the power to make Pandora personal to them. Every thumb up and thumb down has not only made your stations better, but helped us make better song choices for every listener. This is a serious group effort – so, thanks!

As you can imagine, it took a lot of songs to hit 50 billion thumbs. While we can’t share every single one, we did want to highlight some of the more momentous thumb recipients along the way.

FINAL_Milestones 50B thumbs no header
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Artists on Pandora: Introducing AMP

Heat map for AMP blogWhen I was about 28, a band I was in drove 1,098 miles from San Francisco to Telluride, Colorado to play a club gig. It was our first trip to the state and we were excited to be on the road. We arrived just a few hours before soundcheck, and we spent that time putting flyers on telephone polls and walking around town spreading the word, passing out printed invitations. About 15 people showed up for the gig.
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Artists on Pandora…Prologue

blog_post_image3Today marks an exciting new chapter for Pandora. From the first day we launched, we have looked forward to the time when we would begin enabling artists to become active participants in the service. Personalized internet radio has a set of capabilities that make it unique in its potential to empower musicians and activate fans. Where broadcast radio spins a few thousand different songs a year, we play hundreds of thousands. And as we approach 10% of all radio listening in the U.S., the audiences for many of these artists are becoming very meaningful. Combine that scale with the rich understanding of each listeners’ taste and the ability to communicate with them in a personalized, one-to-one way and you have an opportunity to reinvent how music is discovered and promoted, allowing it to flow much more freely between artist and fan.

I spent years in working bands, back before the web came along, and it was the challenge every band faced in building an audience and surviving that was the original inspiration for this company. So much great music has never reached its audience because it never found a home on broadcast radio…without radio, all we had were flyers and a staple gun. We have the chance to change that in a fundamental way.

The first step in making that happen is a partnership with artists and their labels. Close collaboration and the active involvement of musicians and their partners is crucial to a successful design and implementation. Today, the first such partnership for Pandora was formally launched through an agreement with Merlin. Merlin is the world’s largest organization for independent record labels, whose members represent over 20,000 labels. This agreement will give us the flexibility to accelerate the discovery of thousands of bands, and to enable them to begin actively communicating with their audience on Pandora.
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Pandora One Subscription Changes

UPDATE:  You’ve asked and we listened.  We are excited to announce that as of today, December 2, 2014, the option to be billed annually is back and available for purchase from your computer.  We’re constantly working to make Pandora One the best possible experience and we are dedicated to providing you with the best personalized radio in the world.  Thank you for your passion for our service and for your support.

For more information on the annual plan click here.

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Over the next couple of months, we will be implementing some changes to our Pandora One subscription plan so that loyal listeners can continue to enjoy a premium, ad-free Pandora experience.

Screen Shot 2014-03-18 at 1.37.00 PMWe’ve been fortunate to be able to offer Pandora One at an affordable price since its debut in 2009 at $36 per year and later with the introduction of a monthly subscription for only $3.99 per month. Over this same period, the costs of delivering this service have grown considerably. For example, the royalty rates Pandora pays to performers via SoundExchange for subscription listening have increased 53% in the last five years and will increase another 9% in 2015.
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On a personal note…

Back in the early days of Pandora, I was frequently the person who would post to our blog with news about the latest product enhancements and company milestones. Through the years others increasingly filled that role, but I wanted to pop up here one more time to share one last bit of news: after 10 years, I’m in the process of handing over product and technology leadership to others and transitioning to an advisor role.

I just sent the following email to the Pandora team and I wanted to share it with you as well.

Team,

In May of 2004 I met [Pandora founder] Tim for breakfast at a diner in Potrero Hill. I was there to learn about his company Savage Beast and consider the opportunity to join the team of 10 or so he’d assembled. While perhaps I had reservations about the business (music kiosks for book stores!), I knew at once that I wanted to throw my lot in with Tim. Fast forward 10 years and it has truly been the adventure of a lifetime.

The story of Pandora has had many chapters and through most of the twists and turns, I was solely focused on how I could help get the company to the next stage. Rarely did I stop to think about a world where I didn’t make my contribution to the next chapter. I confess though that maybe 18 months ago, I started to think about what I’d need to do to hand over the pen so others could author chapters after my eventual departure.

Then [Pandora’s former CEO] Joe’s decision to leave pushed all of those thoughts to the side. My focus for the last twelve months has been to ensure that the company landed confidently in the hands of an exceptional new leader. We’ve found that leader in  [Pandora’s new CEO] Brian. As I look at the revitalized executive leadership team he has put in place, consider the great leaders on my own team, and contemplate the exciting roadmap we’ve set for the future, I’ve decided that all the pieces are in place to allow me to step aside and let others write the next chapters.

So today we’ve announced that in three months I’ll be transitioning to an adviser role.

We’ve also announced that, effective today, [former Pandora VP of Engineering] Chris Martin has been promoted to Chief Technology Officer and will join the executive leadership team representing our engineering efforts. We are also promoting [former Pandora VP of Technical Operations] Steve Ginsberg to Chief Information Officer today and he and his team will now report to [Pandora CFO] Mike Herring. I’m as proud of all the senior leaders on my team — Chris, Steve, [Pandora VP of Design] Tony and [Pandora VP of Product Management] Mike — as I am about anything I’ve ever accomplished here. These promotions are one reflection of that, and they are richly deserved. If there are successes from the last 10 years you credit to me, they’d almost surely more fairly be credited to Chris, Steve, Tony and Mike.


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