Pandora Keeps Warner For the Win?

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Pandora has always been at the forefront when talking about interesting permutations of radio in the 21st Century. The intuitive service was one of the first and is still considered one of the best.

If you want a really nice breakdown of Pandora’s history, I advise Claire Cain Miller’s recent piece in The New York Times, “How Pandora Slipped Past the Junkyard.” It will give you the skinny on all the trials and tribulations the company has gone through over the years, prior to what seems to be an amazing round of successes recently.

Since the introduction in 2008 of Pandora’s iPhone app, everything has changed. Over 35,000 new mobile users a day can do that.  Now they are cutting deals with appliance and auto manufacturers as they move toward the ubiquity that terrestrial radio has always enjoyed.

They’ve even begun to find ways to monetize the service, always a tricky thing when its something that has always been free. Note the “Courtyard by Marriot” ad in the screen cap at left. I’m sure that helped a lot with the move to profitability they experienced in early 2009, their first fiscal quarter showing a profit.

So now it would seem that another good break is in the works for Pandora, courtesy of Warner Music.  Mike Melanson at Read Write Web sums it up:

Pandora will have the music that other free players won’t.

As Tom Conrad, CTO for Pandora, told us last month when Warner announced it would pull all of its licensed content from streaming music services, “Pandora operates under a different licensing structure and won’t be impacted by Warner’s apparent decision with respect to free, on-demand services.” This could be huge in keeping Pandora on track to break $100 million in revenue this year, as predicted by William Blair, a digital media analyst, in the Times article.

Slacker Radio is the only other service I know of that is in this position with Warner; Last.fm and the others do not appear to be so lucky. The loss of access to the Warner catalog could be catastrophic to some of these services. Warner holds the rights to massive cross-section of contemporary music ranging from Rat Pack cassic like Sinatra to the hip-hop stylings of Puff Daddy and everything in between. As Melanson phrases it:

[…] we wonder what will come of the competition when Warner music officially pulls the plug and leaves them without a “Stairway to Heaven”.

Image: Screencap of Pandora on my iPhone / Fair Use: reporting

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