As part of Forward with Ford, we stopped by the Filmore in Detroit for dinner and a show with the band “The Head and the Heart“. Before the show, Tim Westergren took the stage. Tim is the Founder of Pandora.
Tim started by talking about the future of radio. He continued on how he was driving down the street in his own car. He mentioned how he was enjoying the station of music. All of a sudden he realized he was listening to Pandora.
“I realized in that moment – it was a bit of an epiphany…” Westergren states. ” I was in a car and listening to radio; it was radio, it wasn’t my personal collection of music, it was coming through the stereo speakers of my car. I didn’t know what was next – it was a radio-like experience and yet it was completely personalized to me. It was like cognitive dissidence to have this radio station playing songs as if I had curated – I was the DJ.”
Broadcast radio is a single playlist for everyone. The only choice is to change the station. Now, you can get a specific station to you that you can even skip a song.
This is going fundimentally change the relationship that listeners has to music. This is not a well known fact – of all the time Americans are listening to music, 80% of those hours are on radio.” Westergren continues: “Radio continues to be the dominant. You find new bands that way.”
Bands like the Head and the Heart then would crave radio stations to play their music. But now Pandora has over 80,000 artists. over 9% of those artists play on Pandora every month.
Tim talks about DNA of musician to station. Combining technology makes an evolution.
So a new form of radio is shifted to the car, Tim believes that will change the industry. It’s exciting for both musicians and listeners.
“In this Internet connected world, we are having a one-to-one conversation with the listener. In this two-way interactive space, we are talking to people who we know to some extent. On Pandora, when listeners register, they provide age, gender and zip code. We are able to have a more informed conversation with them on a bunch of different levels.”
So with this geographical location, Pandora (in the future) could be a promoter in a way. Tim talked about how his band tried to promote themselves. If they would have had Pandora (and a system like he just talked about), it might have been easier to promote a show.
Tim continues on the engine of Pandora – the Human Genome Project. They build playlists on musicalogical relationships between songs. They have worked on this over a decade, analyzing music and scoring with many attributes. Capturing musical DNA.
It was an amazing discussion on Pandora and how not only the car experience can change, but also your personal listening habits. A station catered to you using a match-making process.