Thursday, February 22, 2007

Pandora and User-Empowerment

Following up our discussion on music and broadcasting models, I’d like to take a moment to offer a snapshot of Pandora, a great music distribution model. I had the opportunity to meet Pandora founder Tim Westergren last month in Salt Lake City at the University Private Equity Summit. He gave a great talk on music and technology. Born out of the Music Genome Project, which analyzed the work of over 10,000 different artists, Pandora is essentially a way to access that database and make it useful for users. Many users call Pandora their personal DJ, and it’s exactly that. When you log on, enter your favorite artist and Pandora will create a station that plays music tailored to your tastes. It takes some time for Pandora to figure out exactly what you like, but that’s part of the fun. It’s funded by graphical advertisements, but you can pay to have those removed if you like.

Why is Pandora successful? It’s all about user choice, something that Mel Karmazin at Sirius doesn’t know a thing about. Satellite radio is force-fed content, which totally ignores the user-empowering technology that we have. Consumers will pick the next music distribution model, not media execs living in the old-world. I’d place my bets on Pandora and user-choice.