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Pandora: Spotify is our friend, not a competitor

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Pandora Media (s P) was a pioneer in the business of streaming music over the Internet, so it’s understandable for people to think that Spotify, the popular new kid on the online music industry block, is a Pandora competitor. But according to Pandora’s CTO and executive vice president of product Tom Conrad, the companies are actually friends, not foes.

“I think of Spotify as being largely complementary to what Pandora is. Daniel Ek, the [Spotify] founder, has said that they see themselves as the future of the record store, and Pandora as the future of radio,” Conrad said in an on-stage conversation with GigaOM Pro analyst David Card at the GigaOM RoadMap conference in San Francisco Thursday. Not surprisingly, Conrad said, Pandora is just fine with Ek’s opinion there. “We’re really comfortable with that categorization, because it captures well our thinking about it.”

After all, traditional radio and radio stores have lived in harmony for decades. And the semi-random element of discovery that Pandora Radio provides is markedly different from totally on-demand services such as Spotify, Conrad said. And in fact, there’s potential for the two companies to work together more closely in the future. Conrad put it this way:

“One of the principal purposes of radio is to help artists sell their music. And as the music industry matures, it may be that the dollars traditionally spent on purchased music transitions to things like subscription services like Spotify. And I think that transition takes place, it’s not hard to imagine part of our role will be helping people connect from their listening experience on Pandora into subscription services, just like today we help them connect into things like iTunes and Amazon MP3.”

You can watch the entirety of Tom Conrad’s interview at GigaOM RoadMap 2011 in the video embedded below:

Photo by Pinar Ozger

5 Responses to “Pandora: Spotify is our friend, not a competitor”

  1. rastamouse

    Surely Spotify’s ad-supported free tier competes with Pandora for brand dollars?
    Pandora has been in existence in one form or another for 10 years and never made any money.I think Tim Westergren and Tom Conrad should spend more time thinking about its business model and less time talking at conferences.

  2. Michael Hollar

    totally agree and am encouraged by the talk of co-op…it would be awesome to hear something new on Pandora, give it a thumb-u and to have it auto-starred by a synch’d Spotify account.

    • John Wander

      In my humble opinion, I don’t think they are potential partners. They are competitors that compete for the same ad and subscription revenue. The recent data suggest that the all you can eat subscription models are not making artists much money. It would be cool to have a song that you hear on Pandora link to Spotify so you can hear the whole album. But now I can listen to the whole album for free. Or I could pay the subscription on Spotify. However, now this artist lost a sale on iTunes and is making far less money from Spotify. I love both Pandora and Spotify from a fan point of view. It great for fans but may not be good for artists.

  3. It’s true. Personally, I use Pandora to discover new music. Then, once I’ve discovered it, I’ll search for that song or artist on Spotify so I can listen to them whenever I’d like. They go hand-in-hand.