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Contextual relevance is the way of the future for Pandora

While it might seem strange for Pandora to be at an internet-of-things event, the music-streaming giant’s CTO Chris Martin was quick to remind the audience at Gigaom’s Structure Connect conference on Wednesday that being connected in as many places as possible was always a company goal.

“When we wrote the business plan back in 2004, we had this notion to have a radio service be ubiquitous to everyone and everywhere,” said Martin. “[company]Sonos[/company] is a huge, important partner for us and was early on.”

But, Martin noted that many of the connected devices out there today don’t present an effortless way to experience Pandora; it’s not that easy to type in a web address on a remote control, for example.

Martin said that connected device manufacturers are showing an interest in making it easier to incorporate [company]Pandora[/company] in a functional way. But Pandora’s not going to work with just any startup with a big idea. It’s important that startups consider whether or not their devices are going to be accessible for the common Joe and that their price point targets the 90 percent of the population and not just the 10 percent, he said.

The big opportunities Pandora sees in the home revolves around contextual relevance, which in this case, “The proprietary solutions aren’t going to play well in the long run,” he said. Pandora is looking for ways to tap into what those connected devices know about their users and how Pandora can use that information to make a better listening experience.

Even though Pandora’s algorithms currently focus on determining whether or not a particular song is one that a user likes or doesn’t like, Martin envisions a future in which the time of day, the season or even habits can help determine the type of music a person listens to.

“[You can] imagine a world in which you don’t have to select the station,” said Martin. “You just sort of know.”

Photo by Jakub Mosur.

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One Response to “Contextual relevance is the way of the future for Pandora”

  1. Harry Red

    Interesting stuff.

    But from that conversation I keep hearing ‘ubiquity, scale and scale!’, but if you ask dissatisfied Pandora users, they’re talking about struggling with pretty basic problems. Eg the song skip limit, horrible surprises in playlists, etc.

    So I wonder: Is there a mismatch here? Should Pandora go back and try to fix the basics first?