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Pandora founder Tim Westergen likes to tell the story of how, when he was a traveling musician, his band would drive into a strange town with a staple gun and a stack of fliers, and cross their fingers that fans would turn up to hear them play. Now Pandora is sharing a tool that will reduce the chance that musicians will travel to an empty venue.
On Wednesday, the streaming radio service launched AMP, which will let bands see a trove of important data such as where in the country people are playing their music, their most-played tracks and how their audience breaks down on age and gender lines.
The tool, which will be available to the more than 125,000 bands whose songs are played on [company]Pandora[/company], can be claimed by artists at a website, starting today. Here are screenshots of what they will see, including a “heat map” of where in the country fans can be found:
Here is another screenshot that shows a band’s most-played and most-popular tracks, information that could be important for decisions such as singles promotion or set lists:
Pandora’s decision to offer a data dashboard, which has been the subject of rumors for more than a year, comes at a time that the service is trying to improve its relationship with musicians and the music industry. In August, the company signed its first direct deal with a record label, creating a partnership with Merlin, which represents more than 20,000 independent artists.
The Merlin deal included arrangements to share Pandora’s data, which is a powerful source of insight not just for the music industry but for advertisers too. In recent weeks, for instance, political campaigns have been flooding Pandora with ads, hoping to exploit a strong reported correlation between a person’s music taste and their political propensities.
It remains to be seen if the AMP data announcement will soften the music industry’s ongoing legal war against Pandora, which includes class action lawsuits and an attempt to push Congress to impose a new oldies tax on digital music services. Pandora, meanwhile, points out that its service is popular with independent musicians, many of whom don’t get exposure through traditional distribution channels.
For now, Pandora remains a market leader in streaming radio, with more than 75 million listeners, and the company has aspirations to be “the FM radio” of the connected car. In the long term, though, it could face tougher competition as an “API invasion” means more companies are trying to replicate its data-based music selections.