Pandora Radio have announced that for the first time they will export their service from the United States and take it internationally. However, in a somewhat surprising move, Pandora Media have forgone the obvious choices of Europe to bring their service straight to Australia and New Zealand. Unlike competitors Spotify and Rdio, Pandora creates the playlist for the listener, recommending new artists and songs through creating an artist ‘Radio’.
So, for example, for those unfamiliar to the service, here’s what you do: type in an artist, let’s say Radiohead. Pandora will then generate a playlist that reflects the musical style of Radiohead.
To start things off, we’ll play a song that exemplifies the musical style of Radiohead, which features basic rock song structures, a subtle use of vocal harmony, use of a string ensemble, major key tonality and a vocal-centric aesthetic.
From here on out we’ll be exploring other songs and artists that have musical qualities similar to Radiohead. This track, ‘Ramble On’ by Led Zeppelin, has similar electric rock instrumentation, demanding vocal performances, demanding instrumental part writing, extensive vamping and a clear focus on recording studio production.
With Australia ranked the 6th largest music market in the world and New Zealand 32nd (see below statistics), Pandora’s expansion Down Under may come as a little surprise to some; however, Pandora’s ‘El Presidente Joe Kennedy told Billboard.biz that “we reached agreements with rights holders down there. As we’ve said before, that’s really the gating issue in most of the world.” Thus it is a move of convenience as opposed to profit maximisation.
Australia, according to the IFPI, in 2011 posted:
Physical music sales of $260 million (world rank No. 6)
Digital music sales of $181 million (world rank No. 6)
Performance royalties of $25.8 million (world rank No. 8)
New Zealand in 2011 recorded:
Physical music sales of $32.6 million (world rank No. 30)
Digital music sales of $16.5 million (world rank No. 26)
Performance royalties of $6.4 million (world rank No. 24)
Pandora currently have 175 million users registered in the US, with 115 million users utilising the company’s mobile apps. With 75% of usage occurring on mobile devices, Pandora plan to introduce the same app within Australia into both Apple and Android markets. “With the huge number of mobile device users in Australia and New Zealand, we anticipate fast adoption of our free mobile apps,” confessed Pandora’s founder, Tim Westergren, speaking out about the global expansion. In an article published by Billboard.com they highlighted that 52% of Australians have access to a smart phone.