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A Chilling Measure of How Listeners see Pandora vs. Radio

A recent Jacobs Media research finding noted that 43% of Pandora users say the service should be considered “radio” while 49% say it should not.

These stats should chill you.

And that’s not just because 43% is such a large number or that it comes from actual listeners.

It’s because the average listener should not care whether or not Pandora is classified as “radio,” so the largest answer should be “don’t know – because I’ve never even thought about it.”  They should not be thinking about an issue like this because it’s of concern primarily to the industry that owns the labels, not to the consumers who own the behaviors.  In that context, 43% is huge.

To the average listener, the issue isn’t whether or not Pandora “is” radio, the issue is whether or not Pandora is used for the same things radio is used for. That is, is it a substitute or not? That is a different question, of course, and if the “is it or isn’t it” question gets 43% saying “it is,” just imagine how many would agree that Pandora is used for the same things radio is used for.

Cue chill.

So all of those elements that make radio different from Pandora have their value to be sure, but to 43% of Pandora’s audience they amount to a distinction without a difference.

This is, of course, exactly in line with what I have been arguing for some time.

But 49% say Pandora is not radio, you might say.  Yes, indeed.  But would you have ever guessed the number would be so low?

Value – and uniqueness – are in the ear of the beholder.

This is not a time to rest on laurels or a time to project Pandora into some imaginery non-radio ghetto.

It’s a time to magnify uniqueness – the kind that consumers value – and to make radio ever-more, ever-better, and ever-worthy of their scarce attention.

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