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Inside Pandora’s Evolving Strategy

Will Pandora expand to spoken word (I hate that term passionately) content?

Not any time soon, I think.  But here’s the take from the New York Times:

[In Pandora’s initial public offering], when discussing the competition, Pandora notes that this non-musical content gives “terrestrial” radio stations an edge over its service. Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean that Pandora will be announcing a slate of talk shows tomorrow, or that it’s actively developing a service in this vein — those other formats might just be on the roadmap for the future. It’s also not clear how this would fit in with Pandora’s existing technology, which revolves around creating personalized music stations made up of songs that you’ll probably like. Could Pandora develop a way to provide similarly sophisticated recommendations for non-musical content?

Here’s the thing the NYT and most broadcasters don’t understand:

Pandora is building a permission-based platform.  This platform will be powered by one-to-one relationships between Pandora and more than 80 million registered users.

When you have a lot of relationships with happy consumers you have the ability to solve their problems in novel ways even if that does not mean what the NYT calls “similarly sophisticated recommendations for non-musical content.”

In other words, once a media company becomes a media giant it is not written in stone that it remain a one-trick pony, no matter how compelling the one trick may be.

When Apple introduced the Macintosh, did anyone ask how long it would take for them to invent the iPod?  Would anyone have guessed that the company would one day literally strip the word “computer” from its name?

Scale brings freedom to solve problems for consumers – as long as those problems are relevant to the brand and nagging for the consumers.

Pandora will surprise many with the directions it takes (even if they don’t know what those directions are yet).

That’s what you get with more than 80 million happy customers.

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