Eight year old music streaming service Pandora Internet Radio is celebrating the milestone of 200 million registered users, saying half those users have signed up in the past two years.
Pandora's concept of Internet radio allows users to pick a particular artist and listen to a dedicated channel with that artist's music, plus songs by others generated by Pandora's system that it believes to appeal to the same listeners. Users are able to skip the occasional commercials in a limited capacity, but hacks are available to bypass the commercials altogether.
Limits Mobile Streaming
"When we launched Pandora in 2005, we hoped to create a new way to discover and enjoy music that was completely personalized for each and every listener," boasted Pandora founder Tim Westergren in a blog post on Monday (April 8).
"We envisioned a time when artists of all kinds would thrive on radio, connecting with fans who loved exactly their kind of music. I have to admit, we had no idea what was in store!"
Pandora is available for computers as well as mobile devices. But in February, Westergren broke the news to mobile users that they will be limited to 40 hours of streaming in an effort to reduce royalty costs. Westergren said this would only affect about four percent of users. "For perspective, the average listener spends approximately 20 hours listening to Pandora across all devices in any given month," he wrote on the company blog, noting that per-track royalty rates soared more than 25 percent over the pasy 3 years, including 9 percent this year.
In a graphic on his latest blog post, Westergren boasts that Pandora now streams more than 200 million songs before 10 a.m. each day, or 8,000 songs per second. Listeners are able to personalize stations with their "thumbs" up, to the tune of 25 billion thumbs so far, Werstergren said.
"They have quite a few happy customers," technology consultant and commentator Jeff Kagan told us. But he questioned how many users are taking advantage of the free model and how many pay for the ad-free subscription, information not provided in the announcement.
Fine The Way It Is
"Users like Pandora. It gives them the simple pleasure of listening to the kind of music they choose. If Pandora changes the model, they may lose business. That's what Pandora customers have told me. They say, as long as things stay consistent, they are happy. But make any changes, and each will make up their own minds whether to stick with the service."
Pandora also reached a sort of cultural milestone recently when it was lampooned on NBC's Saturday Night Live. In the skit, panicked Pandora engineers in the middle of a streaming outage grab an intern, played by superstar Bruno Mars, to fill in and ask him to perform a range of requested songs live -- a task that eventually causes Mars to collapse from exhaustion.