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Pandora vs. The World: A Story About New Audio Media February 18, 2011

Posted by Marcus in Online.
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Pandora is following me.  At first it just showed up on my computer, after that it appeared on my Blackberry. When I switched to Andriod it was already there waiting. Now it snuck on to my TV through my Boxee Box. No matter where I am Pandora is ready to stream me my custom radio stations. Pandora has achieved the level of distribution of actual radio, and because of that is now competing with it in a large way. So my question is: How does radio survive?

Pandora Radio Radio Tower

In an age of on demand custom radio stations and podcasts that can reach us anywhere we are, the “FM institution” is at serious risk. Especially in an age where such valuable bandwidth could be used for so many other things. So how can radio survive? Competing with Sirius XM is one thing, competing with services that make listeners the DJ is a completely different battle. Despite this I think that this isn’t the death of radio as much as a rebirth, the “FM institution” isn’t leaving, but its going to make a dramatic shift.

Compete in Pandora’s Space:

Radio stations have already been broadcasting online for a while, but it is not good enough. In the future, the FM signal will be more advertising space for the station than anything else. The stations that are an app on my phone, streaming to my computer, and playing through my TV are the ones that are going to win me over. If radio can be everywhere Pandora is and over the air, it will be able to take away the convenience of Pandora. On the day when I can make a choice to listen to 94.1 the Rock, a local favorite without using a radio is the day when they have become competitive on an entirely different scale. Pandora doesn’t cut out when I get too far from the station, neither should FM.

Be Local:

Google is an advertising giant. However, a small company called Groupon is thriving because they fill a gap in the market. They have proved that there still is a huge desire for local content in our highly connected world. Radio is already a local institution, however many stations seem to pretend that they are curtailing to a national audience. The stations that thrive post Pandora, will be highly involved in the community as well as social networking. Radio of the future will be playing the songs your friends like, it will be connected to the social networks of its audiences, and give people a connection to the station that they could never have with Pandora’s algorithm.

People are Important:

One thing Pandora, or other like services don’t have is a DJ. As we move into this next era of music broadcasting the voices behind our favorite channels are going to get a pay raise. I say this because having any DJ will do no good. Radio stations are going to need great DJ’s. If you can have a voice that really connects with the listeners you have a huge advantage over Pandora. The challenge is that they have to be good, people need to be talking about he DJ when they are not listening to the radio. People have to be liking him or her on Facebook. Finding people like that may not be easy, however it will be well worth the effort.

No one is going to win the battle of the broadcasters. Pandora as well as the “FM institution” will be highly popular. The only real winner in all of this will be us the listeners. I’m excited for the future of music, both FM and online.

Any thoughts on the future of radio? Please let me know in the comments.

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