In today’s world, music streaming is the prevailing way to listen to music. It accounted for 85 percent of the music industry revenue in 2020, with Spotify and Apple Music leading the way.
But 20 years ago, the music industry was in a far different position. Physical sales accounted for the vast majority of revenue and music labels controlled the distribution model.
The iPod and Napster would change the course of history in 2001, as millions of people found new ways to own music, either through £1 single purchases or illegal torrents.
In a small apartment in San Francisco, Tim Westergren and Jon Kraft were also attempting to use infuse the music industry with technology. They had assembled a team of engineers and musicians to build a recommender system for music, called the Music Genome Project, which would “capture music at its most fundamental level” through over 450 attributes to describe a song.
Even though the system worked, Pandora (originally called Savage Beast Technologies) spent four years attempting to license the technology to AOL, Best Buy and the music industry. Nobody wanted anything to do with it, so in 2005, Pandora launched its own discovery service on the web.
The original concept of Pandora has stuck with it, a discovery tool for new music, alongside stations that are tailored to a user’s interests. Some things have changed, Pandora now uses artificial intelligence to instead of musicians to categorise the songs.
Pandora was the first online service to make personalisation a key part of the experience, which has been imitated by Spotify and Apple Music. Most music operators at the time either offered a library without any recommendations or basic radio channels.
Five years after launch, Pandora reached 40 million monthly active users. The launch of the iPhone and Bluetooth car radios accelerated the company’s growth, and Pandora quickly adapted its application for all platforms.
However, as with most streaming services, is struggled to make a profit. Until 2019, Pandora had not made a profit and even inside SiriusXM, it continues to struggle to maintain a consistent net profit.
This is partly due to Pandora’s slow shift from advertising to subscriptions, which Spotify and Apple Music have capitalised on.
Pandora has since launched Stories, a marketing tool similar to Genius’ Behind the Lyrics, in which artists can give narrative and deeper insights into tracks. It also has shifted into podcasting, which looks to be the next battleground for all of the key music streaming services.
We have collected data and statistics on Pandora’s revenue, profit and usage. Read on below to find out more.
Pandora key statistics
- Pandora Music generated $1.69 billion revenue in 2020, the first negative year-on-year since the company’s inception
- SiriusXM reported Pandora’s first profitable year in 2019, but that profit has fell by 86 percent in 2020
- Pandora has 58 million monthly active listeners, which has been steadily falling since 2016
- It also has 6.3 million paid subscribers, an increase of 0.1 million subscribers since 2019
|Launch date||November 2004|
|People||Roger Lynch (CEO), Aimée Lapic (CMO), David Gerbitz (COO), Chris Phillips (CPO)|
|Parent company||SiriusXM Holdings|
Sources: The Guardian, Pandora, SiriusXM
Pandora yearly music streams (hours)
Note: Pandora has not released this stat since 2017, possibly due to the negative effect publishing it in 2017 had on its stock price.
How many stations have been created on Pandora?
Over 10 billions stations have been created by users and moderators
What is Pandora’s peak yearly streams?
Pandora’s peak yearly stream volume is 418 billion, which it hit in 2015
How long does the average user listen to Pandora per day?
The average Pandora user listens for two hours, 15 minutes per day
What is Pandora’s largest acquisition?
Pandora acquired Ticketfly in 2015 for $450 million. This was sold two years later to Eventbrite for $200 million
How long does it take an artist to make a dollar on Pandora?
It takes an artist 752 streams to earn a dollar, more than Apple Music, Deezer and Spotify (Visual Capitalist)
What is Pandora’s largest demographic?
Pandora’s largest age demographic is 25 to 34 year olds, followed by 18 to 24 (Statista)
What was the most popular track of the 2010’s on Pandora?
Earned It by The Weeknd was the most popular track of the decade, followed by Someone Like You by Adele and See You Again by Wiz Khalifa (ft. Charlie Puth) (Hello Giggles)