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Pandora launches the first of a two-part Uber partnership

Pandora cube canvas 160wPandora has signed a deal with ride-sharing company Uber which sees Pandora integrated into the driver version of the Uber app, so they can make stations and thumb songs while behind the wheel. The Pandora-enabled app will be available in the U.S., Australia, and New Zealand.

Eventually, a rider-side version of Uber will launch that offers musical control from the back seat. Any rider registered with Pandora will be able to access that feature when it launches, both in the ad-free and premium tiers. Pandora told RAIN News that there isn’t a timeline set yet for that rollout.

The rider-side version, when released, has greater potential for lift to Pandora’s audience. By one estimate, Uber had 160,000 U.S. drivers around the world at the end of last year — not a large number compared to Pandora’s 80-million monthly listenership, especially when you consider that many Uber drivers could already be Pandora listeners via Pandora’s app. And Pandora (U.S., Australia, New Zealand) does not play everywhere Uber rides.

Uber had about eight-million global riders in September of last year, according to Forbes. The rider-side part of this integration will bite into a larger potential unduplicated audience, keeping in mind, again, that Uber is in 60 countries, almost all of which do not receive Pandora streams.

All in all, it seems like this announcement is a placeholder for two eventualities to come, making it much more significant. First, for riders to get involved in programming music inside Uber cars. Second, for Pandora to roll out its promised on-demand service, which will spread Pandora listening more widely around the world. As Uber and Pandora grow together, a tight integration could be as important to Pandora as it many dealings with automakers. It’s a good match: People access music as they access rides.

But this isn’t Uber’s first music service collaboration. It teamed up with Spotify in November 2014, offering an service hook-up that allowed passengers to stream a playlist through the car’s speakers while on a ride. However, that partnership focused only on Spotify Premium accounts.

RAIN News Staff

24 Comments

  1. The recent focus of most radio consultants (especially Jacobs) is “defending” broadcast radio’s last remaining advantage: in-car listening. But once again, it seems like too little, too late.

    Anecdotally: our nanny was really averse to getting her driver’s license, which is completely foreign to me, as my generation viewed the ability to drive as a major goal and expression of freedom. But according to her, none of her friends (ages 16-18) want to drive, because “we have Uber for that.” They dont want to deal with parking, drunk driving, etc.

    The point is: broadcast radio continues to try to shore up it’s existing, aging audience in the car, while completely conceding the 12-34 demo to new radio. Meanwhile, Pandora and others innovate with partnerships like this.

    The complete shift from old radio to new won’t be due to some magic catalyst or “killer app.” It will occur when the generation of listeners that radio has willfully ignored and marginalized matures to the point wherein most of the available audience are people that have grown up in a world devoid of broadcast radio. Podcasts, On Demand, and personalized radio is all they know, and why would you ever go back?

    As bad as broadcast radio’s content is, that’s not entirely the reason that the contemporary generation has left the medium. They are at a seemingly insurmountable technical disadvantage. And partnerships like this one reinforce it.

    • Hey Steve,
      What makes you think on air radio companies aren’t creating podcasts? Lots of them are. If you just run through the podcast offerings, you’ll see lots of shows hosted by on air radio hosts. Everything being done on air is also available online. Also partnerships and platforms like this aren’t exclusive, nor are they restricted to online companies like Pandora. There’s a lot going on. Contrary to what you seem to think, broadcast radio’s content isn’t the problem, because companies like Pandora, Apple, and Spotify are all copying the programming of AM/FM. There must be a reason.

      • Pandora, Apple, Spotify, etc. offer more musical diversity than AM/FM does.

        • So what? I only listen to what I like. Most people listen to what they like. For the majority of the people, that’s covered by AM/FM. For the others, there’s Pandora, Sirius, etc.

          • We’re explaining how they are not copying the programming of AM/FM.

          • They are creating curated radio stations, some even with DJs, that sound remarkably like FM. Those stations are in addition to the other channels.

          • It’s not just unique playlists that make these services popular. It’s also the fact that on many of them the listener can stream whole albums.

          • Beth – They’re not just talking about listener playlists. I’m currently looking at the Radio tab of my iTunes program. Amongst the stations are Bollywood, Reggae, World Hits, French Pop, Lullabies, Disney Princess Radio. Those are the kinds of things you won’t find on your local AM/FM stations. That’s what they are referring to.

      • @TheBigA — I enjoy your comments and the discussions which follow. There’s a lot wrong with what you posted here. 🙂 Are a lot of commercial (not public) radio hosts creating podcasts? Let’s think about morning drive, a daypart when terrestrial thrives. Can you give examples of what those shows are doing to manage a transition from linear listening to on-demand? Do you think they need to? “Everything being done on air is also available online” — unless you mean simulcasting, this seems plainly wrong. “…companies like Pandora, Apple, and Spotify are all copying the programming of AM/FM” — that’s a baffling statement. The personalized programming models of music services are completely different from un-personalized AM/FM. Do you mean that radio hits are also online hits? Of course they are. That’s not copying. And, in fact, radio sometimes learns what the hits are FROM music-service popularity. Who’s doing the copying then?

        • You ask a lot of questions. There are thousands of AM/FM stations. Some podcast. Hubbard has a deal with PodcastOne. Other companies use AudioBoom. Still more use Apple. Go through their directories to answer your question.
          I said everything done on air is being done online because a large number of stations stream their content. Just look at the various radio platforms like Radio.com IHeartRadio, or TuneIn.com to see all the AM/F< shows available online.
          I said companies like Apple, Pandora, and Spotify are copying the programs of AM/FM because all three are hiring former AM/FM program directors to create curated playlist stations for their subscribers. Those stations will look and sound like AM/FM. Yes, radio hits are online hits. I look at the streaming charts, and they mirror the AM/FM charts. Why? Because most people like a small group of songs. Those songs get played on FM radio, so they want to hear them on demand from streaming sites. Who's copying who? The record labels believe the streamers are copying FM radio.

          • Thanks for the reply. As I said before, simulcasting is not an example of podcasting, which is what we’re talking about here. You know this. Simulcasting is linear; podcasting is on-demand. As Steve McQueen noted, only Apple is emulating radio in any significant way, with Beats 1. Curated playlists are an important part of the streaming business, as you say. But that is not copying radio. Playlists might be replacing radio to a large extent; time will tell. They resemble mixtapes more than radio stations.

          • “As I said before, simulcasting is not an example of podcasting”
            I never said it was. I said everything radio does is online. But there are lots of podcasts by local talk show hosts, bits from morning shows, and entire shows from certain syndicated personalities.
            ” only Apple is emulating radio in any significant way, with Beats 1.”
            Right now, yes. But I have friends who were hired by Pandora and Spotify to create FM-style radio stations on their platform. You will be reporting on it soon.

          • Clarification. On Apple and Spotify, the listener creates his/her own playlists.

          • Billy Bob: Those companies have hired former FM PDs to create “curated playlists” that will be part of subscription channels. They will be in addition to listener playlists. Some people don’t have time to make their own playlist.

          • BigA – He’s referring to the listener playlists only.

          • I got a Smartphone recently. It has Google Play Music as the pre-installed music streaming app, which I’ve been trying out. As Brad Hill says, the playlists, whether they are curated or whether they are listener made, are more like listening to a mixtape than listening to a radio station.

          • Idol Girl – If you have any music stored on your phone, you can use the Google Play Music app to play your MP3’s. Saves on data usage and you don’t have to subscribe to anything.

          • I didn’t include Google Play on my list of streamers. There are lots of platforms. Google Play is nowhere near the size of the others.

          • Re: Google Play

            What they are talking about is that the app doubles as an MP3 player on your phone when you are offline and not using the streaming service. The app will detect any MP3’s you have stored on your phone and let you play those using the program.

      • Good point, @thebigA.

        To your first point: yes, most terrestrial radio hosts have started providing podcasts of their repurposed live content. Some of the smart ones are even doing shows that are podcast-exclusive, so that they can truly entertain outside of the context of PPM and consultants.

        Unfortunately, excluding public radio (which absolutely destroys commercial radio in terms of content development, loyalty, distribution, and innovation, imo), when you look at any of the podcast charts- iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, commercial broadcast radio is completely absent. The only thing I could find in the top 100 on any of these is ESPN’s Mike & Mike show, which checks in at #77 on the iTunes chart.

        This is not to say that broadcast talent aren’t capable of delivering compelling entertainment, it IS to say that the current culture within broadcast radio is one that is absolutely not supportive or conducive to delivering the kind of shows that millions of folks are voraciously consuming via podcasts. tl;dr: broadcast radio’s culture is broken.

        To your second point, with the exception of Apple’s “Beats 1,” I promise you that none of those folks are actively trying to “copy” broadcast radio. For people within those companies, broadcast radio is more of an afterthought and a cautionary tale. Whether or not that is a wise POV remains to be seen, but so far it hasn’t seemed to hurt them. There are some practices within radio programming that are by no means proprietary to terrestrial radio that make sense across all platforms; the only proprietary thing that broadcast radio really has is it’s means of delivery.

        But, good points for certain. I’m very intrigued by what Scripps/Journal is working on. They may actually be the most innovative group within broadcast radio at the moment.

        • Steve I think I answered all your questions above to Brad Hill. There are lots of places to find podcasts besides the platforms you mention. All of the streaming companies have hired former FM PDs to create FM-styled radio stations for the subscription customers. I know because several of them are my friends. They tell me the company wants them to do the same thing they did at their former job at the new place.

    • Steve says: “Podcasts, On Demand, and personalized radio is all they know, and why would you ever go back?”

      Quite agree. I’ve gotten hooked on that and very rarely listen to AM/FM radio anymore.

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