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In Atlanta, Pandora as big as Q100, Hot 107.9 among younger listeners

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Pandora, the most popular on-line only “radio”-style  option, is now as popular as some of the biggest stations in Atlanta among younger listeners, according to data compiled by Edison Research.

This is the first time such information has ever been released for Pandora publicly.

The ratings were very similar across the top 10 markets Edison studied.

Atlanta garnered a 0.7 average quarter hour rating for 18 to 34 year olds and a 0.5 AQH rating for 18 to 49 year olds.  That’s the same as New York, Chicago and Philadelphia. San Franciso, D.C. and Los Angeles had the highest ratings of 0.9 and 0.6 respectively in those two demos.

This would place Pandora in the same league as Hot 107.9 and Q100 for that 18 to 34 demographic.

AQH is different from the share numbers I normally get.  It represents the percentage of people listening to that station during any 15-minute period. If you listen 5 minutes out of those 15, you get credit. A 0.7 AQH is equivalent in Atlanta to about a 9 share in that 18 to 34 demo. According to Arbitron, Q100 in June was third with an 8.6 share among 18 to 34 year olds while Hot came in second with 8.8. No. 1 is V-103 at a dominant 11.7.

Kurt Hansen, who runs RAIN, an online newsletter which has studied online radio for more than a decade, said this data will help Pandora get more local ad buys. Currently, Pandora appears to be mostly attracting national advertisers, he said. It needs advertising revenue to cover the costs of paying for royalties as more listeners listen to more music on the service.

Pandora listeners, of course, are all over the map, creating stations of their own choosing. For the unitiated, the concept is simple: pick a song or artist. Pandora, which has human beings define each song by multiple “genome” criteria such as musical style and beats per minute, will find songs of similar ilk. You can like or dislike those picks and over time, the station will become more attuned to your tastes.

The company, which struggled over the years to find funding as it gained fans, found momentum when smartphones became popular. It went public earlier this year.

[UPDATE 8/1/11. I was sent this interesting memo from Katz Radio Group, which provides services to more than 3,000 radio stations and has a stake in supporting them, gave this counterpoint to Pandora's release:

Pandora’s ‘Special ’Math –It Still Doesn’t Add Up
The latest release posted on Pandora’s investors’ website is another attempt to position Pandora as something it isn’t – a radio station. I understand their radio envy – they even refer to themselves as WPAN -- since Pandora is essentially a playlist maker set to shuffle. But what we took away from their announcement was itsfailure to reach half the country, fuzzy math, and no benefit for advertisers. So when it comes to Pandora comparing itself to broadcast radio, it just doesn’t WPAN out.
Pandora’s release centered around its having a strong presence in the top ten markets. But if the Pandora numbers are valid, then Pandora is essentially announcing that about half or more of its total listenership is restricted to the top ten markets in the U.S. Considering the top ten markets account for only about 25% of the U.S. 18-49 population, that leads us to the conclusion that Pandora is not being embraced outside these ten markets.
On the numbers front, Pandora is making claims based on what I’ll call “Pandora’s ‘Special’ Math.” The companyhired well-respected Edison Research to create “average quarter hour” (AQH) ratings for “Pandora Corporate” (as they are listed by Triton Digital) within two age segments in 10 markets in the U.S. We aren’t challenging Edison’s math – they’re only crunching the data Pandora gave them. But we do wonder about all the data that seems to be missing. Like the geographic parameters of their ratings. In order to use the only accredited ratings available, the numbers must be reported in terms of TV geographic definitions (or DMA). If so, that would inflate their ratings when compared to the smaller Arbitron radio metro area.Therefore, they cannot be making an apples-to-apples comparison. In addition, we’re missing a statistic that’s critical for any real radio station -- the weekly cume of their listening. As to why that was left out, we’ve pointed out before that the average Pandora listener tunes in just 2.5 times a week – clearly there’s not much of a cume to be generated by that.
Another example of Pandora’s ‘Special’ Math: In its initial analysts’ call, Pandora claimed that it “ended 2010 with 2.3 percent market share of all radio listening in the United States. Six months later, Pandora has increased its market share to 3.6 percent.” But anyone who looked at the numbers would see this was a mathematical impossibility. Triton Digital’s published ratings show a net increase of 6% in users for Pandora over that six month period. For Pandora to equal 3.6% of all broadcast listening, broadcast radio listening would have had to drop by a third -- 32.5% -- in that same period. But it didn’t -- In fact, broadcast radio listening remained consistent over that timeframe and, in the top ten markets Pandora targets, radio’s AQH has increasedby 3.1%. And calculations by the two actual ratings sources for radio put all digital listening at about 3% of total radio listening. Without Pandora’s ‘Special’ Math, Pandora would account for possibly 1-1/2% of all radio listening.
As we’ve said before, Pandora is not the ideal vehicle for advertisers. Let’s look at ad targeting – which is crucial when a buyer is considering which radio stations to include on a buy against 18-49 year olds. Broadcast radio offers targeted environments where advertisers’ messages will have relevance and meaning. A rating without an environment is meaningless. Pandora doesn’t offer an environment, period, let alone a targeted one. So, for example, if the advertisement is for a Closed Circuit Boxing match, the spot could easily be surrounded by ballads from Celine Dion. Not what that advertiser signed up for, I bet.
Knowing radio’s place in the hearts, minds and daily lives of hundreds of millions of listeners every month, we don’t blame Pandora for wanting to be a radio station. But as the data continues to bear out, it’s far from succeeding in making that case.
Mary Beth Garber
EVP/Radio Analysis and Insights
Katz Radio Group
7/28/2011

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By Rodney Ho, rho@ajc.com, AJCRadioTV blog

33 comments Add your comment

Nat Turner

July 29th, 2011
11:05 am

Pandora is wonderful. There is the random ad, but it has a variety. It will sometimes pull out a song that I had forgotten about. The local radio stations play the same songs, over and over again.

And the best is: no annoyging deejay.

Lurkinator

July 29th, 2011
11:31 am

SInce I travel most weekends, I love Pandora – I have a classical music station and a singer/songwriter station. The biggest downside is that you can only skip so many songs in an hour.

However, I love Q100, and I have the app to listen to it on my iPhone, but I’m not always in the mood for it.

Speedygurl

July 29th, 2011
12:16 pm

I love Pandora. I enjoy it so much that I subscribe so that I can listen commercial free…all day at work…at the gym…and on road trips.

TG

July 29th, 2011
12:24 pm

Agree with all. Pandora is one of the best things ever invented. There have been so many songs I’ve found out about on there that I would not have known existed otherwise.

beachmom

July 29th, 2011
12:37 pm

Pandora is great but I recommend Slacker Radio as well. And Spotify, for that matter. I really don’t get how anyone can listen to a commercial terrestrial radio station after using on line music services. They pale in comparison.

A Different Jeff

July 29th, 2011
2:03 pm

Pandora is more reliable than Slacker, but both are better than terrestrial radio.

RadioGaga

July 29th, 2011
8:17 pm

Sky.fm is also good. You get an occasional promo from that delicious Australian, Kat Dealey.

JV

July 29th, 2011
8:28 pm

I like grooveshark a lot too.

Jason

July 29th, 2011
8:38 pm

Slacker is a great idea very poorly executed. The music line up on most stations is great and it really shows that a human is involved instead of an algorithm. But the software crashes too much or fails to pre-cache the next song, leaving long gaps of silence. It’s very frustrating to use. I’d blame it on poor cell reception except that Pandora doesn’t suffer from the same problems.

As for local radio, just like MTV long ago stopped showing videos, broadcast radio seems to have given up on playing music. Too much DJ chatter, commercials, promos, etc. I want music, not thirty reminders per hour of Berts Big Barnyard Beer Bash.

NorthGAgirl

July 29th, 2011
8:43 pm

Pandora is great! I have discovered many new artists because of their similarity to my “station” artists. So much better than even xm. No deejay and the ads are tolerable.

Jarvis

July 29th, 2011
8:52 pm

Pandora is much better than Hot 107. At least I don’t have to hear Ms. Shanika bougious self. She annoying.

Just Sayin'

July 29th, 2011
9:16 pm

My car radio died 6 months ago, so it’s either the iPod or Pandora via the iPhone. I wish you could switch to another app while Pandora played in the background, so you have to start it over every time you get a text. I do miss hearing some of the local talent just a little, but I enjoy Pandora although I’m not in that young demo described above.

me

July 29th, 2011
9:21 pm

Pandora’s ok, but unless you subscribe (no thanks) you still have that annoying issue of only being able to skip a few songs ever hour or whatever. Much prefer AccuRadio, at least on their mobile app you can skip as much as you want (you may be able to do that through their regular site, but I haven’t checked that out in a long time so I can’t say). The only issue with the AccuRadio app is that it has an annoying tendency (at least on my favorite channels) to play the same song over and over in close succession. Jack Johnson, then another song, then THE SAME JACK JOHNSON song, three or four other songs, THEN THE SAME DAMN JACK JOHNSON SONG (as an example). If they’ll fix whatever bug is causing that issue, it would be perfect.

SheeshLouise

July 29th, 2011
9:38 pm

I think it’s time to look into some Pandora stock.

godoggo

July 29th, 2011
11:26 pm

Pandora’s okay…..but seriously, im still a big fan of Kristen @ 106.7 in the morning….or Rock 100.5 for early morning.

I cannot stand the endless MIND-MELD of Chris Daughtry you hear on most stations every 13 minutes. Seriously ? How bout some Foghat, or Boston once in awhile….Uriah Heap anyone ?

Fred

July 30th, 2011
4:13 am

Uriah Heap? godoggo, you may as well give that one up. It ain’t gonna happen lol. I would go so far as to say that if you get anyone else on this blog that “knows who they are” I’ll bet they googled them to find out.

Radio stations gave up on music long ago which is why they are in the toilet. They all chase the 18-35 demographic. Rodney, several years ago, slipped up and gave the addy to a radio trade website. All of them their whined about satellite radio and such, but none were willing to admit that their practices were what caused the declining ratings. I rarely listen to radio anymore. Why bother?

kool$kat

July 30th, 2011
7:56 am

Uriah Heep! Yeah!! now that you reminded me I have to go listen to some Magician’s Birthday, Stealing (when I shoulda been buyin), etc Thanks for that suggestion!

CA

July 30th, 2011
8:08 am

Pandora is a wonderful concept. I listen, but after awhile, the music stops and you have to let the system know that you are still listening. Also, after a period of time, you will hear the same artist. This happens often. It’s a great idea, but still has MANY things that need to be fixed, unless you like to listen to the same artist five times per hour. Oh, and remember, you are limited to a certain number of hours per month commercial free, unless you want to pay for the premium service.

sammy

July 30th, 2011
8:16 am

Uriah Heep …..and no , no need to google, unfortunately like so many old school bands there is usually only one or two originals and the Heep is no different . Mick Box I believe is the only thing close to an original Heeper , left . I guess its only fitting to be discussing Uriah Heep on a July Morning

PTC DAWG

July 30th, 2011
8:30 am

I find it to sound tinny on a good sound system. Too much compression, just like XM/Sirus….

YouGenius'

July 30th, 2011
9:33 am

You people complaining about Pandora will complain about anything. It is a fee service, and you STILL complain. Go back to listening to that mindless drivel on the FM dial and stop clogging the Pandora pipeline and those of us who love Pandora will certainly not take any of your FM signal.

YouGenius'

July 30th, 2011
9:35 am

PTC DAWG, you can change the compression dude. Very easy. If you listen on a system which isnt from WalMart, it decompresses anyway.

RxDawg

July 30th, 2011
10:12 am

Pandora is amazing. The day the music exec’s ruin it and force feed us all the same 30 song pop crap that’s on the radio stations will be a very sad day. The randomness of Pandora is what makes it so special. That and the ability to nix any song you don’t like.

lance manion

July 30th, 2011
10:16 am

I’m in my 50s and listen to XM/Sirius in the office and in my car. Deep Tracks plays a lot of great old obscure stuff from the late 60s early 70s. The well informed DJs add a lot to the music, but don’t talk too much. I learn a lot about the music I love.
The same goes for other staions on XM like Bluegrass Junction, Classic Vinyl and Bluesville. I like a good DJ that talks about the music and artists. Online services don’t do that, yet.

CA

July 30th, 2011
10:19 am

YouGenius’: The fact is that there are issues with Pandora. You will hear the same artist sometimes a couple times per hour. I’m sorry, but this isn’t the greatest thing since sliced bread. It’s nice. I’ll even say it’s very nice. With so many options available (Spotify, Slacker, etc.) it isn’t the only game in town. What is frustrating is that so often when a song or artist in entered to create a station, it can not play that song, due to copyright agreements. I think you made a valid point when you wrote that it is a fee service. I know you meant free, but the fact is, to optimize your listening, it is a “fee” service. My problem is that I can not always hear what I want, and so often, what is played, does not even come close to meeting the concept of the music genome project. If someone listens to music, and likes a certain style, Sirius is the way to go. Yes, it is subscription based, but the content is so much stronger. Unfortunately, so many young people can’t afford 14.00 per month.

CA

July 30th, 2011
10:23 am

lance mansion: One great thing about Sirius is that you can hear music from around the world (Korea, Canada, England, and even Iceland). Other countries are playing the latest stuff long before it hits American shores, even if it was recorded here. I do agree about the content on Sirius/XM. I like to listen to the Village. Again, it’s unfortunate so many people can’t pay the 14.oo per month for great music, sports, news, etc., but can throw 15.00 down in one meal of fast food. I think that many people who would try Sirius would love the variety.

nita

July 30th, 2011
12:53 pm

My 18 and 20yr old give Pandora rave reviews. I have now added it to my Samsung TV as an app instead of tuning into the radio. My kids connect their cell phones in my car and listen to Pandora instead of the local radio stations.

TheLazyComic

July 30th, 2011
9:09 pm

Cool. Another nail in Cheap Channel’s coffin.

Gator Actual

July 30th, 2011
11:30 pm

The manager at our store always has his iPhone plugged into the speakers at work with Pandora. Takes “requests” for type of music during the day. Don’t even seem to notice the ads. I’m still waiting for him to play “All Disco, All Day”!

Susie

July 31st, 2011
8:43 am

I will listen to anything (Pandora, Siri, etc) just so I do not have to hear anymore of those God aweful commercials for Shane Company and D Gellar.

Radio Sucks

July 31st, 2011
11:03 am

Q100 and Snot 107.9 are nothing but Autotuned crap

mike scott

August 1st, 2011
6:51 am

atl radio sucks

jarvis

August 1st, 2011
2:49 pm

Sat-radio is as good as dead.