Time Has Passed by Pandora
Pandora was the first music streaming service I ever used. Although the user interface was somewhat odd, it was easy to use and I liked Pandora. But as other services appeared, things changed. Pandora began to seem somehow a part of the past, and their struggles to become profitable reflect that. There does not seem to be a solution.
Is there any need for Pandora now? Does it make any sense for someone to acquire Pandora?
The five main services the market needs all exist now, and they are:
Beyond those five, what interests me is higher quality or what is called "higher definition" music. Tidal and Pono are examples, and there are others. Spotify offers a higher bit rate than Apple music; Tidal is better than Spotify, and Pono is better than Tidal. They are niche services that deserve to grow. (Hello, Google?).
Pandora does not fit into any of the niches described above. I find their current UI (User Interface) to be the most boring one I have seen. It has very few options, and diminishes the value of Pandora. If you think about it, every mainstream (Non HD) music streaming service has the same 'product' - the same catalog of music. So if you combine that thought with the weak UI, then it looks bad for Pandora. I think they had too much success early on and they just lost their focus.
In conclusion, there does not seem to be any reason for Pandora to exist. Which makes it a very risky acquisition target as well. Im fact, I think a company would have to be desperate, to acquire Pandora - regardless of the price. The only value Pandora represents is their user base.
Now, if someone were to combine Pandora's user base with the higher quality of Tidal and Pono, add a very clean UI like Spotify, and avoid branding mistakes - now that could be interesting.
Sharing Helps Everyone
Right now, Spotify knows about the listening habits of only their own users; just as Apple music knows the listening habits of only their own users. This means that playlists suffer, and marketing suffers, because data is hidden, instead of being shared. While this is common in business, we need to do a better job of it if we want music streaming to reach its full potential - both for users, and for having a financially successful industry.
The more knowledge there is about users, the better playlists can become, the more targeted advertising becomes, the deals on concert tickets can be brought to the right people, and merchandising improves.
We have the solution!
What the industry needs to do is simply 'anonymize' the data. No one really needs to know any specific users name, for example. We anonymize the data and then share listening habits. If you imagine a single, global database of anonymized user data, then here would be considerable, actionable data that everyone could work with. What users are listening to, what they want to hear, would be far better known, What products are being bought, what products do users want? What are the hot tickets right now? It could help the labels in many ways including projecting changes in user's listening habits and desires.
Anonymizing the data protects user's privacy.
Such global knowledge benefits everyone, and hurts no one. Even the largest music streaming companies, like Spotify, would benefit; advertisers would benefit; even the bands could get a better idea of what users want.
Consumers could then tailor their account settings with preferences by keyword (which is something every service ought to have), plus the particular service they are using can see their listening habits. Add it all together, and you have better solutions.
Music streaming is a new industry. It is an industry that is just forming, a new way of doing things, and is the future for music. So it ought to be built right, from the start.