Pandora: Spotify is our friend, not a competitor

Written on:November 11, 2011
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Pandora Media was a pioneer in the business of streaming music over the Internet, so it’s understandable for people to think that Spotify, the popular new kid on the online music industry block, is a Pandora competitor. But according to Pandora’s CTO and executive vice president of product Tom Conrad, the companies are actually friends, not foes.

“I think of Spotify as being largely complementary to what Pandora is. Daniel Ek, the [Spotify] founder, has said that they see themselves as the future of the record store, and Pandora as the future of radio,” Conrad said in an on-stage conversation with GigaOM Pro analyst David Card at the GigaOM RoadMap conference in San Francisco Thursday. Not surprisingly, Conrad said, Pandora is just fine with Ek’s opinion there. “We’re really comfortable with that categorization, because it captures well our thinking about it.”

After all, traditional radio and radio stores have lived in harmony for decades. And the semi-random element of discovery that Pandora Radio provides is markedly different from totally on-demand services such as Spotify, Conrad said. And in fact, there’s potential for the two companies to work together more closely in the future. Conrad put it this way:

“One of the principal purposes of radio is to help artists sell their music. And as the music industry matures, it may be that the dollars traditionally spent on purchased music transitions to things like subscription services like Spotify. And I think that transition takes place, it’s not hard to imagine part of our role will be helping people connect from their listening experience on Pandora into subscription services, just like today we help them connect into things like iTunes and Amazon MP3.”

You can watch the entirety of Tom Conrad’s interview at GigaOM RoadMap 2011 in the video embedded below:

Watch live streaming video from gigaomroadmap at

Photo by Pinar Ozger

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