The Pandora Letter

He’s on the wrong side. His own.

Read any financial analysis and you’ll learn investors are not bullish on Pandora, because it pays most of its income in royalties. Is this the listener’s problem? Is this the artist’s problem? Is this anything but Tim Westergren’s problem?

If you want to screw others, if you want a personal advantage, you execute behind the scenes. Does Justin Bieber e-mail all his followers and say he’s scalping his own tickets? That fewer than 10% are available at the public onsale? If it’s dirty work you’re involved in, you want no sunshine on the subject.

In other words, Tim Westergren doesn’t know Internet Rule #1.

That on the Internet, the public comes first, people count. Be duplicitous, be less than honest, and your audience will disappear. Look at Netflix… All its reasons for changing fees had to do with the company’s bottom line, it didn’t make sense for the customer, which is why there’s been a backlash that has permanently hobbled the company. Netflix used to be cool, now it’s just another outlet that streams content.

Pandora’s gonna be crushed by Apple. Hell, that’s what Apple’s done time and time again. It crushed Diamond, maker of the Rio MP3 player, it killed Nokia… Know anything about computing, and you know the big kahuna can turn your cash cow into a feature and you can go out of business. Once upon a time, spell checkers were standalone programs, that you purchased… Can you imagine paying for a third-party spell-checking program for Microsoft Word today? Hell, can you imagine needing the bloated features of Microsoft Word tomorrow?

That’s Microsoft’s challenge. Preparing for tomorrow. That’s what the Surface is all about. A way out of the desktop mess. Desktops are disappearing like buggies drawn by horses. Turns out most people don’t need the horsepower and the features, of either desktops or laptops. A tablet is good enough.

Turns out you pick what you want to hear from Spotify and also get a Pandora-like radio service.

What’s Pandora’s end game?


What Westergren has done right is get apps in cars. That’s what built Sirius XM, he’s following their blueprint. As for comparing Sirius XM with Pandora, the day Pandora gets Howard Stern on the service is the day I change my opinion. Pandora is just a bunch of stuff you don’t want to hear mixed amongst a few unknown gems that make you feel good because you discovered them. Is this the future of music discovery? Panning for gold? No, on the Internet people deliver gold right to your inbox. Pandora is inefficient.

But that’s just my personal bias. Your mileage may vary. You may like Pandora, that’s fine with me.

But why should you be obligated to ensure Tim Westergren and his company make more money? It’s like Bank of America e-mailing me to support deregulation of the financial sector because I’ve got an account there. How is this going to benefit me? How is it going to benefit the listener if Pandora pays fewer royalties? It’s not like my computer is gonna turn into an ATM and spit out cash.

Greed. That’s what our country runs on. Everybody’s willing to step on another to get even more. It’s not only Westergren and bankers, it’s artists, it’s everybody. Class warfare? It’s what we’ve got all day long. Teachers are chumps who should be pushed down the food chain. Military men and women are lauded, just don’t make me join their ranks and while we’re at it, let’s lower their benefits.

It is not my obligation to improve Pandora’s business model. It’s not my obligation to make the stock go up and line Pandora’s pocket.

I’m stunned that Tim Westergren is too blind to see this.

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