Since he left Billboard for Pandora, Glenn Peoples has been taking to Medium to post blogs about digital music, data and consumer behaviour (echoing his highly readable and insightful columns when at Billboard).
His latest posting is about breaking acts within country and why Pandora is giving them a better audience share than traditional radio is. (Of course, he’s on Pandora’s staff so he’s going to say it’s great – but he offers a rigorous analysis of the data to back up his arguments as he runs Pandora plays alongside radio plays from Billboard’s airplay chart.) “Pandora is fair and beneficial simply because less popular artists have as much opportunity on Pandora as superstars,” he says. “Broadcast country radio is far more slanted toward a handful of artists.” His thesis is that radio rewards hits and Pandora is more agnostic. Looking at the top 60 tracks, he says on Pandora the #1 song will get about five times the number of plays that the #60 track will get. Mapping that over to radio, however, and the #1 song will get 50-100 times more plays than the #60 track. Radio, the conclusion run, is all about the head in a self-perpetuating way whereas Pandora is more egalitarian along the entire (well, top 60) tail. “It’s a winner-take-all market in which a very small number of songs grab most of the spins,” he says of radio. “In contrast, Pandora creates a more meaningful audience for a significantly larger number of songs.” Of course, there are wider issues about the actual size of the addressable audience related to each medium; but if Pandora is on a charm offensive within the artist community, the idea that it does not “penalise” acts for their relative lack of success is going to be a message we can expect it to go hard on in the coming months.