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NASHVILLE'S DIGITAL INROADS: PANDORA
7/13/16

The digital platforms are acutely aware of the potential of country music, which, as the reps from AppleSpotifyPandora and Shazam collectively point out, is one of the most active and fastest-growing areas of the music-content spectrum.

Lars Murray SVP Pandora Music Makers Group 

The audience share for terrestrial Country radio is growing nationally; is that a trend at Pandora as well? Yes. Country is huge on the platform and it’s growing. We have 62 million country listeners, and last year our country listener hours were up nearly 8% year-over-year.

 How important are events, festivals, etc. in growing the Pandora brand with the country audience? What initiatives have you implemented to cultivate this market? Events are a central feature of our country strategy. Last year we created Pandora Country, an event designed to showcase emerging and growing talent, which we put on in Nashville during Country Music Week with Kelsea BalleriniDustin Lynch andThompson Square. It was a huge success, and we came back for more this year with Tyler FarrKip MooreCam and Brent Cobb. Both years we’ve sold out the show. Last fall we partnered with Big Machine on our Women in Country event in NYC, which underscored the fact that women’s voices had a great home on Pandora and raised $50,000 for T.J. Martell. We initiated a partnership with the Country Music Association, creating a CMA custom station. We also partnered on CMA Fest for the last two years, with activations at LP Field and a dedicated CMA station on Pandora that has over 450,000 listeners and very healthy time spent listening.

Will the algorithm allow for cross-pollination of format records? For example, if I thumbs up Sam Hunt and Drake, would I get both on the same station? It’s not likely that they will organically show up in each other’s stations, unless you choose to “add variety,” in which case you could make a Sam/Drake hybrid station. Also, one of our most popular stations is Thumbprint Radio, which is customized to each listener’s thumb activity. So if you are a fan of both artists, they will both show up there.

What are the hottest artists for station creation in the format? Not surprisingly, Florida Georgia Line and Luke Bryan drive huge station add numbers on a weekly basis. On the developing front, right now Maren Morris is moving fast, and so is Jon Pardi.

Anything that has surprised you about the behavior of predominantly country music users? It’s less surprise than delight. I didn’t have much exposure to Nashville during my label career, so Pandora is teaching me things about the country audience that Nashville folks already know. They are extraordinarily loyal, they are passionate and there are more of them than a lot of people on the coasts realize.