Pandora: Not Long Tail. But Very Long on Subscribers

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Is the Long Tail simply getting ripped to shreds at this point?

If the latest stats from Pandora are a guide, well-filtered, more accessible programming is the better formula for success.

That was reinforced at the New Music Seminar this week, where CEO Joe Kennedy flexed some serious numbers.  That includes a registered user base that now surpasses 60 million, thanks to an aggressive platform spread.  “We’re just past 60 million in this country,” Kennedy told the New York audience.  “About 22 million have listened to us over the past few days.”

But niche content only gets so much play.  Addicted listeners are accustomed to playlists from known bands, and Kennedy pointed to an artist list of 90,000.  “Long Tail artists are played if specifically requested by the user,” Kennedy continued.

That means that entries are filtered – and DIY artists often get rejected.  Kennedy noted that just 30 percent of DIY artists are accepted into the system by Pandora reviewers. “We encourage the other 70 percent to improve their art,” Kennedy stated.

As part of that filtering, Pandora also requires artists to place CDs on Amazon, a requirement that – according to Kennedy – is inexpensive, facilitates ecommerce and metadata, and signals seriousness to the Pandora staff.