Pandora Is Losing 850,000 Listeners a Month. Now for the Bad News…

Pandora: going down?
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Pandora: going down?
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photo: Farhan Chawla (CC by 2.0)

That’s 8 million users gone in 9 months, according to Pandora’s latest disclosures.  What could be worse than that?  Well…

Listeners are abandoning Pandora in droves, according to shocking disclosures issued this morning.  And Wall Street continued to slam the streaming radio giant for a lackluster report card.

Here’s where things stand.  As of today, the company has 73 million active users.  At the start of the year, that number was 81 million.  Which means Pandora has lost 8 million active users in just 9 months.

That boils down to 850,000 active listeners a month.

+ Spotify, YouTube Music to End Free Streaming In 2-3 Years, Sources Say

The disclosure was part of Pandora’s latest financial filing, which covered the first three quarters of 2017.  And the financial picture is considered even worse.

Ahead of its earnings release, Pandora marked down its 4th quarter forecasts by roughly $30 million.

Accordingly, Wall Street punished the stock, driving shares of ‘P’ down 26 percent — in one day.

But wait: this gets even worse.  In rapid succession, four major financial firms quickly downgraded the stock.

“We have been trying to stick with Pandora through its multiple management changes and multi-year turnaround process,” JP Morgan analyst Doug Anmuth wrote. “However, near-term advertising trends are deteriorating and we believe it will take time for the company to realize the benefits of its ad tech investments.”

The news follows some questionable calls at the radio behemoth.

CEO (and co-founder) Tim Westergren is out, largely based on continued issues reaching profitability.  Westergren and a number of executives were blamed for missing the financial mark while getting rich off of Pandora stock.  None of which helped the long-term growth strategy.

+ Spotify Is Offering Employees 6 Months of Paid Parental Leave — Plus $10,000 In Egg Freezing Costs

A $450 million acquisition of Ticketfly was also met with skepticism (Pandora dumped the company for $200 million in June).  And for years, Pandora’s brass insisted on focusing on ad-supported, free streams, while skipping paid on-demand streaming.  In that period, competitors Spotify and Apple Music have amassed nearly 100 million paying subscribers.

Speaking of which: 73 million is still multiples larger than Apple Music.  At last count, Apple’s on-demand streaming play surpassed 30 million subscribers.  But Apple Music is paid-only, so it’s a classic apples-to-oranges comparison.

But Pandora is definitely smaller than Spotify, which has a built-in streaming radio feature.  At last check, Spotify counted 140 million users, with both free and paid options.  In fact, it’s theorized that Spotify’s wild success is coming at the expense of Pandora (amongst other losing competitors).

And now, for some good news.

Buried in the implosion and wreckage, there was actually a bit of good news.  Surprisingly, the radio giant has amassed 1 million paying subscribers.  Those people are buying on-demand and/or ad-free services, according the company.

Enter Roger Lynch, the latest CEO to attempt a turnaround.  “There’s no silver bullet that’s going to come in and solve these problems,” Lynch told investors.

Unfortunately, that’s exactly what investors are looking for.




9 Responses

  1. Emmett McAuliffe

    Been trying to warn Tim and everybody for years. Streaming *only* will not work. You have to give users the right to buy a download and use it across all platforms. You have to have “rental” (Pandora, Apple Music, Spotify) *and* ownership.

    • Felix

      Hahaha. No one wants to buy anymore. Have you seen recent download sales numbers? They’re nothing but down.

  2. Remi Swierczek

    Spotify, AppleMusic and YouTube NUTHOUSES as they KILL $300B of music goodwill obvious to to an IMBECILE will also KILL all of those who do not provide instant on demand access to everything.
    Thank you to Rio Caraeff, Francis Keeling and their boss Lucian Grainge music industry will conclude in $30B streaming and advertising GRAVE in 2030.

    • Remi Swierczek

      Go to bed Remi, it’s past your bedtime! Praise be to Spotify!

  3. Babakazoo

    there is a Pandora app built into the entertainment system of my car, I used to use it all the time and totally loved it. Last month I suddenly got an email saying that Pandora were shutting down all their services in Australia… So it’s not so much about them losing customers down here, they are ditching all their customers in Australia.

    • JTS

      Aussie, Aussie, Aussie,
      You are officially the best journalist at DMN.

      Oi, Oi, Oi,

  4. Jess

    Spotify’s product is the app that streams music.

    Going old school, but CD players, VHS, beta-max (BETA MAX!!!) were all products that helped play music/videos. So are these not products? Just because Spotify does the same thing digitally, doesn’t make it less of a product.

    I’m not defending Spotify’s way of charging customers, but they have a product – an App that very easily allows you to collect music into playlists and stream them online or offline. An App that allows you to discover new artists based on your preferences. Saying that their product is MUSIC is obtuse.

    Your picking the wrong sword to fall on here.

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