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ETV Trinity 07 Entrepreneur Interview

By Mario Hall,2014-07-09 12:31
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ETV Trinity 07 Entrepreneur Interview ...

    ETV Trinity ’07 Entrepreneur Interview :

    Tim Westergren, Pandora.com

I hereby certify that the following piece of work complies with the Own Work

    Declaration form already issued and with the University’s Rules and Regulations

    relating to plagiarism and collusion, as listed in the Essential Information for

    Students and the MBA Course Handbook.

    Student ID: 8268

Introduction

    Tim Westergren is founder and CEO of Pandora.com, an internet based music 1recommendation and radio service. I will conduct a R.A.C.E. framework analysis of

    Pandora chronologically, as R.A.C.E elements map well to clearly definable periods

    of Pandora‟s history.

     Pandora Timeline 1988 - Present

I have divided my report into 4 phases: (1) A Basis For Recognition, (2) Recognition,

    Appropriation and Control, (3) B2B Flop and Exploitation, and (4) B2C Success and

    Exploitation. Regardless of recent media attention, I treat Pandora‟s recent regulatory conflict as a sub component of it‟s B2C phase.

Despite travelling extensively for business and in support of a grass roots campaign to

    reverse regulatory rulings by the US Copyright Royalty Board, Tim was kind enough

    to take an hour to speak with me from his London hotel room. I wish to express my

    gratitude to him, and to Michele Husak, Director of Communications at Pandora, for

    their support in facilitating this interview. All quotations are taken from my phone

    interview with Tim Westergren, 19.05.07, unless otherwise noted.

    Technical and Business Model

    How Pandora Works

    Pandora is a website that allows users to create and listen to multiple personalized

    internet radio stations. Users create stations by searching for songs or artists they like

    in the Pandora database. If found, Pandora uses the Music Genome Project (hereafter

    MGP) to find similar songs and artists, which are then played over the personalized

     1 Recognize, Appropriate, Control, Exploit

station. As a user listens to a station, they are able to rate each song positively by

    clicking a “thumbs up” icon, or negatively by clicking a “thumbs down” icon. This

    data is then used to refine the list of songs from which the MGP chooses subsequent

    songs for the user. In this manner, a user is able to find new music similar to their

    existing tastes, gaining exposure to unknown artists and major recording stars

    equally… an impossibility in traditional radio.

    How MGP Works

    The MGP relies on a genre specific “genome” of several hundred song characteristics

    (genes) to classify a given song. Examples of genes would include Blues Roots,

    Gravely Female Vocalist, Grunge Recording Qualities or Flat Out Funky Grooves.

    Musical experts employed at the MGP listen to each song for 20 to 30 minutes to

    determine each gene of the song on a scale of 1 to 5. The genotypes of songs a user

    rates favourably are used to calculate a user preferences vector. This vector is used to

    query the MGP for a ranked list of song recommendations.

    How Pandora Makes Money

    Pandora has two user based revenue streams: ad supported, and ad-free subscriptions

    for $36/year.

    History

    Phase 1: A Basis For Recognition (1988 2000)

The Pandora and MGP concepts ultimately arose out of Westergren‟s passion for

    music and musicians, and his experience using a technical tool of the film composer‟s

    trade.

Westergren‟s background in the field extends at the very least to 1988, when he

    received his BA in Computer Acoustics and Recording Technology from Stanford

    University. Following this, his career included stints as a musician, recording artist,

    producer, and studio owner, providing him with experience in the field and a deep

    respect for musicians. Later in this phase, he worked as a film composer. The

    technical process by which film composers identify suitable music for a score

    provided the basis for what would later become the MGP: iteratively swapping songs

    (mixed tapes, CDs, online, etc.), getting feedback, picking new songs based on

    relatedness, and swapping again. After several rounds of this, a composer is able

    narrow down and “glean the tastes” of a director. The experiences of this phase gave him the background necessary to recognize the Pandora opportunity.

Phase 2: Recognition, Appropriation, and Control (2000)