Pandora and Pioneer Together

Tuesday I was at the Mayo Clinic Scottsdale having a very minor procedure performed when the doctor asked me, "what kind of music do you want to hear?"

I was not interested in hearing the usual Mayo strings or that sort of fare, but she added, "We have Pandora -- what kind of music do you like?"

I said R&B.

Then a nurse rattled off a number of R&B genres and I interrupted by saying, "type in Jerry Butler, the ice man".

I know the power of Pandora!

Within seconds, I heard "Mr. Dream Merchant" followed by other great songs in the genre. She was finished in a few minutes -- too few if you can believe that -- but I wanted to stay and listen to more Pandora.

They raved about it and I've got to say that this doesn't surprise me. With 40 million fans, my USC students were absolutely clairvoyant a few years ago when they saw this phenomenon coming. It's not nice to ignore the next generation's media whims.

And that's really the issue.

Tim Westergren, Pandora's founder, has spent over ten years innovating while terrestrial radio and music executives have been spending that same time obsessing over building a cheaper mouse trap.

Westergren was forced to humiliate himself to go begging for continued financing when his seed money dried up. Then he had a close call with the record industry's lunatic fringe that wanted to charge high royalties to the money webcasting business. That could have permanently put Pandora out of business.

Pandora survived and is now poised to become the "new" radio thanks to the rise of the mobile Internet.

You've noticed, perhaps, that radio is far from a growth business as consolidators are going down to bankruptcy at a pretty fast pace.

Then, yesterday -- this news from one of the best media writers in the industry, The Wall Street Journal's Sarah McBride.

Pandora and Pioneer, the components manufacturer, announced at the annual Consumer Electronics Show that they had a deal that would make it easier for in-car listening to Pandora through a new entertainment system that will be manufactured by Pioneer.

Sarah points out that no money changed hands because both Westergren and his counterparts at Pioneer knew a good thing when they saw it.

It's a win-really win proposition.

The radio industry has had over a decade to prepare for the advent of mobile Internet radio and they did nothing. Spent nothing. Learn nothing. Three radio companies are bankrupt and experts say that is the end of it.

In March, Pioneer will sell their new system that --- well, let Sarah McBride tell you ...

"...that allows Pandora users who stream the service on their Apple Inc. iPhones to easily access Pandora in their cars. The $1,200 navigation system, announced today at the Consumer Electronics show in Las Vegas, will detect iPhones and iPod touches that have Pandora installed, and put the consumer's Pandora settings on the navigation screen. That will allow drivers to hear their favorite Pandora radio channels".

Do yourself a favor when you have a moment and read the rest of her report -- here.

Satellite radio -- over.

Forget 18.5 million listeners paying $12.95 a month (less for second and third listening devices).

Satellite had a chance to innovate but all it did was eliminate commercials and do cheap programming. Howard Stern and sports rights cost them a fortune but 90% of their channels were and are unremarkable.

Sirius XM is betting that Internet availability will also make them competitive in the world of mobile Internet listening but they and their terrestrial predecessors just don't get it.

Pandora is new technology.

New genomes for detecting listener likes and dislikes.

The best radio can come up with is this cockamamie concept of listener driven radio where songs can be shut off in the middle of airplay when the station detects some or most of their listeners have heard enough. That's just not going to work with individuals who can have better at Pandora.

The lessons here are so many and you can bet we'll be discussing this at my Media Solutions Lab at the end of this month.

Radio and record execs think they can cram their products and services into digital age devices. Had Tim Westergren thought like that, there would never have been a Pandora ready to ride the wildly expansive growth of mobile Internet radio.

And all fun aside as we kid the clueless radio execs here in this space, this is a serious problem. I'm not even in the mood to joke or poke fun at these guys today.

Hell, there is absolutely no innovation going on in terrestrial radio and the record business -- none.

I've got bad news for them -- mobile Internet will not be a friendly home for rehashed concepts.

To give you a little preview of what I am going to lay on my Solutions Lab attendees regarding this issue ...

... That being in the music playlist business (with or without voice tracking) is a non-starter in the Internet space where customized music mixes will always be more desirable. Playing to PPM is a joke -- playing to fans is the real goal.

... That cost-conscious radio groups firing their talent and turning thousands of stations into virtual iPods (playing their music playlist not each individual's favorites) took radio out of the game.

... That for those of you -- my very bright readers who think there are opportunities ahead in Internet radio beyond terrestrial stations dumping existing formats on the web and mobile content, podcasting, social networking sites -- well, you would be right.

Knowing how to innovate is now the mission -- not lamenting the fools who frittered away the best talent that could have been their entree to mobile Internet radio.

May I be blunt?

24/7 Internet radio stations are not the future.

Special programming, shorter duration, customized programming built around a community is.

I've told this story before so forgive me as I tell it to my new readers:

When Tim Westergren talked to some of my adoring students at USC, they were indignant and sometimes outright rude that he called Pandora -- radio. They hate radio. Think it's tainted. One class beat Tim up for almost two hours until this gentleman turned to them and said, "what would you call it instead"?

No one had a viable answer.

Today we see that Westergren really wanted to redefine radio for another generation -- and in too few years when people think of "radio" they will think of Pandora and streaming sites to come not Donny Osmond on 65 terrestrial radio stations looking to save money.

Pandora has not only changed the meaning of the term radio but changed the meaning of radio.

Smart money gets out of the music playlist business because they are going to lose.

The future, then, is in personality and information driven mobile content -- and right now we're taking applications looking for the next Tim Westergren.

As I said, Internet radio -- not your consolidator's Internet radio -- is big on our agenda at my upcoming Media Solutions Lab. Try to join us. We've got some interesting people attending.

And I want to share the news that staying at the on-site hotel just got almost 50% cheaper.

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Westin Reduces Media Solutions Lab Hotel Rates

The Westin Kierland hotel in Scottsdale has now reduced the price of staying on-site for the upcoming Media Solutions Lab to $259 for weekdays. This is a result of registration activity.

If you have already registered at the Westin Kierland at a rate higher than $259 per night, you can call (800) 354-5892 and request the "social catering rate" for Jerry Del Colliano's Media Solutions Lab. Caution: do not cancel your current reservation confirmation until the Westin issues you a new confirmation at the $259 rate.

If you are staying elsewhere for the event and would like to stay on-site at the Westin Kierland Scottsdale, call (800) 354-5892 and request the "social catering rate" for Jerry Del Colliano's Media Solutions Lab. Once you have a Westin confirmation at the $259 rate, you may cancel your offsite reservation.

You always have the option of checking this handy hotel reference site to monitor the best rates and act appropriately -- click here.

Some registrants who have decided to stay longer and enjoy 70 degrees and sunny this cold winter have asked for a special Westin promotion in which you pay the standard going rate for the first night and then the last two digits of the year of your birth for the additional two nights -- so if you were born in, say, 1962 -- the second and third nights would cost $62 per night.

You also have the option of using Starwood points to reduce the rates further.

But look, there are few places you can get the background necessary to be part of the digital future. The Media Solutions Lab is not a convention. You won't see one speaker after the other pontificating. And I can tell you there will be no sponsors to sell you anything, no one with an agenda. The format is so unique and fresh, I think you'll love it. I've done many times before and attendees are moved to action.

The magic is in how we work together. I have done my homework and I bring you into the mix. My motto is "the teacher and the taught together do the teaching". I promise we will cover 14 of the most meaningful, relevant learning modules now at the start of this new year.

You're not going to get this at a traditional convention, confab or seminar.

The Apple tablet is looming over all the changes we see ahead -- I'll tell you all I know about it and the possibilities of you making money from this exciting new platform.

Internet radio is the big story for the next five years and yet terrestrial radio people think Internet radio is radio online.




It is Pandora and the streaming music service I believe Apple will soon offer -- things like that. There is no way around having to be an innovator.

That lets a lot of radio CEOs out, but it provides you with many new opportunities.

But you'll have to be open to them. Sacrifice a bit. Invest in yourself to get to this refresher. Find ways to connect with people who know the future.

I can hardly wait to tell you about a business concept that will be yours and yours alone -- based on the Internet and something you can do with advertisers to unlock it.

There's lots of benefits. I hope you'll take a moment to study the program here.

I've got a few "$200-off seats" as part of the pre-event pricing. If you want one, lock it in here.

And now you can stay on site at almost 50% less -- scroll down after clicking here.

Many, many more thousands of people read me today than in the old glory days of Inside Radio for which I am very grateful.

That proves to me you are looking ahead -- ready to adapt and gain new skills. It would be my honor to be of help January 28th and beyond.

Register here.