Online music service Pandora is now influencing the Billboard Hot 100 music chart with news that its streaming data will be used alongside the myriad sources that influence the chart positions of popular artists.
Perhaps the most interesting part of this news is that Pandora data wasn’t already being used by Billboard. While chart positions were once dictated solely by physical record sales or radio airplay, Billboard — among other popular chart providers around the world — has for some time used downloads and streaming figures when establishing what the most popular tracks are in any given week. Billboard already used data from Google Radio, Slacker, Napster, and AOL Radio, among others, while it also used figures from on-demand services such as Apple Music, Spotify, Tidal, SoundCloud, YouTube, and Vevo. As one of the most prominent programmed music-streaming services in the U.S., Pandora was a notable omission.
Billboard says that Pandora data has already “positively” impacted 35 titles on the Hot 100, with nine songs climbing by five or more places. However, it’s worth noting here that data from on-demand services such as Spotify are weighted at a higher value, due to the fact that listeners actively seek out music on those platforms, whereas programmed services such as Pandora give users less control.
“Over the last few years, Pandora has shared more and more data with the music industry,” said Pandora founder and CEO Tim Westergren. “We started with artists and managers, then direct-deal label partners, and now Billboard for inclusion in the iconic Hot 100 chart. With each step along the way, our partners have been shocked by the sheer size of Pandora’s audience. Pandora is now the No. 1 radio station in 87 U.S. markets and represents roughly 10 percent all radio listening. With the inclusion of Pandora data, the Billboard charts that have guided listeners and been so central to the music industry for decades now reflect a truer measure of a song’s popularity today.”
Launched in 2000, Pandora is available in the U.S., Australia, and New Zealand, and it now claims around 80 million listeners. The company has been on a mission to reinvent itself over the past year, with Pandora cofounder Tim Westergren re-entering the fray as the company’s new CEO last March as part of management makeover. Pandora also hired former Apple and LinkedIn marketer Nick Bartle as its new CMO, before rebranding with a new logo, launching an overhauled web music player, and introducing Pandora Plus, an “enhanced” version of its $5 monthly service. The company plans to introduce an on-demand service à la Spotify shortly.
Pandora is still likely on the hunt for a buyer, however, with its shares sitting well below its IPO price of 2011. One prospective acquirer remains Sirus, which as long been rumored to be interested.