Pandora Has a New Way for Artists to Drop Targeted Messages to Fans

Founder of Pandora Tim Westergren
Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Columbia Records

Founder of Pandora Tim Westergren speaks onstage during Pandora Presents Celine Dion at The Edison Ballroom on October 29, 2013 in New York City.

Pandora co-founder Tim Westergren announced a new feature on Wednesday that will give artists the ability to speak directly to fans on the streaming radio service. Called "Artist Messaging," artists will be able to record short announcements (much like artist accounts on Snapchat) about things like tour dates, new music or crowd-funding efforts, and then submit them to run on playlists based on their music.

Speaking with Re/code's Walt Mossberg at the Code/Media conference, Westergren explained that artists can use Pandora's artist management platform (AMP) to create data-driven announcements that can then be geo-targeted. "You're in a band and you decide to stop in Portland tomorrow night to play an impromptu show," he hypothesized. "Pull out your smartphone, log into your Pandora AMP account, zoom into Portland and check out your audience there. And then record a 15-second audio sample that says… we're playing in Portland, we hope to see you there."

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Bloomberg reports that the company has signed on 10 artists for a pilot program and that Lenny Kravitz and Fall Out Boy will soon joint those ranks. The free messaging service appears to be a goodwill gesture to artists, whose complaints about royalty payouts from streaming services are nothing new. Westergren predicted that the revenue generated from posting messages about concerts and merchandise "will dwarf royalties."

Pandora boasts 81.5 million active listeners but has so far struggled to turn a profit, a point that Westergren addressed at the Code/Media event.

"This is a company that's building a product that consumers love -- 80 million plus a month," he said. "We are working tremendously hard to build a business behind it. We're projecting over a billion dollars of revenue next year, we have this massive ad sales force, and a bunch of technology investment in it. And we're sharing that revenue very fairly i think with the artist community."