Friday, November 20, 2009

Tim Westergren of Pandora Internet Radio: Interview

Earlier in the year Tim Westergren, the founder of Pandora Radio, was in Washington for a "Town Hall Meeting" with listeners, and he was generous enough to come to the VOA studios amidst his day's busy schedule for an interview.

For those of you unfamiliar with Pandora, it is the world's largest Internet radio "station", with well over 15 million listeners, according to Westergren.

I asked Tim about the origins of the name, which is certainly evocative:

When I asked what prompted him to found Pandora, he explained that the origins of the company came out of his own experience, serving as a band member, and later a film composer, when the taxonomy of music (see my earlier post on this topic) became a central preoccupation:

I asked him about the purpose of his visit to Washington. His answered that he had scheduled two "town hall" meetings--one for Congressional staffers on Capitol Hill, and another in the evening for listeners:

He went on to explain that listeners' input contributed significantly to Pandora's programming.

I asked him about the importance of town hall meetings to the company's marketing strategy:

He discussed the range of receiving hardware for Pandora's software, and the introductions of advertising into the soundstream:

I asked him about royalties to the artists:

As to the recent controversial legal revision of royalty rates, he said that he felt the most recent court decision, while not ideal, was "workable":

Noting that the Pandora playlists has relatively little in the way of music from around the world, I asked him about any possible plans to include Indian music, my own scholarly and performance specialty:

I'll return in a later posting to some of the details of Pandora.

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