Pandora Eyes Global Market, Talk Radio

Pandora founder Tim Westergren envisions having news, weather and sports radio catering to local events.

By Mark Milian, CNN
(CNN) — Pandora is making some noise about its future plans.

Pandora Media aims to eventually expand its internet radio service to other countries and move into areas beyond music, such as news, talk and sports.

The long-term goals, along with illuminating details about the company’s financials and adoption rates, were outlined in a proposal for an initial public offering filed on Friday.

The service, currently focused exclusively on music, is all about catering to each listener’s unique tastes.

After signing up for an account, users can type in the names of favorite bands, and Pandora will create a customized radio station that spins similar songs. But there are limitations, such as the number of tracks by a single musician that can be played during a set period.

While Pandora suggested that music will remain its core focus, the new filing shows that the company is looking to other areas for growth.

“Many radio listeners are drawn to sports, talk, news and other forms of content beyond music,” the company wrote. “We think there is an opportunity over the long term to offer these types of content in addition to music.”

Pandora founder Tim Westergren named these as possible areas the service could cover in the future, he said in a little-seen video posted in August 2009.

Offering news, talk and sports content is “something that we’ve talked quite a bit about as a company and something we intend to deliver to listeners eventually,” Westergren said.

Not surprisingly, the service would personalize programming for each person. In this case, the ZIP code tied to your account or information from your phone’s GPS could trigger the service to provide local news or updates about a hometown sports team.

“I think one of the very interesting things about doing that in an internet radio is we actually will know something about where you are,” he said. “So we’ll be able to deliver sports, weather, news that’s actually relevant to your particular area.”

Opening the service up to regions outside the United States is another long-term goal, the company said.

Spotify, another streaming music service that has a radio personalization component, has quickly dominated in the areas of Europe that it operates in. The company is planning a U.S. expansion, which it projects will launch in “coming months.”

While Spotify already has a tight-knit relationship with Europe’s music executives and has spent the last couple of years entrenched in negotiations with U.S. publishers and labels, Pandora’s ties to the industry aren’t as tight. Pandora licenses the more than 800,000 tracks it has rights to play from a government agency, not directly from publishers.

In Pandora’s IPO proposal, the company also included statistics about its rise.

More than 80 million people have registered to use the service. On average, a user has created 17.5 stations, logged feedback in the form of 100 thumbs up or down song ratings, and listens to more than 10 hours per month.

Pandora generates much of its revenue from advertising but has yet to turn a profit.

By Mark Milian, CNN

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