See Hear! Pandora Has A Sound Plan for Video, Too

Everybody online is getting into the concert business or is already there, from Vevo, which has a thriving concert video platform, to Yahoo, which plans a one-a-day live concert event with Live Nation, and Xbox, which is touting its Bonaroo concert event next month.

Then there’s Pandora. While the casual observer may consider it mostly an audio play, it’s clearly a player in video too, and a potentially powerful one because the Pandora brand is all about playing favorites.

A concert from an artist you care about is a lot more powerful as an ad vehicle than a concert of any other kind, it stands to reason.  

A few weeks ago, it brought Mike Spinella on board, as the new senior director of original content. He’s going to lead Pandora Original Content teams in Oakland, Los Angeles and New York create and curate audio—and video-- content.

In the not-so-distant past, Spinella was director of industry relations for Rolling Stone and before that spent seven years leading AOL’s Music Network original programming with concerts from Adele, Beyonce, Rihanna and even artists with longer names like Mumford & Sons.

He’ll be working with Heidi Browning, senior vice president, strategic solutions.

Pandora’s original content, with partners like Toyota, integrates the brand on the site. But, Pandora says, in an extensive email exchange with Spinella and Browning: “As we work with more brands, there may be extensions of original content beyond Pandora’s site/app…The goal of having  original content live off the site in addition to on Pandora is to increase the reach and distribution.”    

Something Pandora has going for it in a big way is that it’s gotten such a lock in the mobile space, and Browning and Spinella know that gives them added clout with marketers because a whopping 80% of Pandora’s listening happens on smartphones.  

With the proliferation of video on mobile, Pandora seems to be in the right place.

Added to that is Pandora’s ability to sell the idea that it is closer to knowing what music fans want than competing sites. For example, Pandora teamed with StubHub to present five concerts with emerging talent, chosen in part because Pandora can analyze music trends of local listeners.

As a result, an upcoming “Pandora Presents” on May 27 will showcase the indie rockers Delta Spirit at a venue in Boston, sort of giving a relatively new-on-the-scene band a big platform and an opportunity for fans in the New England area that have embraced the California group, now living in Brooklyn.

To date one of Pandora’s big successes has been its Toyota Sessions, a custom Pandora station featuring profiles of emerging artists’ lives and careers through audio and video content and connected concert events. Those things seem to be a model for what Pandora hopes to keep doing in an even bigger way going forward.

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