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Ladies and Gentlemen… Tim Westergren

timwestergrenIn January of 2006, I discovered  Almost immediately, I began telling people about the site.  A few days later, I even posted a thank you note on my blog to Tim Westergren, the founder of Pandora.   Yesterday, I had the very distinct honor of introducing Tim at the Cincinnati Social Media Breakfast.  My employer, LUCRUM was generous enough to sponsor the Cincinnati Social Media Breakfast where Tim was the speaker, and as a result I was given the honor of being the guy who speaks before the guy whom everyone came to see.  It was such a thrill to hear Tim speak, to meet him, and thank him in person for the site he created.

Not only is Tim the guy behind one of the coolest sites on the web, he is a great presenter and seemingly a great guy.   His story is fascinating, and his presentation was open, honest, and engaging.  He shared some amazing stories about Pandora, how it came into existence, how it almost died numerous times, and where the site hopes to go in the future.

Here is some of the notable information Tim shared with us:

  • Pandora has over 22,000,000 listeners.
  • They average about 45,000 new listeners per day.
  • Each song is decoded and classified by a human being.
  • 85% of the 600,000 songs on Pandora play daily.
  • The songs are often arranged in 3 song sets.
  • Pandora personally answers every email the company receives.
  • Pandora views every communication with a listener as an opportunity, not as a cost.
  • Tim has done more than 200 Town Hall meetings to talk about the site and connect with users.
  • Almost all of the company’s marketing is done through Town Hall meetings and word of mouth.
  • Pandora users shut down the faxes in the Capitol for 4 days when asked to contact Congress in response to RIAA trying to triple fees charged, which would have killed the site.  Congress intervened and Pandora was saved.
  • Pandora is the #1 iPhone app.
  • Tim hopes that the site will one day create a “Musician’s Middle Class.”
  • The site can not tell the difference between unknown acts and superstars.   It is all driven by the musical preferences of the individual user.
  • Pandora will soon be available through numerous channels of distribution, including your car stereo.
  • Pandora can very specifically target advertising to individual users – age, zip, musical preferences, listening habits – eliminating much of the waste associated with traditional broadcast advertising.
  • Potentially, Pandora could create a promotional service for bands so they could plan tours stops in areas with a high concentration of “Thumbs Up” rankings.
  • Pandora could also serve listeners by notifying them of pending concert dates in the area by bands they already like or would be likely to enjoy based on their musical preferences.
  • Pandora is not currently legal outside of the United States.

As a Marketer, there were a few things in Tim’s presentation that I loved.  One was the importance he placed on the idea of doing what you love.  Clearly Tim is passionate about music.  His desire to make music more accessable to other music lovers and to make listeners more accessable to musicians led to the creation of Pandora.  Another great takeaway was the power that comes from creating something that people find to be remarkable.   Consider that Pandora has grown to 22 million users without the use of advertising.  That is astounding and testament to the power of word of mouth.  Most of all, I was impressed by the intense focus Tim and Pandora have on engaging and energizing their users.  It is clear that Tim views the users of Pandora as the most important part of the equation, and he makes an incredible effort to listen to them.  Not only did this save the company from certain death, but it has also positioned the company for a successful future.

If you are not a user, check it out.  The site is simply amazing.
This is literally just a fraction of what Tim shared. For more information check out this video of the event, uploaded to uStream by Kevin Dugan.

Thanks to Kevin Dugan for organizing the event. Also thanks to Bryan Person who developed the Social Media Breakfast to begin with and who flew in from Austin, TX to join us in Cincinnati. It was great to meet you. Thanks again to LUCRUM, LPK, P&G, and everyone who helped to make the event possible. I can’t wait until the next Social Media Breakfast – hopefully I can get tickets

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