Pandora

Pandora’s Podcast Genome Project goes live for all

Posted by | Apps, genome, Media, Mobile, Pandora, Podcasts, streaming | No Comments

Last month, Pandora announced it would soon be bringing its “Genome” technology to a new space outside of music: it would leverage a similar classification system to make podcast recommendations, too. Initially, the feature was only available to select users on mobile devices, ahead of a broader public launch. Today, Pandora says its Podcast Genome Project has gone live for all users.

Like Pandora’s Music Genome is its music information database capable of classifying songs across 450 different attributes — Pandora’s Podcast Genome Project is a cataloging system designed to evaluate content. But its focus is on audio programs instead of music.

The Podcast Genome Project can currently evaluate content across more than 1,500 attributes, including MPAA ratings, production style, content type, host profile and more, alongside other listener signals, like thumbs, skips, replays and others. It uses a combination of machine learning algorithms, natural language processing and collaborative filtering methods to help determine listener preferences, the company says.

Pandora then combines this data with human curation to make its podcast recommendations.

These recommendations are live now in the Pandora app’s “Browse” section, under the banner “Recommended Podcasts For You.” Podcasts will also be discoverable throughout the app in the Now Playing screen, search bar, in the podcast backstage passes and in the episode backstage passes.

At launch, the app is aggregating more than 100,000 podcast episodes in genres like News, True Crime, Sports, Comedy, Music, Business, Technology, Entertainment, Kids, Health and Science, the company adds.

Podcasters can also now ask to be included in Pandora’s app by filling out a form here.

Longer-term, a better recommendation system for podcasts could help Pandora as it becomes more integrated with its acquirer SiriusXM. The deal will likely bring SiriusXM’s exclusive programming to Pandora’s subscribers, which would greatly increase the number of audio programs available on its service. Putting the right programs in front of the most interested customers could then drive more people to upgrade to a paid subscription, impacting Pandora’s bottom line.

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JioSaavn becomes India’s answer to Spotify and Apple Music

Posted by | alibaba, Amazon, Android, apple music, Asia, China, computing, Dhingana, digital audio, digital media, executive, funding, Fundings & Exits, india, Internet, JioSaavn, Media, New York, Pandora, pandora radio, rdio, reliance jio, saavn, Software, Spotify, Tencent, tencent music, tiger global, Times Internet, Walmart | No Comments

India finally has its answer to Spotify after Reliance Jio merged its music service with Saavn, the startup it acquired earlier this year.

The deal itself isn’t new — it was announced back in March — but it has reached its logical conclusion after two apps were merged to create a single entity, JioSaavn, which is valued at $1 billion. For the first time, India has a credible rival to global names like Spotify and Apple Music through the combination of a venture capital-funded business, Saavn, and good old-fashioned telecom, JioMusic from Reliance’s disruptive Jio operator brand.

This merger deal comes days after reports suggested that Spotify is preparing to (finally) enter the Indian market, a move that has been in the planning for more than a year as we have reported.

That would set up an interesting battle between global names Spotify and Apple and local players JioSaavn and Gaana, a project from media firm Times Internet, which is also backed by China’s Tencent.

It isn’t uncommon to see international firms compete in Asia — Walmart and Amazon are the two major e-commerce players, while Chinese firms Alibaba and Tencent have busily snapped up stakes in promising internet companies for the past couple of years — but that competition has finally come to the streaming space.

There have certainly been misses over the years.

Early India-based pioneer Dhingana was scooped by Rdio back in 2014, having initial shut down its service due to financial issues. Ultimately, though, Rdio itself went bankrupt and was sold to Pandora, leaving both Rdio and Dhingana in the startup graveyard.

Saavn, the early competitor to Dhingana, seemed destined to a similar fate, at least from the outside. But it hit the big time in 2015 when it raised $100 million from Tiger Global, the New York hedge fund that made ambitious bets on a number of India’s most promising internet firms. That gave it the fuel to reach this merger deal with JioMusic.

Unlike Dhingana’s fire sale, Saavn’s executive team continues on under the JioSaavn banner.

The coming-together is certainly a far more solid outcome than the Rdio deal. JioSaavn has some 45 million songs — including a slate of originals started by Saavn — and access to the Jio network, which claims more than 250 million subscribers.

JioSaavn is available across iOS, Android, web and Reliance Jio’s own app store

The JioMusic service will be freemium, but Jio subscribers will get a 90-day trial of the ad-free “Pro” service. The company maintains five offices — including outposts in Mountain View and New York — with more than 200 employees, while Reliance has committed to pumping $100 million into the business for “growth and expansion of the platform.”

While it is linked to Reliance and Jio, JioMusic is a private business that counts Reliance as a stakeholder. You’d imagine that remaining private is a major carrot that has kept Saavn founders — Rishi Malhotra, Paramdeep Singh and Vinodh Bhat — part of the business post-merger.

The window certainly seems open for streaming IPOs — Spotify went public this past April through an unconventional listing that valued its business around $30 billion, while China’s Tencent Music is in the process of a listing that could raise $1.2 billion and value it around that $30 billion mark, too. JioSaavn might be the next streamer to test the public markets.

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The Sonos Beam is the soundbar evolved

Posted by | Amazon, Android, apple music, Assistant, consumer electronics, Entertainment, film, Gadgets, Google, HDMI, home audio, loudspeaker, Pandora, Reviews, Sonos, sound systems, Speaker, Spotify, Surround Sound, tablet computer, TC, technology | No Comments

Sonos has always gone its own way. The speaker manufacturer dedicated itself to network-connected speakers before there were home networks and they sold a tablet-like remote control before there were tablets. Their surround sound systems install quickly and run seamlessly. You can buy a few speakers, tap a few buttons and have 5.1 sound in less time than it takes to pull a traditional home audio system out of its shipping box.

This latest model is an addition to the Sonos line and is sold alongside the Playbase — a lumpen soundbar designed to sit directly underneath TVs not attached to the wall — and the Playbar, a traditionally styled soundbar that preceded the Beam. Both products had all of the Sonos highlights — great sound, amazing interfaces and easy setup — but the Base had too much surface area for more elegant installations and the Bar was too long while still sporting an aesthetic that harkened back to 2008 Crutchfield catalogs.

The $399 Beam is Sonos’ answer to that, and it is more than just a pretty box. The speaker includes Alexa — and promises Google Assistant support — and it improves your TV sound immensely. Designed as an add-on to your current TV, it can stand alone or connect with the Sonos subwoofer and a few satellite surround speakers for a true surround sound experience. It truly shines alone, however, thanks to its small size and more than acceptable audio range.

To use the Beam you bring up an iOS or Android app to display your Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon and Pandora accounts (this is a small sampling; Sonos supports more). You select a song or playlist and start listening. Then, when you want to watch TV, the speaker automatically flips to TV mode — including speech enhancement features that actually work — when the TV is turned on. An included tuning system turns your phone into a scanner that improves the room audio automatically.

The range is limited by the Beam’s size and shape and there is very little natural bass coming out of this thing. However, in terms of range, the Beam is just fine. It can play an action movie with a bit of thump and then go on to play some light jazz or pop. I’ve had some surprisingly revelatory sessions with the Beam when listening to classic rock and more modern fare and it’s very usable as a home audio center.

The Beam is two feet long and three inches tall. It comes in black or white and is very unobtrusive in any home theater setup. Interestingly, the product supports HDMI-ARC aka HDMI Audio Return Channel. This standard, introduced in TVs made in the past five years, allows the TV to automatically output audio and manage volume controls via a single HDMI cable. What this means, however, is you’re going to have a bad time if you don’t have HDMI-ARC.

Sonos includes an adapter that can also accept optical audio output, but setup requires you to turn off your TV speakers and route all the sound to the optical out. This is a bit of a mess, and if you don’t have either of those outputs — HDMI-ARC or optical — then you’re probably in need of a new TV. That said, HDMI-ARC is a bit jarring for first timers, but Sonos is sure that enough TVs support it that they can use it instead of optical-only.

The Beam doesn’t compete directly with other “smart” speakers like the HomePod. It is very specifically a consumer electronics device, even though it supports AirPlay 2 and Alexa. Sonos makes speakers, and good ones at that, and that goal has always been front and center. While other speakers may offer a more fully featured sound in a much smaller package, the Beam offers both great TV audio and great music playback for less than any other higher end soundbar. Whole room audio does get expensive — about $1,200 for a Sub and two satellites — but you can simply add on pieces as you go. One thing, however, is clear: Sonos has always been the best wireless speaker for the money and the Beam is another win for the scrappy and innovative speaker company.

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Pandora made $80M in U.S. app store revenue in Q3, booting Netflix from the top grossing spot

Posted by | app revenue, app stores, Apps, Mobile, Music, Pandora, sensor tower, streaming music | No Comments

 In the face of fierce competition from Spotify and Apple Music, Pandora has been growing its in-app subscription revenues, according to new data from Sensor Tower. The streaming music service earned the number one spot on the chart of top grossing apps in Q3 2017, excluding games. It’s the first time Pandora has held that position since the third quarter of 2015.
Fueling the music… Read More

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Crunch Report | Intel Acquires Mobileye

Posted by | Apple, automotive, crunch report, Facebook, Gadgets, Google, Intel, Mobileye, Pandora, Social, Startups, TC, YouTube | No Comments

Today’s Stories Intel buys Mobileye in $15.3B deal, moves its automotive unit to Israel Pandora’s on-demand music service finally arrives Facebook tells developers to not use data for surveillance YouTube launches Uptime, an experimental app for watching videos with friends New iPad models being tested around Cupertino, logs show Credits Written and Hosted by: Anthony Ha Filmed… Read More

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Pandora is laying off 7% of its US workforce

Posted by | Apps, Finance, Mobile, Pandora, TC | No Comments

pandora-ios-icon Pandora said it would lay off around 7 percent of its U.S. workforce, excluding Ticketfly, by the end of the first quarter this year in an announcement that it would beat the guidance it set for the fourth quarter in 2016. Pandora now has more than 4.3 million paid subscribers, which at the end of the year is a flash of good news for a company desperately in need of some. Pandora has had… Read More

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Pandora will now recommend nearby concerts, thanks to Ticketfly

Posted by | concerts, Media, Mobile, Music, Pandora, TC, ticketfly | No Comments

Blog-Post-Onsale-1024x988 Spotify late last year turned its recommendation engine to concerts, suggesting nearby shows based on the listening habits of its users. Today, Pandora announced a similar move, aided by Ticketfly, which Pandora acquired last year. Now, the two are working together to bring personalized concert suggestions to Pandora users, also based on listening behavior. When an artist creates an event… Read More

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Pandora struggles to find new footing as music streaming becomes commoditized

Posted by | Apps, Earnings, Mobile, Pandora, TC | No Comments

The Amazon.com Inc. Prime Music mobile app is displayed on an Apple Inc. iPhone 5 for a photograph in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Thursday, June 12, 2014. Amazon.com Inc. introduced advertising-free music streaming with more than a million songs, ramping up competition against Apple Inc., Spotify Ltd. and Pandora Media Inc. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images Pandora, in a story we’ve seen before with many other maturing companies, is facing an existential crisis.
The company now finds itself fighting for its life against competition from the core platforms its service exists on: Android and iOS. Both of them — and Amazon as well — have launched their own music-streaming products, and they’re baked into the core experience. Read More

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Ticketfly builds concert app from the ashes of its WillCall acquisition

Posted by | Apps, Concert Discovery, Concert Tickets, eCommerce, Mobile, Pandora, songkick, Startups, TC, ticketfly, WillCall | No Comments

Ticketfly app WillCall had great design and community, but didn’t have tickets to the best concerts. Ticketfly had deep relationships with music venues, but no one was using it to discover shows. Today, Ticketfly’s acquisition of WillCall comes full circle.
The parent company is using what it learned about style and recommendations to launch its own native iOS concert discovery app. Meanwhile… Read More

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Pandora should revive Rdio as pay-for-what-you-want streaming

Posted by | apple music, Apps, eCommerce, Internet Radio, Media, Mobile, Opinion, Pandora, rdio, Spotify, streaming music, TC | No Comments

Pandora On Demand Music listeners are cheapskates. Few will pay Spotify or Apple $10 a month even to stream almost every song ever. Meanwhile, radio services like Pandora hardly scrape by on the meager ad rates after they pay out royalties.
So if Pandora wants to resuscitate the battered corpse of Rdio it acquired for $75 million last year, it can’t just be another unlimited monthly subscription. The… Read More

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