Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Tim Westergren

Tim Westergren, founder of Pandora spoke at Stanford yesterday about how the company was founded, and how it grew.

It was a great talk. Tim told us about how the Music Genome Project was initially founded to help musicians find their audience. Tim wanted to create (and still wants to create) a "musicians middle class" where you can make a living making music, but don't have to become a star. The Genome Project originally was a recommendation engine for other sites, but now is essentially an online radio station.

Tim also spoke about how many of the artists listed on Pandora today are not backed by a big label, and how they see a spike in sales once they begin being played in rotation.

People thought that, by lowering distribution costs, the Internet would reduce the power of the big labels. This has not happened -- because the promotion aspect turned out to be critical as well. I don't know if Pandora will ever become big enough to act as a promotion engine that eclipses the labels' marketing muscle.


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