Tim Westergren is the founder and Chief Strategy Officer of Pandora, a music recommendation service built on the Music Genome Project and a poster child for resilience in the volatile world of Silicon Valley startups.
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Tim shares insightful anecdotes and thoughts from Pandora's colorful and instructive past seven years: innovations around music discovery and a "drop-dead simple" user interface, Pandora's "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde"-esque struggle for survival, its explosion of viral audience growth, and most recently, the Copyright Royalty Tribunal's contentious decision to hike up the royalties for Internet radio.
Pandora is fighting back against the ruling, as it staves off criticism of the Project's scalability. Tim addresses all these, as well as the slow death of music retail businesses, and the impact of music recommendation services such as Pandora on the livelihood independent musicians.
Special thanks to Sarah Bennett, our videographer extraordinaire, Min Liu, who masterfully navigated through evening rush hour traffic, and iinnovate listener Ethan B who helped with our audio quality--check out the interview in video alongside an inside look at Pandora's headquarters.
- Min Li Chan and Owen Tripp
Update (May 3, 2007): In the fight against the Copyright Tribunal's decision to hike up royalties for Internet radio, Pandora is starting down the bumpy road of international expansion this year. While Tim talks about scalability issues around the Music Genome Project and international expansion in our podcast, Techcrunch today reveals that Pandora has begun preventing access to Pandora's streaming service for most countries outside of the U.S., due to international licensing constraints. Mike Arrington of Techcrunch notes:
"Pandora operates under Section 114 of the DMCA, which gives them a clear process for paying rights holders in the U.S. There is no international equivalent of the DMCA, and so to operate legally in other countries, Pandora must sign deals with rights holders directly. That means separate deals with labels and publishers for each song, an extremely difficult and time consuming task."
We're keeping our fingers crossed for resilient Pandora, as they navigate through new murky waters. -MLC