Pandora: Great Company, Absolutely Crappy Stock
There's so much misinformation printed, almost hourly, about Pandora (P) that the need exists.
The stock sucks right now. No question about that. Pandora deserves blame for some of the downside. However, short-term noise, by and large, dictates the stock's near-term fate. Everything from the Apple "threat" to weak guidance after a Q3 profit.
And, while you cannot call the royalty battle in Congress "noise," it's not like Pandora is the only company dealing with suffocating content acquisition costs. Spotify has it bad; they just use a different system for licensing music.
To that end -- and speaking of misinformation -- Pandora and Spotify don't just use different systems for securing songs, they are two very different complementary products.
It's difficult for people -- namely (and sadly) the people who write about the Internet radio space -- to understand this, but Pandora is radio.
In many ways, it's nothing like the radio we grew up with and still listen to. In fact, Pandora -- alongside iTunes -- took the radio industry as we knew/know it and opened up a can of disruption on it that has already gone down in history.
Pandora did what terrestrial was never able to do. It brought personalization and discovery to radio with the Music Genome Project.
You lay a seed -- a song, an artists, etc. -- and Pandora becomes your personalized radio station. The more you listen and interact with the platform, the better it gets at personalization of stuff you like and discovery of acts and tracks you might like, never heard of or had forgotten about.
So, while in one respect, you can label Pandora as "passive," it's really the opposite. Sure, you can sit back, do nothing and listen, but that's hardly a static proposition.
There's a market for radio. Traditional radio still commands hundreds of millions of listeners each week and billions of dollars in advertising each year. That's the pie Pandora continues to successfully go after. Pandora competes primarily with and is overtaking traditional radio, particularly as FM signals increasingly give up on music and run formats such as news, talk and sports.
There's an incredible focus on these two points -- targeting traditional radio listening and advertisers -- at Pandora. People on the outside who refuse to consult the company completely ignore this. They discount Pandora's dominant share of Internet radio listening (more than 75%), increasing share of total radio listening (now at over 7%), surging mobile listener hours and monetization and a growing local advertising infrastructure.