A very crowded music streaming industry means a lot of competition. In any competition, there has to be a winner and a loser (or losers). When it comes to music streaming, it looks like one of those losers happens to be Pandora. Reports have surfaced that Apple Music may be the benefactor of Pandora’s apparent downfall. Pandora’s stock has dipped 36 percent as of last Friday due to a poor financial outlook from CEO Brian McAndrews. Pandora has also made questionable business decisions recently, acquiring Ticketfly for $450 million in an attempt to diversify their business and a $90 million hit in royalties for music made before 1972.
McAndrews has tried to downplay Apple Music’s threat to his business. “This was obviously a unique quarter in the streaming music business,” he said in a conference call with investors. “The June 30 launch of Apple Music with its 3-month free trial, as well as significant category spending and trial offers across multiple players, brought increased focus to the broader on-demand category during this period,” he added. “The impact on our active users and listening hours was muted and was, in fact, consistent with what we experienced during the launch of Apple’s radio service in 2013.”
McAndrews may have meant what he said: Pandora is being muted. His company lost 1.3 million listeners as of last month, while Apple Music has acquired 15 million trial users (6.5 million paid) alongside an unspecified number of Beats 1 radio listeners. New Zealand DJ Zane Lowe, one of the top DJs in the entire world, was unsure if Apple Music really needed Beats 1 radio to succeed. Lowe is one of the in-house DJs for Beats 1 Radio, alongside New York-based Ebro Darden and London-based Julie Aduenga. “We’re working this out, time will tell,” Lowe said. “This is in progress, and over time we’ll find out exactly why it’s needed,” he continued.
However, don’t count out Pandora just yet—listening hours actually increased despite losing listeners, which might be an indication that Pandora’s listeners are more loyal despite Apple being on pace to earn $195 million in subscription-based revenue in the first quarter of Apple Music’s availability. Pandora, in contrast, only grabbed $57 million in subscription-based revenue in the same quarter, but its ad-based service allowed them to grow 30 percent from last year. However, with Apple Music surging in market share, Pandora might have to work harder to stop the bleeding of its listeners to not only Apple Music, but to other music streaming companies as well.
Despite share prices and other metrics looking grim, McAndrews is looking at the bright side. “In terms of engagement, comScore September Mobile Metrix report ranked Pandora as the number one mobile service in the U.S. in terms of average minutes per user—ahead of Facebook. Pandora’s per user engagement metrics were more than 20 percent higher than the next closest mobile service and more than double the next largest mobile music service even with our much larger user base,” he added, saying that the app is pulling more engagement with its users than Facebook, which is the most downloaded app on both iOS and Android devices. Apple Music may not be Pandora’s box after all.