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Jul. 22, 2015, 5:35 PM
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Jul. 15, 2015, 1:55 PM
- OTR Global's Michael Foster reports the launch of Pandora's (NYSE:P) programmatic (automated) ad-buying platform has yielded "tepid buyer enthusiasm," and (according to checks) Pandora ad spend rose 21% Y/Y in Q2. Consensus is for 29% total revenue growth.
- One of Foster's sources: "We were approached earlier this year to test out Pandora's private [programmatic] exchange. It has boosted both [click-through rates] and conversion rates. However, what we can do with it is fairly limited, and total volume is still miniscule compared to Facebook or Google, so that has limited our spend on it."
- Foster states sources are disappointed Pandora's exchange doesn't yet support audio ads. He adds marketers are increasingly including audio ads within their digital campaigns, as improved targeting and delivery verification yield better performance.
- Pandora has fallen to new 52-week lows. Q2 results arrive on July 23.
Jul. 9, 2015, 10:23 AM
- Pandora (P +4.7%), GSV Capital (GSVC +3.1%), Tangoe (TNGO +3.4%), and Envestnet (ENV +4.9%) are outperforming after receiving Outperform ratings from Northland Securities. Price targets are respectively at $20, $13, $18, and $50.
- Northland's Jeff Houston (formerly with Barrington Research) on GSV: "GSV provides investors with access to disruptive, emerging-growth (100% growth on average), privately-held, pre-IPO companies at discounts. The fund typically invests alongside venture capitalists with the best track records, such as Kleiner Perkins, IVP, and Benchmark. At the end of 1Q15, it had positions in 46 private and four public companies and the theme mix was education tech 35%, cloud 29%, social/mobile 22%, marketplaces 9%, and sustainability 6%."
- Houston on Tangoe: ""Tangoe's SaaS and technology-enabled services optimize $29.9 billion of IT spend for more than 1,000 large and midsize organizations. Its flagship offerings address mobile and fixed communications spend and newer products address Cloud (SaaS and infrastructure), IT, and machine-to-machine (M2M) spend ... Clients typically enjoy a 3-10x annual ROI through savings and enhanced productivity." He also provided bullish commentary on the company while at Barrington.
- Pandora's Q2 report arrives on July 23. Shares -14% YTD.
Jun. 23, 2015, 12:52 PM
- Much like Songza (acquired in 2014), Google's (GOOG +0.1%) free Play Music service streams playlists curated by human editors.
- In addition, an ad-free version of the service is being baked into the $10/month Play Music subscription service (formerly called All Access), which supports on-demand streaming of 30M+ songs and (via YouTube Music Key, still officially in beta) ad-free YouTube music video access.
- Google: "Our team of music experts, including the folks who created Songza, crafts each station song by song so you don’t have to ... you can browse our curated stations by genre, mood, decade or activity, or you can search for your favorite artist, album or song to instantly create a station of similar music."
- Spotify provides free/ad-supported playlist streams on mobile, along with ad-supported on-demand access to songs on PCs. Apple Music, which will only be available on a subscription basis, heavily emphasizes human curation.
- As is often the case when news regarding a music service from a tech giant emerges, Pandora (P -1.3%) has moved lower.
Jun. 9, 2015, 1:21 PM
- Pandora (NYSE:P) is down 7% over the last two days as Apple's (expected) launch of a subscription streaming service is digested.
- The service's iTunes/iOS Music app integration, Android support (due in the fall), 3-month free trial, and aggressive family plan pricing (up to 6 members for $14.99/month) have stoked fears Pandora will lose streaming share.
- At the same time, Apple Music's core streaming/offline download catalog and features are similar to those offered by Spotify and other existing Pandora rivals, as is its individual plan pricing ($9.99/month). And unlike Spotify, Apple isn't providing a free/ad-supported on-demand streaming service.
- Pandora CFO Mike Herring is downplaying the threat. "The bigger opportunity, at least in America, at least through our research, is the ad-supported ... [Pandora's product] has a lot of loyalty and has really been very successful with a lot of competition. We don’t expect that to change.”
Jun. 8, 2015, 3:14 PM
- The much-rumored Apple Music (AAPL -0.5%) subscription service has been unveiled, and so has a radio station (Beats 1) featuring live DJs. Jimmy Iovine trumpets Apple Music's emphasis on human curation (algorithms will also be used), and a service (called Music Connect) meant to connect fans with artists.
- Apple Music will launch on June 30 in over 100 countries, and come with a 3-month free trial. Beyond that, it costs $9.99/month for individual plans (similar to rivals), and $14.99/month for family plans (up to 6 members). Android support arrives in the fall. Pandora (P -3.4%) remains lower on the day.
- Apple's iOS 9 News app aims to take on Flipboard and other mobile reader apps with the help of curated content from partners such as ESPN, Conde Nast, BuzzFeed, the NYT, Bloomberg, and The Verge. Much like other reader apps, News will analyze reading habits to better personalize content over time.
- Confirming a May rumor, the iPad is getting multitasking support via iOS 9: Swiping or pulling down an app from the side brings up other apps (SlideOver), with iPad Air 2 users (and perhaps in the future ~12" iPad users?) also able to simultaneously work on two apps (SplitView). Also: A picture-in-picture mode for video is also being added.
- watchOS 2 supports native 3rd-paty apps, lets Apple Watch users create various custom photo faces, and lets developers create "Complications" that mash up different types of info. New Siri controls are also included, as is an updated Mail app and a Nightstand Mode.
- Other announcements: 1) Apple Pay is adding support for retail rewards cards. 2) CarPlay is adding wireless support, and HomeKit support for more home devices. 3) The Maps app is being updated to support public transit directions. 4) Apple has unveiled the next-gen version of its Swift programming language (Swift 2), and is making Swift open-source. 5) Cumulative App Store downloads have topped 100B; Apple states the average user has 119 apps.
- As expected, iOS 9 will officially launch in the fall (i.e. the time that new iPhones typically launch). watchOS 2 also formally launches in the fall.
- WWDC webcast. Live blogs: The Verge, Engadget.
- Earlier: Apple unveils OS X El Capitan, Proactive assistant, new Apple Pay deals
Jun. 1, 2015, 3:18 PM
- Apple (AAPL +0.4%) is expected to unveil its new subscription music streaming service (a revamped version of the existing Beats Music service) at the June 8-12 WWDC conference, the WSJ reports.
- It adds the service will be priced at $10/month, on par with Spotify and many other rival services. Prior reports indicated Apple was hoping to undercut rivals, potentially by charging ~$8/month. A 9to5 Mac report also stated the service would be offered through both the iOS Music app and a standalone Android app (the first developed by Apple).
- Also: Apple plans to update its iTunes Radio service (available either on a free/ad-supported basis, or for $25/year ad-free via iTunes Match) to include "channels programmed and hosted by human DJs." Pandora (P -2%) has fallen moderately in response.
- Apple reportedly hasn't yet reached licensing deals for the subscription service with Universal Music, Sony, and Warner Music, but the WSJ adds "many in the music industry expect such deals soon."
- Nielsen SoundScan estimates paid U.S. music downloads of albums and songs respectively fell 9% and 12% in 2014, and that streaming usage rose 54%. The WSJ's music industry sources estimate Apple accounts for 80%-85% of global paid music download sales.
May 19, 2015, 12:58 PM
- Next Big Sound provides music labels, artists, and advertisers/brands with data and tools for analyzing online music consumption and the impact of factors such as social media activity, ad campaigns, and promotional events. The company was founded in 2009, and has raised less than $10M.
- Pandora (P +0.2%) is acquiring Next Big Sound for an undisclosed sum. It declares Next Big's offerings will complement Pandora's Artist Marketing Platform, which provides artists with data on listener activity, and tools for engaging with fans.
- Pandora: "Pandora's data reflects insights from nearly 80 million monthly active users who have provided more than 50 billion thumbs on tracks played. Added to Next Big Sound's current insights, the data set powered by both companies will deliver an unprecedented trove of information to the music industry ... The acquisition will also benefit brands that advertise with Pandora by delivering access to insights that can help them identify artists to partner with and measure the reach and impact they achieve through those partnerships."
May 15, 2015, 11:21 AM
- Pandora (P -3.1%) has sold off after a New York rate court ruled in favor of music publishing rights group BMI in a dispute over performance royalties. The ruling stands to increase Pandora's royalty payments to BMI to 2.5% of revenue from 1.75%.
- Of note: Pandora plans to appeal the verdict to a court that recently allowed the company to maintain its current 1.85% royalty rate with publishing rights group ASCAP. Various publishers have sought to withdraw their content from BMI/ASCAP deals in favor directly negotiating with Pandora and other Web streaming services.
- Altogether, content acquisition costs equaled 54.6% of Pandora's Q1 revenue - recording royalties paid to SoundExchange accounted for a large chunk of the payout. The company was recently cleared by the FCC to buy a Rapid City, SD radio station, a move aimed at lowering Pandora's payments to BMI/ASCAP by allowing it to obtain the rates enjoyed by station-owning rivals.
May 4, 2015, 6:42 PM
- The FCC has ruled to give Pandora Media (P +3.2%) the foreign-ownership waiver it needs to complete a $600K purchase for South Dakota radio station KXMZ-FM -- and thus lower its royalty bills.
- The waiver means Pandora can exceed the 25% foreign-ownership threshold that would otherwise prevent the sale. The FCC said it would "serve the public interest to permit a widely dispersed group of shareholders to hold aggregate foreign ownership in Pandora Media in excess of the 25 percent benchmark."
- Performance-right organizations were opposed to the move; Pandora pays ASCAP 1.85% of revenue and BMI 1.75%, which would have meant $33M last year.
- Previously: Bloomberg: FCC to pave way for Pandora to buy radio station (Apr. 27 2015)
Apr. 27, 2015, 11:40 PM
- Bloomberg reports FCC chairman Tom Wheeler has asked fellow commission members to give Pandora (NYSE:P) a foreign-ownership stake waiver that would pave the way for it to buy a Rapid City, SD radio station for $600K, and in doing so pay lower performance royalties to trade groups such as ASCAP and BMI.
- Pandora originally struck a deal to buy the radio station in 2013. ASCAP accuses Pandora to trying to create a loophole. Pandora argues it's only seeking to enjoy the same rates paid by station-owning rivals such as Clear Channel and CBS.
- Though not inconsequential, performance royalties are a much smaller expense for Pandora than recording royalties paid to SoundExchange. The company's content acquisition costs rose 16% Y/Y in Q1 to $126M, and equaled 54.6% of revenue vs. 55.7% a year ago.
Apr. 23, 2015, 4:24 PM
- Pandora Media (NYSE:P) has slipped 5.1% after hours despite a Q1 earnings beat, as it guides low on EBITDA for the second quarter.
- Adjusted EBITDA was -$20.9M, up 7% Y/Y and beating an expected -$30.8M.
- Revenue breakout: Advertising revenue of $178.7M (up 27%); subscription and other revenue, $52M (up 32%). Total mobile revenue came to $181.1M, up 35% on a non-GAAP basis.
- Listener hours grew to 5.3B, up 11% Y/Y. Active listeners were up to 79.2M from the prior year's 75.3M.
- The company's updated guidance to suggest Q2 revenue of $280M-$285M (on the high side of expected $280.3M), but EBITDA of $8M-$13M vs. an consensus of $14.6M. For full 2015, the company's expecting revenue of $1.16B-$1.18B (vs. consensus $1.16B) and adjusted EBITDA of $75M-$85M (vs. expected $76.7M).
- Pandora ended Q1 with $481.3M in cash and equivalents, up from Q4's $458.8M. Cash from operating activities was $27M.
- Conference call at 5 p.m. ET.
Apr. 23, 2015, 4:02 PM
- Pandora Media (NYSE:P): Q1 EPS of -$0.12 beats by $0.04.
- Revenue of $230.76M (+28.1% Y/Y) beats by $6.2M.
Apr. 22, 2015, 5:35 PM
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Apr. 14, 2015, 8:07 PM
- For the first time, revenue from music downloads/subscriptions passed CD sales in 2014, according to a new trade group report.
- The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry reports that while overall sales were steady worldwide at about $15B, CD/physical formats slipped 8% to $6.82B, vs. digital revenue that grew 7% to $6.85B. The remainder of sales came from licensing/radio play.
- Streaming services (including Spotify, Pandora (NYSE:P), and Apple's Beats Music) showed strong growth in 2014, with revenues that grew a combined 39% Y/Y. The services now make up 32% of digital revenue (23% of digital revenue from subscription services, 9% from ad-supported streaming).
- The music industry "big three": Universal Music Group (OTCPK:VIVHY), Sony Music Entertainment (NYSE:SNE), Warner Music Group (private)
Apr. 13, 2015, 9:15 AM
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