Pandora, Spotify face off in free online music market

Sun May 6, 2012 9:12am EDT
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By Kathy Finn

NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) - It took decades for music delivery to evolve from vinyl records to CDs and years to go from CDs to MP3 players.

Now Internet radio is shaping up as competition for digital audio players by providing free online music streaming from websites such as Pandora and Spotify.

Singer-songwriter Theresa Andersson had just wrapped up a set at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, and new fan Dana Spanierman was already planning how she could hear similar bluesy harmonies.

"I'm going to put her into Pandora and see who else I've been missing," the Santa Cruz, California resident said.

Spanierman is one of 125 million registered users of Pandora Media Inc, a service that lets listeners create their own playlists, or "stations."

Using a single genre, artist or song title that users type into an app downloaded to their computer or smart phone, it compiles and streams songs by a variety of artists who share musical attributes with the one requested.

"It's a great way of putting in a genre that I like and hearing other bands that I'm not that familiar with," Spanierman said.

Pandora produces these customized playlists by using technology from the Music Genome Project, an intensive analysis and cataloging of music based on some 450 distinct markers related to tonal quality, rhythm, instruments and style.   Continued...