Tim Westergren discovered a need everyone shares, and he applied his creativity and innovation through entrepreneurship to meet that need.
That’s the message Westergren delivered when he sat down with Heritage’s Jackie Anderson and spoke to The Bloggers Briefing to discuss how he founded his visionary company, Pandora Radio, that now dominates 80 percent of the emerging Internet radio industry.
“I was really inspired by how could I sort of harness technology to make life easier for working musicians,” said Westergren. “[Pandora] is a paradigmatic shift in what radio is.”
He started the company after working himself as a musician in the film industry. As a film composer, he began grouping songs according to their construction and impact on the listener so he could better meet the musical tastes of the film directors he worked with on a day-to-day basis. “I had the idea one day to try and codify that, and build a discovery technology,” he said.
He called this discovery technology “the music genome project,” a mathematical sorting product that could analyze thousands of songs across 450 different dimensions, including melody, harmony, rhythm and instrumentation, and group them according to each song’s unique musical “DNA.”
“We literally did it on pencil and paper, believe it or not, in the beginning, to capture a song’s sound, and then by marrying that to mathematics, to an algorithm essentially, we could literally compute the proximity of one song to another,” he said.
Now the company catalogues more than 100,000 artists and 1 million songs, 98.5 percent of which played in the last 30 days, according to Westergren. The service draws about 70 million unique listeners each month.
The reason he believes accounts for Pandora’s explosive word-of-mouth growth since its release in 2005? Because it addresses a problem everyone has. “We all love music to a greater or lesser degree, but we all have a hard time finding music that we like easily,” he said.
“As you get older, radio does not play your music any more,” he said. “I think what Pandora does, and is doing, is reconnecting people to their music.”
Watch The Bloggers Briefing featuring Tim Westergren here.