Pandora buys Next Big Sound to go deeper into analytics

Steven Loeb · May 19, 2015 · Short URL:

Next Big Sound is a music analytics platform that tracks artist mentions across social networks

In recent years the rise of streaming has also led to a rise in animosity from artists toward services that they feel don't adequately pay them for their work. It has even led some big artists to completely remove their work from streaming service altogether. Others have just publicly blasted them: Jimmy Buffett flat out asked Spotify CEO Daniel Ek for a raise, while Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke called the service, "the last desperate fart of a dying corpse," and members of Pink Floyd have accused Pandora of skimping out on royalties. 

To put it mildly, there is no love lost between these two sides.

Pandora, which happens to be the most popular streaming service out there with 80 million users, has an ace up its sleeve, though: the treasure trove of data it has collected from all of those millions of listeners. That is very valuable information, and the company is willing to share it, not only to make money but to create a bridge with a music industry that is increasingly skeptical of its value. 

The company announced on Tuesday that it has purchased music analytics company Next Big Sound to give artists and labels even more tools to reach their fans. 

Next Big Sound is an online music analytics platform tracking artists’ popularity and profitability across major social networks. It tracks every listen on the radio, every play on YouTube, every mention and follow on Twitter, every purchase on iTunes, and every concert and press mention.

Pandora will use the service in conjunction with the Artist Marketing Platform (AMP), which it launched in September of last year. The tool " allows every musician on Pandora to view their entire audience and listening history on the service," Tim Westergren, co-founder of Pandora, said in a blog post. They are using the information to help plan tours, decide set lists and understand their fans. 

It will also help complement the Artist Audio Messaging, a product, which was launched in February, that enables direct communication between artists and fans.

"Like us, Next Big Sound has been focused for years on transforming the music industry through data. By folding in their broad data architecture and applying it to our more than 80 million active monthly users, we will be poised to become the most powerful and effective marketing and promotions tool for artists, managers, agents, publishers, promoters, labels and brands across the music industry," said Westergren.

"This acquisition will bring us one step closer to the dream I envisioned back at the founding of Pandora, inspired by my own years as a touring musician: to give talented working artists a shot at lifelong careers; for every music maker a global marketing and communications platform at their fingertips."

For Next Big Sound, being purchased by Pandora will give it much larger scale than it would have achieved without Pandora's resources.

"For the past six years our mission has been to transform the music industry through making social, streaming, and sales data useful to artists and their teams," the company wrote in its own blog post. "There is no better way to further our mission than to become part of the leading music service, Pandora, whose belief in the infinite power of music aligns completely with our own."

Going forward, the company says that it will be "business as usual" for its clients, partners and artists, and that it will "continue to provide best-in-class analytics and enhance our platform with access to the number one most requested data source: Pandora."

Pandora is not the first company to discover the power of analytics, of course, not is it the first music streaming company to make an acquisition in this space.

In March of last year Spotify acquired The Echo Nest, a music intelligence company used by many of its competitiors in order to help them understand what their listeners want to hear. Other services subsequently dropped The Echo Nest after the purchase. The company had raised over $25 million, including a $7 million round, led by Matrix Partners with participation from previous investor, Commonwealth Capital, in October 2010.

In January, Apple bought Semetric, the company behind  analytics tool Musicmetric, which is similar to Next Big Sound. It allows music labels to track data on information such as sales, BitTorrent downloads and social network mentions for artists. The company had raised $4.7 million in funding from Imperial Innovations and Pentech Ventures.

Launched in 2009, Next Big Sound had raised just under $8 million in funding from investors that included Foundry Group, IA Ventures, Troy Henikoff, SoftTech VC, David Cohen, Alsop Louie Partners and David Cancel.

(Image source:

Support VatorNews by Donating

Read more from our "Trends and news" series

More episodes

Related Companies, Investors, and Entrepreneurs



Joined Vator on

Pandora, the leading internet radio service, gives people music they love
anytime, anywhere, through a wide variety of connected devices: laptop and
desktop computers, smartphones, connected BluRay players, connected TVs,
etc. Personalized stations launch instantly with the input of a single “seed” –
a favorite artist, song or genre. The Music Genome Project®, a deeply
detailed, hand-built musical taxonomy, powers the personalization or
Pandora. Using this musicological “DNA” and constant listener feedback
Pandora crafts personalized stations from the more than 800,000 songs that
have been analyzed since the project began in January 2000.
More than 75 million people throughout the United States listen to
personalized radio stations for free on Pandora through their PCs, mobile
phones and devices such as the iPad, and connected in-house devices
ranging from TVs to set-top boxes to Blu-Ray players. Mobile technology has
been a significant factor in the growth and popularity of Pandora, starting
with the introduction of the Apple app store for the iPhone in the summer of
2008. Pandora instantly became one of the most top downloaded apps and
today, according to Nielsen, is one of the top five most popular apps across
all smartphone platforms.

Pandora is free, simple and, thanks to connectivity, available everywhere
consumers are – at the office, at home, in the car and all points in between.
In 2009 the Company announced that Pandora would be incorporated into
the dashboard in Ford cars via SYNC technology; GM has already followed in
announcing plans to integrate Pandora into its vehicles and Mercedes-Benz
introduced their Media Interface Plus device that works with the
free Pandora iPhone app to provide direct control of Pandora from in-dash
stereo controls. This was all great news for the millions of Pandora listeners
who had been plugging their smartphones into car dashboards to listen to
personalized stations while driving. More than 50 percent of radio listening
happens in the car, making it a crucial arena for Pandora.

Today tens of millions of people have a deeply personal connection with
Pandora based on the delight of personalized radio listening and discovery.
These highly engaged listeners reinforce the value Pandora provides to: 1)
musicians, who have found in Pandora a level playing field on which their
music has a greater chance of being played than ever before; 2) advertisers,
who benefit from the multi-platform reach of Pandora, as well as its best
practices in targeting consumers for specific campaigns; 3) the music
industry, which has found in Pandora a highly effective distribution channel;
and 4) automobile and consumer electronics device manufacturers, who have
noted that incorporating Pandora into their product makes it more valuable
to consumers.

Pandora continues to focus on its business in the United States. The radio
arena has never been hotter, thanks to technology that enables radio to be
personalized to the individual and more accessible than ever before. Right
now millions of people listen to Pandora in the United States and we hope
someday to bring Pandora to billions of people around the world.

• 2000 – Tim Westergren’s Music Genome Project begins.
• 2005 – Pandora launches on the web.
• 2008 – Pandora app becomes one of the most consistently downloaded
apps in the Apple store.
• 2009 – Ford announces Pandora will be incorporated into car
dashboard. Alpine and Pioneer begin selling aftermarket radios that
connect to consumers’ iPhones and puts the control and command of
Pandora into the car dashboard.
• 2010 – Pandora is present on more than 200 connected consumer
electronics devices ranging from smartphones to TVs to set-top boxes
to Blu-ray players and is able to stream visual, audio, and interactive
advertising to computers, smartphones, iPads, and in-home connected

The Echo Nest


Joined Vator on

The Echo Nest is a music intelligence company founded by Tristan Jehan and Brian Whitman, who met at the MIT Media Lab while they were both getting their PhDs in music understanding and synthesis research. The company has since grown to a small but insane team of developers, designers, musicians and business people all housed in a cozy office in Davis Square, Somerville, MA, USA. We grow an intelligence platform that automatically reads about and listens to the entire world of music for developers to build search, personalization and interactive music applications.

The Echo Nest team is made up of music intelligence scientists and experienced digital entertainment entrepreneurs. Our advisors include the leadership of Bose, DirecTV and XM Satellite Radio. The Echo Nest is a four-time National Science Foundation Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant winner. The company is also funded by Commonwealth Capital Ventures, Argos Management and a great group of angel investors that include three co-founders of the MIT Media Lab.

About Our Platform

Our applications are powered by a musical brain built at the Echo Nest along with years of research at UC Berkeley, Columbia and MIT. The musical brain automatically:

  1. Reads about music, constantly analyzing millions of blog posts, reviews, playlists and discussion forums to understand how the online world describes every artist, album and song.
  2. Listens to music, with technology actually listens to audio files, extracting musical attributes, such as tempo, instrumentation, key, time signature, energy, harmonic and timbral structures, to understand every song in similar ways a musician would describe it (e.g. "heavy beat, swing groove, fast tempo, 4/4 time, key of B flat, mezzo piano").
  3. Learns about music trends, analyzing the entire world of online music behavior — who's talking about which artists this week, what songs are being streamed and downloaded, etc. — to understand the latest trends, buzz and fan opinion.


Next Big Sound


Joined Vator on

The Next Big Sound shifts the current music industry model on its head by allowing anyone the chance to play the role of an record executive, signing bands they think will become famous to their own personal record label. Think fantasy sports but for music.


Tim Westergren

Joined Vator on