Pandora Listening While Social Distancing

Ann Nguyen, Ad Innovation StrategyApr 30, 2020

There’s a powerful connection between music and those who listen, but a key challenge is understanding how to align a brand’s message to moments that feel authentic. Curious about organic music discovery moments on our platform, we turned to our most common ad-supported listener scenario: Premium Access Sessions.

On Pandora, ad-supported listeners access stations, curated by our team of musicologists, to match listeners to similar songs or artists to the songs and artists they already know and love. But what happens when they want to play that song, that artist, or that playlist? If a listener wants to unlock a specific song, artist, or playlist, listeners can engage with a 15 second video ad to unlock a Premium Access Session. Measuring listener trends through Premium Access Sessions goes beyond what’s popular to what drives listener engagement.

What we found can help inform your music strategy:

Younger audiences are more likely to unlock on-demand music moments More than 75% of Pandora’s Premium Access sessions unlocked by Video Plus are triggered by listeners under the age of 35. Younger generations of music listeners have been raised in an era of on-demand listening, listening to what they want, when they want—whether it’s the first day a fresh single has dropped, replaying the album that brings back all the feels, or practicing the latest Tik Tok dance hashtag. These listeners are more than happy to engage with a 15 second video ad in exchange for free on-demand access.

For Gen Z: Artist Loyalty > New Music Initially we predicted that top artists (artists with the most premium access spins) would flux every month or so based on topical moments like new releases. Although this was a common trend across Millennials, when we looked closer at Gen Z, we noticed two of the three top artists for Gen Z were Juice WRLD and XXXTentacion. The posthumous success of these artists is driven by the authentic connections built with their fans from their lyrics and on social media during their careers. And for Gen Z, music that resonates are artists that resonate. Similar to a brand engaging with a consumer, seek messages and artists collaborations that build authenticity, not a fleeting one hit wonder.

Listening also has a new normal, and it includes “Banana Pancakes” With more time spent at home, listeners are adapting to new habits—trading takeout for new at-home recipes and spin classes for tik tok dances. Social media feeds are flooded with the latest trials and tribulations of home cooking from our friends and family. Our listeners’ favorite recipe? Banana pancakes paired with “Banana Pancakes” by Jack Johnson, the perfect folk song for a cozy day in cooking and cuddling with the family. In the month of March, Jack Johnson premium access spins have increased by 56%.

Across all age and ethnicity demographics, our “Tik Tok Trends” playlist has soared in popularity since the start of March. More listeners are trading in their traditional workout playlists for this playlist filled with songs made popular by Tik Tok influencers. Megan Thee Stallion’s “S.A.V.A.G.E” Tik Tok challenge has resulted in a 64% increase in Meg The Stallion Premium Access Spins in the month of March and has remained consistently high, and with Beyonce on the new “S.A.V.A.G.E” remix, it will definitely be on repeat until the next “Hot Girl Summer”.

Marketer Takeaways

It’s crucial to keep a close eye on listening trends beyond the hottest song of the week; understanding who, what, and why listeners tap into certain songs, artists, and playlists allows for advertisers to create a more durable connection with consumers through music.

A few branded opportunities include: Video Plus: With Video Plus, advertisers become the key to unlocking premium access to Pandora’s exclusive content and on-demand listening. Personal Primetimes: Advertisers are able to align their message with selected artists and playlists to create a positive brand experience in organic music discovery moments.

Work with your Pandora rep to discover the music moments, artists, and playlists that align with your brand and audience. Want to learn more about how Covid-19 is affecting your consumers? Read more on SoundCheck.

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