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New CEO appointed at Pandora 

By | Published on Tuesday 15 August 2017


It seems it’s the season for appointing new CEOs at flagging but newly cash rich streaming music companies. And like SoundCloud, Pandora is hoping that an exec from the world of video can help turn their audio business into a profitable concern.

Pandora yesterday announced that it was appointing Roger Lynch into the CEO role left absent after the firm’s founder Tim Westergren stepped aside in June. Lynch was most recently CEO of net-delivered telly platform Sling TV, and previously worked at television businesses the DISH Network in the US and Video Networks International in the UK.

He joins the Pandora company following the previously reported round of restructuring there, which saw Sirius XM pump $480 million into the firm and take up to a 19% stake, the sell off of ticketing business Ticketfly, and the aforementioned departure of Westergren.

Lynch’s task ahead is to boost the ad sales of Pandora’s core free-to-access personalised radio service, while concurrently upselling paid-for options (the ad-free personalised radio ‘Plus’ offer and the fully on-demand ‘Premium’ set-up) to the freebie subscribers.

Pandora commands a significant user-base in the US market, though the vast majority are on the free option. So, the key questions to determine Pandora’s long-term survival are: can the company secure a much bigger slice of the internet advertising dollar, and/or can it sign up enough users to the paid-for options to be profitable.

Lynch’s appointment was announced by Pandora Chairman and former EMI chief Roger Faxon, who said that the new CEO “brings a stellar leadership reputation, a wealth of consumer experience and a lifelong passion for music to Pandora – all of which are critical ingredients in the continued evolution of our company. We are absolutely confident that Roger is the right leader for Pandora who can create value for shareholders by marrying Pandora’s numerous assets with the opportunities ahead”.

As for those assets and opportunities, Faxon embellished so: “As I have said before, with ‘digital radio’ at the core of our business, and both ‘Plus’ and ‘Premium’ as new, integral parts of our arsenal, Pandora is now in an ideal position to leverage changing consumer behaviours to further expand and monetise our listening audience. We are very excited to welcome Roger as our CEO as we embark on our next chapter with renewed focus, a strong balance sheet, a strategic partnership with SiriusXM, and an incredible team of loyal and creative employees”.

Good times. Pandora also announced it had appointed another entertainment industry veteran to its board, to sit alongside the likes of one-time EMI man Faxon and former AEG chief Tim Leiweke. The new recruit is Michael Lynton, who ran the US-based Sony Entertainment business until earlier this year.

Leiweke stepped forward with a statement about that appointment, stating that: “We are also truly excited to welcome Michael Lynton to the Pandora board. Michael is a seasoned executive with strong business acumen and a long track record of leading public companies. He brings critical skills to our board and will lend valuable counsel as we focus on driving meaningful, long-term value for our shareholders and capturing an increasing share of the music listening audience”.

The new appointments at Pandora come hot on the heels of the change of management at SoundCloud, where former Vimeo chief Kerry Trainor has been appointed as CEO, following a substantial cash injection by The Raine Group and Temasek.