Pandora hits stop on Australian operations

Rosie Baker
By Rosie Baker | 27 June 2017

Pandora is to close its Australia and New Zealand operations imminently, AdNews understands.

Tim Westergreen, the founder of Pandora, is also stepping down amid a leadership reshuffle. CFO Naveen Chopra is interim CEO

It is the latest music streaming platform to close in Australia, following Guvera, which closed in 2016, and Deezer in 2017, which also struggled to attract enough listeners and advertisers for a viable business.

Globally it has a user base of 80 million people with the number touching 1.2 million in Australia. It rolled out a subscription model here late last year to complement its ad-funded platform but had yet to roll out its Premium service. The music sharing business employs 60 people in Australia, but it's thought its commercial growth has not kept pace with that of the US business. The local streaming market is dominated by Spotify but in the US, Pandora is the much bigger player.

Pandora had begun hosting is first series of music events, kicking off with a warehouse party in October last year, sponsored by Holden. It was intended to replicate the success of similar events in the US, where it holds 80 similar events including the Pandora Discovery Den at SXSW, Pandora Holiday in New York City and Summer Crush in LA.

Pandora was also growing its programmatic offering and appointed Alison Pavy earlier this year to drive programmatic revenue.

Jane Huxley, former managing director of the Australian business, stepped down six months ago. A sign she saw the writing on the wall for the business she helped launch in Australia five years ago. 

Taly Yaniv, director of revenue operations for ANZ, had been running the business in the interim and a permanent replacement had not been named. 

Chris Freel leads the commercial operation and Pandora recently appointed Sally Kiernan as its marketing director and tripled the size of its local marketing team to drive the business forward.

AdNews understands that the surprise decision was revealed to senior Pandora leadership in Cannes last week where the brand held a number of events for clients as well as staff meetings.

Local staff were not expecting the decision and the business has had growing momentum in recent months, with strong commercial performance from a number of major business deals in the local market that will be in jeopardy as a result. It's not yet know what will happen to deals such as the Woolworths in-store radio service which is provided by Pandora. 

It also recently did a deal with Rolling Stone to run branded playlists of the music and artists which appear in each edition of the magazine. 

Updated 28 June. A Pandora spokesperson tells AdNews: "After diligent analysis, we have decided to discontinue our operations in Australia and New Zealand and expect to wind down the service for listeners over the next few weeks. While our experience in these markets reinforces the broader global opportunity long-term, in the short-term we must remain laser-focused on the expansion of our core business in the United States." 

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