Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Roger Lynch Talks Pandora's Future, Guitar, Streaming Competition
With new CEO Roger Lynch onboard, Pandora is looking toward a brighter future.
In recent months, founder Tim Westergren resigned his position. A stake in the company was sold to SiriusXM Radio for approximately $500 million. Pandora also withdrew its service from Australia and New Zealand, leaving its sole territory of operation as the U.S.
In a new Billboard interview, the former Sling executive Lynch got candid on key priorities he's looking to tackle, the crowded streaming competition and how his side gig fuels his new day job.
As it relates to technology in the car, Lynch wants to steer Pandora toward more drivers. "Pandora is already tapping into that; we've launched in 190 different vehicle models," said Lynch regarding the service's integration into nearly 200 car models. "That's a significant growth opportunity."
Lynch is also eyeing an increase in Pandora's subscription base by leveraging some of his past experience at Sling and Dish Network. "I've run three subscription businesses, but Sling helped me hone my skills in how to grow subscriptions and get a return on promotion investment in digital, mobile and social marketing," said Lynch. "There will be a focus on direct-to-consumer marketing."
As it relates to streaming competition, Lynch acknowledged it's a crowded field. But he feels there's always room for a dark horse. "If you're only going after the on-demand subscription business, that's a tough place to be because of the number of competitors," he said. "You have to be concerned about Apple and Amazon because of their resources and built-in audience. But never underestimate a focused competitor."
On the side, the 54-year-old Pandora CEO moonlights as a guitarist in his classic-rock band the Merger. Coupled with his business acumen, Lynch sees his music IQ as a tangible benefit. "I'm a businessman first and a musician second," said Lynch, who revealed he's been playing guitar since age 10. "But I'm excited to apply what I've learned to a category I'm passionate about.
"I think [Pandora] liked the fact that I'm a musician. I never thought that playing guitar would get me a job, but I had the feeling it was a factor."