Pandora lifts the curtain on its most-played tracks

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Pandora Shares Drop on Weak Listener Numbers

Pandora is finally telling us what everyone is listening to on Pandora. The company unveiled a new set of weekly charts Monday, including a list of the 100 most-played tracks, a list of 20 trend-setting artists and a list of artists that are about to make it big.

Pandora is sourcing these charts from Next Big Sound, the music data analytics platform that it acquired a little over a year ago. Up until now, Pandora has primarily been using Next Big Sound to power its artist services, helping musicians to gain insights into listening behavior on the platform. With these new charts, the company is now making some of that data publicly available — with a bit of tweaking, that is.

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Next Big Sound has developed some algorithms to make sure that Pandora's charts stay fresh, and don't just list hits from Prince, the Rolling Stones and the Beatles. Or, as Next Big Sound put it on its website:"In order to ensure that the chart is not altogether static, we've introduced the concept of sunsetting." Tracks phase out after 16 weeks, unless they are still on their way up in the charts.

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Pandora's data science team is also using third-party indicators for some of its charts. To predict the future success of artists, the service looks to social media to measure their growing momentum, and then correlates this data with Pandora play counts.

Pandora isn't the only music streaming service heavily relying on data science. Spotify made waves when it acquired the music intelligence platform The Echo Nest in 2014. Coincidentally, Pandora is looking to more directly compete with Spotify with the launch of its own on-demand streaming service later this year.

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