Pandora Has No Choice but to Rock the World

Reports of slowing domestic growth won't mean that this will be the last you hear about Pandora Media (NYS: P) .

The leading music streaming service -- serving up more than a billion hours of audio a month -- is expanding overseas.

Pandora introduced its customized playlists to music buffs in Australia and New Zealand late last month, and the rest of the world may get even easier to tackle. The historically stingy European Commission is proposing this morning to ease the music licensing rules that make it difficult for digital stores and services to roll into Europe.

Just a couple of weeks ago, Pandora was strictly a stateside experience. It may be packing its guitars and Marshall stacks to go on a world tour before long.

Cynics will argue that Pandora needs to be a traveling musician because business is slowing closer to home. The music discovery service revealed yesterday that it served up 1.08 billion hours of music to its users last month. That may be a healthy 77% improvement over June of last year, but this is actually a slight sequential dip compared to the 1.1 billion hours dished out in May. There are now 54.5 million active users, and that's 51% ahead of where it was a year ago, but it's not much of a boost from the 53.3 million active users on its rolls a month earlier.

It also doesn't bode well that active users inched higher sequentially, but listening time moved lower. Are consumers gradually tiring of Pandora or is this merely a seasonal blip? Even if it is a summertime thing, skeptics will be correct in pointing out that listening grew sequentially between May and June of last year.


Pandora also won't be alone if easing musical licenses in Europe offers the service an opportunity to jam overseas. The move would largely benefit Apple's (NAS: AAPL) iTunes and streaming rival Spotify that already have a beefy presence in Europe.

The move would also open the door for Sirius XM Radio (NAS: SIRI) . It's limited to its current market given the range of its satellites, but it's another market entirely for its streaming service if licensing deals are easier to make uniform across Europe.

It makes perfect sense for Pandora to be eyeing the global opportunities, but before it plugs in its guitars it better realize that the stage is getting pretty crowded with rivals that have the same idea.

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