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Pandora CFO talks about iTunes Radio, new markets


With Apple's iTunes Radio being a latecomer to the world of streaming internet radio, it's not surprising that the executives of streaming leader Pandora would not be happy with the new competitor. CNET's Joan Solsman interviewed the CFO of Pandora, Mike Herring, and found that he feels that Pandora is "a great service that does this better than anybody else," and that the latecomers like Apple are "large, well-funded companies that have agendas outside a really awesome music experience."

Not surprisingly, Herring said that Pandora sees Apple's iTunes Radio as a "credible threat" to their business. In the first five days of iTunes Radio, Apple reported that more than 11 million unique listeners had tuned in to their favorite streaming channel. Pandora, with years of experience under its belt, had almost 73 million active users last month. Still, the company feels that they offer the top experience to listeners, although Pandora has been criticized by artists who feel that they're getting a raw deal in terms of royalty payments (Apple is paying a higher rate).

Herring talked a bit about international expansion for Pandora -- the company is now trying out its model in Australia and New Zealand as an experiment for future expansion elsewhere. Apple has direct deals with the record labels that will make international expansion of iTunes Radio somewhat easier to accomplish, while Pandora lacks those types of deals. However, Herring pointed to another competitor -- Spotify -- as a company with direct deals that is not having much financial success with international expansion.

Solsman's interview is a fascinating peek behind the curtain at the internet streaming radio business.

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