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Pandora Founder Tim Westergren Makes the Case for Free: The Code/Media Interview

Eighty-one million users agree.

Asa Mathat
Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

There’s a lot of talk about how much digital music should cost, and who ought to pay for it, and who should get that money. Which is one of the reasons we wanted Tim Westergren to come to Code/Media last month: Pandora, the Web radio company he founded, is in the thick of those talks.

Pandora has more than 81 million active users in the U.S., and they listened to more than 20 billion hours of music last year. So it’s not having any problems on that front. But musicians, songwriters and record labels spend a lot of time complaining that Pandora doesn’t pay enough for all of that music — while Pandora thinks it pays too much.

Meanwhile Pandora, which only offers users a bit of control over their music, faces competition from Spotify’s on-demand service. This year it’s also going to get competition from Apple, which is retooling its own on-demand service.

That’s the backdrop for Westergren’s conversation with Walt Mossberg, which you can watch below:

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