As music and podcast fans, we’re used to asking the question, “Have you heard …” about the latest viral sensation, whether it’s a hit song from Olivia Rodrigo, a new venture from Kevin Hart, or the most recent true-crime phenomenon following in the footsteps of My Favorite Murder. It’s natural; after all, with access to more audio entertainment options than ever before in history, finding something new and amazing to share with your friends and family is one of the benefits of our modern streaming lifestyle.
But one question most fans rarely ask is “How did you find …” in reference to that next big hit, the up-and-coming artist, or the podcast that changes your commute from drudgery to joy. That’s in part because for most of the last century, the answer to that question never changed: people heard about new artists or songs through the “3 Rs”: radio, retail and recommendations. Fans were turned on to new music or comedy acts through the limited prisms of disc jockeys, record store employees or their immediate friends.
But today, things are markedly different, with fans having access to more music, talk and podcast content than at any other time in history. Fans are empowered, able to access the full depth and breadth of SiriusXM’s entertainment catalog — including 350+ satellite and internet radio channels of original and curated content, Stitcher’s network of thousands of podcasts, and Pandora’s pioneering personalized music listening experience – all at the push of a button.
The range of content available has made how you discover new music more important than ever before, both for creators and for fans, which is why we’re constantly looking for new ways to foster the right discovery journey for listeners. For fans, it’s about surfacing music and entertainment both new and old that fits their unique tastes for every moment, while for creators it’s establishing new avenues for even the smallest independent artist to reach millions of fans and begin earning royalties on their music.
One example is Pandora’s “Modes” feature, which allows listeners to fine-tune their Pandora stations with selectable “modes” that give them more control over what they hear so they can create the perfect mix of music for any moment.
Traditionally, Pandora’s stations have provided a “lean-back” listening experience: pick an artist or song, and Pandora will play songs that hew closely to the artist and musical DNA of a song. Increasingly, however, some fans have wanted to “lean in” more so that they can control and change what they hear for whatever moment they’re in, but with the same ease of use. Enter Modes, where with the tap of a button, Pandora users can refine the type of music that their personalized stations are serving up. Want to hear the most popular songs by other Pandora users who listen to the same station? Try “Crowd Faves” mode. “Discovery” mode lets you hear more songs by artists who aren’t usually on your station, “Artist Only” plays only songs by a particular artist, and “Deep Cuts” goes even deeper into the catalog of the artist or genre you’re listening to.
There are also specially-curated modes for different genres or artists, like Artist Takeover Modes featuring music handpicked by artists including Dua Lipa and Foo Fighters sharing a mix of their own songs and personal favorites from other artists, with special audio commentary describing their selections and what they mean to them.
Modes is a good example of how at SiriusXM and Pandora we’re always looking for new ways to deliver flexibility, access and choice when it comes to audio entertainment. And there’s good reason for it: fans have made clear they are excited about discovering the latest hit song or podcast. A recent study by MusicWatch found that a majority of streaming fans prefer to be exposed to new music through the personalized playlists they are regularly delivered, and more than 80% appreciate the mix of new and classic music they are exposed to when they listen.
Or as Russ Crupnick, managing director of MusicWatch put it, “Fans are activating like never before, re-listening to newly found music, and diving deeper to make a connection with the artist. Dynamic features of the music services lubricate the discovery process.”
But fans aren’t the only ones benefiting from Modes; creators of all statures benefit from a smarter and authentic discovery process. Take for example a fan who starts a new station built around the music of Ariana Grande; while you could expect to hear “Bang Bang” or “God is a Woman,” the other songs that build out that station provide an opportunity to connect fans to artists and songs with a similar DNA. Modes surfaces independent and up-and-coming artists who may not be seeing airtime on legacy platforms like terrestrial radio, in turn helping increase creators’ exposure.
And the powerful combination of SiriusXM and Pandora has an added benefit for creators: collaboration and shared programming. For example, if a song or artist is gaining popularity on Pandora via Modes or some of our other exciting discovery channels, that could get the attention of SiriusXM’s programming teams, who can then drive an artist or song to new listeners. And vice-versa.
More and more listeners want to have control over their discovery experiences, and we’re here to deliver it whether it’s the latest curated music and live talk shows, podcasts on the Stitcher network, or your personalized Pandora stations with Modes.