Carrie Davenport

Nine years ago, Spotify was born in a small office in Stockholm, Sweden. For years, the company grew in fits and starts, and didn't land in America until 2011.

But they caught on quick. In the span of just four years, Spotify has now essentially matched Pandora, which turned 15 in January, in terms of both users and revenue.

On Thursday, Pandora reported 12-month trailing revenue that "exceeded $1 billion."

That is just about the size of what the New York Times, in May, said Spotify took in last year. (Spotify is a privately held company.)

Fusion, data via New York Times and Pandora


They also now have about the same number of active users. Pandora reported 79.4 million Thursday, although a Pandora representative noted that Spotify is in 58 markets, while the radio streaming service is just in three.

Still, Pandora's figure represents just a five percent increase from the same period 12 months ago.


In a statement, Pandora said it seeks to expand globally beyond the U.S., Australia and New Zealand, but that licensing agreements often limit their reach. They added that they value potentially markets based on "The state of the music industry in that region, the maturity of the ad market in that region, and the licensing environment in that region."

Pandora’s ability to provide service in a new region depends on the synergy of these three things and we are currently focused on securing the licensing partnerships required to expand into new markets, but the timing of the potential licensing agreements is uncertain.

Pandora did report quarterly ad revenue had increased 30 percent, with local advertising climbing 67 percent.


That was enough to cause Pandora shares to surge 10 percent in after-hours trading, although this must be placed in the context of an 18-month period that has seen share prices lose two-thirds of their value.


The looming question for both companies is what the entrance of Apple Music (and, OK, Tidal) could mean. On the company's earnings call, CEO Brian McAndrews said,  "We don't expect any long-term meaningful impact."


Of course, anyone would be foolish to doubt Apple.

Meanwhile, Spotify continues to announce partnerships with major brands like Starbucks and Uber; Pandora has made do with Peet's coffee, though it does have agreements in place with many automakers.

For now, Pandora has a well established user base that will likely hold for awhile, but it's hard to see where their next big move will come from.


Rob covers business, economics and the environment for Fusion. He previously worked at Business Insider. He grew up in Chicago.