Live In Conversation: Andee Connors (Part 2)

Andee Connors

Senior Manager: Creator & Catalog Services (Pandora / Sirius XM)

This episode’s guest was Pandora’s Senior Manager of Catalogue and Creator Services, Andee Connors (Pandora is a streaming service only available in the USA, but has over 60 million customers).

Andee also manages campaigns, creator tools and content for Pandora’s Artist Marketing Platform. Their team is totally dedicated to helping creators use Pandora’s tools, navigate the world of streaming services, promote their music and manage their careers. This conversation is sure to bring insight. Andee is also a working drummer, musician, artist, DJ, music curator, photographer, former record store owner, and former record label owner & used to host a radio show on Gimmeradio.com called Battleflutes & Sideways Skulls. At Pandora, Andee is also the head of Metal & Punk programming as well as programming experimental and new-age music.

Helping Creators to Promote Their Music & Manage Careers

#HowWeListen Live: In Conversation with Andee Connors took place on Tuesday, June 27th, live from rural Oregon.

The following transcript has been edited for length and clarity.

In Part II the discussion goes in the direction of modern-day music discovery. Is it better today? How have things changed, and how can people take advantage of those changes? When should you send your music to Pandora to get playlisted? They have 60 million subscribers!! What about Radio VS streaming services, what role do they play today?

Miss Part I? Click here to read!

Marc Brown: Nowadays, has music discovery changed?  

Andee Connors: Definitely. What’s changed is that what was once physical can now exist virtually. When I was younger, the only way people could discover artists was by them driving around and playing shows. Now, people can discover artists from anywhere, which I love. Artists can now work on their craft virtually and then reach people from all over the world. I think people need to figure out what their definition of success is and go from there to determine a strategy. 

Marc: I talk a lot about the artist’s journey and how you need to know what you want to do. For example, if you’re making metal music, you probably won’t get played on the radio not because you’re bad but because radio is about how you sound with the other programming. I see people looking to be told what to do but no one can do that for you.

Andee: No. It’s a challenge for me when someone asks me those types of things because as much as everyone wants to sell out shows, and all of that, you have to know what lane you’re in. When I was a musician I knew that I wasn’t going to be mainstream, so I came into it with the expectation of just wanting to go on tour and meet people. So that’s what success meant to me at the time. That has, of course, changed a lot now that I’m older. For some younger artists, TikTok is maybe now how they measure success.

Marc: You talk to a lot of artists and managers, at every level. What are the questions that still surprise you? 

Andee: I’m not surprised by a lot. Sometimes some streaming fundamentals are helpful like how you get considered for an editorial playlist and all that. In the short term, I’ve made it my mission at Pandora to be the person who directs others to the right programmers. So if you’re an artist of a certain genre, you can send me your music and I’ll make sure it gets in front of the right curator. I’ve been doing that until we have the infrastructure for online submissions. 

Marc: It feels like sometimes artists just don’t know what they’re supposed to do on all these platforms.

Andee: Honestly, I think that being a musician or an artist in 2023 is so much more challenging than it was. Every platform functions differently – it’s a lot of stuff to remember! I don’t think it’s that people aren’t informed. It is a full-time job just to learn all of the respective platforms. The accessibility that makes it so appealing to be a music fan makes it that much harder to stand out as an artist. 

Marc: Ok, so how would a Canadian artist pitch to Pandora’s editorial playlists? 

Andee: To be honest, that’s a huge hole in Pandora. There’s no official way, as an artist, to go to Pandora and submit your music for editorial consideration. I’ve been fighting to build a portal to allow that and it’s still something we’re working on, but it’s been challenging to make that happen. So until that happens, I’m able to help artists get to the right people if you send me an email! 

Marc: Does Pandora have playlists that cater to international artists?

Andee: As a label, you can get label access to your artist on Pandora. We’re not available internationally, but we have plenty of playlists that play music from artists all over the world. AMP (stands for Artist Marketing Platform) is a great tool for that. 

Marc: What about timelines,  should submit your music on the release date or before the release date? Timelines are always tricky. Can you talk about how you like to do things either personally or at Pandora? 

Andee: I’d say that the sweet spot for programming at Pandora is a week or two before the release date. If you use a distributor, your music tends to get delivered a few weeks earlier but the best thing for me is to get sent music a week or two ahead of time so I can have it on my list and send it to the programmer in question before the release date. When I’m programming metal, I have a document where I add the release dates that I know about so that I can plan whether I’m going to feature a song on a certain date. I will say that everything has to come via a distributor like CDBaby or DistroKid because they deliver it with all of the metadata (because Metadata Matters). The only thing that can make metadata things a little complicated is collaborations versus featured artists.

Marc: Complicated how?

Andee: Let’s say you and I have a record together, and the metadata has Marc & Andee as the main artist. On Pandora, it will live on both Marc’s & my artist pages. In AMP, it’ll be its own profile so if we wanted to do a campaign to promote it we’d have to go in and claim that joint profile. If it was Marc featuring Andee, that only lives on Marc’s page so you don’t necessarily have the same access. 

Marc: How is that different from other streaming services?

Andee: I don’t believe it is, they have the same problem, but it’s very obvious when you’re setting up your release with your distributor so you should be able to figure it out. 

Marc: One thing I know about Pandora’s AMP section, is that you offer monthly webinars, what is that all about? 

Andee: We do two AMP webinars per month. One is very much about the tools available, and we walk everyone through the interface step by step. The second one is office hours so it’s more conversational where we answer questions and address any problems. 

Marc: Those are some great services. Can I get back to pitching Pandora and ask about post-release-date pitching, is it too late to be considered for editorial playlists at that point?

Andee: No. It’s ideal to have stuff up on the release date, but it isn’t a huge deal if not. It disappoints me that the music industry is so release date driven because, from a listener’s perspective, it’s meaningless. You can hear a record any time and that is when it’ll be new and meaningful to you as a listener. 

Marc: I also wanted to discuss the notion of radio. Pandora is owned by Sirius, which owns a series of radio stations, right? 

Andee: It’s a satellite-type thing so it operates differently. On Pandora, every artist in the world has their station as long as it’s been delivered to Pandora. That’s not how Sirius works. Sirius is more commercial-driven, so you have to have achieved some success to be programmed there. I would love for Pandora to start to become a feeder for Sirius. I always recommend that artists do as much as they can on Pandora, and get as much buzz going as possible. Hopefully, organically, you’ll start to find yourself on Sirius. 

Marc: There is a difference between radio and streaming, right? One person listening on Pandora, that’s one play? On normal radio, it’s a DJ or producer deciding what to play which will get played to thousands of people. Can you explain a little more?

Andee: There is an important differentiation between terrestrial radio, satellite radio and streaming. As you said, if I play a song – I hear that song and determine what I want to listen to. Whereas if that song gets played on Sirius on a Saturday night on a really popular program that one play was probably heard by 2 million people. Listening has changed a lot. Historically FM radio was promotional so you didn’t make any money off of it, but it helped to get the word out about you and your music. There’s still an element of that with streaming, but I do recognize that a lot of people out there listen exclusively to streaming so a lot of what AMP is designed to do is to give your fans more opportunities to support you. 

Marc: Is that why you’re a big fan of Bandcamp as well?

Andee: Absolutely. Modern music consumption is a bit misleading because just listening to your favourite artist on streaming isn’t enough. On Bandcamp, you can also support your artists by buying their merch and all of that. 

Marc: Do you think there are enough ways to support artists or are there too many? 

Andee: That’s a hard question. From an artist’s perspective, there are so many options that it’s hard to keep up with. In terms of consumers, it doesn’t matter how you support artists, just that you are supporting your favourite artists! 

Marc: Let’s end it there, that’s awesome. Andee, thanks so much for chatting.

Andee: Bye, and thanks so much Marc, it was a pleasure. My email is andee@pandora.com if anyone ever has any questions.