Alina Thompson of Pandora

The Importance of Pandora’s Female Audience

Alina Thompson is Manager of Artist Marketing and Industry Relations at Pandora, where she oversees all of the country music-focused events and promotions and manages relationships with labels and artists. She tells Lipstick Economy about the marketing support Pandora provides, and she explains how COVID-19 is transforming the way artists connect with their fans.

What should we know about Alina?

Alina is an experienced music professional with a focus in country music. As Manager of Artist Marketing and Industry Relations, she works directly with labels and artists, oversees release plans for new music and educates users about Pandora’s free marketing tools, AMP and Next Big Sound. Before working at Pandora, Alina worked as the Manager of Marketing and Partnerships at CMA. She also worked at CMT and in radio marketing and promotions at Max Media Group.

How does Pandora support female country artists?

In a genre where women typically struggle to get the representation they deserve, Pandora works hard to both integrate female artists into all of its programming and provide dedicated stations and playlists that spotlight women. Since more than half of Pandora’s listeners are women, Alina thinks it’s especially important to help women artists succeed, because she wants female listeners to hear themselves represented in the music they love.

How does the Pandora Algorithm provide personalized choices to listeners?

Pandora’s algorithm has been around for more than 20 years.  It stemmed from Tower Records when you could go in, listen to a record at the kiosk and it would recommend other artists or records you might like based on the artist you were listening to. It has grown and now Pandora has what we call musicologists who listen to submitted music and check off up to 430 different characteristics per song and then those attributes go into the algorithm that presents music to certain listeners and certain stations that might favor those characteristics.  A big part of Pandora is the thumbs up and thumbs down feature that allows every user to personalize their station, making everyone’s Beyoncé radio a bit different.

What marketing tools does Pandora provide for its artists?

In addition to its complex algorithm that provides specific, personalized recommendations for every listener, Pandora also includes two free platforms to help artists market their music. With AMP (the Artist Marketing Platform), artists can create featured tracks, personalized audio messages and Pandora stories, which are curated playlists where artists can add songs and audio messages to give listeners a deeper insight into their music. All of these tools are proven to increase an artist’s number of streams. The second platform, Next Big Sound, provides in-depth analytics around things like streaming numbers, regional popularity and more. It also notifies artists anytime their music is programmed on a station.

How can marketers target their Pandora ads?

Pandora provides the ability to target age, gender, geographic location, ethnicity, device such as mobile or even smart device, genre of music and more than 2500 audience segments/psychographics. New opportunities also exist for brands to partner with Pandora for three free Pandora Live shows across the country. Pandora began streaming podcasts in December 2018, offering a different type of content for Pandora marketers.

How is COVID-19 transforming the music industry?

Though COVID-19 has created major challenges for the music industry due to lost concert revenue, Alina believes artists are rising to the occasion. The increased number of livestream performances is giving fans raw, stripped-down experiences that make them feel more connected with artists. Pandora also created the “Listen In” playlist series, where artists can share what they’re listening to in quarantine along with audio commentary.

How are Pandora and Sirius XM combining forces?

When Pandora was acquired by Sirius XM in 2018, the two companies combined to form the largest audio entertainment company in the U.S., with more than 100 million listeners. Sirius XM and Pandora have integrated their apps, so Sirius listeners can tune into Pandora stations and Pandora users can listen to Sirius XM talk shows as Pandora podcasts. The company is also becoming a one-stop shop for artists to capture promotional materials, since they can now do radio interviews and Pandora content all in the same place.

Who are some rising women artists to know?

Based on Pandora’s trendsetters and predictions charts, Alina recommends Lipstick Economy listeners check out Ingrid Andress, Gabby Barrett and Abby Anderson. These three women aren’t just making names for themselves in country music, they’re showing up as some of the top rising artists in any genre on Pandora.

Resources and Links

Alina’s LinkedIn


Rising Women in Country Playlist