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Pandora buys major data firm to get to know you better

Pandora, the most popular streaming music service when it comes to sheer users, has announced the acquisition of music analytics firm Next Big Sound in an effort to better understand its mountain of listeners.

The personalized online radio stalwart, which boasts around 80 million active users, will also use Next Big Sound’s vast database to make the service a more valuable partner for artists and labels, an important step for the service as streaming music continues to become an increasingly bigger part of the overall music landscape.

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“The combination of Pandora’s listening data and Next Big Sound’s analytical capabilities will create a vital source of data,” said Pandora CEO Brian McAndrews in a statement. Pandora did not disclose the terms of the deal with the New York-based firm.

While rival streaming services like Spotify have direct deals with record labels, Pandora has only recently developed direct relationships with the music rights holders of the songs it streams.

Late last year, Pandora launched its Artist Marketing Platform (AMP), which provides artists with data on streams of their music. The partnership with Next Big Sound — which analyzes artists’ popularity through Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Wikipedia activity — will further broaden the scope of the service.

Next Big Sound will also assist brands who advertise on Pandora, according to the company. As Pandora is largely an ad-based platform, with over 90 percent of its users listening for free, better ad targeting would certainly be helpful for the streaming music service’s bottom line, and possibly help it

This week’s announcement follows similar deals other streaming music services have made with data analytics firms. Last year, Spotify bought music intelligence firm The Echo Nest, which has helped the streaming giant mine through its mountains of user data to better curate its offerings. Earlier this year, Apple bought Next Big Sound competitor Semetric as the company gears up for its Beats-based music service, Apple Music.

There’s certainly a move towards big data analytics in the music industry and Pandora doesn’t want to be left behind. The company chose wisely with its latest move: in addition to usage by many major labels, Next Big Sound also powers two Billboard charts in the Social 50, and the Artist 100.