Pandora says bye to users in Australia and New Zealand

youtube paid music service march launch listening to
sebra/123RF

Pandora is calling it a day in Australia and New Zealand.

The Oakland, California-based music streaming company will shutter its service  in the two countries — the only markets outside of the U.S. where it operates — in the next few weeks.

A spokesperson for Pandora said it needed to concentrate its efforts on its main block of users, while pointing out that it’s not abandoning all hope of moving back into international markets at a later date.

“While our experience in these markets reinforces the broader global opportunity long-term, in the short-term we must remain laser-focused on the expansion of our core business in the United States,” Pandora told Billboard.

The news comes in the same week that Pandora co-founder Tim Westergren stepped down as CEO after less than two years in the job. Two other executives have also left the company as it takes steps to “refocus and reinforce Pandora,” according to board member Roger Faxon.

The 17-year-old company has been struggling in recent years in the face of tough competition from rivals, particularly big hitters in the space such as Spotify and Apple Music.

While Pandora grew rapidly in its early years as an internet radio service, since 2014 its active user base has been stuck around the 81-million mark, with around 5 million of those thought to reside in Australia and New Zealand. But few of those 81 million users, it seems, have so far signed up to any of its recently launched paid services — Pandora Plus and Pandora Premium.

In contrast, Spotify, which offers on-demand music streaming allowing users to choose the tracks they listen to, continues to grow its global base of paying subscribers, reaching 50 million in March after adding 10 million in just the previous five months. Spotify’s overall user base, which includes those using its free, ad-supported tier, comprises more than 100 million users. Meanwhile, Apple Music, which launched in 2015, reached 20 million paying subscribers toward the end of last year.

Pandora will hope its restructuring efforts announced this week will be enough to turn the company around. A recent $480 million investment by satellite radio company SiriusXM as well as the sale of its ticketing business TicketFly for $200 million, may help, but winning paying subscribers back from Spotify, Apple Music, and other services is among its greatest challenges.