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Pandora adds comedy to Internet radio line-up

OAKLAND, California (AFP) ― U.S. Internet radio darling Pandora has added comedy to its line-up of stations that listeners can personalize to their tastes.

“We’re excited to say that we are officially in the business of telling jokes,” Pandora founder Tim Westergren said in a blog post online Wednesday.

“As with music, we hope that the Comedy Genome Project will let people enjoy comedy they know as well as discover new talent that they love.”

Pandora comedy stations can be customized by genre or comedian, with the service using feedback on what prompts guffaws or gags to fine tune offerings to individual preferences.

A team of professional comedians divided thousands of routines by hundreds of comics into categories such as “odd juxtaposition” shticks with openings like “A horse walks into a bar...”

Another category was “extensive vamping.”

“Adding comedians to the mix has been one of the top requests from our listeners,” Westergren said.

“There is surely nothing more important than helping the world laugh a little more!”

In February, the leading U.S. Internet radio service filed plans with U.S. regulators for an initial public offering of stock to raise as much as $100 million.

Pandora indicated that it is going public in a bid to get the money it needs to grow and become profitable, and to deal with an accumulated operating deficit.

“A key element of our strategy is to aggressively increase the number of listeners and listener hours to increase our market penetration,” Pandora said in a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

“However, as our number of listener hours increases, the royalties we pay for content acquisition also increase,” the filing noted.

Pandora’s revenue has not been enough to offset the cost of paying royalties on songs, and getting big enough to tip the balance with more paid advertising is essential, the startup indicated.

The Oakland, California-based firm released internal financial figures that revealed the company finished last year with a net loss of $16.7 million.

The bulk of Pandora’s revenue comes from advertising, while about 14 percent of the money it takes in comes from subscriptions, according to the filing.

Pandora reported having 80 million registered users and streaming about 2.1 billion hours of music last year.

Pandora was among the top smartphone applications in the United States in 2010.

Pandora is available for the iPhone, the Blackberry, the Palm Pre, and devices running Google’s Android and Microsoft’s Windows Mobile operating systems, but does not currently provide service outside the United States.

“We have pioneered a new form of radio ― one that uses intrinsic qualities of music to initially create stations and then adapts playlists in real-time based on the individual feedback of each listener,” Pandora said.

Pandora offers a paid premium service which allows for unlimited listening beyond the monthly 40-hour limit on free accounts.
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