Media & Entertainment, Technology

Spotify vs. Pandora is Like The Beatles vs. The Rolling Stones

Image Credit: Photo by bruce mars from Pexels

Okay fine, maybe that headline is a little much, but according to a recent CivicScience study, the differences between people who rock out to Spotify vs. who jams on with Pandora are nothing short of shocking. 

So sure, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones are both rock bands, and yes, Pandora and Spotify are both music streaming services, but the similarities start petering out quicker than a one-hit wonder.

For starters, some basic numbers: CivicScience asked more than 67,000 Americans age 13+ over the last six months if they listened to one or the other streaming music services. Pandora listeners outpaced Spotify listeners by 28%.

But that’s not the whole story. Taking a look at quarterly trends, people who say they listen to Spotify has increased over time and continues to, while Pandora listeners have fluctuated. 

Looking at some breakdowns, age immediately pops. Generation Z is on Team Spotify by a whopping 2-to-1 margin, while Pandora takes Generation X by nearly the same percentage. Without putting too fine a point on it, those numbers are koo-koo bananas. Rarely will two companies, in the same space and offering wildly similar products, have such a difference in usage by age. (Worth noting: Pandora is also stronger with Millennials and more than three times stronger with those Americans age 55+.) 

Race also plays a major role in which streaming service people listen to. White and black Americans both prefer Pandora, white Americans by a 35% margin, black Americans by 47%. But Asian-Americans? Spotify, by 106%. And Hispanics or Latinos? Spotify by a smaller margin, though it’s certainly worth noting Hispanics and Latinos listen to streaming services at the highest rates overall.

While not as striking as some of the above charts, income also plays a role, at least with Pandora listeners. Households making over $100,000 a year are 20% more likely to listen to Pandora than households making under $50,000 a year. Spotify sports a difference, but it’s minute. 

On the flip side of income is the type of area people live in. This time, Pandora draws listeners from all corners of the country, whereas Spotify listeners are much more likely to be city dwellers. For instance, there is a negligible difference between city and rural listeners of Pandora, whereas city Spotify listeners outpace rural Spotify listeners by a remarkable 60% margin.

Here’s an interesting takeaway: A third of people who listen to Spotify also listen to Pandora, whereas only a quarter of Pandora listeners also frequent Spotify.

When it comes to time spent on the apps, Spotify users are much more inclined to keep the tunes flowing. Twelve percent of Spotify listeners are on the app over 25 hours a week; that’s nearly double the amount of Pandora listeners who are in the same “heavy listening” category. 

On the opposite end, nearly two out of three Pandora users listen for five hours or less, whereas less than half of Spotify users use the service for that limited period of time. In fact, once the “five hours or less” crowd goes away, Spotify beats Pandora at every time marker.

Clearly, there are major differences in the demographic data when it comes to these two companies. Serious Beatles vs. Rolling Stones juju, right? Are there any similarities? Sort of. When it comes to gender, Spotify users are equal parts male and female. Pandora listeners tilt female, but “only” by a 7.5 percent margin.

As of now, there’s clearly room for both companies in the streaming music space. Spotify listeners are growing at a moderately faster pace, but Pandora still has a commanding lead in total listeners. The big battle, it would seem, will be which company can get more people to pay for its premium services in the coming years.

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