Pandora raises its social media game with AMPcast, DIY audio messaging for artists

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While Spotify is acquiring startups expand its messaging and social features, Pandora is also raising its game in the artist-to-fan communications sphere for musicians to better target Pandora’s 80 million users. Today, the music streaming company is launching a service called AMPcast — a service to let musicians “speak to their fans” by way of audio messages that they can record quickly on their mobile phones and post to run in conjunction with their music streams.

Mobile-AAM_for-Deck_TrevorChildsThe new feature comes at an interesting time. Just yesterday we wrote about a new service called Superphone. Coded by musician Ryan Leslie, it’s a super light version of an artist’s communication tool that uses SMS and user’s phone numbers to send direct messages to fans. It includes features like geo-targeting and the ability to segment based on previous actions like what music or merchandise a user buys. The emergence of Superphone, to me, is a sign of how artists are not just in need of more tools to market themselves in the cut-throat, thin margin world of digital music — but also of how some are looking to take matters into their own hands.

The new feature launch is also coming up ahead of Pandora’s much anticipated integration and future roadmap in the wake of its acquisition of Rdio.

It looks like AMPcast is next generation product of Artist Audio Messages, which Pandora founder Tim Westergren first launched a year ago and has had 152 million messages heard to date.

AMPcast, in contrast to Artist Audio Messages, is completely self-serve as artists can create and record messages instantly right from their phone, the company tells me. It also gives artists the ability to track stats on those audio messages. “Previously artist had to record these messages in studio and it was not as streamlined,” a spokesperson said. At the same time, Pandora is touting a a lot of success for its existing audio message product. It claimed click-through rates as high as 17.67% from fans to hear a new album release from DJ Stephen Aoiki.

AMPcast will be a part of Pandora’s Artist Marketing Platform, the company’s interface for artists and their teams to manage profiles and other features on Pandora.

The company says that the typical types of content in these audio messages will be practical info like tour or concert dates, album release dates, or just anecdotes. The messages can be linked up with the ability to buy albums and tickets.

“AMPcast has the potential to change the odds for musicians,” said Tim Westergren, Pandora’s founder, and former touring musician, in a statement. “This powerful tool, combined with the scale and reach of Pandora, gives every talented and hard-working artist a real shot to build a career in music. Marketing and promotion for artists will never be the same.”

Pandora says AMPcast is live starting today to “a select group of artists” with a wider release in “coming months.”

A little preview of how it works is below: