“We continue to disrupt the radio industry.” So said Pandora CEO Joe Kennedy a few days ago, as he unveiled the company’s quarterly numbers to investors. Clearly, he has radio in his cross hairs…the service is Pandora Internet Radio, after all.  But radio is hardly the only competitor for Pandora…

What piqued my curiosity about Pandora is the fact it doesn’t show up as a radio station in our research. When we ask listeners which stations they’ve listened to in the past week, they never mention Pandora! In contrast, many mention Sirius/XM as a “radio station.”

To get a sense of Pandora’s role in today’s array of audio entertainment, we interviewed 18-64-year-old online respondents who answered “yes” when we asked if they had listened to Pandora over the past two days…349 of them. We conducted the survey early last month, and asked them…

If you couldn’t listen to Pandora — for example, if its site was down for some reason — what would you be listening to instead? In other words, what sources of music does Pandora take the place of when you listen to it? 

What we learned is: Pandora certainly competes with terrestrial radio, along with many other sources of music:

Laptop/Computer 55%
YouTube 52%
iPod/mp3 player 49%
FM/AM Radio 49%
Phone 39%
TV 36%
CDs 34%
Other Internet Radio/Podcast 20%
Satellite Radio/Sirius/XM 19%
Tablet 16%
Other   2%
None/Nothing   2%

Note that the percentages here add up to way more than 100%.  That’s because respondents could name more than one, and many did.  Plus, some of the choices are different ways of saying the same thing.  For example, isn’t one’s “laptop/computer” a way they get to “other internet radio/podcasts” or “YouTube”?  Yep.

These results are both good news and bad news for radio, in my view…

First, the bad:  Radio is not the clear alternative choice for Pandora listeners…it’s just one of many.  That’s because Pandora is not radio, however radio-obsessed its management might be.  It is, instead, simply a music source…in competition with other music sources — among them, radio.

The good: Pandora listening is not all at terrestrial radio’s expense!  It could be time listening to iPods, CDs, Sirius/XM, etc.

The “bottom line”: Pandora has at least as much in common with iPods and other music-only sources as it does with radio…probably more! The best strategy for radio is to do what Pandora and the others can’t — connect with listeners on a personal and emotional level.