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SiriusXM invested in Pandora, but is the nail already in their coffins?

(BUSINESS NEWS) SiriusXM has bought into Pandora signaling a converging of powers, but will it actually help the two compete with the other music apps?

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Strategy switch

Pandora may be changing strategy now that SiriusXM invested, but both could be on the way out if they can’t find a way to compete with other streaming services.

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Why pay for a semi-ad free radio when most cars come with Bluetooth for free now?

Two (potential) has-beens becoming one

This June, SiriusXM announced a $480M investment in Pandora Media. Jim Meyer, SiriusXM’s chief executive said in a statement, “This strategic investment in Pandora represents a unique opportunity for Sirius XM to create value for its stockholders by investing in the leader in the ad-supported digital radio business, a space where Sirius XM does not play today.”

He notes, “Pandora’s large user base and its ability to provide listeners with a personalized music experience are tremendous assets.”

This March, Pandora launched Pandora Premium, an ad-free subscription meant to compete with Spotify and Apple Music. With Premium, users finally have the option to customize playlists and play songs on-demand.

Current market

To stick out in the streaming market, SiriusXM needs to differentiate itself from its competitors. As people seek to avoid duplicating charges, the most universal option will win.

Right now, major players Spotify and Pandora offer free tier services in addition to limited- and ad-free subscriptions, while SiriusXM and Apple Music are paid-only access. Here’s the current standings:

Apple Music— 27M subscribers, 100 countries
Pandora— 4.39M subscribers, 100M U.S. (free) listeners, 3 countries
SiriusXM— 31.6M subscribers, 128 countries
Spotify— 50M subscribers, 140M (free) listeners, 60 countries

Basically, Spotify is killing it in terms of paid subscribers. Full disclosure: I am in a happy, healthy relationship with Spotify, while Pandora remains a bitter ex, and I never even gave Apple Music the time of day. SiriusXM and I have been on a few dates, but I don’t have a subscription.

Spotify supreme

I know Spotify is problematic in terms of artists receiving fair royalties…it’s something horrible like tenths of tenths of a cent, but I still am a loyal subscriber. As someone who’s frugal to the point of convincing myself I really do need to spend money on groceries, what compels me to spend money on Spotify over everything else?

In regards to Apple

Well, for one, Apple made iTunes nearly inaccessible on my phone by burying my songs with Apple Music. I felt like I was being forced into their platform.

As for Pandora

When I first tried Pandora, it endlessly frustrated me with limited skips and its inability to fully customize a station.

It seems a little late in the game to start offering these services, but at least they finally got there.

Unfortunately, my initial experiences with old-school Pandora are enough to make me wary of their new offerings.

Not super Sirius

As for SiriusXM, it just seemed like too much of a hassle to get setup in my new car when I was still trying to adjust to the culture shock of no longer having a cassette tape player. Sirius is an awesome setup for radio lovers though.

New duo

So how can SiriusXM and its newfound pal Pandora stick out from the crowd? They’re definitely moving in the right direction by focusing on user-friendly customization and control over playlists.

However, both are still primarily radio-based services while Spotify and Apple Music offer radio as part of their services, not the whole.

Spotify offers easy transitions from mobile to desktop, and give me a weekly playlist to find new music. It makes it easy to be lazy. I’m too grown up to pirate music anymore, yet not motivated enough invest in buying and synching music from my computer to phone.

If SiriusXM and Pandora’s partnership can offer something easy to set up with an abundance of pre-created playlists in addition to customizable ones, I might be interested in giving them a try.

Gotta fight for your right to stream

Perhaps something that taps into conscious consumerism, like focusing on increasing artist royalties compared to their competitors. Or maybe a gimmicky “portions of our proceeds” donation to music-focused charities to make subscribers feel like they’re making a socially-conscious choice.

To stay alive in this market, SiriusXM needs to bring something beyond what Apple Music, Spotify, and other competitors are already offering.

#WhereToPlay

Lindsay is an editor for The American Genius with a Communication Studies degree and English minor from Southwestern University. Lindsay is interested in social interactions across and through various media, particularly television, and will gladly hyper-analyze cartoons and comics with anyone, cats included.

Business News

Bose is closing their retail stores, but we haven’t heard the last of them

(BUSINESS NEWS) Over the last 30 years Bose has become so well understood by consumers that they don’t even need retail stores anymore. We hear them just fine.

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Over the next few months, Bose plans to close all of their retail stores in North America, Europe, Japan, and Australia. The company made the announcement last week. With 119 stores closing, presumably hundreds of Bose employees will be laid off, but the company has not revealed exact numbers.

However, this shouldn’t be taken as a sign that the maker of audio equipment is struggling to stay afloat. Rather, the move marks a major change in how consumers purchase tech gear.

When the Framingham, Massachusetts-based company opened its first U.S. retail store in 1993, it was making home entertainment systems for watching DVDs and listening to CDs. According to Colette Burke, Bose’s vice president of global sales, these first brick-and-mortar locations “gave people a way to experience, test, and talk to us” about Bose products. “At the time, it was a radical idea,” she says, “but we focused on what our customers needed and where they needed it – and we’re doing the same thing now.”

When a lot of this equipment was new, consumers may have had more questions and a need to see the products in action before purchasing. Nowadays, we all know what noise-canceling headphones are; we all know what a Bluetooth speaker is. We’re happy to read about the details online before adding products to our virtual shopping cart. The ability for Bose to close its retail stores is probably also an indicator that Bose has earned strong brand recognition and a reputation as a reliable maker of audio equipment.

In other words, consumers are less and less inclined to need to check out equipment in person before they buy it. For those who do, Bose products can still be purchased at stores like Best Buy, Target, and Apple. But overall, Bose can’t ignore the fact that their products “are increasingly purchased through e-commerce,” such as on Amazon or directly from their website.

In a statement, Bose also said that it has become a “larger multi-national company, with a localized mix of channels tailored for the country or region.” While Bose is shutting down its retail stores in several continents, it will continue to operate stores in China, the United Arab Emirates, India, Southeast Asia, and South Korea.

Burke said the decision to close so many retail stores was “difficult” because it “impacts some of our amazing store teams who make us proud every day.” Bose is offering “outplacement assistance and severance to employees that are being laid off.”

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Business News

Finally the American workforce is now mostly women!

(BUSINESS NEWS) Women officially make up more than half the workforce, but that doesn’t mean total equality. So what does this tipping of the scale mean?

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Equality for women has finally been achieved: according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women now make up more than half of the workforce! That’s it, that’s the article.

Kidding. Just because women are currently in the majority doesn’t mean all their problems are solved.

First, it’s worth noting that although women currently make up more than half of employees on payroll, that number is slight (50.04% to be exact). Not to mention, women are very likely to fall back in the minority once construction – a male dominated profession – picks back up in the spring.

Still, the number of women in the workforce has been growing over the last decade. While jobs in manufacturing – another male dominated field – are dwindling, jobs in education and healthcare are growing. When it comes to K-12 teaching, for example, women are more likely to fill teaching roles. Women also dominate in nursing.

Not to mention, women are earning more degrees than men!

That said, despite this progress, women as a whole are still getting paid less than men. Part of the reason lies in the types of careers that women end up in. Those female-dominated fields we mentioned earlier? They don’t typically pay well. Plus, there’s that pesky glass ceiling that still exists in some fields. Remember, there are more CEOs named John than female CEOs.

It’s also worth noting that the information collected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics only covered people on a payroll. That means the growing number of freelancers aren’t being accounted for in the report. Freelancing has become a great way for individuals, often women, to stay home and care for their family while also earning money. It would be interesting to know how freelancers shift the balance, both in employment and income.

Finally, there’s the invisible labor that women often contribute to society. According to the UN, women account for 75% of all unpaid labor – which includes things like childcare, meal prep and cleaning. This is vital labor that is not accounted for by studies like that of the Bureau of Labor Statistics and sheds light into another reason why women might still have lower pay than men, on average.

So, yes, the fact that women make up over half the workforce is something to be celebrated! That said, we’ve still got work to do on the equality front.

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Business News

Interview escape plan 101: Because you definitely need one

(BUSINESS NEWS) A job interview should be a place to ask about qualifications but it seems more people are asked about their personal life. How do you escape this problem?

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interview from hell

“So, why did you move from Utah to Austin?” the interviewer asked over the phone.

The question felt a little out of place in the job interview, but I gave my standard answer about wanting a fresh scene. I’d just graduated college and was looking to break into the Austin market. But the interviewer wasn’t done.

“But why Austin?” he insisted, “There can’t be that many Mormons here.”

My stomach curled. This was a job interview – I’d expected to discuss my qualifications for the position and express my interest in the company. Instead, I began to answer more and more invasive questions about my personal life and religion. The whole ordeal left me very uncomfortable, but because I was young and desperate, I put up with it. In fact, I even went back for a second interview!

At the time, I thought I had to put up with that sort of treatment. Only recently have I realized that the interview was extremely unprofessional and it wasn’t something I should have felt obligated to endure.

And I’m not the only one with a bad interview story. Recently, Slate ran an article sharing others’ terrible experiences, which ranged from having their purse inspected to being trapped in a 45 minute presentation! No doubt, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to mistreatment by potential employers.

So, why do we put up with it?

Well, sometimes people just don’t know better. Maybe, like I was, they’re young or inexperienced. In these cases, these sorts of situations seem like they could just be the norm. There’s also the obvious power dynamic: you might need a job, but the potential employers probably don’t need you.

While there might be times you have to grit your teeth and bear it, it’s also worth remembering that a bad interview scenario often means bad working conditions later on down the line. After all, if your employers don’t respect you during the interview stage, it’s likely the disrespect will continue when you’re hired.

Once you’ve identified an interview is bad news, though, how do you walk out? Politely. As tempting as it is to make a scene, you probably don’t want to go burning bridges. Instead, excuse yourself by thanking your interviewers, wishing them well and asserting that you have realized the business wouldn’t be a good fit.

Your time, as well as your comfort, are important! If your gut is telling you something is wrong, it probably is. It isn’t easy, but if a job interview is crossing the line, you’re well within your rights to leave. Better to cut your losses early.

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