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Westergren: iTunes Radio to Have ‘Modest’ Impact on Pandora

Pandora’s founder sees recent Web radio deals as helping its upcoming royalty rate-setting

Even before Apple launched iTunes Radio last week some media outlets were likening it to a “Pandora Killer,” however Pandora Founder and now Chief Strategy Officer Tim Westergren predicts Apple’s new service will have only a “modest” impact on the audio Internet service.

Westergren told investors at the Goldman Sachs Group in New York yesterday, “We believe iTunes Radio will have a modest impact,” without delving into specifics.

Apple has said more than 11 million users have used its service since it launched on Sept. 18. At last count, Pandora said it had 72 million “active” users.

Pandora is looking to benefit from recent ’net radio agreements with record labels on music royalties, according to Westergren.

That includes Apple’s deal for iTunes Radio, he said, noting Apple negotiated a lower content rate than what Pandora currently pays. That agreement, as well as ones like Clear Channel’s recent pact with Warner Music Group will add to the body of knowledge that judges overseeing arbitration talks with U.S. streamers will look to when streaming music royalties are established beyond 2015, he told the conference.