Aug 20, 2016 — Minneapolis, MN (Jeff Yeager)

Five Takeaways From Pandora Live Streaming Metallica

Music streaming platforms are engaged in a fierce battle to attract and retain users, not to mention make money. While the likes of Apple Music and Tidal are focusing on content exclusives to woo listeners, this past weekend saw Pandora take another shot at using live music. With Saturday appropriately being National Radio Day, the internet radio service live streamed Metallica’s performance at Minneapolis’ spanking new US Bank Stadium.

This wasn’t Pandora’s first take at offering real-time concert access. Last year saw the service live stream shows from Mumford & Sons and Jack White. Jay Z-owned Tidal also dabbles in live streaming shows. It’s still up for debate whether the strategy is legit but here are a few takeaways from last night’s event.

It Was Free

Upgrading to Pandora’s subscription tier wasn’t required to access the show. Logical. It’s safe to assume few users would upgrade to access a single show, especially one with no video.

The Set List Was Quality

Drummer Lars Ulrich teased a unique set list in an interview preceding the show but some die-hard fans may have sensed a little déjà vu. With that said, playing aggressive air guitar in tandem with ‘Battery,’ which yours truly did, will never get old.

A disappointing note — Pandora offered no opportunities for interaction (e.g. liking songs). In fact, there was no way of knowing songs’ titles. Unless listeners were familiar with Metallica’s catalog, the set list was an enigma. Real-time streaming creates certain tech issues but, given Pandora touts itself as a music discovery resource, the omission was evident.

A complete set list is provided below.

There Were No Technical Issues

Streaming live events creates the potential for a snafu or two. Audio can cut in and out, and websites can crash. A single random voice was audible for a couple of seconds when the show started but that was it. The show ran from 7:30–9:30pm PT, internet rush hour, so a glitch or two would not have been a surprise. Thankfully, that was not the case.

The Sound Quality Was Legit

Robert Trujillo’s bass deserved more love but overall sound quality was, well, quality. Only complaint — the pre-show message letting listeners know the show would start soon was cranked. This undoubtedly had some users yanking off their headphones out of respect for their eardrums.

Metallica Was Solid

In recent years, Metallica has exemplified how age brings a certain amount of professionalism. Saturday’s show was no different. It was obvious the band logged ample practice time, was in sync, for the most part, and came ready to rock. Sure, a longer intro bass solo on ‘For Whom The Bell Tolls’ would have been nice and ‘The Unforgiven’ was a little rough, but that’s live music. Lead singer James Hetfield’s interaction with the crowd was warm and spirited, blending metal mania with a sense of family. Credit to Pandora for partnering with an experienced act.

Conclusion

It’s hard to say if live streaming concerts can have any significant impact on attracting or, in Pandora’s case, retaining users without video. Devout music fans can roll with only audio but the casual listening demographic may demand more. Also, a heavy metal group, such as Metallica, might be an easier sell than a pop act. The appeal of Lady Gaga isn’t just her incredible music but also her unique sense of fashion and sultry dancing, both of which require visual imagery to enjoy. It’s rumored Pandora will soon launch on-demand listening, which could make the service’s growing library of live shows more appealing. Only time will tell, however, what live streaming holds for services, artists and fans.

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Full set list:

Creeping Death

For Whom The Bell Tools

Fuel

King Nothing

The Memory Remains

The Unforgiven

Leper Massiah

Sanitarium

Sad But True

Wherever I May Roam

One

Master of Puppets

Battery

Fade to Black

Seek and Destroy

Encore:

Hardwired

Whiskey in the Jar

Northing Else Matters

Enter Sandman

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