Pandora Challenge at the Univeristy of Michigan

A massive campus-wide design challenge reaching hundreds of students, helping one rising artist, and exposing the
next-generation to Pandora and Next Big Sound.

The winning entry, submitted by Charles Shin & Prashant Toteja.

October 6-18, 2016  |  In partnership with Pandora, Next Big Sound, and Daniel Passino.

The Pandora Challenge was a weeklong design challenge open to all University of Michigan students that included 3 activities: a kick-off event (225 students), appearances in Center for Entrepreneurship classes/workshops (500 students), and a 1 week online design challenge competition (95 students). These activities served University of Michigan students interested in entrepreneurship and innovation within the digital media, music, and entertainment technology industries. The winning team got an all expenses-paid trip to New York City to meet with executives at Pandora and Next Big Sound. 

The challenge was announced with a 90 minute high-profile event featuring Mike Herring (President and CFO, Pandora) and a live performance by The Voice contestant and U-M student Daniel Passino.

Partnering with Real Industry enabled our students to engage with key industry leaders and dive-into trends they only hear about in our classrooms. We are frequently approached with partnering opportunities and Real Industry has proved itself to be among the most effective organizations we have engaged. From the initial connection to the execution of our executive event, Jay and his team consistently demonstrated collaboration and professionalism. The partnership with Real Industry provided a real ‘value-add’ for our students via a coveted opportunity to learn how one of their favorite companies operated in the ‘real-world’.
— Tom Frank, Executive Director, University of Michigan Center for Entrepreneurship       & Eric Bacyinski, Director, M Engage Program

Entrepreneurship Hour

Panelists presented to 425 students at the University of Michigan's flagship entrepreneurship course, later continuing the conversation in smaller workshops and 1-on-1 meetings with 40 students. The panelists included:

  • Jay Troop, Head of Analytics, Next Big Sound and Pandora

  • Justin Evans, Founder and Chief Creative Officer, LANDR

  • Mike Jbara, U-M Engineering Alumni & CEO, MQA Ltd.

  • Jay LeBoeuf, Real Industry, iZotope, Avid, Stanford lecturer, startup advisor


The challenge

Using a custom-configured online portal, students browsed Next Big Sound insights, articles, and Pandora AMP data on Daniel Passino. 39 students submitted entries.

The challenge was to design a go-to-market plan for the next phase of Daniel Passino's career. Students were told to leverage all available artist data, trends, and reports provided by Pandora and integrate the latest technological advances and opportunities in their strategies. We asked participants to embrace innovative music distribution strategies, new products and partnerships, data science, events, branding, sponsorship opportunities, digital marketing platforms, and growth hacking strategies.

Questions to address included:

  • Who are the key supporters and demographics Daniel should target? Why?
  • How could we create and engage with those fans?
  • What are some early experiments we could try?
  • What are some innovative technologies that are particularly suited to Daniel?
  • How will you measure success during your campaign?