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Who rules tunes on Amazon Echo? Pandora hogs 40% of listening

Pandora CEO says his service gobbles up more than 40 percent of music listening on Echo smart speakers -- likely more than Amazon's own services do.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Amazon's Echo may dominate smart speakers, but Pandora appears to rule the Echo. 

Pandora's streaming music service represents more than 40 percent of listening on Amazon's Echo devices, Pandora CEO Tim Westergren said Tuesday at a keynote discussion during A2IM Indie Week, an independent music label conference in New York. 

That jibes with third-party data released earlier this year suggesting Pandora is the No. 1 music service by listening on Echo, beating out Amazon's own music services -- the automatic default for streaming tunes on Echo -- in terms of listening hours. 

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Amazon's Echo is the leading smart speaker, according to eMarketer. 

Sarah Tew

The news comes a day after Apple introduced its own competitor, the HomePod, in the growing smart speaker market, making the company the latest tech rival to chase Amazon's dominance in the category. Amazon's Echo, which popularized smart speakers starting in late 2014, holds about 71 percent of the smart speaker market in the US, according to eMarketer. The newer Google Home speaker has 24 percent of the market.

According to researcher MusicWatch's survey from January, Pandora was the top service people listened to on Amazon's Echo and Echo Dot speakers, representing about 43 percent of Echo listening. 

Amazon's own paid music service, Amazon Music Unlimited, came in sixth in listening behind iHeartRadio, Spotify and radio-broadcast streamer TuneIn, according to that survey, even though Amazon offers an Echo-only discount price subscription for $4 a month. Listening via Amazon Prime, a $99-a-year subscription that gives members free two-day shipping as well as access to a catalog of streaming tunes, was No. 3 in the MusicWatch ranking.

Amazon declined to comment. 

Nearly a year ago, Amazon introduced the ability to set up services like Pandora or Spotify as the default music player on Echo rather than Amazon's own service.