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Singing a different tune, Pandora plans to buy Ticketfly for $450M

The streaming radio service and the concert-ticketing agent hope to earn more by singing for their supper together. For music fans, it may shorten the distance between discovering artists and seeing them live.

Pandora is the biggest online music service by listeners. Joan E. Solsman/CNET

Long a solo act, Pandora is ready for a duet.

The Oakland, California, Internet radio company agreed to buy online ticketing agent Ticketfly for $450 million split nearly equally between cash and stock.

"With Ticketfly, we will thrill music lovers and lift ticket sales for artists as the most effective marketplace for connecting music makers and fans," Pandora Chief Executive Brian McAndrews said in a statement Wednesday.

The deal will be transformative for Pandora as it gets the company into an entirely new business, allowing listeners to buy concert tickets through its online music service. Pandora currently relies solely on streaming music for its revenue and has struggled to turn a profit as it pays out royalty fees. Ticketfly will usher Pandora into live events, a bright spot in the music business. North American concert ticket sales have grown 22 percent since last year, according to Pollstar, which estimates the industry at $6.2 billion.

For music fans, the idea is to get closer to the artists they've discovered on the most popular online listening tool. "The combination of Ticketfly and Pandora will be a marketing and event discovery powerhouse," Ticketfly CEO Andrew Dreskin said.

The deal marries two music pioneers on the Web. Pandora was one of the Internet's first streaming music services, and it remains the biggest by listeners: nearly 80 million people were actively tuning in at the end of June. Dwarfed by larger rival Ticketmaster, Ticketfly was the first company in the business of selling event tickets on the Web.

Changes in consumer listening habits are shuffling the leaders in the online music race. Startup Spotify, with a global product that lets people listen to the specific track they want to hear, has risen quickly in popularity. Spotify said in June it has 75 million active listeners, just shy of Pandora's 80 million.