Video rant on Page Two. NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- If you haven't been following my article history at TheStreet, littered with predictive Pandora ( P) articles, don't fret, you still have time to get with the program. Together we can not only understand, but vision the composition and trajectory of the Internet radio space as it pertains to the world of tech and the music industrial complex's future. Several factors, IMNSHO (in-my-not-so-humble-opinion), will coalesce to take Pandora close to and, quite possibly, beyond the $100 level over the next one-to-three years. Even though $30 came and went much more quickly than even I expected, do not mistake -- I repeat -- do not mistake this article as an endorsement to buy Pandora stock ahead of earnings. I don't care if it shoots to the moon Friday morning. It's an awful strategy to greedily hold out for a larger share of P's 300% upside over the last year than you have already captured. You're asking to have your head handed to you if you make that a strategy, headed into earnings, on stocks that are priced to perfection. Manage your position by selling enough of it to ensure a dip or outright collapse doesn't hurt you badly. With that out of the way, here's what investors -- and astute consumers of information I like to call "smart generalists" -- should be thinking about as they sit back, watch the dust settle and consider Pandora's future as an investment, Internet radio pioneer and music industry savior.
The writing's on the wall, in ink: Music downloads are en route to a similar death already experienced by physical sales. Music industry players can rationalize, seek alternative scenarios and blame external forces all they want, but personalized radio and on-demand access platforms such as Rdio and Spotify killed downloads just as Apple ( AAPL - Get Report) removed physical sales from the equation with iTunes. The drop in downloads has nothing to do with the behavior of Android vs. iOS users. You can't explain it away with anything other than the obvious, even if unfortunate, reality: Consumers have no reason to buy music when they can lease it for a nominal monthly fee and replace already-gone terrestrial radio with Pandora. Once companies such as Spotify and Rdio get smart and combine forces to create an on-demand, access model powerhouse, it's lights out for downloads. This, of course, benefits Pandora, even if it has been -- and it absolutely has -- one of the channels, along with Apple's iTunes Store, keeping digital purchases alive. When downloads evaporate to the point of music industrial complex desperation, record label cats will do what they should have done at least two years ago -- embrace streaming in all its forms. Meantime, Pandora continues to execute the sharpest advertising business mobile and digital, let alone traditional radio, has ever seen (Check out this excellent piece from AdAge on just how creative and far ahead of the game Pandora is). This advertising-based approach fuels the sort of promotional powerhouse traditional radio simply cannot provide for labels and musicians of all sizes. It's the music industry's dirty little secret or lie of omission -- they know what I know. That more labels and musicians absolutely love and support what Pandora has done, is doing and will continue to do than the complex wants you to believe. The major labels, the RIAA and groups such as MusicFirst basically want the world to think everybody in the business hates Pandora, as to maintain a perceived upper hand in the royalty fight. That's simply not so. As download activity slows to a relative crawl, streaming radio, particularly Pandora, will have all the leverage in the world to cut the type of deal they not only deserve, but one that will improve their top and bottom lines. This will not be a purely self-serving development. Once the music industrial complex "gives in" to Pandora, it will allow the full force of data and technology to help it reach its full and unprecedented potential. Follow @rocco_thestreet -- Written by Rocco Pendola in Santa Monica, Calif.