What happened

Shares of Pandora Media (NYSE:P) gained 28.7% in May of 2018, according to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence. First-quarter results reported in the first week of the month turned out to crush both the company's own guidance and analyst estimates, triggering a 21% share-price jump the next day.

So what

Pandora's first-quarter sales rose 1% year over year to land at $319 million. Adjusted net losses stopped at $0.27 per share, cutting the year-ago period's loss of $0.51 per share nearly in half. The analyst consensus had called for a deeper loss of $0.38 per share on top-line sales near $204 million and Pandora exceeded these targets with room to spare.

Young woman with headphones and a smartphone, acting shocked at the contents of the phone's screen.

Image source: Getty Images.

Now what

An evolving selection of subscription plans now account for nearly one-third of Pandora's total revenue. The company is also investing in better ad-based solutions, having picked up digital audio advertising service AdsWizz for $145 million in mid-May.

Long story short, the company is pulling a lot of levers to find the right balance between ads and paid subscriptions. The efforts are starting to pay off, though Pandora remains unprofitable for the foreseeable future. Streaming music services is a tough industry.

As a Pandora investor myself, it's cool to see the company finding some traction for its growth-boosting plans. It's also frustrating to find it losing money and burning cash until further notice. In May, investors felt a little more sure that there should be a sustainable long-term future for Pandora's business model -- but the company has a lot of work to do before turning that distant corner.