Pandora Launches a Premium Music Streaming Service

Lucy Hill
March 16, 2017

Westergren has said the company is confident that it can convince at least 10% of the roughly 88 million users of its free advertising-supported radio streaming service to become monthly subscribers of its on-demand platform.

Unlike in the base Pandora app, Pandora Premium allows its subscribers full, on-demand control of what they listen to thanks to the inclusion of playlists and a personalized search feature, which surfaces unique items based on each user's own listening history instead of what's most popular at the time. Users will be able to pay $9.99 a month to search for and play whatever they want, whenever they want.

Smart playlists. You can start a playlist with one or two songs and Pandora will fill out the playlist if you choose the "Add Similar Songs" function.

But the question is, will people actually make the transition to a new platform?

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Pandora is one of the oldest music streaming services, but it's just now catching up to some of its competitors. The new service, announced on a company blog, will give listeners the ability to create playlists of specific songs, although it can also automatically add songs based on a few selections. Album or playlist with you even when you don't have service or Wi-Fi with Premium. Pandora reported last month that it had 81 million "active listeners" at the end of 2016, but only 4.39 million subscribers to "Pandora Plus" - a $4.99 upgrade to its radio service that lets users skip advertisements.

The so-called "Music Genome Project" analyzes songs according to 450 attributes and uses this data - combined with what you tell Pandora you like or dislike - to play music tailored to your individual taste. "That's why they spend more time with Pandora than any other music service", said Tim Westergren, founder and CEO of Pandora. And if that doesn't work, Pandora may have to open the discounted subscription price to new users, hoping big players like Spotify will not match. Pandora, which hasn't been profitable in eight quarters, is trading 24% below where it began trading when the company went public in 2011. Premium is available now for iOS and Android, in the vehicle via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and on Google Chromecast. The firm's estimate of $368 million in subscription revenue for 2017 contemplates 5.7 million Pandora Plus subscribers and 2.0 million Pandora Premium subscribers.

Spotify's "Home" pane also offers tailor-made suggestions, much as Pandora's "Browse" feature will. Every song you've thumbed up on Pandora is immediately available in your "My Thumbs Up" playlist. Premium will come to desktop computers and other devices in the coming months, the company says.

Other reports by TheDailyFarc

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