Pandora Premium drops invite system, launches wide with iOS & CarPlay support

in iPhone edited March 2020
Pandora Premium -- Pandora's on-demand music service, challenging Spotify and Apple Music -- moved out of an invite-only phase on Tuesday, launching for the general public including support for Apple's iPhone, iPad, and CarPlay.

The service offers over 40 million tracks, and standard features such as playlists and offline listening. Pandora, though, is placing a heavier emphasis on personalization, for example via a "My Thumbs Up" playlist including every track liked on the company's radio stations.

When building playlists Premium includes an "Add Similar Songs" option, which will automatically populate tracks using just a small sample. Playlists can also be generated using songs from a specific station.

Album recommendations meanwhile are based on listeners' favorite genres, and not just popular titles. Searches will generally ignore covers and karaoke tracks, and should improve in accuracy over time.

A Premium plan costs $9.99 per month, but can be tried free for 60 days. Aside from iOS and CarPlay the service works on Android and Chromecast, and various other car platforms including Android Auto, GM, Honda, Hyundai, Subaru, Pioneer, and JVC/Kenwood.

Faced with competing with Apple and Spotify, Pandora is launching a marketing campaign featuring artists like Gorillaz, Big Sean, Miranda Lambert, Halsey, and Keith Urban. This includes billboards and online ads, curated mixtapes, and things like Snapchat lenses and Twitter emoji.

The company is major player in online streaming with some 81 million listeners, but only about 4.48 million paying customers, and until now no on-demand support. Spotify has over 50 million paid subscribers, more than twice the 20 million Apple quoted in December.

Pandora said that support for desktops and other devices is due in coming months.


  • Reply 1 of 1
    I like Pandora, and have used it for a long time, but...

    They really need to expand their song library.  I use Pandora primarily for music discovery, but I feel like I've found the limits of their music selection.  I'll come back to 'stations' I haven't listened to in months - or years - and the same two-three dozen songs play, over and over and over.  Even their "genre" stations don't have a lot of variety in them; how hard would it be to make an "80's rock" station with more than 30-40 songs?

    I've been a Pandora One  subscriber at the $36/yr price for about five years.  Earlier this year, they made Pandora One into Pandora Plus and upped the price by 50% (I get a discount apparently because I was a P1 subscriber previously), and I had to think long and hard about it.  I decided to re-subscribe, but that decision will be a lot tougher next year if their music catalog doesn't expand.  Pandora Premium - with the same music catalog they've been using for the last ten years - is just a non-starter for me.
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