Pandora Launches On-Demand Service to Compete With Spotify and Apple Music

Pandora Premium debuts this week

Pandora is late to the on-demand game. Source: Pandora
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Pandora is ready to roll out its on-demand product that could help it compete more directly with the likes of Spotify and Apple Music.

Today, the music streaming platform announced it’s finally launching Pandora Premium, a $10-a-month service that lets users listen to any song they want rather than only receiving curated playlists based on artists and genres.

It’s been three months since Pandora first announced Premium. The service incorporates Rdio—which Pandora acquired in 2015 for $75 million when Rdio filed for bankruptcy—and in a blog post today, Pandora explained the features on Premium that will be made available to users starting this week.

Along with the new ability to binge on a band, users will now be able to make smart playlists, which use technology from Pandora’ s Music Genome Project to fill in suggestions based on a few initial entries. It also has an updated search bar, which filters out songs based on what it predicts a user might actually like or be looking for.

The service lets users listen to any song they want rather than only receiving curated playlists based on artists and genres.

“Every day tens of millions of people trust us to choose the exact right songs for them. That’s why they spend more time with Pandora than any other music service,” Pandora co-founder and CEO Tim Westergren said in a statement.

“With Premium, we’re leveraging our immense trove of data and everything we’ve learned about personalization to offer a listening experience that sets a new standard for what a music service should be.”

One of the perks will be that unlike Spotify’s smart playlists—which disappear every time another Discover Weekly or Release Radar is ready—Pandora will now show Premium users a list of every station they’ve made, along with every song they’ve heard or given a “Thumps Up.”

While it might be very late to the on-demand game, Pandora is by no means a small music player. The company already has 80 million users listening to 40 million options for songs. (For comparison, Spotify now has 50 million paying subscribers or 100 million total users. Last year, Apple Music hit 20 million paying subscribers.)

There aren’t too many additional features on Pandora that aren’t already available on Spotify and Apple. (As Wired notes, it feels a bit like Pandora is copying everyone else—just like Facebook has been doing with Snapchat.)

The future of Pandora will hinge on its ability to steal users away from other services, and to attract new ones.

@martyswant Marty Swant is a former technology staff writer for Adweek.