Pandora's own entry into the on-demand streaming music market, called Pandora Premium, is officially launching this week to a select group of invitees who sign up for a chance to gain access on the company's website. Pandora Premium is the result of the company's acquisition of "key assets" and employees from Rdio back in 2015. Late last year, Pandora finally detailed what its new Premium service would look like at a special event.
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. The service includes learning algorithms that can auto-fill playlists after adding a few songs to match the previous tracks' genre of music.
Users will also be able to download songs to listen offline, browse content they've previously thumbed up, and view Pandora Premium's Browse section to see curated artists aimed specifically at their own music tastes. Those with Pandora Plus will get six months of Pandora Premium for free, and following the small launch of invite-only users, Pandora Premium will open up for all users in the next few weeks.
Playlists, not worklists: Start a playlist with one or two songs of your choice, tap “Add Similar Songs” and put the power of Pandora’s Music Genome Project to work to create the perfect playlist for any activity, mood or party.
All your thumbs up: Every song you’ve thumbed up on Pandora is immediately available in your “My Thumbs Up” playlist. Thumb up a few tracks on any Pandora radio station and Premium will automatically create a new playlist of these songs too.
New music for you… and only you: Browse is stocked with personalized suggestions for the latest releases from current and soon-to-be favorites whether you listen to classical, metal, jazz, hip hop, country, and everything in between.
Offline mode: Download albums, songs stations or playlists you want and bring an end to those moments of deafening silence when you lose a signal.
Search that knows you: Pandora’s team of curators, music analysts and data scientists have sifted through tens of millions of tracks to help you quickly find what you really want. No more wading through covers, karaoke versions or tribute tracks to get to your favorite tune.
A few members of the press have had the chance to use Pandora Premium and shared their thoughts online today. Wired said that the new service offers features expected of modern paid streaming services, but "there’s really no reason for a Spotify or Apple Music user to switch to Pandora Premium." In an interview with The Verge, Pandora CEO Tim Westergren said that he wants Pandora Premium to be the number one streaming service -- above Spotify and Apple Music -- within five years.
“We have very grand ambitions for what this can be,” Westergren said. “If we look around at the space right now, we just don’t think that there’s a product that’s done it right. No one has solved the ease of use and personalization part of the on-demand world. I don’t think there’s really a true premium product out there yet… we think we’re bringing something really different here.”
In an update last December, Apple Music topped 20 million subscribers after 18 months on the market. Apple's and Pandora's rival, Spotify, announced that it reached 50 million paid subscribers earlier this month.
To get on the invite list for Pandora Premium's free trial, visit the company's website here. Invites will be sent out on March 15.