Pandora today announced that it will now let those who use the company's free, ad-supported tier access on-demand listening after viewing a 15-second video ad. Listeners can search for a specific song, album, playlist, and then they'll have an option to view the ad in question, after which a Pandora Premium listening session will unlock.
Previously, users on Pandora's free tier had to listen to whatever song appeared next on the radio station or playlist they were currently tuned in to. With the new update, these listeners can now get an experience that's slightly closer to traditional on-demand streaming music services like Pandora's own Premium service, and Apple Music and Spotify, albeit after being forced to view an ad.
Crucially, Pandora's press release doesn't clarify how often free listeners have to view these 15-second ads in order to retain their Pandora Premium on-demand listening sessions.
“Our ad-supported listeners’ top request has consistently been the ability to directly play the specific songs, albums, or playlists they want,” said Roger Lynch, President & CEO, Pandora. “These new features address that need by marrying rewards-based advertising with the best-in-class on-demand experience we’ve created with Pandora Premium. This unrivaled experience will drive listeners to Pandora and drive awareness for Premium, while also creating new opportunities for artists, labels, publishers and advertisers.”
Pandora Premium launched earlier in 2017, combining the existing radio features with a new on-demand service that serves up personalized recommendations for each user. In total Pandora has the free tier, Pandora Plus ($4.99/month), and Pandora Premium ($9.99/month). Plus offers unlimited skips and replays but also lacks on-demand abilities, so the new functionality will also be available for Plus subscribers.