Published: Thu, March 16, 2017
Business | By Sandy Mccarthy

Pandora Launches Premium Tier

Pandora Launches Premium Tier

The popular internet radio service is going on-demand with a new "Premium" subscription service announced Monday.

For the music industry, Pandora's new streaming service creates more competition for industry leaders Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon.

On Wednesday the company rolls out Pandora Premium, which allows users to listen to any song or album they want on demand for a monthly fee of $9.99. Users will be able to pay $9.99 a month to search for and play whatever they want, whenever they want.

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

Pandora first announced Pandora Premium back in December and now, thanks to the folks at The Verge, we now know a whole lot more about what to expect from the service when it starts rolling out later this month. Also, if you hit thumbs up on a couple songs on any radio station, a new playlist is automatically created. Every song you have ever given a thumbs-up will be waiting for you.

Pandora had 81 million listeners at the end of 2016, with 4.39 million subscribers, the company says.

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Pandora has, for nearly 20 years now, been offering internet users a personalized radio station they influence by giving songs a thumbs-up or a thumbs-downThis Smart Trick Keeps Your Pandora Stations Fresh This Smart Trick Keeps Your Pandora Stations Fresh Pandora is a great music service, but sometimes your stations get a little stale. Each of these features is likely to limit the pain points in transitioning to the new service in Wedbush's view, as the primary obstacle for music streamers in changing platforms is likely the inability to transfer playlists and previously-downloaded tracks across platforms, while existing Plus users can leverage their existing usage data and personalized metrics to build out Premium playlists and form listening habits naturally with minimal friction. 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.

Spotify's "Home" pane also offers tailor-made suggestions, much as Pandora's "Browse" feature will.

At first, no. Unlike Spotify and Pandora's current offerings, Premium will launch on iOS and Android phones, Google Chromecast, and smart vehicle setups including Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and systems from GM, Honda, Subaru and others. Pandora Plus members (that's the ad-free radio tier) will get free access to Premium for six months. For its part, Pandora Premium banks on Pandora's radio algorithm to dish out smarter playlists.

Every song thumbed up on Pandora is immediately available in a "My Thumbs Up" playlist.

My Thumbs Up playlists.

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