I've never quite understood the appeal of Pandora - I want to be able to control what I'm listening to, not be tied to a radio where I can't choose what song to play. While Pandora is massively popular, the company must have realized this too - it's just announced Pandora Plus, which lets you skip or repeat songs playing on the radio station you've selected an unlimited amount of times.

This isn't full control like Spotify or Play Music, but that's not what Pandora is aiming for. It wants to be a radio station; not a radio station like your grandparents listened to on the wireless, but a modern service with lots of stations for different music genres, moods, and artists. And no human hosts.

Pandora Plus costs $4.99 a month, so half the price of Spotify, Play Music, or Apple Music. This pricing model makes sense - less control, less money to fork out. Unlimited skips and replays are now a thing, and an innovative offline listening functionality whereby the app will switch to an offline station when it identifies the internet connection has been lost.

The ad-supported, free tier is also improving - to get more skips and replays, users can opt-in to a video ad. This isn't ideal, obviously, but if you get more skips it's probably worth it.

Pandora Plus launches today in the US and will roll out to existing users "in the coming months." For other regions where Pandora is active - Australia and New Zealand - Plus will go live in 2017. Pandora One users will transition "seamlessly" to Pandora Plus.

Pandora® Music
Pandora® Music
Developer: Pandora
Price: Free+

Press Release

OAKLAND, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Pandora (NYSE:P), the go-to music source for fans and artists, today launched Pandora Plus, a one-of-a-kind, ad-free radio experience with dramatically increased functionality. For just $4.99 per month, this innovative listening experience includes more skips, replays and an ingenious solution for offline listening that elegantly handles issues with lost connectivity and cellular data usage. This unique marriage of design and functionality, at a very affordable price, marks yet another milestone in Pandora’s journey to create the most personal music experience in the world, giving listeners greater flexibility and control, while allowing for the endless discovery that listeners love so much.

“We’re always delighting our listeners through continuous innovation and a relentless focus on simplicity and ease of use,” said Chris Phillips, chief product officer at Pandora. “For example, our new predictive offline mode automatically detects when you lose signal and switches to one of your top stations that Pandora knows you love. No effort required. It just keeps playing.”

As part of this product transformation, valuable new features will also enhance Pandora’s existing ad-supported option. Listeners will now have more control over their advertising and listening experience with the ability to skip more songs and replay songs simply by opting into a video ad. Advertisers in turn will benefit from a more engaged and attentive audience.

“We’re methodically and passionately developing the world’s most personal music experience,” said Tim Westergren, founder and CEO at Pandora. “And that includes flexibility in how you listen and what you pay for it. Whether a listener wants to take advantage of our enhanced ad-supported experience, our groundbreaking subscription radio service, or our fully interactive on-demand option coming later this year, we have a solution tailored for you at a price point you can afford."

Pandora Plus, as well as the new features available on the ad-supported tier, will launch today and roll out to listeners in the coming months on iOS and Android smartphones. Existing Pandora One users will seamlessly transition to the new Pandora Plus service during that period. For listeners in Australia and New Zealand, the new Pandora Plus and ad-supported features will be available in 2017.

Pandora will also host a conference call along with a product demonstration after the close of the bell on Tuesday, September 20, 2016, at 1:30PM (PT) / 4:30 PM (ET). A live audio/video webcast will be available at http://investor.pandora.com. A live domestic dial-in is available at (877) 355-0067 or (614) 999-7532 internationally. A domestic replay will be available at (855) 859-2056 or (404) 537-3406 internationally, using passcode 80527392.

ABOUT PANDORA

Pandora is the world’s most powerful music discovery platform – a place where artists find their fans and listeners find music they love. We are driven by a single purpose: unleashing the infinite power of music by connecting artists and fans, whether through earbuds, car speakers, live on stage or anywhere fans want to experience it. Our team of highly trained musicologists analyze hundreds of attributes for each recording which powers our proprietary Music Genome Project®, delivering billions of hours of personalized music tailored to the tastes of each music listener, full of discovery, making artist/fan connections at unprecedented scale. Founded by musicians, Pandora empowers artists with valuable data and tools to help grow their careers and connect with their fans.

Image credit: geomarketing.com