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article imageListen up: Pandora Premium is here to take on Spotify

By James Walker     Mar 13, 2017 in Technology
Pandora, one of the first online music providers, has announced its own on-demand subscription service to rival Spotify and Apple Music. Using technology it acquired from Rdio, the internet radio provider aims to "change the way" you consume music.
Pandora bought Rdio for $75 million back in November 2015. At the time, the companies confirmed Rdio would be shutting down and its tech used to build a new Pandora product. A little over a year later, Pandora is ready to unveil what it's been working on, a subscription service that sees the site move away from pure radio.
My Music
Pandora Premium is meant to blend the service's existing radio features with the always-accessible music catalogue found in rival apps. Once you've signed up, you can search and play any track in the Pandora catalogue, at any time. The new "My Music" section lets you see saved albums, songs and playlists, as well as your existing Pandora radio stations.
Pandora Premium
Pandora Premium
Pandora
To stand out from the crowd, Pandora has added a few intelligent features to help you find new music. The app can automatically populate new playlists for you once you've added a couple of songs. Instead of leaving playlists empty with only a few tracks inside, Pandora's "Add Similar Songs" button will draw on its Music Genome Project intelligence base to fill the rest of the list.
Similarly, Pandora Premium can automatically create playlists for you from songs you thumb up in the radio feature. Once you've thumbed up a few tracks, the app will add them to a playlist so you can easily find them again in the future. This is part of a common theme running through Pandora Premium – it takes the best of Pandora radio but makes it more accessible and easier to return to.
"Set the new standard"
Pandora Premium
Pandora Premium
Pandora
"When we set out to build a premium music experience — one that would set the new standard for what a music service could be — we knew it had to be truly personal, be thoughtfully designed and take the work out of managing your world of music," said Pandora. "The result is Pandora Premium: a combination of the Pandora radio you already love, the ability to search and play any track or album and a set of playlist features tailored to your preferences."
Personalisation
As well as the advanced playlist creation features, Pandora Premium also offers a uniquely personalised "Browse" view that delivers new recommendations every week. According to Pandora, the suggested media is more targeted and relevant than competitor services, considering your personal preferences and listening history over globally trending content.
Pandora Premium
Pandora Premium
Pandora
Rounding off the app is a predictive offline function that can intelligently download your top stations and start playing them when you lose connection. The new Now Playing screen is brighter and more colourful than the outgoing one and search has been overhauled to improve accuracy. Pandora said it will be adding more capabilities including AutoPlay in the coming weeks.
Late to the race
For $9.99 a month, Pandora Premium looks to be a well-equipped rival to Spotify and other established streaming services. However, it goes little further than implementing the key characteristics of modern media players. While the playlist features and smart recommendations offer a more individual listening experience, Spotify and its rivals already offer similar curation capabilities, have healthy subscriber bases and are growing all the time.
Pandora Premium
Pandora Premium
Pandora
For existing Pandora users who want to expand on radio with the option of creating a music library, Premium is likely to appeal. For everyone else, there's not really a significant reason to pick Pandora over the other established players in the field.
As the service is going head-to-head with the likes of Spotify, Google Play Music, Apple Music, Groove Music, Tidal and Amazon Prime Music, there's already ample competition in the streaming space. Pandora currently has just over 80 million radio listeners and it'll be these people who it'll be trying to convince to pay for Premium.
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