At a private event yesterday (Dec. 6) Pandora unveiled Pandora Premium, a service that aims to compete with the $9.99 per month subscriptions from Spotify and Apple Music. Pandora Premium looks to stand out by offering the most customized experience, something its competitors currently limit to a couple of playlists.
Unfortunately, Pandora only spilled some of the beans, so nobody knows if this will be a true competitor or just another also-ran, such as Rdio, which Pandora purchased and seems to have built this service around. Here's a guide to what we do know about Pandora Premium:
What Is Pandora Premium?
No longer just a radio-station based service, Pandora Premium provides ad-free access to a library of millions of on-demand songs that can be saved for offline listening. While Pandora didn't release the number of songs in its library, it better offer close to 30 million, the count Apple and Spotify both boast.
What's unique about Pandora Premium?
Pandora Premium looks to lure users in with the promise of accurate music recommendations based on its vaults of data. For example, when you're making a playlist, the service will automatically offer suggestions based on similar songs by using the Music Genome Project, the taxonomy of music information that Pandora is built upon.
Pandora Premium also offers something called AutoPlay, where users can opt to have the service keep playing music after an album or playlist ends. This way, you're never met with silence and the music keeps going.
Who is Pandora Premium for?
At this stage, long-running Pandora users have the most to gain from Premium. Their histories of hitting the thumbs up and down buttons to like and dislike songs will inform the app of what to play throughout the service.
Even your search results will be customized based on what Pandora knows about you, so everyone's search results are optimized to their own tastes. Pandora will also use what it knows about you to organize the Browse section, so it will hide new releases from artists you'd never listen to.
Those new to Pandora may also see benefits from this customization, but it will likely take some time for the system to fully get to know someone's tastes.
What will Pandora Premium look like?
Fans of clean, elegant user interfaces should be happy, as most reports suggest that Pandora Premium looks a lot like Rdio, which stood out with its minimalist design. Where this iteration differs, though, is that the colors of its user interface will change based on the artwork of the music currently playing, much like Apple's Music app did prior to iOS 10.
When is Pandora Premium coming?
According to The Verge, Pandora told reporters to expect the service to roll out "early next year."
How much does Pandora Premium cost?
The company declined to tell reporters if this service will cost the same as its $9.99 competitors, or try to undercut them with a lower monthly fee, as Amazon Prime Music does.
Where will Pandora Premium be available?
You'll probably be able to access the service on every device you own, as Pandora itself is currently available in web browsers as well as iOS, Android and even some Smart TVs.
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Henry is a managing editor at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and all things Apple, reviewing devices and services for the past seven years. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. He's also covered the wild world of professional wrestling for Cageside Seats, interviewing athletes and other industry veterans.