New Pandora Stories Are Kind of Like Podcasts For Music

Just as Spotify is amping up its podcast strategy, Pandora is launching its own unique take on spoken word.

Pandora Stories, debuting today via the app and web, provides running commentary tracks from musicians (including John Legend and Perry Farrel) and experts that take you behind the music.

In my brief time with the new feature before its launch, I found that Pandora is off to a good start, but will need more in order to make this a serious play. Currently, there are a total of 8 Pandora Stories — not to be confused with the vertical video Stories that Snapchat started and Instagram popularized — which come in the form of playlists, with spoken word segments coming before and after each song.

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Currently found via tapping on the Search icon in the top right corner and typing "Pandora Stories," this content will hopefully have more promotion behind it in the coming days. This odd placement may be due, though, to the limited amount of stories available, which are as follows:

  • John Legend’s Glorious Journey
  • Pasito a Pasito Con Daddy Yankee
  • Lauren Alaina is Doin’ Just Fine
  • Perry Farrell’s Ocean-Sized Tales
  • Brooklyn Soul with Tommy Brenneck
  • The Music of Wes Anderson with Randall Poster
  • Love Songs That Aren’t Really Love Songs
  • Stories with Ben Fong-Torres

More Stories will likely be coming later, but the range of options is wide enough to give everyone an option to try. Taking "Love Songs That Aren’t Really Love Songs" for a spin, I was slightly disappointed that its host wasn't anyone interesting, merely a curator.

John Legend's fans, though, will be excited to spend some time with the wholesome crooner, who takes half a minute or so to explain more about each track. His playlist starts with his most recent stuff, and works back in time to his biggest hits. I could see this as an effective formula for musicians to promote their new projects.

The audio segment "A Song for Chrissy" explained how his manager encouraged Legend to write a track about his soon-to-be-wife Chrissy Tiegen, and how a Billy Joel song inspired it, and how the genesis of the song included an up-tempo version that wasn't used.

Pandora Stories are available to all of the service's paid and free users, and the latter will watch a short video ad before a Story begins.