Just over a year after acquiring the scraps of Rdio, Pandora has revealed Premium, its take on an on-demand music streaming service, designed to compete against the likes of Spotify and Apple Music. Just like every other $10-a-month music streaming service, Pandora Premium will offer users an extensive library featuring millions of songs available on-demand, ad-free streaming, and the ability to save your music offline.
Where Premium separates itself from the Spotifys of the world is personalization. Pandora’s smart playlists will allow users to automatically add similar songs to a playlist at the tap of a button. Premium also features personalized search, which will give different users different results based on their listening history. The browse section is tailored to your tastes, including the new release section.
The app features a sleek and clean design, and is pretty intuitive (and also inspired by Rdio). The color of the app will also change based on the artwork of the music you’re playing. Premium still features the thumbs and radio stations that current Pandora users will be familiar with. Premium will also include a playlist featuring every song you’ve ever thumbed up, which may be extremely long if you’ve had the service for years.
If you’re already one of the 78 million users who streams Pandora every month, that listening data you have accumulated will become a part of the recommendation engine for Premium, allowing Pandora to offer up tunes it knows you’ll enjoy.
That engine will most notably work once you reach the end of an album or playlist, which usually means the music has ended. Pandora Premium includes a feature called AutoPlay (another Rdio inspired feature) that will allow users to keep the music going by creating a radio station based on the album or playlist you just finished listening to.
The launch of Pandora Premium marks the beginning of a new phase for the music company. Pandora now has three main revenue streams: last year Pandora gained a ticketing service after it acquired TicketFly, which it uses to compete against Ticketmaster and StubHub, and expects to bring in $300 million in revenue by 2020; it has beefed up its internet radio offerings with the launch of Plus, a new and improved version of its $5 a month Pandora One service; and Pandora Premium cements the third leg of Pandora’s long-term growth plan.
Alongside the already popular free version, Plus, and now Premium, Pandora has accomplished its goal of offering a streaming service at multiple price points. With nearly 80 million users already using the ad-supported version of Pandora, converting its own users will become a top priority for the company. If Pandora can convert 20 percent of its free users to Premium subscribers (for context, Spotify converts 25 percent of its users), it could make its on-demand service a serious player in the streaming music game.
Although that’s much easier said than done, just look at SoundCloud, which hasn’t made any noise since launching its own paid service back in March with 125 million free users already on the service. For its part, Pandora is aiming to sign up just over 11 million paying subscribers by 2020, which isn’t exactly a lofty total. Although 11 million subscribers would make Pandora the third biggest music streaming service on the market today, by 2020 both Spotify, Apple Music, and possibly others like Amazon will likely have put that total in their rearview mirrors.
The company says Pandora Premium will begin rolling out to users early next year.