Pandora will now let its ad-supported and Plus users listen to music on demand, after watching a 15-second pre-roll ad. The move, which is a major change for the company’s 72 million users who don’t pay $10 a month for Pandora Premium, gets Pandora’s newest service in the hands of every user, and could help shift a large portion of that user base into paid users, much like Spotify’s free tier has done. Previously, Pandora’s ad-supported and Plus users could only listen to radio stations based on artists or songs they liked.
When users search for a specific album, artist, or song, they will be given an option to view a 15-second video ad to unlock a free Pandora Premium session, allowing them to listen to anything they choose on the service. There are no ads during playback after you watch that initial video, but if you search for a new piece of content within the app or click on an email or social media link for a specific album or track, you’ll have to watch a video ad before you can play it.
The addition could keep Pandora’s 72 million free and Plus users (who pay $5 a month) engaged in the service, and help convert some of those users into paying customers. Spotify has a 25 percent conversion rate moving users from its ad-supported tier to its paid service; anything close to that for Pandora would be a major win.
Pandora says the new features will begin rolling out to users today.