Update – March 13th, 2017: Pandora Premium formally launched as of this week. Invites for a free trial of Pandora Premium roll out to select listeners on March 15th and an option to upgrade will be available to all listeners over the coming weeks.
Just slightly over a year ago, Pandora purchased music streaming service Rdio. The service was shut down a few weeks later, but now the Internet radio giant has resuscitated some of the features as part of their new on-demand music subscription service, Pandora Premium.
Set to launch early next year, the latest competitor to the likes of Spotify and Apple Music (and, um, TIDAL, sorta?) will enter the market at $10-per-month for ad-free streaming and the ability to save music for offline listening. Of course, that’s no different from other services, so what will really make Pandora Premium stand out is the personalization technology that has made its streaming radio service so popular for so long.
Users who opt to pay for the Premium option will have all their data from years of giving the thumbs up to songs transfer to the new service. That means the smart playlists, new release section, and browsing will all already be optimized for your tastes, and even searching will bring up results unique to your listening habits. There will also be a playlist of every song you’ve ever thumbed up, and any more you add in the future.
As for the app itself, it’s said to be very heavily inspired by Rdio. The Verge reports it has a “sleek and clean design, and is pretty intuitive.” It will also feature colors that change based on the artwork of whatever you’re currently listening to. Another Rdio hold over will be AutoPlay, which automatically starts a radio station based on the album or playlist to which you were just listening.
Pandora Premium now gives the company an option at each entry point of the market: free (basic Pandora radio), mid-tier (the recently launched Pandora Plus), and now premium. It all represents an aggressive growth plan that also saw the company acquire ticket seller TicketFly around the same time it snatched up Rdio.
Though its top competitor, Spotify, converts 25% of its free users to paid users, Pandora is hoping to nab just 13.75% of its 80 million established users by 2020. That’s only 11 million in three years, which isn’t an insurmountable number. Pandora can afford to take things slow because of their other income wings, but we’ll have to wait and see if it can be a true contender in the streaming market when Pandora Premium launches in early 2017.