Pandora Premium Finally Launches, But Is This What We’ve Been Waiting For?

Pandora Premium Finally Launches, But Is This What We've Waited For?
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Pandora Premium Finally Launches, But Is This What We've Waited For?
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With steep losses and minimal paid subscriber numbers (as well as a lack of suitors), will Pandora Premium help the company turn things around? Or is there simply no space for Pandora in an already overcrowded ‘premium’ streaming market?

Pandora finished 2016 with strong numbers…at least according to multiple surveys. Per MusicWatch, online users preferred the streaming service over video streaming giant YouTube. Among Amazon Echo users, Pandora beat out iHeartRadio and even the company’s own PrimeMusic with a 43% share. However, the company has yet to turn these favorable numbers into a solid revenue stream. Late last year, company insiders started frenetically selling their shares. Then, in early 2017, the streamer announced that it would trim 7% of its current workforce after SiriusXM buyout negotiations failed. Even worse for the financial state of the company, the company lost $512 million over the past two years. Will launching a premium service help turn things around?

After teasing its premium service, the company finally launched Pandora Premium. So, what makes this $9.99 per month service different? Five things, according to a company press release.

“1. Playlists, not worklists: Start a playlist with one or two songs of your choice, tap “Add Similar Songs” and put the power of Pandora’s Music Genome Project to work to create the perfect playlist for any activity, mood or party.

2. All your thumbs up: Every song you’ve thumbed up on Pandora is immediately available in your “My Thumbs Up” playlist. Thumb up a few tracks on any Pandora radio station and Premium will automatically create a new playlist of these songs too.

3. New music for you… and only you: Browse is stocked with personalized suggestions for the latest releases from current and soon-to-be favorites whether you listen to classical, metal, jazz, hip hop, country, and everything in between.

4. Offline mode: Download albums, songs stations or playlists you want and bring an end to those moments of deafening silence when you lose a signal.

5. Search that knows you: Pandora’s team of curators, music analysts and data scientists have sifted through tens of millions of tracks to help you quickly find what you really want. No more wading through covers, karaoke versions or tribute tracks to get to your favorite tune.”

The company will also offer a free trial for select listeners. Existing Pandora Plus subscribers will enjoy six months of Premium at no additional cost.

Speaking on the Premium launch, Tim Westergren, company founder and CEO, said,

“Every day tens of millions of people trust us to choose the exact right songs for them. That’s why they spend more time with Pandora than any other music service. With Premium, we’re leveraging our immense trove of data and everything we’ve learned about personalization to offer a listening experience that sets a new standard for what a music service should be.”

Yet, streaming competitors already offer several features included in Pandora Premium. Spotify, Apple Music, and Tidal have offered their users offline listening for a while. These companies have also provided “smart playlists,” personalized suggestions, and “search that knows you.” My Thumbs Up appears very similar to Spotify’s Discover Weekly and Daily Mixes. To make matters worse, as of writing, Pandora Premium doesn’t feature a worldwide web player, nor Echo support. So, why give this premium service a try over Spotify, Apple Music, and [insert top music streamer here]?

Despite launching a “personalized experience,” on the surface, the company’s premium efforts appear late to the already crowded party. The streamer currently boasts over 80 million dedicated users. Yet, what will Westergren and team do to convince the masses to give their premium service a try? Will the company finally turn things around, or has Pandora Premium ended up dead on arrival?