Pandora Quietly Rolls Out Family Subscriptions — But Where’s the Special Sauce?

Pandora Quietly Rolls Out Family Subscriptions
  • Save

With the launch of Premium Family, Pandora has now rolled out a service eerily similar to Spotify and Apple Music’s family plans.

Pandora Radio has quietly rolled out its new Premium Family plan for $14.99 a month.

The plan allows six different Pandora accounts to use Premium features.  This includes the ability to download your music offline, create radio stations and custom playlists, and download music for offline listening.

Of course, Spotify and Apple Music have already launched similar plans years ago.  And they have much larger audiences.

The Premium Family plan marks yet another attempt by the digital radio service to finally convert its over 80 million monthly free listeners to paid subscription plans.  The digital radio service first launched its Premium service last year using assets acquired from Rdio.  Speaking with CNBC, former CEO and co-founder Tim Westergren touted the service as “the true premium streaming product in the market.”

I am confident about our ability in this space.  These are early days in the subscription of music.  And listeners don’t know what a real premium product looks like yet, and that’s what Pandora is.

So, what makes Pandora Premium so different from Spotify and Apple Music’s respective plans?

At first glance, not much really.

In addition to the features outlined earlier, up to six users can use skip and replay songs.  They can also listen to higher quality music.

Just like on Spotify and Apple Music.

At least with Pandora, family members will access a new feature – “Our Soundtrack.”  Here, the regularly-updated playlist combines each person’s music tastes.

So, if your uncle absolutely loves country music, your aunt techno, and your son hip-hop, you’ll get a truly unique blend of music.  Sounds good, right?

No, not really.

So, why exactly has Pandora launched Premium Family?

The reason is that Pandora is now playing catch-up in a streaming space that suddenly has paying subscribers.  But given the dramatic lead of Spotify and Apple Music, perhaps a few more differentiating features and options are needed.


Featured image by Haldean Brown (CC by 2.0)

One Response

  1. Kyle

    The one thing that completely differentiates Pandora’s subscription from most others is the fact that they don’t restrict where I play it. I truly can play it on anything with an HTML5 browser, even devices that don’t support Widevine such as a Raspberry Pi or other ARM-based Linux computer. I am currently unable to play my trial Spotify premium subscription on this machine, because there is not a working Widevine plugin for it. On the other hand, I can fully utilize all of Pandora’s features on this same machine, both using Firefox and the Chromium browser, which is the fully open source version of Google Chrome. Not only can I use the regular free Pandora, but I can also play their short ad-supported premium sessions in both of these browsers, just as I can on the Android app. This completely unrestricted playback is the one thing that has me even thinking about any paid subscription at all, and just may be the tipping point for me, just as long as the family subscription works in the same way. Currently, no one in this space offers such a compelling subscription, because no one else other than maybe Google Play Music has such unrestricted playback across devices, browsers and operating systems.