Pandora has announced that their upcoming Spotify/Apple Music competitor, Pandora Premium, will launch on March 15th. The news comes at the foot of the radio streaming service’s recent $75 million acquisition of Rdio and all of its assets.

Pandora (NYSE:P) announced today that Pandora Premium, its first ever on-demand streaming tier, launches this week. Invites for a free trial of Pandora Premium roll out to select listeners on March 15 and an option to upgrade will be available to all listeners over the coming weeks.

According to Pandora, the on-demand music service will cost $9.99 much like the rest of its competitors and begin rolling out over the coming weeks. Custom playlists based on user’s preferences and radio streaming will be offered (two of Pandora’s specialties), while your typical on-demand streaming without any ads and offline listening will also be available to users who choose to subscribe.

To stand apart from others like Spotify, Pandora says they’ll be heavily focusing on a personalized experience different for every user. The company’s automatic music selection services will be powering a vast majority of the experience. For instance, when a user chooses one or two songs and adds them to a new playlist, you’ll have an option to have Pandora fill the rest of the list with music based on your likes, dislikes, and content already added. They’ll also focus on a clean, smooth UI to allow for a simpler experience when compared to competitors who, mind you, have pretty sloppy apps (I’m looking at you, Apple).

Pandora explains a few bullet points indicating how Pandora Premium will operate and what it will offer for subscribers.

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Pandora Premium will be given to current Pandora Plus subscribers for free for the first six months. A free 7-day trial will be offered to everyone else. The new service will rollout to iOS and Android users alongside those who use Google Chromecast and Pandora within Android Auto. You can request an invitation to the service here.

In such an aggressive market, Pandora’s Premium service will have to fight a serious up-hill battle. We’ve seen what happens to services who don’t play the game properly (yes, I’m referencing SoundCloud Go), but with Pandora’s current 80 million user database, the company may have a better chance at succeeding. In the same breath, Spotify and Apple Music make up a large majority of users who are subscribed to a music streaming service, so Pandora must really hit it out of the park with this one.


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