Look, I love music. I have a dedicated folder for it right on my home screen. And when there are new ways to listen to music, I’m down. So when Pandora launched their Pandora Premium service a couple of months ago, I had to give it a shot. And in a nutshell, it’s Pandora just without ads and unlimited song selection.
This is gonna be a quick review because you don’t need many details to decide whether to subscribe to this service over something like Apple Music or Spotify (note: I use both of these services daily, as well). It’s simple: Pandora has a limited music selection as of now other than a strong interest in the Country genre. Nowadays, people aren’t only listening to Blake Shelton’s latest record. They’re tapping open their favorite music app to stream what Kanye’s been doing or to listen to that new, exclusive Beyonce album. If Pandora wants to succeed in this practice, they better expand their reach in categories like pop, hip hop, rap, and R&B to achieve an ideal audience.
Oh, that’s another thing. Pandora doesn’t work with exclusives, therefore making their service look a bit blander than it already is. Now look, I’m not saying exclusives are necessary or anything since record labels actually lose income thanks to them, but at least to launch a music service, have like a few exclusive albums new users can check out to get a feel for what you’re doing. This isn’t the case with Pandora, and it’s a bit sad.
Onto the main attraction, the only reason I could see anyone subscribing to Pandora are one or both of two things: A. They’re die heart Pandora radio users or B. They like the interface a little too much. Starting with the former, it’s clear that Pandora has an advantage in this regard when compared to other streaming services since they’ve been doing internet radio for so long. They also have a very decent amount of users in this department who haven’t decided to subscribe to one of the platform’s various subscription tiers (if they choose anything, they probably subscribed to Pandora to get limited ads during music and radio playback). And yeah, that interface is great. It’s super clean, easy to navigate, and makes me wish Apple would straighten things out with Apple Music soon because right now, both Spotify and Pandora Premium have it beat in UI design and layout.
As for listening to music, it’s a pleasant experience. Like I said, the UI is great so the music player lays out plenty of controls in an intelligent way. You can download music for listening to offline and even stream one of Pandora’s various radio stations all without ads. Personally, I’ve enjoyed the actual listening part of Pandora Premium and its UX. I just feel limited by what you can and can’t stream on the platform.
I mean, this shouldn’t be a problem for any streaming service, right? When you pay $9.99 a month for something, you should be getting a full-fledged experience, no questions asked. Sure, Pandora may still be trying to score deals with record labels since the service is still in early stages, but at least Apple Music was locked and loaded when it launched two years ago. And yes, maybe I sound like I’m nitpicking and putting Pandora down. But I’m being critical, and if they wanna succeed, they’ll need to do some critical thinking, even if that means scrapping everything and starting over.
So should you subscribe? If you’re already heavily invested in Pandora, just do it. Pull the trigger. You won’t have quite the experience you may be expecting, but it’s pleasant enough for those of you who use the service’s radio capabilities already. But if you’re debating as to whether to subscribe to Pandora Premium over something like Apple or Spotify or are considering dropping either of those two services for this one, I would advise you not to. It’s not ready yet, and your experience will suffer over what you had previously or could’ve had. And yes, I’ll admit the interface will win anyone over from Apple Music, but Spotify also offers a great UI. Pick your poison.