For $10 per month, Premium subscribers get on-demand access to Pandora’s music catalog in addition to its popular radio service. Pandora didn't announce the size or specifics of the new service’s music catalog, however.
Premium breaks from Pandora’s roots as an Internet radio service that proved unusually good at matching songs into a continuous playlist thanks to the company’s Music Genome Project. Yet Premium will still rely on the MGP technology for some of its features.
Pandora Premium offers automated playlist generation: You choose one or two songs and the service creates a full playlist based on their properties. Other services have similar features. Apple’s iTunes Genius, for example, automatically creates playlists from a user’s personal playlist. The advantage for Pandora, however, is that its ability to match songs is widely considered superior to what other services can do.
The “Browse” section of Pandora Premium will also surface recommendations based on its MGP technology. Current Pandora users who upgrade to Premium will also see all the songs they’ve clicked “thumbs up” on during their past radio listening sessions collected into a single “My Thumbs Up” playlist.
The company is also very proud of Premium’s search capabilities and even managed to throw some shade at other services when discussing it. “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,” Pandora said in its announcement. “No more wading through covers, karaoke versions or tribute tracks to get to your favorite tune.” Spotify’s vast catalog includes numerous karaoke, cover, and tribute tracks that often come up in a search before the song by the original artist.
As with other subscription music services, Pandora Premium will also have an offline mode.
The impact on you at home: For anyone interested in trying it out, Premium is available now on Android and iOS phones, and is usable with Chromecast and all the various in-car systems that have Pandora integration. Listeners on PCs and other devices will see Premium arrive in the coming months. Starting March 15, Pandora plans to offers “select listeners” a free trial, and current Pandora Plus subscribers will get six months of Premium for free.