Pandora began as a streaming music service on your computer but has expanded to be one of the services found on many network media players, media streamers and network TVs, Blu-ray players, AV receivers and many more devices for the home. With 75 million users and growing at three million more per month, it seems that most people have at least heard of Pandora. Still, here are the details about Pandora, why you might want to choose to use Pandora to listen to online music, and why you'll want to upgrade to Pandora's premium service--Pandora One.
What is Pandora?
Pandora is a free streaming music service that creates personalized "radio" stations based on an artist or song that you like. Once you have indicated a "seed" song or artist, Pandora gathers songs with similar qualities to play. These similar qualities are referred to as "music genomes" by Pandora and might include "folksy," "female vocal," "strong drums," or other recognizable aspects of the music that would tie it together.
The Pandora project started in 2000, and was launched online in 2005. There have been 800,000 songs entered into Pandora's libraries.
Create Your Own Pandora Radio Station
Every time you choose that "station," you will hear a series of those similar songs, but you may not hear the same songs. You cannot choose to listen to only specific artists, nor can you choose to hear a song at a specific time. It is more like a radio station in that you can choose the kind of music you want to hear, but cannot choose when you hear them nor can you replay a song. And, you can only skip a limited number of songs each day.
However, you can "fine tune" the music more to your liking by choosing "thumbs up" or "thumbs down" or to "never play" a song. This is a popular way to refine the station and in 2010, Pandora listeners gave more than three billion "thumbs" to personalize their station.
Why There Are Playing Restrictions on Pandora
The random song play is part of Pandora's licensing agreements with the music companies and artists. One could only speculate that by offering a service that will expose people to new music and artists, they could sell more music. In fact, Pandora makes it easy to buy songs by clicking a button that links to iTunes or Amazon.
Five Reasons to Love Pandora
- I don't have to wade through tons of albums, artists and songs to get to listen to music I like. I can spend as much time as I want to personalize my stations, or I can thumbs down songs I don't want to hear. I can shelf songs that I get tired of hearing. Get more tips on how to personalize your stations.
- Create a station for every mood. Find a good dance song, dinner music, or oldies and create stations for each. Share your favorite stations by gifting them to friends or have them gift you their stations.
- Discover new music that you'll like because it's similar to the song or artist you like. Buy the song to immediately add to your own music library or bookmark songs or artists to purchase later.
- Access your Pandora account anywhere--network media players, media streamers, network TVs, Blu-ray players, AV receivers, and other home theater devices, smartphones, even built into new Ford automobiles.
- Always have the information about the song. When listening on a computer, click on the lyrics to belt it out along with the music.
Five More Reasons to Upgrade to Pandora One
The free Pandora service is ad-supported--both web pop-up ads and audio ads on your network media devices that repeat after every three or four songs. Plus, if you hear a song your really hate, you can only skip twelve songs per day. For those who like to work with music in the background, you may be affected by the limit of forty hours of listening per month.
For an annual fee of $36, you can upgrade your account to Pandora One. Here are the benefits:
- You can skip up to six songs per hour. You don't have to shelf a song, or give it a thumbs down, you can just skip a song that doesn't suit your present mood.
- No ads.
- Better sound quality. Pandora streams songs in a compressed format like most other digital music files. If you want a fuller, richer experience you can stream at 192 kb with Pandora One. This is particularly desirable when listening on the big, high quality speakers of your home theater.
- Unlimited listening. The forty hour limit is lifted. You can listen all day and night.
- Download a desktop app for your PC or Mac so you can control Pandora without opening your web browser.
UPDATE 3/26/14: Pandora will end its annual subscription pay option. Current Subscribers will be assigned a $3.99 per month rate and new subscribers (as of May 2014) will be offered a $4.99 monthly rate. For more details, read the report from About.com Digital Music.
Remember Pandora is on a number of network media players, media streamers and network home theater devices, but it is not on every device. If you want Pandora, be sure to check the product description or packaging for the Pandora logo.