What is Pandora?

Enjoy your favorite tunes and discover new ones on Pandora Radio

With about 80 million active listeners, it seems that most people have at least heard of Pandora. Still, you might not know why you should choose to use Pandora to listen to music online. Let's check out the basics.

Asian Couple Listening to Streaming Music
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What Pandora Is

Pandora is a music streaming service that you can listen to on a wide number of devices, such as a PC/Laptop, media streamers, smart TVs, smart speakers, select car stereo systems, Blu-ray players, AV receivers, more.

Pandora is a subsidiary of Sirius/XM Holdings.

Pandora allows you to create personalized radio stations based on an artist or song that you like.

Once you select 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 to similar tunes. 

Create Your Own Pandora Radio Station

Every time you choose the station you made, you hear a series of similar songs, but you may not hear the same songs. You can't choose to listen to only specific artists nor can you choose to hear a song at a specific time.

Screenshots of the iPhone Pandora music app

Each station will have a name based on its characteristics when you selected it. Examples might include 80's Pop Hits, Elton John Radio, Holiday Radio, Italian Cooking Music Radio. However, for stations that carry an artist's name, you will hear other music from other artists as well that have a similar style or is one of the artist's contemporaries.

It's a lot like a radio station in that you can choose the kind of music you want to hear, but can neither choose when you'll hear a specific song nor can you replay a song. You are allowed to skip only a limited number of songs each day. 

However, you can customize the music on the station to be more to your liking by choosing one of the "thumbs up" or "thumbs down" or "never play" options. This is an effective way to fine-tune your station(s).

You can create up to 100 stations.

Six Reasons to Love Pandora

Using Pandora is easy and enjoyable, here are several reasons why.

  1. You don't have to wade through tons of albums, artists, and songs to get to listen to music you like. You can spend as much time as you want to personalize your stations, or you can thumbs down songs you don't want to hear. You can shelve songs that you get tired of hearing.
  2. On Pandora, you can 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.
  3. Discover new music that you may like because it's similar to the song or artist you already like.
  4. Access your Pandora account on many devices as mentioned previous — media streamers, smart TVs, Blu-ray Disc players, networked home theater and stereo receivers, as well as smartphones. Pandora is accessible in select car radios (or you can connect your smartphone if your car radio has a compatible connection).
  5. You have information about the song. When listening on a computer, click on the lyrics to belt it out along with the music.
  6. Pandora can be used in conjunction with Alexa on compatible devices. You can set it up as Alexa's default music service. This means that if you ask Alexa to play music it will go to Pandora first to find it.

Pandora Free

The free Pandora service is ad-supported by both pop-up web ads and audio ads on your streaming media devices that repeat after every three or four songs. For people who like to work with continuous music in the background, this may be annoying.

You can listen to as many songs you want, all day, every day without incurring a subscription charge as long as the ads don't bother you.

Pandora interface showing different genres.

However, if you want to listen without ads, as well as gain some extra features, Pandora offers three paid subscription services: Pandora Plus, Pandora Premium, and Pandora Family.

You can sign-up for any of these services right off the bad, or upgrade after listening to the free version for a while.

Let's take a look at what each paid subscription plan offers.

Pandora Plus

For a monthly fee of $4.99 per month ($54.89), you can upgrade your free account to Pandora Plus, which replaced Pandora's former subscription service Pandora One. Here are the benefits:

  • No Ads. 
  • You can skip as many songs as you like. You don't have to shelve a song or give it a thumbs down; you can just skip a song that doesn't suit your present mood. You also have the ability to replay songs.
  • You can listen to up to four stations of your choice offline. Online listening is only available on compatible mobile phones using the Pandora app.
  • 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 a higher bit rate with Pandora Plus. This is particularly desirable when listening to high-quality speakers of your home theater.
  • Download a desktop app for your PC or Mac so you can control Pandora without opening your web browser.

You can try Pandora Plus for 30 days free.

Pandora Premium

Pandora Plus offers a lot of additional perks over the free Pandora service, but if you want even more (especially if you listen to Pandora primarily on a mobile device), you might want to check out what Pandora Premium adds for an extra monthly fee. It includes all of the Pandora Plus features plus:

  • No timeouts.
  • Fully customizable playlists.
  • Search and play on-demand listening.
  • Download any songs you want (mobile only).

The price for Pandora Premium is $9.99 per month ($109.89 per year)

You can try Pandora Premium for 60 days free.

Pandora Premium Family Plan

This subscription option provides the features of Pandora Premium for up to six users in a household.

Since there can be multiple subscribers, one additional feature referred to as "Our Soundtrack" combines each family member's musical preferences into a single playlist. The playlist will be added to each person's "My Music Collection".

The Pandora Premium Family plan is priced at $14.99 per month ($164.89 per year). If you are a current Pandora subscriber and wish to upgrade to the Premium Family Plan, there are some restrictions.

Annual Subscriptions, Student/Military discounts and the Pandora Premium Family plan can only be purchased from the Pandora website. Pandora Premium is only available from certain subscription providers.