Guide to Pandora Internet Music Streaming

All About The Pandora Music Streaming Service

Pandora is one of the most popular internet music streaming services. Check out everything you need to know about Pandora, including some great tips and tricks to making a your own personal music library that you can access on a variety of internet connected devices and your home theater system.

Pandora Music Streaming Service Basics

Pandora Internet Radio Logo
Pandora Internet Radio Logo. Wikimedia Commons

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 81 million users and growing, 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 Plus (Previously known as 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 about 1 million 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. 

So, why would I choose to have Pandora pick my songs instead of picking my own as I can in Rhapsody?

Five Reasons to Love Pandora 

  1. You don't have to wade through tons of albums, artists and songs to get to listen to music I like. You can spend as much time as I want to personalize my stations, or you can thumbs down songs I don't want to hear. You can shelve songs that I get tired of hearing.
  2. 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'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.
  4. Access your Pandora account anywhere-- network media players, media streamers and network home theater devices, such a Smart TVs, Blu-ray Disc players, and networked home theater and stereo receivers, as well as smartphones, and is even built into many Ford automobiles.
  5. You 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 Reasons to Upgrade to Pandora Plus

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 $54.89 (or $4.99 per month), you can upgrade your account to Pandora Plus (which has replaced Pandora's former subscription service - Pandora One). Here are the benefits:

  1. You can skip as many songs as you with. 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. You also have the ability replay songs, as well as listen to songs off-line. Off-line listening is limited to 3 stations of your choice and is only available on compatible mobile phones using the Pandora App.
  2. No ads. 
  3. 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 Plus. This is particularly desirable when listening on the big, high quality speakers of your home theater.
  4. Unlimited listening. The forty hour limit is lifted.  You can listen all day and night.
  5. Download a desktop app for your PC or Mac so you can control Pandora without opening your web browser.

Upgrade to Pandora Premium For Even More

Pandora Plus offers a lot of addition perks over the free Pandora service, but if you want more (especially if you listen to Pandora primarily on a mobile device), you might want to check out what Pandora Premium Adds for an annual off of $109.89 ($9.99 per month).

  1. No Timeouts.
  2. Fully customizable playlists.
  3. Search and play on-demand listening (Mobile only).
  4. Download any songs you want (Mobile only).

Pandora Availability

Remember Pandora is available in the U.S., Australia, and New Zealand, and, as mentioned above, is accessible on a number of network media players, media streamers and network home theater devices, such as Smart TVs and Blu-ray Disc players, and is even available on iOS and Android phones - but it is not on every device.  If you want Pandora, be sure to check the product description or packaging for the Pandora logo.

    For more on Pandora, also check out our companion article: Pandora - Frequently Asked Questions and our Pandora Internet Radio Music Service Review.

    How Pandora Works: Customizing Pandora Stations - Part One

    The Pandora creates stations based on a song or artist that you like. With Pandora stations it is possible to listen to endless hours of music that you love, and which perfectly suits your mood. Pandora has labeled 800,000 songs for its "music genome" - that is, breaking down the musical qualities that Pandora considers its DNA. For more details, continue reading How to Customize Pandora Stations - Part One

    How Pandora Works: How to Customizing Pandora Stations - Part Two

    In Part One of Tips and Tricks on Creating the Perfect Personalized Pandora Station, we covered how Pandora chooses music and the basics tools for shaping what music is played.  Check out more station customizing tips and tricks on using Pandora in Part Two.


    The core content of this article was originally written by Barb Gonzalez and has been updated and reformatted by Robert Silva.