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 for making your own personal music library that you can access on a variety of internet-connected devices and your home theater system.

Pandora began as a streaming music service on your computer but has expanded to encompass most network media players, media streamers and network TVs, car stereo systems, Blu-ray players, AV receivers, and many more devices for the home.

Pandora Service Basics

With 78 million active listeners and 250 million registered users, 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 online music, and why you'll want might 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 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 cannot choose to listen to only specific artists nor can you choose to hear a song at a specific time. It is 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 fine-tune 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 refine the 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. You could speculate that by offering a service that exposes people to new music and artists, they could sell more music. Pandora makes it easy to buy songs by clicking a button that links to iTunes or Amazon for downloads. 

Five Reasons to Love Pandora

There are several reasons to use Pandora over one of its competitors.

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Discover new music that you may like because it's similar to the song or artist you already like. Buy the song to immediately add to your music library or bookmark songs or artists to purchase later.
  • 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. Pandora is even built into many automobiles.
  • You have information about the song. When listening on a computer, click on the lyrics to belt it out along with the music.

Reasons to Upgrade Pandora

The free Pandora service is ad-supported by both pop-up web ads and audio ads on your network media devices that repeat after every three or four songs. For people who like to work with music in the background, you may be affected by the limit of 40 hours of listening per month. Pandora offers two paid subscription services: Pandora Plus and Pandora Premium.

Pandora Plus

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

  • 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 replay songs, as well as listen to songs offline. Offline listening is limited to four stations of your choice and is only available on compatible mobile phones using the Pandora app.
  • 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 a higher bit rate with Pandora Plus. This is particularly desirable when listening on the big, high-quality speakers of your home theater.
  • Unlimited listening. The 40-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.

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 a monthly fee of $9.99. It includes all of the Pandora Plus features plus:

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