How to Use Pandora Radio

Build your own customized radio stations to suit your moods

The search bar on Pandora Radio

Lifewire / Daniel Nations

PRODUCT DISCLOSURE $

Pandora Radio is easily one of the best ways to stream music to your iPad. The key to Pandora Radio is that it creates custom radio stations that fit your particular tastes in music, even learning songs you like and dislike. Best of all, it is free (with advertising), so you don't need to pay anything to enjoy Pandora. Pandora also offers two paid options with free trials: Pandora Plus and Pandora Premium.

The Pandora app requires iOS 11 or higher on the iPad.

Download the Pandora Radio App

While you can stream Pandora through your web browser on your computer, you need the official app to stream it on your iPad.

  1. Open the App Store on your iPad and tap Search at the bottom of the opening screen.

    Opening screen of the App Store on iPad
  2. Enter Pandora in the search field and select Pandora for iPad in the results.

    The search screen in the App Store for iPad
  3. Tap Get on Pandora: Music & Podcasts. After the download is complete, tap Open to launch the app.

    Search results for Pandora in App Store on iPad
  4. Tap Sign Up for Free in the screen that opens. If you already have an account, tap Log In. Enter the requested information and tap Sign Up or select Log In and use existing credentials.

    Pandora opening screen in iPad app

Pandora offers radio stations based on genres ranging from rock and blues to indie and jazz. However, custom radio stations are the best way to tune Pandora into the music you like best. The free version of the app creates radio stations for you based on your music preferences.

How to Create Your Own Radio Station

You can create a radio station by typing an artist, band or song name into the search field that opens when you tap the magnifying glass at the top of the Pandora home screen. As you type, Pandora pulls up the top hits, which include artists and songs. When you see your target, tap it to create your custom station.

When you create your radio station, Pandora begins streaming music similar to that artist or song. It usually starts with the same artist, although not always the same song. As Pandora streams music, it branches out to music from similar artists. To pick a song by a favorite artist:

  1. On the Pandora home screen, tap the magnifying glass at the top of the screen and enter the name of an artist. (You can also start a station by entering a song title, station, playlist, or album.)

    Pandora home screen
  2. As you type the name, results appear. When you see the result you want, tap it.

    Entering artist name in the Pandora app search field
  3. Tap a selection on the artist's screen. You can choose a single song, album, or station to base your new station on. For example, tap the song Thinking Out Loud to start the Thinking Out Loud station, which plays music by Ed Sheeran and similar artists.

    Artist screen on Pandora iOS app
  4. In the screen that opens, tap Start Station. As you listen, Pandora selects songs similar to the one you chose to create a radio station.

    Pandora Start Station screen
  5. Indicate whether you like the song that is playing by tapping the Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down icon at the bottom of the screen.

    Skip, thumbs up and thumbs down options in Pandora app

    Use the Thumbs Up and Thumbs Down Buttons

    As you listen to your new station, you may hear songs that aren't to your taste. You can skip songs by tapping the Skip button, which looks like the next-track button in your music controls. However, if you don't like the song, it is better to tap the Thumbs Down icon. While the Skip button might be interpreted as you not being in the mood to hear that particular song at that specific time, the Thumbs Down button tells Pandora that you don't ever want to hear that song again. Pandora removes it from the station.

    Similarly, the Thumbs Up button tells Pandora that you like a particular song. This information helps Pandora learn your musical tastes, so it plays that song and similar songs more often in the stream or in similar custom radio stations you create.

    Add Additional Artists to Your Custom Radio Station

    When you add additional artists or a new song to the station you create, it increases the overall variety of the station. For example, streaming a custom radio station based on The Beatles features a lot of music from the 60s such as Bob Dylan and The Rolling Stones, but if you add in Van Halen, Alice In Chains, and Train, you get a wide variety ranging from the '60s and '70s all the way up to current music.

    On the left side of the Pandora opening screen is a list of your radio stations.

  6. Tap a station name to open it.

    Pandora opening screen showing stations
  7. Scroll down to Add Variety and tap it.

    Add Variety option on a station page
  8. Select from the recommended artists (or type in one of your own).

    Suggested artists in Pandora app

Create More Than One Station

Listening to music is about feeding your mood, and a single station probably won't be sufficient to fit every mood. You can create more than one station, either by using multiple seeds such as combining favorite artists or mixing songs from different genres, or you can type in a single artist or song to pinpoint a particular type of music.

Pandora also has a number of prefab stations that it generates randomly for different genres and collections. They appear on the home screen with your custom stations.