When internet radio application Pandora first hit the scene, it was revolutionary. In a time when the music industry was in a major state of flux—and neither consumers nor executives knew what to expect from the future—a change was, in fact, in order.
Pandora was one answer to the file-sharing debacle that crippled the industry for several years. This service let users access thousands of songs for very little money, through a streaming internet service. And this model is prominently in use today by the likes of Apple iTunes, Spotify, and, of course, Pandora.
But Pandora’s service is not free. It is roughly $5 a month and while Spotify’s service is $10, they do have a free tier that is extremely competitive with Pandora. The free tier, of course, gives users access to the same library of music, but limits some of the features and launches the occasional audio ad.
Still, it is a free service.
So Pandora is launching a new product—Pandora Plus—to provide something more competitive; it will be $10 a month. Indeed, Pandora’s Tim Westergren comments that you simply cannot compete with [perpetually] free music; it is such a simple model that getting around is actually harder than it might seem. Still, he goes on to say, you have to solve the “simplicity riddle.”
As such, Pandora Plus features a new skip and replay features that provide users wih more skipping options and the ability to replay songs they like—the latter, of course, not exactly native to the original Pandora app. Nonpaying customers will see a new rewind icon in the lower left corner of the app that lets you start over the song you are currently listening to or go back to any song in your history. Similarly, Pandora currently only allows six song skips per hour, but now you can get more skips by watching an ad.
Paying members will have access to unlimited skips but also a new offline mode. This mode lets you access some music—from your most active stations—when you are not connected to the internet (like, say, on a plane or if you simply travel between networks and have trouble connecting).
Time will tell, of course, how well this model will compete with the likes of Apple Music and the industry leader, Spotify. Currently, Pandora One has 4 million subscribers so they do have a bit of catching up if they want to reach Spotify’s 40 million-strong user base.