Until recently, Pandora has largely been a radio streaming service. Sure, you can select individual bands and pull up a station tailored to that band’s music and genre, but it’s not the same as, say, Spotify, where you can create entire playlists on your own.

But Pandora is changing the game a little. They just announced Pandora Premium, which works almost exactly like Spotify and the competition. You can search for and play any track you want, and you can also compile your own playlists. It’s going to cost $9.99 a month, which is priced similarly to other offerings. In comparison, Spotify is also $9.99 a month, or $4.99 for students.

This plan puts it more in line with Google Music, Spotify and Apple Music, which allow users to experience on-demand content as opposed to just curated playlists.

Pandora Premium Changes

There are also a few subtle changes to the service and user interface with the new premium service. For example, premium subscribers will be treated to a whole new “Now Playing” screen. The background will change color to match the album art of the music you’re playing.

But that’s not the only change. Because they’re making the switch to truly on-demand music, there are also some updates to the interface like a new menu for downloading, collecting and sharing music. There are also new playback controls, and the replay button from Pandora Plus makes a return.

The designers also focused on ease of use. It takes fewer clicks to start playing music in Pandora than in competing apps.

Ultimately, the new design borrows inspiration from Rdio, a streaming app the company acquired back in 2015. At the time, Rdio was beloved by its users and often lauded for its beautiful and intuitive interface.

Pandora Aims to Stand out From the Competition

The company aims to do a much better and more accurate job than rivals at choosing and recommending similar music. Instead of focusing solely on new releases or popular content, it will deliver more personalized recommendations based on your preferences. So, if you tend to like older music, you won’t always be directed towards the newer stuff, and vice versa.

CEO of Pandora Tim Westergren was interviewed by The Verge, where he talked at large about the new features and focus for their premium service. One of the things he really made clear is that the team is doing their best to differentiate themselves from the competition, and they have “grand ambitions” for what it can evolve into.

“If we look around at the space right now, we just don’t think that there’s a product that’s done it right. No one has solved the ease of use and personalization part of the on-demand world. I don’t think there’s really a true premium product out there yet… we think we’re bringing something really different here.”

It really is exciting — in theory — to see someone trying to do something a little different. Only time will tell if this service is better or worse than others out there.

How Do You Get Access to Pandora Premium?

Pandora Premium will see a staggered release on both iOS and Android. Current users of Pandora’s free service will be given the opportunity to test Pandora Premium free for two months. Invites for that trial will go out soon.

If you’re currently a Pandora Plus subscriber, you’ll have the option to try out Premium considerably longer, for up to six months for free.

Don’t worry: If you’re not a regular Pandora user, you can also take part in the two-month trial, but you’ll need to sign up for an invite and wait until they go out in mid-April.

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