Pandora Launches New Desktop App for Mac

Pandora today launched a new desktop app for Mac, aimed at all Pandora listeners across both its free and paid tiers. Similar to its mobile apps, Pandora for Mac allows for full access to Pandora without needing to open a web browser.


New features in the app include keyboard controls for playing, pausing, replaying, skipping, shuffling, and liking/disliking songs. There is also an on-screen song notification system that displays the artist, album, and song title for the music currently playing.

The app also has controls for Pandora Modes, letting users customize their music on Pandora's radio stations with certain "modes," like Crowd Faves, Deep Cuts, New Releases, and more.

The Mac app requires macOS version 10.10 and can be downloaded right here. The company said that a version of the app will launch on Windows soon.

Tag: Pandora

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Waze App for iOS Gains Pandora Music Streaming Support

Google-owned mapping app Waze has been updated with support for Pandora music streaming, as revealed in a blog post on the Pandora website.


The update means Pandora listeners on both iOS and Android can stream songs directly from within the Waze app using its embedded audio player, allowing drivers to navigate and listen to their music without leaving the app.

The integration also works both ways, so once users connect Pandora and Waze on their device, the next Waze navigational direction also appears within the official Pandora app.

To connect the two apps, simply click the music icon on the top right corner of the Waze app interface, select the Pandora icon, and start streaming your music.

Waze can be downloaded from the App Store for free. [Direct Link]

Tags: Pandora, Waze

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Pandora Premium Launches Monthly Discounts for Students and Military Subscribers

Pandora Premium today announced new discounted subscriptions offered to students and members of the military.


Just like offerings from Apple Music and Spotify, students will now be able to pay just $4.99/month for the Pandora Student Plan, compared to $9.99/month for everyone else. Premium offers subscribers the chance to listen to music on-demand and ad-free, and includes features like personalized playlists, radio stations, and more.

The Pandora Military Plan will also provide a discount to active military and vets, priced at $7.99/month. Those who can take advantage of this discount include active duty, reservists, retirees, veterans, and military family members. Both the Pandora Military Plan and Pandora Student Plan include a 60-day free trial.

Originally a live radio streaming service only, Pandora launched its on-demand music streaming platform in 2017 in an effort to compete with Apple Music and Spotify. The company continuously updates its iOS app, in January introducing a voice assistant to help subscribers quickly play music and jump around the app.

Although student discounts are common, a price cut for individuals in the military is not offered by either Apple Music or Spotify. Tidal, however, does have a few military-related discounts, starting at $5.99 for a basic monthly plan and rising to $11.99 per month for a Hi-Fi audio plan.


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Apple Not Fighting Royalty Increase for Songwriters That Spotify, Pandora, Google and Amazon Have Appealed

Spotify, Google, Pandora, and Amazon have all teamed up to appeal a ruling by the U.S. Copyright Royalty Board that will increase royalties paid to songwriters by 44 percent, reports Variety.

In a joint statement, the companies, which all operate major streaming music services, said that the decision harms both music licensees and copyright owners.

"The Copyright Royalty Board (CRB), in a split decision, recently issued the U.S. mechanical statutory rates in a manner that raises serious procedural and substantive concerns. If left to stand, the CRB's decision harms both music licensees and copyright owners. Accordingly, we are asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to review the decision."
Apple is not joining the other streaming music services and will not appeal the decision. According to Variety, songwriter organizations have been heavily praising Apple while condemning the other streaming services.

David Israelite, CEO of the National Music Publishers' association, called the appeals from Spotify, Pandora, Google and Amazon "tech bullies who do not respect or value the songwriters who make their businesses possible."

He also thanked Apple Music for not participating in the appeal and for "continuing to be a friend to songwriters."


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Pandora Launches Voice Assistant in iOS App

Following in the footsteps of Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, Pandora today launched its own voice assistant available within its iOS and Android apps. When the app is opened, users can turn on "voice mode" and say "Hey Pandora," asking the assistant to play their music, podcasts, radio stations and more connected to the streaming music service.


Similar to Siri, Pandora will also be able to respond to more vague commands to play music, like asking to "play something new," "play more like this," "play music I like," and more. According to Pandora chief product officer Chris Phillips, voice searches will be personalized for each user and informed by their listening habits on the service.
“Pandora is the leader in personalized audio entertainment, and millions of our listeners are already loving the experience we’ve created on smart speakers and other voice-enabled connected devices,” said Chris Phillips, Chief Product Officer, Pandora.

“With Voice Mode, we are introducing an even more natural and conversational way for listeners to discover new music and enhance their experience directly in the Pandora mobile app, like getting recommendations from a friend who really knows you.”
This means that when users ask to "play something new," each person will see different results, and the assistant will showcase these recommendations in various forms. Some listeners might see a playlist, while others will get an album, singular new song, or a radio station.

All voice mode features can be found in the Pandora app's search bar next to the magnifying glass.
Types of requests include:

Control requests to change stations, control volume, skip or pause music, and other basic navigation commands.
Thematic requests delivering personalized music based on each user’s unique tastes, moods, and favorite activities like “play something for my workout” or “play music for relaxing.”
Open-ended requests like “play something different,” “play something I like” or “play more like this.”
Basic requests for a specific artist, song, station, podcast or playlist like “play new music by…” or “play my happy jams playlist.”
Interactive requests like “what song is this?” or directional requests like “add this song to my party playlist” or “I like this” to give a thumbs-up.
Voice mode will be available for all Pandora users, both those on its free tier and those paying for Pandora Premium. The feature is launching today for some users on the Pandora iOS and Android apps, and it will continue to roll out for more users over the next few months.

Tag: Pandora

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Pandora Launches Apple Watch App With Offline Playback Capabilities

Pandora today launched an updated version of its iOS app, which includes a redesigned Apple Watch experience with features that Pandora users have been requesting.

Pandora built its new Apple Watch app from the ground up with features that include remote access playback, the option to favorite songs right from the Now Playing screen, and, most importantly, offline playback.


Apple Watch owners who use Pandora will be able to listen to the streaming music service without an internet connection. There is a catch though -- using Pandora sans internet requires a Pandora Plus or Premium subscription.

Pandora Plus is priced at $4.99 per month, while Pandora Premium is $9.99 per month. Pandora Plus offers up unlimited personalized stations, unlimited skips and replays, four stations for offline listening, and no ads.

Pandora Premium, though, allows users to search for music and play any song, as well as create custom playlists and download any music for offline listening.

As The Verge points out, Pandora users will not be able to stream music with an Apple Watch's cellular data connection, a feature limited to Apple Music.
You asked, and we listened! By popular demand, we bring you a brand new, built-from-the-ground-up app that's seamlessly integrated into the Apple Watch experience, so now you can:
- Access remote playback controls.
- Give your favorites a Thumbs Up directly from the Now Playing screen.
- Listen without an internet connection! Pandora Plus & Premium subscribers get access to offline content - no phone required.

To use the new Pandora Apple Watch app, Apple Watch owners will need to have the latest version of watchOS, watchOS 5, installed.

Pandora can be downloaded from the App Store for free. [Direct Link]

Tag: Pandora

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Pandora Announces Personalized Podcast Curation With the ‘Podcast Genome Project’

Following its acquisition by SiriusXM in September, Pandora today announced that it will begin offering specialized podcast curation under the Podcast Genome Project. Similar to its Music Genome Project, the PGP will launch in a public beta format and combine human curation with advanced machine learning to offer users specific podcast recommendations, "down to the episodic level."


Pandora says that the Podcast Genome Project will evaluate content based on more than 1,500 attributes like MPAA ratings, timely topics, production style, content type, host profile, and combine this with listener signals like thumb ratings, skips, and replays. Machine learning algorithms, natural language processing, and collaborative filtering methods will also work in tandem with Pandora's in-house curation team to give each user unique podcast recommendations that evolve as their preferences change.
“It might feel like podcasts are ubiquitous, but, eighty-three percent of Americans aren’t yet listening to podcasts on a weekly basis, and a majority of them report that’s because they simply don’t know where to start,” said Roger Lynch, Chief Executive Officer, Pandora. “Making podcasts - both individual episodes and series - easy to discover and simple to experience is how we plan to greatly grow podcast listening while simultaneously creating new and more sustainable ways to monetize them.”
Pandora's podcast partners include PM, Gimlet, HeadGum, Libsyn, Maximum Fun, NPR, Parcast, PRX+PRI, reVolver, Slate, The New York Times, The Ramsey Network, The Ringer, WNYC Studios, and Wondery. The company says that these partners and the amount of podcasts on the platform will continue to grow over time.

Besides podcast listening, Pandora offers online radio streaming to its users, and last year launched "Pandora Premium" as a competitor to Apple Music and Spotify. At $9.99 per month, subscribers can ditch ads, search for and play any song, create playlists, download music for offline listening, and receive unlimited skips and replays.

While Apple Podcasts has been the hub for many users to listen to their favorites shows, more of the company's competitors have begun supporting podcasts as interest in the format grows. In the summer of 2017, a report by Bloomberg claimed that Spotify was planning to "come after" Apple with a strong push into podcasts, and since then it has added NPR's catalog of podcasts and the BBC's shows into the music streaming app.

Those interested in Pandora's Podcast Genome Project can sign up for the beta here.


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SiriusXM to Acquire Pandora for $3.5 Billion

SiriusXM today announced that it will acquire Pandora for $3.5 billion in an all-stock transaction, creating "the world's largest audio entertainment company," according to Pandora's press release on the news. The transaction has been unanimously approved by both the independent directors of Pandora and by the board of directors of SiriusXM, and is now expected to close in Q1 2019.


The companies explain that through the acquisition SiriusXM will use Pandora's platform to "significantly expand" its presence beyond vehicles, and into the user's home and smartphone devices. Still, it's promised that there will be no immediate change in listener offerings after the acquisition is completed.

Both CEOs of SiriusXM and Pandora commented on the announcement:
Jim Meyer, Chief Executive Officer of SiriusXM, said, "We have long respected Pandora and their team for their popular consumer offering that has attracted a massive audience, and have been impressed by Pandora's strategic progress and stronger execution. We believe there are significant opportunities to create value for both companies' stockholders by combining our complementary businesses. The addition of Pandora diversifies SiriusXM's revenue streams with the U.S.'s largest ad-supported audio offering, broadens our technical capabilities, and represents an exciting next step in our efforts to expand our reach out of the car even further. Through targeted investments, we see significant opportunities to drive innovation that will accelerate growth beyond what would be available to the separate companies, and does so in a way that also benefits consumers, artists, and the broader content communities. Together, we will deliver even more of the best content on radio to our passionate and loyal listeners, and attract new listeners, across our two platforms."

Roger Lynch, Chief Executive Officer of Pandora, said, "We've made tremendous progress in our efforts to lead in digital audio. Together with SiriusXM, we're even better positioned to take advantage of the huge opportunities we see in audio entertainment, including growing our advertising business and expanding our subscription offerings. The powerful combination of SiriusXM's content, position in the car, and premium subscription products, along with the biggest audio streaming service in the U.S., will create the world's largest audio entertainment company. This transaction will deliver significant value to our stockholders and will allow them to participate in upside, given SiriusXM's strong brand, financial resources and track record delivering results."
Likewise, Pandora is expected to get a boost to in-car audio using SiriusXM's relationships with the automotive industry. The companies are planning to release audio packages that combine the two services' offerings, including SiriusXM's radio stations and Pandora's ad-supported and new subscription tiers.

Specifically, SiriusXM ensures that it will "support and strengthen" Pandora's brand, and further enhance its existing Pandora Premium on-demand music streaming service. Pandora Premium will get new promotional campaigns for emerging and established artists, which will be personalized and targeted at relevant users based on their listening habits.

Pandora Premium was announced in late 2016 and then launched in the spring of 2017, allowing Pandora users to listen to music on-demand for the first time at a price of $9.99 per month. Similar to Apple Music and Spotify, Pandora Premium subscribers can create playlists, like/dislike tracks, browse personalized new music suggestions, and more.


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Pandora Rolling Out Personalized Playlists to All Premium Subscribers on Mobile App

After a slow rollout began in March, Pandora today announced that all Premium tier subscribers can now access their own personalized music playlists. Similar to Apple Music and Spotify, Pandora's selection of playlists personally curate a specific collection of tracks, but Pandora focuses on moods, activities, and genres (via TechCrunch).

For example, Pandora can create "Your Energy Soundtrack," "Your Happy Soundtrack," "Your Rainy Day Soundtrack," "Your R&B Soundtrack," and more, with about 25 songs each. As a comparison, Apple Music's personal curation focuses on New Music Mix, Chill Mix, and Favorites Mix, offering songs aimed at introducing you to new artists, serving up relaxing tunes, and generating a collection of what the service decides are your favorite tracks.

Image via TechCrunch

Pandora Premium users can send links to their friends (even if they're on the free tier) as a way to share their personalized playlists. The free tier users will have to watch a video ad to listen to the playlist and test out other paid features as well -- an ability Pandora debuted last December.

In regards to how the app curates the playlists, Pandora says it uses its "Music Genome" and machine learning algorithms to continously determine what music you listen to most often. Combined with human curators, Pandora then gathers songs into the new "Soundtrack" playlists to "perfect the lists and update them, as needed."

Apple Music updates its Mixes on specific days every week, but Pandora's offering appears to be a bit more nebulous. During the rollout phase of the feature, the app was creating "up to four new playlists" for each user every week, and it would continue until it "maxed out" the user's playlist categories. TechCrunch explains further: "This "max" is not a flat number, but varies by user. For example, someone who listens to a lot of different types of music may continue getting new playlists for weeks."

Pandora is offering the stable of personalized playlists as a way to entice its free users to upgrade to Pandora Premium, which runs for $9.99/month. Originally a live radio streaming service only, Pandora launched Premium in 2017 to compete with Apple Music and Spotify, combining its existing radio features into an on-demand music streaming service.

Moving forward, Pandora is planning to release more playlist categories and themes in the coming months. Pandora chief performance officer Chris Phillips says, "This is the beginning of a whole suite of themed playlists that we will automatically build and tailor to each Premium user. In the coming months, we'll be rolling out more even more themes for you to unlock."

Pandora Music is available to download on iOS [Direct Link] and Android for free.


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Pandora Grants Free Tier Listeners Access to On-Demand Features if They View 15-Second Ad

Pandora today announced that it will now let those who use the company's free, ad-supported tier access on-demand listening after viewing a 15-second video ad. Listeners can search for a specific song, album, playlist, and then they'll have an option to view the ad in question, after which a Pandora Premium listening session will unlock.


Previously, users on Pandora's free tier had to listen to whatever song appeared next on the radio station or playlist they were currently tuned in to. With the new update, these listeners can now get an experience that's slightly closer to traditional on-demand streaming music services like Pandora's own Premium service, and Apple Music and Spotify, albeit after being forced to view an ad.

Crucially, Pandora's press release doesn't clarify how often free listeners have to view these 15-second ads in order to retain their Pandora Premium on-demand listening sessions.
“Our ad-supported listeners’ top request has consistently been the ability to directly play the specific songs, albums, or playlists they want,” said Roger Lynch, President & CEO, Pandora. “These new features address that need by marrying rewards-based advertising with the best-in-class on-demand experience we’ve created with Pandora Premium. This unrivaled experience will drive listeners to Pandora and drive awareness for Premium, while also creating new opportunities for artists, labels, publishers and advertisers.”
Pandora Premium launched earlier in 2017, combining the existing radio features with a new on-demand service that serves up personalized recommendations for each user. In total Pandora has the free tier, Pandora Plus ($4.99/month), and Pandora Premium ($9.99/month). Plus offers unlimited skips and replays but also lacks on-demand abilities, so the new functionality will also be available for Plus subscribers.

The Pandora app is available to download from the iOS App Store for free [Direct Link].

Tag: Pandora

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