Pandora has added 250 so-called Featured Playlists to its Pandora Premium subscription tier. This addition comprises a series of playlists curated by the Pandora team centered on themes such as working out, break-ups, and romance. The playlists, each of which features 15-50 songs, can be found in the Browse section of the platform.
Several of the Featured Playlists also have companion radio stations with the same themes that free listeners can access. The listening experience there is different from the fully programmed lists in Premium. The themed radio stations also serve a different business purpose. When listeners tune in to those stations they contribute to Pandora’s vast data trove which can segment audiences into advertiser-desired groups based on listening habits and other profile information.
We listened to parts of several lists, some are encyclopedic (e.g. Johny Cash A-Z), while others are more indeterminately titled (e.g. Fall Chill). We were impressed by the consistency of mood and atmosphere in the latter type. Overall, we think these lists provide good listening.
Discovery tools have become an important element in streaming music platforms, especially Pandora and Spotify, the two market leaders. The two companies have different backgrounds and legacy strengths. Pandora started as a groundbreaking music intelligence technology company and became the preeminent internet radio platform. Spotify is the global leader among on-demand music organization and collection services. The two intersect around the crucial user feature of music discovery.
Pandora Premium launched in April of this year, as the company’s flagship product for international expansion and high-margin subscription revenue. Shortly after the launch, a company shake-up brought in a new CEO and new board members, along with a minority acquisition by Sirius XM. At that juncture Pandora Premium was repositioned as a secondary service alongside Pandora Radio, and expectation of international expansion was reduced. (Pandora’s operations in Australia and New Zealand, its only non-U.S. territories, soon closed.) The Featured Playlists are a welcome sign of continued development on behalf of Premium subscribers.