(By Billboard Staff | Published on March 13, 2017 for Billboardcom)
It's time. Pandora's entry into the crowded world of on-demand streaming begins this week with the launch of Pandora Premium. On Monday, the company said the previously announced service will roll out to Pandora Plus subscribers on Wednesday (March 15), with free tier and new users getting a chance to try in the coming weeks.
Like competitors Spotify, Apple Music and the recently-launched Amazon Unlimited, Pandora Premium will cost $9.99 a month, with access to 40 million songs on-demand plus offline listening and curated playlists from the company's editorial team. Unsurprisingly, PP also puts to use the trove of data that it has collected through the Music Genome Project, which powers its popular online radio service, so you can quickly create a new playlist with a single song -- that is, if mixtape-making isn't your thing.
Other features include a playlist that collects all the tracks you've ever given a thumbs up to, plus a new "Now Playing" experience that pulls a signature color for the album art and changes with each track. Premium also collects every radio station you've ever created to make a combined list of those tracks.
"Every day tens of millions of people trust us to choose the exact right song for them. That’s why they spend more time with Pandora than any other music service," said Tim Westergren, founder and CEO of Pandora. "With Premium, we’re leveraging our immense trove of data and everything we’ve learned about personalization to offer a listening experience that sets a new standard for what a music service should be."
Pandora's first target for converting its 81 million montly listeners from radio to on-demand will be its paying Plus subscribers, who are being offered a six-month trial of Premium at no extra cost to their existing bill. Trial lengths for existing ad-supported users and new listeners will vary, but for the time being they'll have to wait before diving in. Premium will be a mostly mobile-only service at first, with other platforms -- including the desktop -- rolling out in the coming months.