Pandora Unveils “Thumbprint Radio” For People Who Like Variety

Music listening service Pandora says its algorithm just got smarter with “Thumbprint Radio.” Users who have liked music across multiple genres will find their unique mix on a new custom station.

Calling it a “hyper-personalized” station, Pandora says this service moves beyond previously “thumbed up” songs and suggests other music that should also be of interest. What’s different about the Thumbprint station than other Pandora stations is it’s more inclined to incorporate various categories, potentially putting country music and metal on the same channel, to tailor to a user’s varied preferences.

We have combined all your favorites with music we know you’ll love to create a new station that reflects your unique musical thumbprint,” said Chris Phillips, chief product officer at Pandora, in a statement.

If you’re like me, with wide-ranging musical tastes, then you’ll appreciate that Pandora will now play both The Beatles and Snoop Dogg on the same station. I tested it out and liked the first 14 songs that were chosen for me.

Yet competition between music services is fierce, with Apple Music gaining some traction after launching earlier this year. Spotify also remains popular, despite Taylor Swift’s beef with the company.

There’s also been some consolidation in the industry, with Apple announcing plans to shut down Beats Music. And Pandora recently acquired what was left of Rdio.

Much of Pandora’s fate rests on a decision about its royalty rates that will be determined any day now, with the Copyright Royalty Board outlining their costs for the next five years. Pandora currently pays artists about 14 cents for every 100 song plays and if its fee is raised much higher than that, the already unprofitable business will suffer. (Apple and Spotify have different business models, negotiating with each artist directly.)

Pandora’s stock has traded down 30 percent this year and could move significantly when the new rate gets announced.