Pandora’s Spotify competitor launches next year

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Pandora’s Spotify competitor is on its way. Announced this week at press event in New York, Pandora Premium, as the service is called, offers on-demand listening of millions of songs, streamed ad-free, and supports offline access to music. But the company is aiming to make personalization its biggest differentiator from rivals including Apple Music, Spotify and others.

The new service will leverage users’ listening history and likes to make suggestions of new artists, albums and songs you may like to hear, and it will even use this understanding of your interests when you’re searching for music or browsing through the service’s library, to order its results.

Pandora may have an advantage when it comes to its ability to personalize the service to its users, compared with its newer competitors. While features like Spotify’s “Discover Weekly” playlist and Apple Music’s “For You” suggestions, have gained their own followings, many of Pandora some 78 million monthly users have used the service for years. That gives the service a lot more data to work with when it comes to making suggestions and customizing its service to the individual users.

Pandora Premium is also introducing a smart playlists feature that will automatically suggest similar songs to those you’ve added to your playlist. And as you give a “thumbs up” to songs on the service, these will be added to a playlist of their own.

Some of the features arriving in the new service have been borrowed from Rdio, the now-shuttered streaming service Pandora bought over a year ago. One example is “AutoPlay,” which will create a radio station based on the album or playlist you were listening to, so the music continues even when you’ve reached the end of either the playlist or album.

The new service was previously announced by Pandora, when the company unveiled its mid-tier, ad-free Pandora Plus service this fall. At the time, however, Pandora said its premium service would arrive later in the year.

But now the company says Pandora Premium should arrive in the first quarter of next year. Pandora hasn’t confirmed the pricing yet, but most expect it to be in the range of $10 per month, like all others on the market today.