Pandora is taking on Spotify with the launch of a new personalized playlist, The Drop, announced this morning. Similar to Spotify’s Release Radar, The Drop will also focus on new releases from artists its listeners care about. New tracks are added to the playlist on the day they’re released, the company says – that means Fridays, as with Release Radar.
Pandora’s playlist will also be longer than Spotify’s 30-track Release Radar as it doesn’t immediately ditch older tracks when new ones arrive. The Drop will instead grow to feature 100 of the latest tracks listed in order, with the newest at the top.
The selections on your version of The Drop will be based on your prior listening behavior on Pandora, the company says. And they’ll be algorithmically programmed, not hand-curated.
As you listen, if you find something you like, you’ll be able to add it to “My Music” or share it directly with friends and family.
The launch arrives at a time when the company has been more recently focused on personalized playlists as a means of upselling free users to its paid tiers.
In May, the streaming service rolled out dozens of personalized playlists to its Premium subscribers, based on their listening behavior and Pandora’s Music Genome. These “soundtracks,” as Pandora calls them, are categorized by genre (R&B, Hip Hop, Pop, Alternative, etc.) as well as by mood or activity (Focus, Chill, Happy, Rainy Day, etc.).
Since their debut, more than 790,000 users have listened to at least one of these personalized soundtracks, Pandora told TechCrunch. In addition, users have collectively listened for nearly 1 million hours, and have played a total of 21.4 million songs from their soundtracks to date.
Energy is the top soundtrack with 2.8 million spins, followed by Hip Hop (2.5m), Country (1.8m), R&B (1.43m), Party (1.41m), Pop (1.4m) and Happy (1.2m).
Like these playlists, The Drop will also only be available to Premium subscribers or those testing Pandora on a free trial before committing to a subscription.
The Premium tier is Pandora’s answer to Spotify’s on-demand service, offering playlist creation, downloads for offline listening, unlimited skips and replays, higher-quality audio, and no ads, as well as the ability to play any song at will.
The strategy of enticing paying customers with personalization features may be working.
The streaming service in July reported its two paid tiers – Plus and Premium – had reached 6 million subscribers – a number that’s up 23% year-over-year. But its user base overall is declining slightly, as Spotify and Apple Music charge ahead. Its 71.4 million active users represented a 6% drop from its 76 million users in the year-ago period.
While I was able to test The Drop pre-launch, it’s harder to speak precisely to its quality because my child uses my Pandora account more often than I do. So my playlist was an eclectic mix of David Bowie, Blood on the Dance Floor, Interpol, Ariana Grande, Twenty One Pilots, Echo & The Bunnymen, among others. That said, it didn’t have anything on it that was way off base for at least one of us.
It was also not 100 songs at launch – just 14 – as the playlist will grow over time.
The Drop is launching today, but will roll out to Pandora’s Premium user base over the course of the next two weeks, says Pandora.