Pandora review

Pandora highlights

Pandora review

As one of the pioneering music streaming services, Pandora features a streamlined interface designed to help listeners discover new music and artists without doing any leg work. It may be one of the oldest streamers, but Pandora’s algorithm remains unique in the market.

Pandora Radio revolutionized the way the world listens to music when it debuted its free streaming service in 2000. The idea behind the platform is to provide a listening experience tailor-made for each user, offering curated music selections based on favorite artists. Nearly two decades later, it’s still a household name for 66 million active users. The music streaming service features a 40 million-plus song library and expanded offerings, including ad-free and premium paid plans.

Compare Pandora plans

All of Pandora’s plans are accessible via desktop, mobile app, wearables, voice assistant enabled devices, select cable and satellite providers and smart TVs. Pandora offers a 100% free plan, but there is no offline listening or the ability to make playlists. You’ll get unlimited skips and access to the full 40 million song library across all plans, but you’ll have to sit through ads unless you upgrade to a paid subscription.

Pandora PlusPandora PremiumPandora Premium – StudentPandora Premium – FamilyPandora Premium – Military
Monthly price$4.99/mo.*$9.99/mo.$4.99/mo.$14.99/mo.$7.99/mo.
Free trial length30 days60 days60 days60 days60 days
Number of songs30 million30 million30 million30 million30 million
Number of users11161
Offline listening available4 stationsAll stationsAll stationsAll stationsAll stations

How much is Pandora compared to competitors?

At $9.99/mo. for the premium service, Pandora is priced at the same level as most of its major competitors, like Spotify and Amazon Music, which both also start at $9.99/mo.

Is Pandora the right streaming service for you?

A Pandora Premium review wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the platform’s best feature, the Music Genome Project. Other streaming services make listening suggestions similar to the genre and style of the songs you select. Pandora’s unique platform relies on an algorithm that considers 450 musical attributes,  like beats per minute and vocal delivery, to make suggestions based on your musical preferences. If you’re all about discovering new music, then this feature should put Pandora at the top of your list to consider.

User experience

The Pandora app interface is as simple as it comes. Its minimalist design bypasses the tabs and lists of other platforms and provides a window of large buttons with colorful album cover art. It’s organized by stations instead of playlists unless you upgrade to Pandora Premium, which allows you to create and share playlists. You can easily search for music by genre, decade and even mood.

The platform gives you two main ways to personalize stations. First, simply search for a specific song or artist and the service will create a station for you around it. Second, as you listen to a station you can hit the thumbs up or thumbs down button on specific songs to let Pandora know what you like and what you don’t. 

The Pandora Premium Family plan allows six users at once. All other plans are meant for just one user. You can access Pandora in a variety of ways including Android and iOS desktop and mobile Pandora app. It’s also compatible with Pandora enabled vehicles, satellite and cable providers, smart speakers, smart TVs, TV streaming platforms and wearables, like Apple Watch and Fitbit.

Device compatibility

All of Pandora’s plans are compatible with the following devices:

  • All iOS and Android smartphones, tablets, wearables and desktops
  • Pandora app for cable and satellite providers, like DIRECTV, DISH and Xfinity
  • Pandora compatible vehicles
  • Smart TVs, like Samsung and LG
  • Streaming television services, like Roku
  • Voice-controlled speakers, like Alexa-enabled devices and Google Home

Pandora features

Pandora offers one of the most custom listening experiences of any streaming service thanks to its intricate algorithm. It also has a massive library and accessibility across many devices, all with a very simple interface. Here are some of Pandora’s best features.

Voice Mode

Pandora users on Android and iOS devices can command the app hands-free with the Voice Mode feature. Those with iOS can also use Siri.

AutoPlay

If the playlist you’re listening to ends, Pandora Premium’s AutoPlay feature will keep the tunes coming by starting an automatic station based on the music you’ve been listening to recently.

Alarm clock and sleep timer

Wake up and go to sleep to your favorite songs. This feature allows users to set stations and times to help make wake ups more enjoyable.

Pandora Modes

Customize your stations with this function that sets up specific parameters, like sticking with crowd favorites or only focusing on new releases.

Pandora Stories

Want to discover even more about the music you’re listening to? Pandora Stories provides accompanying voice tracks to songs, like messages recorded by artists and featured guests.

What to listen to on Pandora

With over 40 million songs in its library accessible at every plan level, there’s plenty of music to make this streaming service rival the other popular platforms. In addition to music, you can also access a wide selection of podcasts on Pandora, such as SiriusXM’s Debatable and TED Talks Daily. While Pandora doesn’t offer any exclusive content, its relationship with SiriusXM gives users access to the Pandora NOW radio station even without a Sirius subscription.

The takeaway

If you want to discover new artists and songs you’ve never heard before, but are sure to love, then Pandora is the service for you. With a massive library, budget-friendly pricing and intuitive interface this service is a great introduction to the world of music streaming. If you’d rather curate your own listening experience, however, then you might consider a platform that focuses on playlists over stations.

*Pricing and features current as of 03/27/2020

Shahrzad Warkentin

Shahrzad Warkentin is a lifestyle writer specializing in entertainment and pop culture. She has spent the last ten years crafting content, reviews and news stories on film, television, music and books among other topics. After receiving her B.A. in Screenwriting from Loyola Marymount University, she began her writing career in film and television. Born and raised in sunny Los Angeles, she loves hitting the beach with her family and catching up on Netflix.