The 10 Best Free Pandora Alternatives for Streaming Music
Pandora is one of the most recognizable music streaming services available. And most people who use Pandora love Pandora. However, if you’ve landed here it’s because you’re looking for the best Pandora alternatives. So, let’s start by explaining how Pandora works…
You open Pandora, select the genre or mood of music you want, and let the “radio” play some tunes. If you like a song, you hit the thumbs-up icon to add similar tracks to the radio station. If you don’t, you hit the thumbs-down icon, and the radio station plays less of that style.
It’s a classic, and very user-friendly, setup. However, not only is Pandora not available in many countries, there are tons of other music streaming services available. So, in this article, we list the best free Pandora alternatives. Presented in no particular order.
1. YouTube Music
How it Compares. YouTube Music is a music streaming service that is slowly replacing Google Play Music. Where Google Play Music featured as standard on all new Android devices, users will now find the YouTube Music app instead (on new devices—Google Play Music won’t suddenly disappear into the ether).
YouTube Music doesn’t supply an official number of available songs, because it draws on its deals with record labels, uploads to YouTube, mashups, remixes, and much more. The depth of the YouTube Music library is substantial. Library-wise, it has Pandora beat hands-down. But then again, it has most other services beat too, so that’s no shame on Pandora’s part.
The YouTube Music interface is easy to navigate, although it is far from the prettiest music streaming service around.
Notable Features. The incredible catalog of music is one of the most notable YouTube Music features, without a doubt. Aside from that, YouTube Music also plays host to live music streams from a wide range of artists. There’s also a YouTube Music integration for the Google Clock, which allows you to wake up to your favorite artist or playlist.
Cost. YouTube Music has three different subscription levels. The free version is YouTube Music, which is ad-supported (you’ll see or hear an advert every three to six songs), runs at a lower bitrate, and if you’re using the mobile app, it requires the screen to remain on at all times. The latter is a definite major downside to YouTube Music.
You can (and probably should) upgrade to one of YouTube Music’s premium tiers to unlock more features. YouTube Music Premium stops the ads, allows you to listen to music in the background on mobile devices, and to download music for offline listening. A YouTube Music Premium subscription costs $9. 99/month.
Then there is the YouTube Premium subscription, which includes everything in the previous tier as well as access to YouTube Originals (YouTube’s original programming channels). The YouTube Premium subscription also removes ads from the main YouTube site, too. The YouTube Premium subscription comes in at $11. 99/month. Is YouTube Premium value for money? It all depends on how you use YouTube.
Regional Availability. YouTube Music and its premium counterparts are available in over 70 countries.
How it Compares. Deezer’s library consists of over 57 million tracks, blowing most competitors out of the water, including Pandora. User interface updates in recent years have made Deezer easier to use. Still, there’s nothing particularly special about the interface. Is that familiarity a bad thing? Perhaps not if you’re jumping from service to service.
Notable Features. At the time of writing, Deezer has over 30, 000 public radio channels available, as well as 100 million publicly available playlists. Of course, you’re not going to sift through all of those. Thankfully, Deezer’s search integration is useful and helps you find what you want.
Deezer Flow creates a personalized playlist that combines all of your favorite music, as well as new recommendations and those tunes you might have forgotten about. You can find exclusive DJ mixes, unique podcasts, and other Deezer Original recordings, too. You could also check out Deezer Next to see the artists the music streaming service is tipping for future success.
Cost. Deezer operates four subscription types. The free version of Deezer is ad-supported, restricts you to a single listening profile, and offers a limited number of track skips per day. The free version doesn’t allow offline playback, either, which is fairly standard for music streaming services.
The second tier is Deezer Premium, which removes adverts from the listening experience, introduces unlimited skips per day, as well as offline listening. Deezer Premium comes in at $9. 99/month.
However, although you have “unlimited skips, ” the Deezer forums have several posts from angry users wondering why they can only skip 150 tracks/hour. You could be making a playlist and skipping through tracks, only to suddenly find your account locked, so it is something to consider. The issue relates to how the Deezer development team attempts to stop account sharing.
Then there is a final subscription tier that contains two slightly different offerings. Deezer Family includes everything from the previous tier and also allows you to create six different listening profiles.
Whereas, Deezer HiFi includes everything from the previous tier but instead of additional listening profiles, unlocks 16-bit FLAC quality audio. Deezer HiFi is a brilliant option if you value high-quality audio, which many music streaming services eschew.
Both Deezer Family and Deezer HiFi will set you back $14. 99/month.
Regional Availability. Deezer is available in over 185 countries.
How it Compares. Jango is one of Pandora’s long-standing direct competitors, operating since 2007. Both Jango and Pandora operate in a similar manner. But whereas Pandora’s song choices are based on the Music Genome Project, Jango’s recommendations are based on its users’ behaviors.
Notable Features. Each Jango radio station is customizable via the Variety settings. You can opt to add the most popular user choices to expand the radio station, or to add More Variety, or the Most Variety. You can also add specific artists to the currently playing radio station, too.
Jango highlights and promotes independent artists across its radio stations. When an independent artist comes up, you can leave feedback. Interestingly, Jango uses an internal cryptocurrency, known as NeuCoin. You can use NeuCoin to tip independent artists, helping them receive a small payment for their music.
Cost. There is no premium version of Jango. The entire platform is ad-funded. That said, Jango doesn’t bombard you with adverts and ruin your listening experience. The adverts are few and far between. Plus, you can reduce the number of ads per day to a single instance if you link your Facebook account.
Better still (and this is really impressive), Jango doesn’t interrupt the Android or iOS apps with any form of advertising.
Regional Availability. All countries worldwide.
How it Compares. Spotify has a lot going for it. With over 50 million tracks, 700, 000 podcasts, and nearly 300 million users, Spotify has become the byword for music streaming services. At this point, Spotify also has a recognizable and familiar user interface. It definitely isn’t the most exciting interface, but it is extremely easy to use.
The biggest downside to Spotify is the poor audio quality. Spotify’s maximum audio streaming rate is a miserly 320kbps. In comparison, the premium Deezer HiFi option offers 1, 411kbps (which is uncompressed CD audio quality), and Amazon Music Unlimited offers an average of 850kbps. Spotify’s offering is hardly “Premium. ”
Notable Features. Spotify offers so much more than internet radio. Want on-demand streaming? Spotify is one of the best at it. Want to expand your tastes? Check out Spotify’s music discovery tools. You’ll also find lots of non-music content, including stand-up comedy and podcasts. And that’s not forgetting the end of year roundups detailing your listening habits, along with your best of playlist.
Spotify is stepping up the fight to Pandora in other ways, too. The Spotify Stations playlist app offers a Pandora-like experience, complete with thumbs-up and thumbs-down, and music suggestions.
Cost. Spotify offers two subscription types: free and premium. The free Spotify version is ad-supported, does not allow offline playback, and does not allow access to the highest quality audio playback Spotify offers.
A Spotify Premium subscription unlocks offline music playback, all smartphone app features, removes any ad interruptions, and unlocks Spotify’s highest music quality playback option. A Spotify Premium subscription comes in at $9. 99/month.
There are two variations to the Spotify Premium subscription. A Spotify Student subscription unlocks everything in the Premium subscription but only costs $4. 99/month (with a working student email account).
There is also the option of Spotify Family, which offers everything in the Premium subscription for up to six accounts living at the same address. The Spotify Family account costs $14. Spotify is available in over 80 countries.
How it Compares. AccuRadio is one of the oldest internet radio streaming services still active, serving users since 2000. At the core of AccuRadio’s long-running success is simplicity. The AccuRadio interface is simple and easy to use, allowing a reasonable amount of user station customization. AccuRadio doesn’t have the largest music catalog, but it is more than enough to keep you listening.
Notable Features. You can blend up to 15 channels together to create a specialized listening experience. You can also rate songs on a five-star scale, then use the Five Star Radio feature to listen only to your absolute favorite songs. One of AccuRadio’s best features, especially in comparison to Pandora, is unlimited skipping for all accounts.
Cost. AccuRadio doesn’t offer a premium account or subscription service. The platform is ad-supported, although you can reduce the ad frequency if you create a free account.
How it Compares. Music is only a small portion of what TuneIn Radio does. This service is all about internet radio in the truest sense: tapping into live radio stations through the internet. Online-only music stations do exist, and they’re perfectly fine, but TuneIn Radio’s selling point is its live radio streams.
As a Pandora alternative, it definitely lives up to the radio streaming service moniker.
Notable Features. TuneIn features over 100, 000 radio stations from around the world, plus thousands of podcasts. You can filter your streaming selections by music, sports, talk, and trending stations, as well as kids’ radio and podcasts.
Cost. TuneIn offers a Free or Premium subscription. The TuneIn free subscription is ad-supported, playing an ad when you launch a radio station or podcast.
The TuneIn Premium subscription removes banner ads from the TuneIn site and desktop clients. It also enables you to listen to live play-by-play coverage of every NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL game. A TuneIn Premium subscription removes adverts from the MSNBC, Fox News Talk, and CNBC radio stations.
A TuneIn Premium subscription costs $9. All countries worldwide. TuneIn Premium accounts are only available in Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
How it Compares. iHeartRadio brings radio streams from over 850 local stations under one roof, plus podcasts, music playlists, and more. The result is a Pandora alternative that covers a wide range of content types. iHeartRadio is easy to use, similarly to Pandora. One plus side to iHeartRadio is the user library, which allows you to customize and edit your recently listened to stations, podcasts, and artists.
Notable Features. The aforementioned user library, known as Your Library, is a useful tool for customization. There is also a handy suggestions section that offers up new music, podcasts, and radio stations you might enjoy. As iHeartRadio is an umbrella for the iHeartMedia network, you can listen to hundreds of live radio stations from across the US.
Cost. There are three iHeartRadio subscription types.
The free subscription offers free live radio at any time, personalized artist radio stations, and access to the iHeartRadio podcast selection. Free iHeartRadio accounts may skip six tracks per hour, per station, for a maximum of 15 skips per day across all artist stations.
An iHeartRadio Plus subscription allows unlimited song skipping across all stations, on-demand song and artist play, and the option to save and replay music from the radio. The Plus subscription comes in at $4. 99/month.
Finally, the iHeartRadio All Access subscription includes everything in the previous tier, as well as unlimited access to every single iHeartRadio song, plus you can create an unlimited number of playlists. An All Access subscription costs $9. 99/month.
How it Compares. Radio Garden is an almost-unique music streaming option on this list. Instead of selecting artist or genre radio stations, you spin the globe and find radio stations broadcasting all around the world.
In comparison to Pandora, Radio Garden brings the entire world of music to your mouse clicks. You can tune into tens of thousands of radio stations, listening to every genre, style, artist, and more.
Notable Features. Radio Garden features an incredible number of radio stations. There is no user curation or individual station management, as these are live radio stations. You can add radio stations to your favorites list, as well as search for a specific radio station, city, country, or region.
Radio Garden keeps a list of weird and wonderful radio stations, too. You can tune in to an ambient nature sound broadcast, the sounds of a theatre organ, and even listen to truckers chatting.
Cost. Radio Garden is free to use. You may hear local advertising, depending on the radio stations you tune in to.
How it Compares. Radio4000 is a different proposition to Pandora. Instead of skipping and liking tracks, you can move around a world map and listen to radio stations curated by individuals. The result is a music streaming experience that exposes you to lots of new music without the restrictions of skips or missing artists.
The user interface is basic but simple to navigate, offering two web player options.
Notable Features. Radio4000 lets you build a personal radio station that you can broadcast to other people that click on your location, which is a nice feature. All of Radio4000’s tracks come from YouTube, which means you have access to the vast YouTube catalog. The downside to that is the potential for a track to disappear, and there is no consistency for audio quality. Still, the range of music available more than makes up for that.
4000 is completely free.
10. Amazon Music
How it Compares. Pandora’s drastically increasing catalog size means Amazon Music is now the slimmer option. However, many users prefer the more traditional music streaming service interface found with Amazon Music, instead of Pandora’s sometimes tricky streaming stations.
Notable Features. The Amazon Music catalog consists of 2 million songs. In music streaming service terms, that is a tiny number. Still, the Amazon Music catalog updates frequently to introduce the latest tracks, sometimes long before Pandora. There are options to filter playlists according to mood, genre, and activity.
Cost. Amazon Music is Amazon’s free subscription to the Amazon Prime Music service. The free subscription allows anyone with an Amazon account to listen to ad-supported music via the Amazon Music service. The free subscription was previously only available to Amazon Echo owners. However, this free version of Amazon Music is only available to the US, UK, and Germany at the time of writing.
Those with an Amazon Prime subscription can use Amazon Prime Music. If you already use Amazon Prime for its many other benefits, then you can think of Prime Music as a free bonus.
Then, there is Amazon Music Unlimited, which unlocks around 60 million tracks, unlimited ad-free on-demand listening, variable bitrate control, offline downloads, and much more. An Amazon Music Unlimited subscription costs $7. 99/month for Amazon Prime subscribers, or $9. 99/month without Amazon Prime.
Finally, there is Amazon Music Unlimited HD, which includes everything from the previous tiers, but allows users to stream music in Ultra HD quality. Amazon’s Ultra HD quality streaming means audio playback with an average bitrate of 3730kbps, significantly higher than any other music streaming option. An Amazon Music Unlimited HD subscription costs $12. 99/month for Amazon Prime members, or $14. 99/month for those without.
Regional Availability. Amazon Music free is only available in the US, UK, and Germany at the time of writing. Amazon Music services availability varies by subscription type and region.
What Are the Best Pandora Alternatives?
I’m a very long-term Spotify user and will continue to be so. But the beauty of services like Pandora, Jango, and Radio Garden is uncovering new music, which they offer in spades. However, if the quality of the audio is important to you, try Deezer HiFi or Amazon Music Unlimited HD. Along with these other music sites for audiophiles.
If you’re an artist, you need to find out how to distribute your music on streaming services.
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About The Author
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Gavin is the Junior Editor for Windows and Technology Explained, a regular contributor to the Really Useful Podcast, and a regular product reviewer. He has a BA (Hons) Contemporary Writing with Digital Art Practices pillaged from the hills of Devon, as well as over a decade of professional writing experience. He enjoys copious amounts of tea, board games, and football.
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Spotify vs Pandora – SoundGuys
Pandora has been around a long time and made a name for itself by mimicking the format of a radio. In recent years Spotify has exploded not only as a popular music listening platform but also as a top-notch service for music discovery, and Pandora has changed a lot. Which one is ultimately better, you ask? Read on to find out. In this Spotify vs. Pandora comparison, we will go over everything you need to know about Spotify Premium and Pandora Premium.
Editor’s note: this Spotify vs. Pandora article was updated on July 12, 2021, to include a link to a related article.
Spotify vs. Pandora: Streaming quality
Unfortunately, neither Spotify Premium nor Pandora Premium offer any high quality streaming options, though Spotify HiFi is slated to rollout to certain regions later in 2021. Spotify HiFi will offer streaming in lossless CD-quality.
As of now, both Spotify and Pandora use the lossy AAC file format and Spotify also uses the lossy Ogg Vorbis format. However, while the maximum bitrate for Pandora Premium is 192kbps, Spotify Premium’s is higher, offering up to 320kbps. Lack of high resolution audio isn’t necessarily a reason to opt for a different streaming service—for many people, lossy, lower bitrate audio sounds just fine. Additionally, lossless files tend to take up more storage space or use up more Internet data, so plenty of people find lossy files to be worth their drawbacks. If you’re looking for a high resolution streaming service, check out Amazon Music HD, Qobuz, Tidal or Deezer.
Streaming ServiceMax streaming qualitySupported Formats
Qobuz24bit / 192kHzAIFF, ALAC, FLAC, WAV, WMA Lossless
Amazon Music HD24bit / 192kHzFLAC
Tidal HiFi24bit / 192kHzAAC, ALAC, FLAC, MQA
Deezer HiFi16bit / 44. 1kHzFLAC
Google Play Music320kbpsAAC, ALAC, FLAC, MP3, Ogg Vorbis, WMA
Spotify Premium320kbpsAAC, Ogg Vorbis
Apple Music24bit / 192kHzAAC
YouTube Music Premium256kbpsAAC
In addition to lower quality streaming, Pandora’s connection buffers a lot more than Spotify’s, which can interrupt your music mid-song and make the listening experience unpleasant. Luckily, with both Pandora Premium and Spotify Premium, you have unlimited access to download songs for offline listening.
Spotify vs. Pandora: User interface
Spotify’s Search tab (left) compared to Pandora’s Search tab (right).
Your Pandora Collection organizes your recently played Stations and playlists as if they are a set of records in a jukebox, which looks really nice. It is also easy to navigate My Collection by filtering it by playlists, Stations, artists, albums, songs, podcasts, or everything. The For You and Search pages are not as attractive, but are still easy to navigate.
Spotify doesn’t have any cute resemblances to vintage music-listening devices, but its dark-themed interface is very nice and easy to navigate. You’ll get tabs in Your Library for your playlists, artists, albums, and of course podcasts. Plus, the Home and Search pages are intuitive as well. The only drawback is that some of Spotify’s features such as creating playlist folders and viewing friends’ live listening activity are only available on the desktop app and not the mobile app. Additionally, one very small but annoying thing I noticed when I switched from an iPhone to an Android phone is that adding a song to your queue on iOS is as simple as swiping it right, but on Android you have to click the three dots next to the song title to add it to your queue.
Spotify vs. Pandora: Music discovery
First and foremost, Pandora is a music discovery service. Its main feature is Stations which function like radio stations, but are customizable to your liking. Spotify is more of a jack-of-all-trades streaming service; though, both do a great job of curating recommended playlists, and make it easy to find new, related content.
Pandora Stations has more functionality than Spotify Radio
At its heart, Pandora is a music discovery service.
Pandora algorithmically creates Stations for every artist, song, and genre. Once a Station is made, you can customize it by renaming it and adding other artists and songs to base the algorithm off of. You can also thumbs up or thumbs down songs to control what plays on the Station and to save for on-demand playback later. You can even save any Station or playlist to My Collection.
Each Pandora Station can be adjusted to different modes. First, there’s the My Station mode which is the basic mode that generates music based only on the way you have customized that Station. Then there is the Crowd Faves mode generates music based on the way you have customized the Station as well as the songs that have been given the thumbs up the most by other users. The Discovery mode generates music based on your customization and by prioritizing artists who don’t usually play on that Station, but still fit into it. Then you have the Deep Cuts mode which prioritizes the less popular songs from the artists you have added to the Station. After that, you get the Newly Released mode which is pretty self explanatory and prioritizes the newer songs from the Station’s artists. Lastly, the Artist Only mode plays music only from the artists in the Station.
Related: Why I’m an avid Spotify user despite dubious audio quality
Spotify has a similar functionality to Pandora Stations. Spotify generates Radio for every artist, playlist, and song. Artist and song Radios are static, though, so you cannot customize them through likes or dislikes, but this does mean you can save them to your Spotify library. Playlist Radios, on the other hand, generate new songs as you continue to listen to it and allow you to like or dislike its recommended songs to customize its recommendations. Every playlist you create on Spotify generates a Radio, and you can customize the Radio by adding songs to the playlist. This does mean, however, that you cannot save a playlist Radio to Your Library. While Spotify Radio has similar features to Pandora Stations, Pandora Stations is more diverse and useful.
Spotify just gets you
Spotify algorithms help you discover songs based on your music tastes.
Spotify knows what you want to discover and has algorithmically designed playlists for almost anything you could wish for. Each week, Spotify churns out a Discover Weekly playlist, designed based on your listening history. It also makes a weekly Release Radar playlist which features new releases from the artists you follow. In addition, it makes Daily Mix playlists which are combinations of music you’ve listened to and music Spotify thinks is similar to those songs.
Spotify knows what you want to discover.
It doesn’t end there, though: Spotify is constantly coming up with creative new personalized playlists, such as the Time Capsule playlist (2017) that took data from your listening history and created a playlist of music you likely would have listened to as a teenager. Additional examples are The Ones That Got Away playlist released at the end of 2017, which was made up of songs from earlier in the year that you didn’t discover but should have, the Tastebreakers playlist (2019) was made of music you wouldn’t normally listen to but would probably like, and the Pet Playlist (2020) was designed based on your listening history and the species and character traits of your pet.
While it seems like Spotify can read your mind, Pandora lets you decide what you want to discover by personalizing their algorithms manually. As I previously mentioned, each Station is customizable to your liking based on artists and songs as well as Station modes. It also recommends Genre Stations based on your listening activity. It can be nice to have autonomy over what songs you’re being fed, but when it comes down to it, Spotify makes great suggestions without you having to ask. And, when it comes to recommending songs for your playlists, Spotify gives you a little more freedom in accepting or rejecting its recommendations than Pandora does.
Both Spotify and Pandora make great curated playlists
Both Pandora and Spotify create great curated playlists.
Spotify also creates editorial playlists which are curated by employees of Spotify. There are hundreds of these being constantly updated, and they span across categories of genre, mood, language, region, record label, activity, artist identity, and more. The Browse tab is easy to navigate and some categories have categories within them, further allowing you to narrow in on what you want to hear. Some categories contain more than just music playlists; for example, the Class of 2020 category features podcasts about graduation as well. Furthermore, your Spotify Home page recommends a few of these editorial playlists based on what it thinks you will like.
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Pandora is very similar when it comes to the quality and variety of their curated playlists. It categorizes playlists by mood, genre, time period, activity, and more. Many categories contain more than just music; they include anything relevant to the theme, like relevant Pandora Stories. Additionally, Pandora Stations based on genre and mood function very similarly to curated playlists, but what they play is variable rather than static.
While Pandora Stations is much better than Spotify Radio, Spotify makes up for it by having a better discovery algorithm. Whether you prefer the music discovery style of Spotify or Pandora is completely up to preference. You can’t go wrong with either.
Spotify vs. Pandora: Available content
While both Pandora and Spotify have large libraries of available music, some of your lesser-known favorite indie musicians are not available on Pandora.
You can find more indie music on Spotify
Spotify accepts music from pretty much anyone who submits to it, whether it is a direct submission to Spotify or from a third party distributor such as CDBaby. Independent artists can submit their music to Pandora for consideration, but the service only accepts submissions if artists sent via third-party distributor. It then follows up by filling out a Pandora-specific submission form for each individual release.
Digital Service Provider$ Per Stream
Amazon Unlimited$0. 01175
24/7 Entertainment GmbH$0. 01050
YouTube Red$0. 00948
Google Play$0. 00543
Amazon Digital Services Inc. $0. 00395
Yandex LLC$0. 00051
YouTube Content ID$0. 00028
If you’re someone who only listens to relatively popular musicians, this shouldn’t count against Pandora, but independent musicians who have chosen not to use a third party distributor or have not filled out the submission form will not be available in Pandora’s catalog. Once an artist has done these things, there is still a chance Pandora will not accept their music. Additionally, Pandora pays artists less on average than Spotify does.
Podcasts are available on both Spotify and Pandora
Spotify has a large collection of podcasts.
Podcast fans don’t need to worry about whether you choose Spotify vs. Pandora: both streaming services offer a wide library of podcasts and allow you to save them to Your Library or My Collection. Both services allow for a few podcast-specific playback features such as forward and backward skipping and bookmarking your place, but Spotify also allows you to change your playback speed and set a podcast-specific sleep timer. Neither Pandora or Spotify offer silence trimmers or the ability to skip the first few minutes of every episode. For apps with more specific podcasting features, check out our list of the best podcast apps.
Spotify vs. Pandora: Pricing
In this article pitting Spotify vs. Pandora, we are comparing Spotify Premium with Pandora Premium, but there are actually many different options for subscriptions available on both of these streaming services.
Spotify FreeFree- Listen to music with ad interruptions
– Shuffle music
– On-demand playback from 15 Spotify-created playlists
Spotify Premium Student$4. 99/mo- Listen to music ad-free
– Download music for offline listening
– On-demand playback
– SHOWTIME and ad-supported Hulu
Spotify Premium Individual$9. 99/mo- Listen to music ad-free
Spotify Premium Duo$12. 99/mo- 2 separate Premium accounts for a couple under one roof
– Duo Mix: a playlist algorithmically created and updated for both members
– Listen to music ad-free
Spotify Premium Family$14. 99/mo- Up to 6 Premium accounts for family members living under one roof
– Family Mix: a playlist algorithmically created and updated for all members
– Can block explicit music
– Spotify Kids: app for kids 12 and under
Pandora FreeFree- Can only listen to customized stations, not specific songs
– Ad interruptions
– Limited skips
Pandora Plus$4. 99/mo- Ad-free personalized stations
– Search and play what you want by watching an ad
– Unlimited skips
– Limited offline listening
Pandora Premium Student$4. 99/mo- Ad-free personalized music
– Search and play what you want
– Unlimited offline listening
– Make and share playlists
Pandora Premium Military$7. 99/mo- Ad-free personalized music
Pandora Premium Individual$9. 99/mo- Ad-free personalized music
Pandora Premium Family$14. 99/mo- Up to six separate accounts
– Exclusive shared playlist
– Ad-free personalized music
Additional Pandora Premium features include the Artist Only station mode, and the jukebox-style interface.
There was a recent glitch with Free Spotify that allowed unpaid users access to nearly all the same features as Premium users, but this surely will not last forever. If you’re interested in learning more details about the different Spotify memberships, check out our Free Spotify vs Spotify Premium article.
If you’re still unsure, Spotify and Pandora both offer 30-day Premium trials, and Pandora offers intermittent access to Pandora Premium by watching ads.
Stay social with Spotify
The desktop Spotify app displays your friends’ live listening activity.
One of the best things about Spotify is its social functionality, specifically the ability for users to create collaborative playlists with friends. This means anybody with the link to the playlist can add or delete songs from it. Additionally, you can find and follow your friends, explore their listening history, playlists they’ve made, and, on the desktop app you can view their live listening activity. It’s worth mentioning that these features can be disabled if you find them invasive.
Pandora also has social features. With Pandora you can follow your friends and look at their Stations and liked songs, but you can’t view their active listening history or create collaborative playlists.
You can integrate Facebook with both Spotify and Pandora to make finding friends easier. In addition, Spotify has partnerships with Tinder and Instagram, making it easy to share your music tastes with your suitors and followers.
Get artist exclusives with Spotify and Pandora
Pandora offers exclusive artist messages, which are short messages recorded by artists that occasionally play after their songs. These include things such as information about upcoming releases, videos, and concerts. You can disable this if you prefer not to listen to these kinds of updates. Some artists curate exclusive playlists of their songs interspersed with voice messages explaining what the song means to them. These playlists can also include music by other artists with voice messages about how the other artist has inspired them. Similarly, Pandora Stories mixes music playlists with artist commentary typically describing their career or the process of creating a particular album. If you’re into behind the scenes facts this could be a very compelling case for Pandora.
Some artists curate exclusive playlists of their songs interspersed with voice messages explaining what the song means to them.
Spotify also has some exclusive artist content, and while these do not contain any commentary artists can add playlists they’ve created to their Spotify profile so you can discover what your favorite musicians are listening to and getting inspired by. In addition, Spotify has exclusive music recordings of artists’ original songs or covers called Spotify Singles, which are recorded and produced in Spotify’s studios. Spotify also displays upcoming concerts of your favorite artists on their profile pages as well as on a centralized page for Concerts coming up in your city.
Both streaming services have exclusive artist features, but which ones you find more appealing is just a matter of preference.
Spotify vs. Pandora: Additional features
Spotify wraps up your year with a bow on top
Every December, Spotify Wrapped is released—you’ve probably seen everyone’s Instagram Stories cluttered with their results around the beginning of the month. Wrapped compiles all the data collected from your Spotify account throughout the year and delivers it to you in satisfying statistics and graphics. It tells you the artist you listened to most over the past year, the genre you listened to most, the song you listened to most, how many total minutes you spent listening, the countries your favorite artists come from, and more. It creates a playlist of the 100 songs you listened to most over the year and often creates other playlists based on your listening history to go along with it (such as songs you probably would have liked from that year). Wrapped is always a fun feature in helping you boost your feelings of music taste superiority or feelings of shame due to how many times you listened to your guilty pleasure song (Editor’s note: Shame-free admission that Watermelon Sugar by Harry Styles is probably my most listened to song of 2020).
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Pandora does something similar at the end of the year called Playback, which is based on Spotify Wrapped. While it doesn’t get as much clout as Spotify Wrapped, it offers very similar information for Pandora users.
Pandora’s voice assistant integration isn’t very useful
Pandora allows you to activate a voice assistant. By saying the wake phrase “Hey Pandora, ” you can ask Pandora to play a specific Station, change the volume, or tell you the name of a song. Unfortunately, the assistant only works when the app is open and live on your screen, so it seems like you could just manually give these commands by the time you’ve unlocked your device.
Spotify and Pandora are excellent car companions
Spotify plays nicely with Google Maps.
Both Spotify and Pandora can be integrated with navigation apps, such as Waze and Google Maps. Additionally, both are compatible with Carplay and Android Auto, so long as your car has this functionality. These tools allow for easier control over your audio playback while in the car, but you shouldn’t use them while actively driving.
In addition, some music-listening devices, such as the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus, have partnered with Spotify for easy touch access to the streaming service. Due mainly to Pandora being less popular than Spotify, earphone integration is not likely to be found for Pandora users.
Spotify vs. Pandora: What’s the best streaming service?
These are among the best services for music discovery.
I didn’t expect to be this impressed by Pandora, but its really upped the ante since the old days, and I now consider Pandora a legitimate competitor to Spotify. Ultimately, Spotify wins this contest of Spotify vs. Pandora for a few reasons, but it truly was very close. For the same pricing, Spotify affords you better audio quality, social features, underground music, and music discovery options like Discover Weekly. However, if these things are not as important to you as exclusive artist messages, customizable Stations, or if you just prefer the interface of Pandora, you may find yourself favoring Pandora over Spotify. You truly cannot go wrong with either streaming service.
Don’t miss out: Best music streaming services
App of the Week: Pandora vs. iHeartRadio | Houston News
If you haven’t been paying attention, a very tiny little war has been brewing over access to the ears of people who like to listen to radio online or on their smart phones. I say it’s a tiny war because, at the moment, it is. While many of us who love music and like to listen to it a lot will do whatever we can to seek out alternatives to what we have, the vast majority of people are satisfied with commercial radio.
However, that becomes less and less true and the demographics are skewed younger. Music lovers under 30 continue to abandon the traditional radio format in favor of a wider range of options and flexibility. The hugely successful U. S. launch of Spotify should be fairly obvious proof, but a more interesting battle is being waged between a virtual David versus an online Goliath.
For anyone who hasn’t tried it, Pandora is one of the most interesting and wildly successful online music tools ever created. But its domain is being infiltrated by a very big kid on the block, Clear Channel Communications and its relatively new iHeartRadio app. Which is better? Let’s find out.
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Pros: Easy interface, scary accurate examination of user choices
Cons: Limit on tracks per hour, audio advertising
Pros: Big catalog, streams existing radio as well as created stations, no ads
Cons: Slightly clunky interface, choices can be all over the place
What’s the Same?
Both services provide the ability to create stations based on an artist or song. Once one is chosen, a station is created. Songs can be liked or disliked and you can fast-forward to the next song, but there is a limit on the number of skips per hour due to licensing restrictions.
iHeartRadio provides links to a whole bunch of currently existing radio stations that can be streamed through its interface. In fact, that was its original intent — to stream the music of Clear Channel Stations. It just recently began offering college radio alternatives as well including former KTRU, Rice Radio. Creating a channel via an artist or song works in a similar way to Pandora though the underlying mechanics are different. It allows you the option of choosing songs based on greater familiarity or a wider range of discovery.
Pandora’s unique music filtering service uses an algorithm to help the service figure out what songs you might like and what songs you’d probably pass on. It’s remarkably accurate and learns as you like and dislike songs.
What’s the Verdict?
iHeartRadio has one big advantage and that’s the ability to stream existing stations. If you want to listen to a radio station that is already out there, this is a great app for doing so. I’ve used it on the road, out jogging and in other various locations and it rarely drops.
Having said that, for music, Pandora is still king, primarily because of the engine that drives it. It comes up with some really unique suggestions. Just to test it, I set up a couple different stations and checked the results.
With a Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers station, Pandora chose artists like the Hollies, the Beatles, Bob Dylan and Blind Lemon while Clear Channel went with The Doobie Brothers, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Steve Miller Band and Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band. A Kanye West station delivered Kid Cudi, Jay-Z and Lupe Fiasco on Pandora while iHeartRadio streamed Kid Cudi, B. o. B. and 50 Cent.
Neither of those are dramatically different, though the Tom Petty Pandora choices seem wider in range. But, when I set up a station by song, that’s when Pandora really set itself apart. Its algorithm is based on elements in the actual song, so it delivers strikingly similar offerings. Wilco’s “One Wing” produced some really accurate and unique choices like “Refuge” by Matthew Perryman Jones (very good), “For Us” by Pete Yorn, “Go First” by Damien Jurado and “Walden County” by Magnolia Sons.
iHeartRadio on the other hand was much more all over the map, choosing “I Can Hardly Spell My Name” by Lambchop, “Stanley Kubrick” by Mogwai, “Queen of the World” by The Bottle Rockets and “So Lovely, So Lovely” by Central Falls along with multiple other Wilco songs.
While these were nice songs, they were not really remotely close to “One Wing. ” The choices were clearly made more on genre than on style, which goes to the heart of the success of Pandora.
While I am no fan of radio giant Clear Channel, they’ve done a very good job designing a streaming radio app that gives us access to all their radio stations and they’ve done a decent job with the customization part of it. If all you need is an app for streaming your favorite radio stations and maybe you want some unique music options thrown in, this is a quality app.
However, if you are a music fan and you like to find new music, nothing touches Pandora. Even with about 10 percent of the catalog of iHeartRadio (900, 000 songs versus 11 million, seriously), Pandora outperforms iHeartRadio with music selections every time.
Frequently Asked Questions about music websites like pandora
Can Spotify work like Pandora?
Spotify has a similar functionality to Pandora Stations. Spotify generates Radio for every artist, playlist, and song. … While Spotify Radio has similar features to Pandora Stations, Pandora Stations is more diverse and useful.Jul 12, 2021
Is iHeartRadio better than Pandora?
Even with about 10 percent of the catalog of iHeartRadio (900,000 songs versus 11 million, seriously), Pandora outperforms iHeartRadio with music selections every time.Jan 26, 2012
Is Pandora music illegal?
Pandora No Longer Available in Australia and New Zealand, here’s what you need to know. FROM Monday, internet radio service Pandora will no longer broadcast in Australia.Jul 29, 2017