After creating a "program," such as a playlist or mixtape, creators can upload voice tracks and sequence them to play before or after a specific song, or alongside random content within the program. From there, Pandora Premium subscribers can listen to Pandora Stories ad-free, while Pandora ad-supported and Plus users can do so via Premium Access after watching a 30-second ad.
For each voice track, creators are able to see the number of listeners, average minutes listened per listener, the skip rate and more metrics.
While voice tracks can link out of Pandora to a merch stores or tour sites, for instance, they can't link to a competitive service like Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, Amazon or SoundCloud. Bundled links, such as Linkfire links, are allowed as long as they include Pandora. As might be expected, explicit language and copyrighted material aren't allowed, nor are brand endorsements.
Pandora tapped an all-star roster for its first collection of Stories released Tuesday that features John Legend explaining how his greatest hits came to be, Daddy Yankee recounting his journey to reggaeton star in Spanish, country artist Lauren Alaina chatting about the musical heroes of her childhood and more. But Pandora hopes that Stories will also open the platform up to a wider field of creators, from actors and filmmakers to athletes, authors and anyone else drawn to music-driven storytelling.
“Podcasts can tell stories about music but it’s difficult to include full songs, and standard playlists have songs but lack personal context from the artists behind them,” added Jeff Zuchowski, vice president of artist marketing and industry relations at Pandora. “We’ve created Pandora Stories to fill that void, bringing together the greatest strengths of both podcasts and playlists, and giving artists the opportunity to connect with listeners on a uniquely deep and personal level.”
The new feature comes just weeks after Pandora was officially acquired by satellite radio giant SiriusXM in a $3.5 billion deal. Stories reflects what seems to be an industry-wide push by streaming services to find new ways to put artists first on their platforms, evidenced by a string of new marketing tools recently made available to creators. SoundCloud and Spotify have bolstered their artist offerings in recent months, offering a new distribution feature and a direct upload option, respectively. On Pandora, AMP also includes audio messaging, a "Featured" option to boost a song across numerous stations and other engines that bring artists closer to fans.