In a bid to differentiate itself from streaming service competitors, Pandora is unveiling a refreshed mobile app with a hyper-personalized “For You” tab, plus greater control over its signature internet radio stations.
The new features roll out to limited iOS and Android users starting today (Oct. 1), and will be made available to Pandora mobile users across all subscription tiers — free ad-supported, Pandora Plus and Pandora Premium — over the coming weeks.
The biggest change is an all-new “For You” tab on the far left of the app’s navigation bar, which serves up a constantly-updated feed of music and podcast recommendations based on each user’s listening history, as well as the day of the week and the time of day. That includes everything from a customized romantic music station to a playlist of new releases by the user’s favorite artists, the moment they’re available. (No more waiting until Friday for the playlist to update.)
Pandora is calling those custom-recommendation batches “modules.” There will be 35 modules in total, including Artists on the Rise and other playlists tied to specific moods and decades. All this is powered by Pandora’s Music Genome Project, a trove of listener data based on over 100 billion “thumbs up” and “thumbs down” indications from users (and arguably Pandora’s biggest asset in the streaming service wars).
Pandora vp listener product Tony Calzaretta tells Billboard that For You is meant to highlight Pandora’s offerings outside of radio-style listening alone.
“What we’re hearing from our listeners is that people are unaware of the breadth and diversity, the content and programming, that Pandora has added over the years,” he explains. “We’re really after increasing the awareness, and the ease of use, in getting to that. We want to make sure that it’s right front-and-center for people, and they really understand what Pandora has to offer beyond what we’re known for, which is stations.”
But stations are getting a makeover, too.
Enter “Pandora Modes,” a set of controls that filter stations based on whether users are in the mood for laid-back discovery, on-demand listening, or something in between. Modes can be layered atop a station by clicking an icon on the top bar, and include “Crowd Faves” (to hear the songs within the station that are most liked by other listeners), “Artist Only” (to hear songs by the station artist only) and “Deep Cuts” (hidden gems by the station’s artists).
“We thought, how can we make sure we’re unlocking the world of content that’s been added beyond the station world and even increase control and flexibility inside the stations?” Calzaretta says.
Pandora has also moved the navigation bar to the bottom of the screen, part of an overall new, streamlined look.
The rejiggered mobile experience follows up on recent launches like the Podcasts on Pandora destination; Pandora Stories, which allows artists to intersperse voice commentary between songs on a playlist; and even an artist partnership with Drake. Pandora now counts 65 million monthly active listeners.
More than three-fourths of the American internet-using population over the age of 13 is now streaming music, according to MusicWatch’s recent audiocensus Q2 2019 report. Pandora comes in third place among streamers with a 17% share of weekly music listening, according to the study, which is led by YouTube (30%) and Spotify (24%).