Pandora reinstates unlimited free listening


In an attempt to redefine itself and draw back listeners, Pandora has announced that it will be reinstating unlimited free listening. To be sure they got the message across, Pandora sent an email this week to all users who had previously hit the 40-hour limit, like myself. The online radio service previously had a 40-hour a week limit to free listening unless you paid for a premium membership account. 

Pandora pioneered the field of internet radio. The idea for Pandora started over 10 years ago with the formation of the Music Genome Project, which aimed to classify songs by a number attributes. Each song is analyzed with up to 400 distinct musical characteristics. With this concept, Pandora formed in 2004 and allowed users to form radio stations tailored to their specific musical preferences. Personally, I appreciate Pandora’s service because I will discover many other artists I wouldn’t have come across otherwise based on the music I already enjoy.

Other online radio services have also gained popularity in recent years. In this new era of downloading music, listening to streaming music online provides a way to hear new music, for free, without having to illegal download. Similar services that have become equally popular to Pandora are, Rhapsody, and recently Spotify. With more and more listeners who have moved away from Pandora since 2008 (when Pandora was on the verge of collapsing), the website is trying to lure back its patrons by reinstating free unlimited streaming. However, there might still be a drawback for users, for instance the pervasive use of ads.

What has been the impact on the music industry? It may be good news for indie artists, who may have a higher chance of being discovered by listeners such as myself. However, with more and more people listening to music via streaming, it means less people may choose to purchase songs or albums. One feature Pandora has promoted is the ability to buy a song on iTunes or CD on Amazon if the listener chooses. This is one way Pandora can combat criticism and legal issues from artists and record labels.

What is the future for Pandora? Will it fade out as other online streaming services continue to pop up with new features in the realm of social networking, such as airtime that allows for meeting new people or Spotify that facilitates a higher connection between you and your Facebook friends? Certainly, Pandora will continue to utilize their revolutionary Music Genome Project while adapting to the ever-changing needs of its users.

See: Paste Magazine article here.

-Sarah Dresser

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