Pandora is set to launch Pandora Premium in the US, its US$9.99-a-month subscription tier, tomorrow.

 

Pandora expects to add another 6-9 million paying subscribers to its 4.3 million paid global subscribers this year.

From tomorrow (March 15) the internet radio giant will lose the oft-used moniker as it competes directly with music streaming platforms like Spotify, Apple Music and TIDAL.

Pandora is set to launch Pandora Premium in the US, its US$9.99-a-month subscription tier, tomorrow. It launches with an offline mode, playlists, and mobile apps, and similar to its competitors, dishes out playlists based on users’ actions.

In February, Tim Westergren, founder and CEO of Pandora, said the company now has a target of 6-9 million paying subscribers in the wake of Pandora Premium and Pandora Plus.

The launch will see selected, existing Pandora ad-supported listeners and those new to Pandora signed up for a free trial. However, it’s not clear just how long that free trial will last.

Existing Pandora Plus subscribers will enjoy six months of Premium for no additional charge. The launch of Plus added more than 375,000 new subscribers who are currently paying $4.99-a-month for a wider set of features, including the ability to skip more songs, more replays, and offline listening.

What’s unclear is whether Pandora will pay rights holders during the free trial period. We’ve reached out to Pandora for clarification but we imagine they won’t be doing an ‘Apple Music circa 2015’ as they have existing licensing agreements with the three major labels and global indie label body Merlin.

The industry has been awaiting the launch of Pandora Premium long before its expected launch last September, a month before it purchased Rdio and its assets for US$75 million.

Tim Westergren said: “Every day tens of millions of people trust us to choose the exact right songs for them. That’s why they spend more time with Pandora than any other music service.

“With Premium, we’re leveraging our immense trove of data and everything we’ve learned about personalization to offer a listening experience that sets a new standard for what a music service should be.”

While we can expect the tier will use much of the intuitive technology and slick design that made Rdio a competitor before it filed for bankruptcy, it’s not clear when the two other territories Pandora operates in (Australia and New Zealand) will get it.

Pandora Premium follows the announcement the company will axe 7% of its US workforce by the end of this month. The company has 2,219 staff globally.

Pandora is clearly making large strides in the eye of the rumoured buy-out – and it’s certainly got its work cut out for it. Pandora lost over $250 million in the first nine months of last year and as we reported last week, its share price took a 5.97% nosedive thanks to comments made by Liberty Media Corp Chief Executive (and ex-potential buyer) Greg Maffei.

Pandora launched in Australia in 2012 joining 17 other streaming services. It now draws 1.1 million active listeners every month locally and boasts 80m active monthly listeners globally – not bad for a company which lost over $250 million in the first nine months of last year.

The 17-year-old company is consistently exploring new revenue and platform avenues. When Pandora purchased ticketing company Ticketfly for US$450 million in 2015, it was seen as a game-changing move. Now, its personalised concert recommendations using Ticketfly’s tech, launched last July, will be a major drawcard for investors and a selling point moving forward.

 

Premium is available now on iOS and Android phones, Google Chromecast, and integrated in the car with Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, GM, Honda, Hyundai, JVC Kenwood, Mazda, Pioneer and Subaru. Premium will be available on desktop in the coming months.