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Pandora is launching a new $5 ad-free service

Fergie, performing at the Pandora Summer Crush. (Photo: Jonathan Leibson/Getty Images)

Pandora’s been a weird outlier in the streaming music market for years now, generally playing second fiddle to on-demand services like Spotify or Apple Music. That’s mostly thanks to the company’s unique business model, which allows it to get around paying hefty licensing fees by billing itself as web radio, giving users automatically curated stations instead of allowing them to pick songs at will. (Not that that hasn’t had its own difficulties, as increased web radio royalty rates have been a frequent thorn in the company’s side.)

Back in 2009, the company launched Pandora One, an ad-free, paid version that provided users with more “skips”—i.e., the ability to exercise some measure of control over their algorithmically generated playlists. Now, Recode is reporting that Pandora is getting ready to rebrand the service as Pandora Plus—introducing unlimited skips and the ability to download songs for offline use—for the same $5 a month price point.

The new service—which comes after extended negotiations between Pandora and music publishers like Warner Music Group—will be slowly rolled out to users over the next few months. The company is also reportedly working on a $10 a month plan that will allow users to actually select the songs they want to hear, which would make it functionally identical to Spotify.


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