We're continuing our series of comparing best music streaming services and today it's time to focus more on Pandora vs Spotify comparison. Let’s find out which platform is better for music lovers!
It's impossible to imagine our life without music streaming services. Access to our favorite artists and tracks has become easy as never before. By using platforms such as Spotify or Pandora Music we're not restricted to anything and we can listen to whatever we want at any time. And it's great.
Music is a universal value that should be easy to access for everyone without a need of buying a CD disk which is now the objects that make us feel very sentimental. If you aren't familiar with the idea of music streaming and on-demand platforms, let us explain a little bit before we go to a more detailed review of Pandora and Spotify.
What is music streaming?
Music streaming is a way of listening to music online. You can find a lot of platforms that are providing this kind of service and the most popular are: Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music, and Tidal.
The main feature of those platforms is the fact that by paying a certain amount of money per month, you have access to unlimited songs, playlists, and radio stations. In this way, you can discover new music and artists each day, all in a very high audio quality. You don’t have to worry about the internet connection either, just download the song on your device and listen to it in the middle of a forest where the Internet connection is very low. Sounds great, doesn't it?
As you now know the general concept of a streaming service, let’s take a look a bit closer on Pandora and Spotify.
What is Pandora? An Overview
We can shortly describe Pandora as a personalized internet radio station. Even if the concept is now nothing to be surprised about, we need to underline that Pandora was created a long time before Spotify and other music streaming services got popular.
The main idea of the platform created in 2000, was to create a playlist based on the listener’s taste and listening habits. Everything is based on the so-called Music Genome Project made of many experts working to create the best possible algorithm, which will help the listeners to match their music expectations. Pandora may be also proud of almost 80 million active users in the United States, Australia, and New Zealand.
You can find more interesting information about the company on the Pandora Music Website or Wikipedia. We really recommend you to not avoid this music streaming service if you want to become an expert in this area :)
What is Spotify? An Overview
Probably everyone has heard about the great and big king of all music streaming services which is Spotify. Spotify offers the best option available now, so it's quite obvious that a lot of new subscribers are joining Spotify's family each day. There are 286 million users of the free version and 130 million users of Spotify Premium who are paying each month to receive access to over 40 million songs, playlists, and podcasts are impressive.
On our blog we were writing many times about Spotify, so we recommend you to get familiar with the platform...
Find out how Spotify compares to Google Play Music, for example.
Now we can move to more details and features of Pandora and Spotify. If you don't have time to read the whole article, we’ve prepared for you a special comparison chart with the main differences between these two platforms. Let’s take a look.
Yes (30 days)
Yes (3 months)
Over one million songs
40 million songs
Android, iOS, (Desktop for Premium users)
Desktop, Android, iOS
Users per Account
$9.99/month (individual plan)
$14.99/month (family plan)
$4.99 (student plan)
$9.99/month (individual plan)
$14.99/month (family plan)
$4.99 (student plan)
Does Spotify have better sound quality than Pandora?
That is the question that is very important for many music listeners and mostly based only on the audio quality, they choose a certain platform. For an ordinary listener, it won’t probably make a difference, but some people are really sensitive about it and they're going to notice even the smallest difference in the audio quality.
So if you’re belonging to this first group of people, we recommend you to choose Spotify. Spotify offers the highest audio quality available which is 320 kbps for Premium subscribers and 160 kbps for free trial users.
In the case of Pandora, the situation looks much worse. The audio quality is lower by half, so the difference may be notable especially when you're used to Spotify's quality.
It influences how much data Pandora and Spotify use, of course.
The good thing is that if you're not using headphones and you're playing music by a speaker of your computer or television, the difference in the sound quality is not that striking.
Does Spotify have stations like Pandora?
The main difference between Pandora and Spotify is the fact that Pandora is a music streaming service that doesn’t let you choose directly one song to listen to. Instead, it creates for you a “radio stations” based on the artist, song, or playlist you like. For finding the songs you might like, Pandora is using the Music Genome Project which analyses your music preferences and creates personalized playlists.
Spotify gives you more freedom when you want to listen to a certain song - no problem. You just click on an interesting title and the show starts. If you want to discover more music, you have several options. First of all, you can select a playlist made by Spotify or its users, you can also go to the radio of a selected artist or song, Spotify will do the rest. So, to answer the question:
Yes, Spotify has stations like Pandora. You just have to be ready to find and explore them.
Radio and Discovering new songs
We decided that this section needs to be extended as it is the biggest difference between Spotify and Pandora. On Spotify, we can find Discover Weekly and Release Radar, which are personalized playlists made automatically by the algorithms based on what you listen to. Such playlists with new music and songs are created each week, so you can be sure that on each Monday you’ll get a gift from Spotify which is a set of fresh songs.
If you’re too impatient to wait the whole week, don’t worry. Every day you can choose one of the Daily Mix playlists which are made by Spotify and include songs that you listened to recently as well as suggested for you hit tracks. And you don’t need to have a premium Spotify account to get access to those playlists!
Pandora works a bit differently by offering radio stations. A user of the service has to create a radio. Pandora then chooses other libraries that are similar to the song or artist you had chosen.
Based on the information provided by the Music Genome Project, Pandora finds unique characteristics such as instruments used, rhythm, melody, the gender of a singer, etc. By those features, the service matches the songs that are as much as possible similar to what you chose. The system and how the project works are a mystery, which makes it even more interesting. But we and many listeners must admit that it works pretty well.
Another way to help Pandora to find the music you like, you can rate a song you’re listening to. If you don’t want to hear something in the future, give a thumb down. If you really like the song, give a thumb up and Pandora will know that this is the content you’re looking for!
Can I share songs on Spotify and Pandora
Both services have good networking and sharing solutions. Sharing a song on Spotify is super easy and the service encourages users to do it.
You can share a song on your Facebook profile just by one click (connecting your Spotify’s account with Facebook is a must). As Instagram's stories are growing and reaching more and more attention, you can also post a song that you’re listening to there. Of course, there are many extensions that are making using Spotify even more fun, but remember and make sure if the extension or app is authorized by Spotify! If your friend is listening to a cool song and you want to add it quickly to your playlist, just ask him to show you a special bar-code which each song has, take a picture and the song will appear on your phone!
On Pandora, we can also find the features of social sharing but they’re not that developed as in the case of Spotify.
Pandora is based mostly on links. Each song has its own individual link, which can be copied and pasted wherever you want. It’s easy and it’s working, probably there is no need to have more fancy features.
Is Spotify free? And can I listen to Pandora for free?
Yes and yes. Spotify and Pandora have a free subscription option.
As it was mentioned in the comparison chart, the Spotify free trial lasts 3 months and Pandora Music free version is available for 30 days. When the time is over, it does not mean that you can’t listen to music anymore.
Spotify offers a free ad-supported version and the selection of songs is blocked, so you have only the option to listen to the songs on shuffle. It looks similar in the case of Pandora. When the trial period ends, the version of your app switches to an ad-supported option. The ad breaks aren’t overwhelming in both cases and you can still listen to music, but there is another issue that is worth underlying. In the free Pandora Music version and Spotify, the users are limited to a certain number of songs skips.
Our advice is to not overuse this feature because those skips are very precious especially when the algorithms are not working as we want ;)
How much do artists make from Pandora?
Unfortunately, Pandora falls behind other streaming services when it comes to paying artists. Artists on Pandora receive $0.00133 per stream. This is significantly less than what Spotify ($0.00437) or Apple Music ($0.00783) pays. At this rate, tracks on Pandora must get around 752 streams to earn $1 on the platform. This means that for 1 millions plays, an artist would be paid $1,300.
Design and interfaces—is Spotify more user-friendly than Pandora?
The research says that people use more music streaming services on mobile phones than computers. It's probably nothing surprising in it, we spend a lot of time on our way to work or university a lot of time each day and we need to find something to do especially when we’re stuck in a traffic jam.
That’s why the interface and UX are so important in music streaming services.
Black and green color are more associated with Spotify service, which did a great job of creating it’s perfectly working mobile app. If you want to know more information about the Spotify mobile app, check out our article where we’ve made a detailed description of all the features you can find in the app (and compared Spotify to Apple Music in general).
Which is the best music streaming service?
After a sum-up of all the pros and cons, the answer seems to be obvious.
Spotify is the best streaming service, but it does not mean that Pandora or other platforms are completely bad.
Everyone has different music listening preferences and to choose the best platform that will meet all your needs we suggest you test a few of them, check all of the features, and then buy a full subscription.
Let us know what you think in the comments!