Pandora planning to take on Apple Music with on-demand streaming as soon as Sept. - report

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Long a radio-only service, Pandora is preparing to delve into the world of on-demand streaming as soon as September, a report said on Friday.

The company is nearing deals with major record labels that will allow it to offer on-demand music starting in the U.S., later expanding to other markets, according to the Wall Street Journal. Until now it hasn't had to actively seek out label deals, since its radio content is only available in the U.S., Australia, and New Zealand — countries where internet radio licensing is effectively automatic as long as mandated royalties are paid.

On-demand access is expected to cost $10 per month, and include a library of tens of millions of tracks, much like Spotify or Apple Music. The company is also reportedly planning to improve its $5, ad-free radio tier however, letting subscribers skip more tracks and cache music offline. The free ad-based tier will remain, but in that area, Pandora is only said to be working on more options for advertisers.

Pandora remains a major force in online music, with about 80 million listeners — about half of Spotify and Apple Music's paid subscribers are believed to listen to Pandora as well. Even so, the company has struggled to grow in the face of competition, and its limited reach. Its rivals operate in dozens of countries.

The latest figures peg Spotify at 30 million paid listeners, while Apple Music has half of that.

The new subscription options should come to other English-speaking countries first before expanding elsewhere, the Journal's sources noted.

Pandora's success has ridden mostly on its unique algorithms, which with some small user input can quickly become adept at picking out songs a person wants to hear. At the moment, though, there's no way of choosing a specific song or album.


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