How does Apple’s new streaming service stack up against streaming veteran Pandora?
Pandora has long been the (paid) music streaming service with the most users (81.5 million users worldwide), and with good reason.
When compared against competitors, Pandora are clearly inferior, but they did get a huge head start, launching their radio streaming service in 2005 — a full three years before Spotify threw their hat in the ring.
However, with the launch of Apple Music imminent, many users are weighing up their options. Let’s take a look at the two services side-by-side.
Pandora Radio from Apple
Get unlimited streaming of Australia's freshest tracks for free with Australia's premium Internet radio service, Pandora. This streaming service wakes you up and sends you to sleep to your favourite tracks by creating huge playlists based off your preferences.View details
|Price||$6.50 AUD||$11.99 AUD|
Pandora’s premium service has a 1-week trial available. During that week, you can experience the best features Pandora has to offer before deciding whether you want to sign up. One week seems like a fair amount of time, but Apple Music is trumping that with an epic 3-month trial for their paid services.
Supposedly, the tactic is giving users 3 months to get comfortable with the service — and by the time payment rolls around, you’ll be so acclimatised to the service that $11.99 AUD won’t seem all that bad.
Unfortunately, quality is where Pandora loses big points. It’s free service runs an abysmal 64k AAC+ bit rate, but hey, it’s free right? It’s Pandora’s paid service that’s the real let down. The premium version, Pandora One, streams radio music at 192 kbps. It might not seem like much of a downgrade for average listeners, but for the musos out there, the $5.50 upgrade to Apple Music’s 256kbps stream would be well worth it.
This one’s a no-brainer — Apple is clearly going all out with features in a bid to win the streaming war. With the ever-helpful Siri acting as your virtual tour guide throughout the annals of music history and big-name DJs spinning tracks 24/7, you’ll have plenty to keep you occupied when Apple Music launches.
And, Pandora? Yeah, sure, Pandora has features. There’s a Sleep Timer, so you can drift off to the tune of your favourite tracks and an Alarm Clock to wake you up again.
When Apple announced pricing for Apple Music at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), many Australian’s were excited by the $9.99 price tag. Alas, we Australian’s should know that wouldn’t be the case when the service hits our shores. The local pricing for single users will be $11.99 per month and around $17.50 for the family plan.
Meanwhile, Pandora remains the cheapest paid streaming service in Australia at $6.50 per month.
Again, this one might be obvious, but Apple is drawing upon their many healthy partnerships with major and indie labels to bolster quite the collection before release. Apple Music is expected to launch with over 30 million songs in its catalogue (roughly the same as Spotify). Pandora’s humble library still sits at about 1 million tracks.
Considering Pandora's long-standing, unshakeable subscriber base, it's hard to imagine Apple having a significant impact on the battle-hardened Pandora. But with Apple offering Beats1 Live Radio for free on their new service (with the added attraction of top DJs like Zane Lowe behind the wheel), it looks like Apple Music is aiming to beat Pandora at it's own game.
Just as Apple Music has targeted Spotify by matching their pricing, they are also setting their sights on competing with Pandora's free radio service with Beats1 Live. Only time will tell which service reigns supreme, but it looks like Apple Music's free features will have existing Pandora Radio users weighing up their options.