Okay, so we've told you about how Pandora works, and outlined the potential costs of using Pandora. Now, we'll address the big question: will Pandora be a nice surprise for you, or will it be a horrible nightmare of frustration? We'll peer inside Pandora's box and tell you what we feel are the service's good and bad points.
Curiosity costs you nothing — Pandora is free to use, if you don't mind having advertisements between songs and only being able to skip songs a few times per hour.
Be your own D.J. — Pandora lets you create up to 100 custom music mixes based on the music that you want to hear. Type in your favourite song, your favourite band, or a style of music that you love listening to, and Pandora will begin playing similar music.
Get to know the real musical you — As you're listening to Pandora, you can tell it whether you like or don't like certain songs. Based on this information, Pandora will learn your musical habits, and get better at guessing songs that you might like (and staying away from songs or artists that you don't like).
One for not a lot of money — Pandora's premium service, Pandora One, costs about half as much as the premium services of many apps like Pandora. It allows you to listen to songs commercial-free, skip songs more often, and not have a "station" pause as often.
You gotta let the music play — Pandora doesn't give you much control over the actual songs or artists that you hear. You can upvote or blacklist certain songs or artists, but you can't directly pick what song you want to hear at any given time.
Licensing limitations — Due to international copyright laws, Pandora is currently only available in the United States, Australia, and New Zealand. That's fine if you live in one of those countries, but if you don't, then you may have to try an alternative to Pandora.
The bottom line: 7.5 / 10
Pandora is a unique music streaming service with a few things going for it. First, it's completely free to use, although you can get a paid subscription that enhances its features at about half the cost of services similar to Pandora. Second, it allows you to push your musical taste boundaries by creating up to 100 custom music mixes based on genres, songs, or artists that you already like. And because it's backed by the Music Genome Project, Pandora is much better than a lot of its rivals at figuring out what you like or dislike in music, based on what you tell it.
There are two huge knocks against Pandora, though. The first is that you can't directly choose what songs or artists you want to listen to; you can only influence Pandora into playing what you want to hear based on what songs you like or dislike. The second downside is that Pandora is mired in music copyright issues, so it's only available in three countries (as opposed to many of its competitors, which are available in many more countries).
Pandora is best used as a way to discover music that is similar to what you already like. If your tastes in music are kind of limited, and you want to broaden your horizons by hearing what kinds of other tunes are out there, then Pandora is the music streaming service for you. However, if you already know what you like and would rather have more features to directly manage and play your music on demand, consider trying one of Pandora's competitors.
That's our evaluation of Pandora, but if you'd like to open the box yourself and make your own decision on whether Pandora is fun or fiendish, we'll show you how to get it up and running in the next section of our course. We'll start with how to download and install the Pandora app on your mobile device; it's not necessary, but it's useful for taking Pandora with you on the go.