Pandora Review

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.

Is Pandora Free and How Much Is Pandora One?

Now that we've explained what Pandora is and how it works, it's time to talk about how much Pandora costs to use.  You can use it without paying any money, but you won't be getting the most out of it.  We'll explain below.

When is Pandora free?

Pandora is free to use on desktop computers, most mobile devices, and on certain car stereos and home listening devices.  However, you will hear advertisements between songs, and can only skip songs a certain number of times per day.  Buying a subscription to Pandora One can alleviate these limitations.

How much is Pandora One?

Pandora One costs $5 U.S. per month, or $55 U.S. per year (a $5 savings off the monthly rate).  With Pandora One, you can listen to songs free of advertisements, skip songs more frequently, not have your station pause as often, and get higher quality audio and more customization options for your web player.

Is Pandora worth it?

Whether or not Pandora will be worth it for you depends on your situation.  You will get the most benefits out of it if you are using it on a desktop computer, so it's probably worth it if you will be listening for long periods of time at your desk, and want greater control of your music while you're at it.

On the other hand, if you're going to be using Pandora mostly on your mobile device, in your car, or on home audio(-video) equipment, and are just going to be using it as if it were regular radio, then you may not mind the commercials so much, and may not want to use skips as often.  In that case, you may just want to forego Pandora One and use the free version of Pandora.


Anyway, that's a brief note on the potential costs associated with using Pandora!  Next, we'll analyze the strong and weak points of Pandora.

What Is Pandora? + How Pandora Works

According to Greek mythology, Pandora was the first human woman.  Created by the gods, her name meant "receiver/giver of all gifts", including the gift of music that she received from the god Apollo.  Unfortunately, her curiosity led her to open Pandora's Box and unleash all manner of evil into the world, leaving nothing but hope behind.

Flash forward to today, where Pandora is now the name of a service that gives the gift of music to people who seek it out.  And, unlike the gods who punished the mythological Pandora for her curiosity, the modern-day Pandora is all about rewarding your curiosity in music!  Using the research findings from the Music Genome Project, the largest music-related study ever undertaken, Pandora lets you type in the name of a song, artist, or genre of music, and then play songs that are musically related.  You can control Pandora even further by telling it what songs you like or don't like, and it will use that information to play more of what you want to hear and less of what you don't!

So what exactly is Pandora?

Pandora is a music streaming and discovery app.  It lets you create "stations" based on songs, artists, or genres that you like, which then play related songs.  For each station, you can choose which songs you like or don’t like, which will cause Pandora to play more songs similar to the ones that you like.

Pandora One is the paid subscription version of Pandora.  It allows songs to be played in higher sound quality, and to be skipped more often.  Pandora One also eliminates all commercials heard between songs on Pandora, and does not cause your current station to pause for a break as often as the free version.

How does Pandora work?  4 cool things to discover

1. Discover music on your terms, whenever and wherever you want.

Pandora is rather flexible with regard to how you use it.  You can listen to it without an account, or you can create an account and save your musical preferences.  Plus, you can listen to it directly on the Pandora website, or download the app for your mobile device or modern home sound equipment!  Oh, and did we mention that it's free, as well?

2. Create up to 100 custom radio stations based on music that you already like.

Is "Let it Be" by The Beatles your favourite song ever?  Or maybe you're more of a Rolling Stones kind of person.  Or maybe you just like classic rock in general.  Type a song, artists, or genre into Pandora, and it will find something that you'll enjoy listening to!

Selecting musical criteria for a Pandora radio station

3. Refine your radio stations by adding criteria, or liking/disliking songs.

Okay, so let's say that you're a fan of The Beatles, but don't like the blues rock of the Rolling Stones.  Maybe you like that The Beatles do feel-good pop songs, like The Beach Boys.  You can tell Pandora to make a radio station that plays songs similar to those of both The Beatles and The Beach Boys at the same time!  Or, if you happen to like a song that comes on, you can "thumbs up" it; similarly, you can "thumbs down" and skip a song that you don't like.  The more that you interact with Pandora, the better it learns your musical tastes, and the more it can play just the music that you want to hear!

Refining the musical criteria for a Pandora radio station

4. Share your musical passions on Pandora, on social networks, or right on your device!

Can't get enough of a song or station that you're listening to on Pandora?  Share it on your Pandora profile so that people who view you or follow you can see what you're into in terms of music.  Or, share your favourite stations and songs on your Facebook or Twitter accounts, so your friends can see what you're jamming out to.  You can even buy songs or CDs on iTunes or Amazon right from Pandora!

Sharing or purchasing music found on Pandora


There's a lot more to discover about Pandora, both in terms of the music it will play for you and how it actually works.  In our next tutorial, we'll tell you a bit about the potential costs of using Pandora.