We compare the features, cost and catalogue of the two streaming services to help you decide where to spend your subscription money.
Initially launching as an internet radio service, today Pandora is a US-only music streaming service. Pandora is available for free with ads, Pandora Plus offers additional features, but includes ads for on-demand music, and Pandora Premium is the company’s full-blown music streaming service as a direct competitor to the likes of Spotify.
In the US, for individuals, Spotify comes in two flavours: Spotify Free and Spotify Premium. Spotify Free is the audio company’s ad-supported music streaming model, while for a monthly subscription Spotify Premium gives listeners all the features they need.
For this comparison we’ll be looking at Pandora Premium and Spotify Premium as these most closely represent the features users are after from a typical music streaming service today.
Both streaming services offer the same basic features such as ad-free listening, offline and on-demand playback, letting you listen to any song, anywhere, with unlimited skips.
Both Spotify and Pandora’s have long histories (in tech years) in music streaming. Spotify was founded in 2006 as one of the first music streaming services as we know them today, while Pandora was launched back in 2000 as an internet radio service, playing music based on the songs liked by the listener. To this day, Pandora still has a heavy focus on recommendations, but with the launch of Pandora Premium in 2017, they now also offer the standard music streaming features we’ve come to expect.
While Pandora lead the way for personalized music recommendations, most other streaming services such as Spotify have now caught up, with Spotify in particular praised for their fantastic customized playlists for music discovery, such as Discover Weekly and Release Radar.
For audio quality, Pandora Premium tops out at a measly 192 kbps MP3. Spotify Premium members on the other hand can streaming MP3 music at up to 320 kbps. Spotify have announced a HiFi streaming tier, however we are still waiting for the feature to launch, and have no word yet on the maximum bitrate available or potential price increase above Premium memberships. With the competition for hi-fi music streaming from streaming services such as Amazon Music and Apple Music, it’s likely Spotify will drop any initial plans they had to include a price increase for the feature. We’d love to see some improvements from Pandora in this area soon.
Most streaming services loudly boast the number of tracks available for streaming on their platforms. Spotify for example report over 70 million tracks are available for streaming, while Pandora’s numbers are a little less known. In 2017 Pandora reported 30 million tracks, which was roughly on par with Spotify at the time.
For individual memberships in the US, Spotify Premium and Pandora Premium are both $9.99 per month.
Both services offer various discounts for families, students and bundles with other subscription services.
With there are question marks over the size of Pandora’s catalogue, Spotify and Pandora both offer the basics features of music streaming services. For audio quality lovers, this one’s a no-brainer. With a higher 320 kbps available on Spotify today, the inclusion of Spotify HiFi soon will suit those looking for lossless audio.