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Difference Between Spotify and Pandora

Spotify and Pandora are the two big names in the audio streaming and media industry that offer their users the best ways to listen to music and podcasts on-the-go. Pandora has been around for some time now and the Pandora Internet radio has helped revolutionize the digital music industry. Then a new digital music service Spotify came and took music streaming to new levels. Both are great platforms to listen to music, but which one is right for you? Let’s take a look.

What is Spotify?

Music streaming has been the most preferred way of listening to music for the past decade and Spotify is probably the reason behind this growing interest in streaming media. Spotify is a Swedish digital music service that gives music lovers access to millions of songs. It is basically a music streaming service that allows you to stream music to any mobile device you want, so you can listen to your favorite music or anything you like from anywhere you want. Spotify is a one of the biggest names in the digital music industry with over 356 million monthly active users from around the world. Spotify is where everyone is at and it takes on behemoths like Apple, Amazon and Pandora.

What is Pandora?

Pandora is a subscription-based music streaming and radio service owned by California-based Sirius XM Holdings. Launched in 2005 as a personalized radio experience, Pandora was the first online service to make personalization a key part of music listening experience. In a short time, Pandora transformed the digital music industry with its so-called ‘Music Genome Project’ – an algorithm designed to recommend songs by musical traits. Although, it launched originally as an internet radio service, it took to fame as one of the rising stars of the early digital music industry but it failed to maintain its stronghold following a strong competition against the industry leaders like Apple, Amazon, and Spotify. It’s hard to imagine how a company that literally started the online radio movement now struggles to find new footing.

Difference between Spotify and Pandora

Music Catalog 

– While both Spotify and Pandora are the most popular digital music services out there, Pandora struggles to maintain its footing in this new digital era. That being said, Spotify is probably the biggest player in the digital music industry as of now, with a massive music catalog of over 50 million songs. Pandora, on the other hand, through acquisition of other services, has a library of little over 1.5 million songs, which is a lot less compared to what Spotify has.

Streaming Quality

 – Unfortunately, neither of the two music streaming services offer high quality streaming options. While both use the same lossy AAC file format, Spotify also uses the lossy Ogg Vorbis format to generate better sound quality. Spotify offers the highest audio quality with 320 kbps for its Premium subscribers, while Pandora Premium offers a maximum of 192 kbps. The difference may be notable, but this shouldn’t be the sole reason to opt for a different service as lower bitrate sounds fine.

Radio Stations

 – While both are great services when it comes to music discovery, Pandora has more radio stations that are perfectly tailored to your liking and favorites. The best things about Pandora is its one-of-its-kind ‘Music Genome Project’ that creates different stations based on characteristic traits such as rhythm, melody, artist, song and genre. Based on the features you choose, Pandora creates the right Station that matches your favorite songs and more. Spotify has similar offerings in terms of stations, but Pandora Stations are customizable and more diverse.

Pricing Plans

 – Both the services offer a free version for any mobile device you want and both the free versions come with ads, obviously. Both allow you to listen to songs even after the trial period ends, but with some limitations, like no skipping songs, random playlist order and so on. Pandora starts as low as $4.99 and goes up to $14.99 for the Family Plan which offers all Premium features and access to up to six accounts. Spotify has almost similar plans, starting with $9.99 a month for the Individual Plan which offers ad-free music. Spotify Family Plan costs $15.99 per month which gives access to six accounts.

Spotify vs. Pandora: Comparison Chart


While both Spotify and Pandora are the most popular digital music services out there, Spotify clearly leads the pack despite its late entry into this super-competitive market. Pandora has been around even before Spotify came to the picture and its popular Music Genome Project is truly a big plus, it is facing its biggest competition, especially with so many players fighting for the reigns, and Spotify jumped to an early lead with its great offerings, massive library, curated playlists, ad-free music, and more.

Which is better Pandora or Spotify?

Although, Pandora has long been in the race, it struggles to maintain its stronghold, especially in today’s highly competitive market where players like Spotify holds a major share of the global music streaming business. Spotify would be a better choice, if you’re looking for some serious music listening experience.

Is Pandora cheaper than Spotify?

While both the services have their ad-supported free versions that get the job done just fine, premium plans have their own advantages, such as ad-free music, unlimited skips, and so on. Pandora is relatively cheaper than Spotify, considering Pandora Plus is just $4.99 per month compared to Spotify Individual which costs $9.99 per month.

Which is the best music streaming service?

Today, there is almost a dozen of popular music streaming services out there that offer basically the same features. Some popular names include Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music Unlimited, Tidal, YouTube Music, Deezer, Qobuz, etc.

Is Amazon better than Pandora?

Amazon Music provides a much better music listening experience with a huge library of streaming songs, if you’re an avid music lover. Besides, both offer personalized radio stations based on the songs and artists you like the most. Amazon does offer HD listening with up to 850 kbps, which is more than double the rate of what Pandora offers, or any other music streaming service for that matter.

How many hours does Pandora give for free?

Pandora offers its free users access to 40 hours of music a month, but this limit was removed in September 2013.

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References :

[0]Moore, Heidi. “Now even Pandora is struggling with its future.” Mashable India, Mashable, Inc., 12 Feb. 2016, https://mashable.com/2016/02/11/pandora-becomes-the-latest-streaming-service-to-struggle/. Accessed 11 June 2021.

[1]Carbone, Sarah. “Spotify vs Pandora.” soundguys.com, SoundGuys, https://www.soundguys.com/spotify-vs-pandora-36915/. Accessed 11 June 2021.

[2]Hendricks, John A. Radio's Second Century: Past, Present, and Future Perspectives. New Jersey, United States: Rutgers University Press, 2020. Print

[3]Miller, Michael. Sams Teach Yourself Spotify in 10 Minutes. Indiana, United States: Sams Publishing, 2012. Print

[4]Image credit: https://live.staticflickr.com/2093/2178926436_c45fdc8f4a.jpg

[5]Image credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Spotify_Badge_(large).png

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