New Pandora Plus comes with replay and more song skipping

Pandora took the wraps off its revamped subscriber and ad-supported music-streaming services Thursday, but the Oakland-based internet radio company remained mum about what it might have in store for a true, on-demand music-listening option.

Pandora┬álaunched┬áPandora Plus, a $4.99-a-month ad-free subscription service that is an enhanced version of the company’s Pandora One subscription offering. The main new features of Pandora Plus are that listeners can now replay songs and have an unlimited number of songs they may skip. The replay function was one of the most wanted features requested by Pandora listeners, while Pandora One subscribers had previously been limited to being able to skip six songs an hour.

The company also added a replay function for its free, ad-supported streaming service, with a bit of a catch. If you hear a song you like, for example, the hook-laden hit “Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars, and your kids in the backseat want to hear it again, that’s no problem, as long as you press “replay” and watch a 15-to-30-second long video ad first.

Pandora also said its service will have a new “predictive offline mode” that will detect when a listener’s device loses its signal and switch over to an offline station so that listening continues largely uninterrupted. When this occurs, Pandora will deliver an audio message to let the listener know.

A Pandora spokesman said the Pandora Plus and new ad-supported features will be initially available on Apple iOS and Google Android devices to 1 percent of the company’s U.S. listeners on Thursday. The services will be rolled out and available to all mobile-device listeners over the next month, and will then come to desktop, consumer electronics and automotive platforms. Pandora listeners in Australia and New Zealand will be able to get the new services in 2017.

Pandora had little to say about its other upcoming release, a full, on-demand music-streaming service that Chief Executive Tim Westergren said would be “coming later this year.” Many industry analysts have estimated Pandora’s on-demand service will cost about $10 a month.

Photo: Pandora is displayed above a post where it trades on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Oct. 23, 2015. On Thursday, Pandora unveiled new features for its subscription-based and ad-supported online music-streaming services. (AP/Richard Drew)


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