Pandora: Watch an ad, get free, on-demand music

Pick a song. Any song. It’s almost Christmas, so, how about a song of the season like “Fairytale of New York” by the Pogues?

Now, if you were using Pandora to listen to music, and you didn’t want to wait through a playlist of who knows what in the hopes of hearing Shane Macgowan and Kirsty MacColl’s greatest-ever musical performance, you had to pay $9.99 month for the company’s on-demand option, Pandora Premium. Pony up that amount, and you could play whatever song you wanted as many times as you’d like.

But there remains a segment of the population that doesn’t want to pay for streaming music online. Pandora has long maintained such a large and loyal listener base that has been able to use Pandora for free, but with the occasional audio or video ad popping up. This option hasn’t let listeners choose specific songs to hear. That is, until now.

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Pandora has launched a new on-demand music-listening option that will let users choose songs they want to hear, as long as they first watch a 15-second video ad. So, say you really want to hear Boston’s “More Than A Feeling” (a song that, 41 years after its release, never gets old). You can request it, Pandora will play an ad, and you will then be able to continue requesting specific songs for between 15 minutes to one hour before having to watch another ad.

If it sounds a lot like a similar offering from Spotify, you’re right. Pandora was late to the game with launching an on-demand subscription service, which it finally got off the ground earlier this year with its Pandora Premium option. However, by then, weakening revenue and declines in total users had taken its toll. Pandora’s share price faltered, and has dropped by more than 60 percent from a year ago. In June, Pandora sold a 19 percent stake in itself to satellite radio company Sirius XM, and not long after that, co-founder and Chief Executive Tim Westergren left the company. Westergren was eventually replaced by former Sling CEO Roger Lynch.

Pandora said subscribers to its $4.99-a month Pandora Plus option will also be able to listen to songs on an on-demand basis in exchange for watching the video ads.

Photo:┬áPandora’s logo seen at the New York Stock Exchange. (Richard Drew/AP)


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