The Case for a Pandora Revolution

A product that I have used nearly every day for many years is Pandora Radio. Though it often wins over my own iTunes collection and its 30K items, Pandora is showing its age. In a space where evolution is quick, Pandora requires improvements, some incremental, and others maybe even radical, to maintain competitiveness over other streaming services (Pandora lost its primacy to Spotify as the #1 world streaming service on Dec 1st, per analytics service App Annie).

Listening

Some of the improvements should be ‘simple’ –to easily create and edit shuffles, to rename them and group them, to have them sorted by favorites and custom order. The ‘add variety’ option to a station is not really practical. Moreover, any long term user will create quite a few stations –I have over 45. Simply this many stations prove unmanageable in the current interface.

Furthermore, if Pandora really wants to increase musicians’ income, then Pandora should allow its users to explore comprehensive histories of songs most listened and liked. This is, after all, the music that one might buy or gift to others. Pandora’s “buy” button is practical only to buying in the here and now –a rather unlikely proposition given Pandora is primordially used to play while in the background as we work in other tasks.

Other improvements, such as playback seamlessly continuing from one device to others, from the desktop to mobile, from mobile to the laptops or tablets, to home appliances is sorely lacking.

MusicWild

Yet Pandora Radio requires still greater transformation –when it arrived, Pandora created a magical experience, guessing your taste in music, and combining song after song (it may arguably still the best at that). Perhaps a transformational change is needed. Pandora, for example, should adapt to its users activities and locations, perhaps even moods, streaming specific music based on a user’s immediate locale such as their home, work, time of day, a street, subway station, or when being near friends. In mobile devices, input from from accelerometers and GPS, even heart-rate sensors if present, could have Pandora adapt to the minute-by-minute life of its users. With changes like this it is still possible for Pandora to return to the magic of streaming music in a fully personalized moment by moment experience –special like no other.

“Man Listening to Music” courtesy of hyena reality.
“Music Colors” courtesy of Stuart Miles.
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