Pandora vs Spotify

When Pandora debuted in the first month of the very last year of the 20th century, it revolutionized the digital music industry. For better or worse, that is still a hot debate, but one thing is certain. Today, the majority of people have shifted to online streaming services to enjoy music as well as other content. Over the years, various competitors have popped up. One very good example is Spotify. Roughly six years after Pandora’s initial release, Spotify was unveiled to the world. Since then, both Pandora and Spotify have grown to become the dominating powers in the industry.

Of course, every online streaming service has its own flavors and distinctive features. So, what are the differences between Pandora and Spotify? Which is actually the best online streaming service in the world? See the comparisons between these two behemoths below.

What is Pandora?

Pandora is a service for music streaming and automated music recommendation that is powered by the Music Genome Project. It is available only in the United States (the service in Australia and New Zealand is ceased on July 31, 2017). Pandora plays musical choices of a particular genre based on the user’s artist selection. You can provide “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” to the currently playing song; the feedback is then taken by the service to determine the subsequent song selections. Pandora is accessible through a web browser and also via its client apps available for Windows 10, Windows 10 Mobile, Windows Phone, Android, iOS, and Xbox One. (Read also : Pandora vs Apple Music)

What is Spotify?

Spotify is a streaming service for music, videos, and podcasts. Spotify provides DRM-protected content from media companies and record labels to the users. It is now available in many countries all over the world. It is available in most of the European and American countries, Australia, New Zealand, and several Asian countries. It is accessible via the client apps, available for Windows, Linux, and macOS personal computers as well as iOS and Android mobile devices.

Pandora vs. Spotify: Music Collection

When choosing for a music streaming service, one of the primary factors that we usually consider is how large the music collection is. Of course, we have our own preferences, and one service may have the songs of a particular artist but not the songs of some other artists. Still, Spotify is currently the gold standard among all music streaming services currently available. With access to over than 30 million songs, it is not a surprise that many people prefer Spotify. Although a few artists have decided to withhold their songs from Spotify – i.e. Taylor Swift and Tool – Spotify still is very attractive. The service is incredibly up-to-date; for example, when Kendrick Lamar leaked his new album “To Pimp A Butterfly”, the leakage was already available on Spotify within mere minutes. You can also find indie and obscured artists here. Pandora, despite being older, has only managed to amass about 1 million songs.

Pandora vs. Spotify: Music Discovery

One of the primary reasons people love music streaming services is because how easy it is to find new music in these places. You and I have some favorite artists and bands, but we also enjoy coming across new songs and expanding out listening preferences. In terms of music discovery, though, Pandora is definitely the clear winner here. Of course, it has created its legacy as an online radio, which played music based on a desired genre or artist. It has an intricate algorithm, the Music Genome Project, which brings an uncanny ability to choose the exact songs that the users want to listen to, even if you have never really heard the songs before. Its awesome algorithm will bring you some cool new music to enjoy.

Spotify also has a radio function that is pretty good. However, it rarely travels outside the box. It tends to remain in the same realm of a chosen genre or artist, even after several continuous hours.

Pandora vs. Spotify: Comparing the Free Versions

Interestingly, both Pandora and Spotify provide free services, although limited. Obviously, these free services are filled with advertisements here and there. However, fortunately, those ads don’t render either service completely unusable. Their free versions are still pretty much listenable, and make a good way to test drive before buying a premium account.

Pandora’s free service provides ads that each ranges from 15 to 30 seconds after several songs. You can only listen to the lower quality audio stream. You have a limited number of how many times you can skip songs, and you are not given access to all the available stations. The desktop client apps are only available for premium users.

Spotify’s free version also provides periodic ads ranging from 15 to 30 seconds, and it also only allows you to stream the lower quality audio. In addition, you are not allowed to download any song for offline listening, and you can only play songs on random/shuffle.

Pandora vs. Spotify: Paid Versions

Now seeing their paid versions, Pandora and Spotify actually offer very different features and benefits. For sure, both paid versions completely eliminate the ads.

Pandora’s premium subscription will give the user ad-free playback and access to a higher audio quality. You are also allowed to download the desktop client apps, which are certainly more convenient than using a web browser. However, you are still unable to create custom playlists (it is more of a music recommendation radio, after all) and you can’t download songs for offline listening.

On the other hand, Spotify’s premium membership provides various benefits if compared to the free version. It removes all the ads, it increases the audio quality, and it even allows you to download songs for offline listening! By the way, the audio quality on Spotify is higher than Pandora. Spotify’s premium subscription streams 320 kbps audio, whereas Pandora’s premium version only streams 192 kbps audio.

- Great music recommendation radio for finding new music- Great music streaming service
- Over than 1 million songs- Over than 30 million songs with very fast updates
- 192 kbps maximum audio quality- 320 kbps maximum audio quality
- You can’t make custom playlists and download songs- You can make custom playlists and download songs


If you are looking for a great music recommendation service to discover new music, Pandora is definitely what you are looking for. The musical selections are awesome. However, if that is not the case and you prefer a more comprehensive feature set, Spotify is the way to go. It has a much larger music collection, it allows you to make custom playlists, and you can even download songs for offline listening.

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