You’ve probably heard of Pandora, the streaming music service. Maybe you already use their free browser-based service, which uses the Music Genome Project to find music you might like based on an artist or song you enter. I’ve found many new artists that interested me using Pandora over the past few years.
Due to copyright and licensing negotiations last year, Pandora was facing some pretty drastic increases in the fees they pay to the licensing organizations. The new fees would have been very stifling to internet radio, including Pandora’s service. Fortunately, the rates ultimately adopted weren’t as draconian, but it did mean that the free service had to limited to 40 hours a month per user. While many Pandora users stay under that limit, those who need more music can pay Pandora an annual fee of $36.00 for unlimited use of the service. This premium level of service, called Pandora One, also includes a higher quality of playback (192 Kbits per second), a handy desktop application (which eliminated my frequent mistake of closing my browser in the middle of song), no advertising and five continuous hours of music without having to touch a button on the app (the free version requires you to let the system know you’re still listening more frequently, since Pandora is paying by the song).
Since I have Pandora on pretty much all the time in my office (or on my iPhone when I’m out – yes, there’s an app for that), $36 is a bargain. If you haven’t used Pandora before, give the free service a try, and if you like it, consider supporting the service by upgrading to Pandora One.