Why Pandora Sucks

I walked over to my coworkers desk last week to find that she had headphones on and was listening to music. I asked what she was listening to and she open her browser to expose that very familiar, very outdated blue-on-gray-on-blue-on-boring website that is Pandora. I immediately let out a “Pshaww… you still listen to Pandora?”

She kind of rolled her eyes and said, “Girl, I know…” and we went about our conversations.

It wasn’t until later when the subject of Pandora came up again with her that I began to really contemplate the state of Pandora. I asked her why she didn’t listen to Spotify (as the web player is up on pretty much every desktop in our office) and she told me she just never jumped on the bandwagon when it came around. I advocated for ol’ Spotty—as I’m a huge fan. I was resistant to it, at first, but I fell in love with creating my own playlists and listening to whatever I wanted to listen to, when I wanted to listen to it. After becoming familiar with Spotify and using it regularly, I then fell in love with the different playlists that others have created and even the “radio” function.

I’m the kind of chick that needs music to be productive, in any fashion. Whether it is driving, getting ready, cleaning, showering, blogging, cooking, working out, or even falling asleep – I have a soundtrack to all of it. Here’s why I made the switch to Pandora and why I think Spotify is dominating the world.

  • Predictable Little Pandora. Pandora did the whole “Oh you like this song/artist/album/instrument? Here’s a whole slew of songs that we know you’re bout to love, as well” first. I get that. Props to them. Mad love to the Music Genome project or whatever it was called. But I was not into only having 6 skips on your “I trust you to get it right” platform. Sometimes you just want to pick what you want, ya know? And simply put—sometimes Pandora is wrong!
    Okay Kelsea, I know you’re saying, just switch stations to what you’re in the mood for. Which, honestly, usually worked—because the predictability factor of what was going to get played on each of my stations was OFF THE CHARTS. My Jason Mraz and Justin Nozuka stations were pretty much the same 12 acoustic/folk sounding songs over, and over, and over, and over….
    I could be very off base— but I feel like since Pandora has a human listen to one song like 8 times before they find a match(es) for it, I was rarely getting/discovering new music on my stations. And every day that I plugged my earphones into Pandora at work, I was in a routine I did NAHT want to be in!
  • Limitless Spotify. Pandora is pretty user friendly—I’ll give them that. But your options are wildly limited. Make a station. Skip songs. Shuffle your stations. Or pay to upgrade. (which really just means no commercials and unlimited skipping.) ((Which… why am I paying you money to skip songs? Doesn’t that seem ridiculous?)) With Spotify, however, your options are grocery-list status. Create a playlist. Listen to one of the ten-jazillion playlists already created. Connect with you friends and listen to THEIR playlists. Follow your favorite artist on Spotify and listen to what they’re listening to. Listen to JUST your favorite artist. Listen to JUST your favorite artist’s album. OR… pretend you’re back to Pandora days and play a radio station based on an artist/song/genre/whatever.
    Might I add that when you’re listening to Spotify on a desktop, you do not have to pay to choose a specific song/artist/whatever. You may have to suffer through an ad or two, but it’s usually one ad per 30 minutes of air time. And even if you’re listening to it on your mobile device, you can still shuffle a particular artist or album, which sounds pretty fair to me.
  • Sharing is caring. “Girl, have you heard ____’s new song, ____?” – Me.
    “No!! Is it good?” – my gf
    “I’m sending it to you on Spotify right now.” –
    … need I say more?
  • Discovery. I will say that a lot of the artists that I love, now, I discovered (or was introduced to, rather?) on Pandora. I’d create a station for Random Artist I Liked. Listen to that artist while I was whatevering. Randomly realize that this new/unfamiliar song that is playing is actually super dope, check Pandora to see who it was, and then go from there. But what does “go from there” mean on Pandora?
    Well, I could create a station for that new artist I just found that I really liked, but that meant I was probably only going to hear ONE of their songs, and then hear a bunch of songs I already heard on my last station. So… cool.
    Or I could go buy their album on iTunes and hope their entire catalogue was sweet and that one song wasn’t a fluke.
    On Spotify, I can go really delve into every new artist/band I discover. Song by song, album by album. I can read a biography on them and see what they’re listening to on Spotify, even see if they’re currently on tour or not, and where they’re going to be nearby. I can also discover what other random albums they’re featured on. It’s way more interactive and way better for discovering new music.
    Also—when a band/artist I like on Spotify releases a new single, it’s always updated on Spotify, even if there’s no album released yet. So I’m staying up to date on New Music from Old Artists, and therefore staying relevant on twitter. *hairflip*
  • Interactive. Beside the fact that I can share what I’m listening to you with on Spotify, along with a cute message—I can also post what I’m listening to on my Facebook. So as I’m going through my workday, for instance, my facebook activity log will show every song I listened to (which I can chose to make public or private. Chill.) This might seem creepy to you, but I’ve gotten some “likes” and comments on songs I’ve listened to that some of my Facebook friends thought were cool that have sparked some pretty good conversations. (A LOT more people in Groveport, OH listen to Death Cab for Cutie than I realized.) Also, I can see what music is trending among my Facebook friends. Pretty cool.

 

So, basically, if you’re still skipping and thumbs downing songs on Pandora—I feel bad for you, son. I got 99 problems but streaming music ain’t one.

La la la,
-K

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14 Replies to “Why Pandora Sucks”

  1. Spotify sucked for me. It suggested crappy mainstream artists for me when I started listening to underground rappers like eyedea. Also, hearing a slew of random artists that are similar to the artist I created a station for is a plus for me. I have discovered way more music on Pandora than I ever did on Spotify. With Spotify, I just seemed to always get stuck in a loop of the same old shit.

    So my main reason for listening to Pandora is because I actually seem to discover at least one more artist each day I listen to it.

    1. However, the new update for the Pandora website is awful. They sacrificed usability for a sleek design. And it looks like they are trying to design it for touch screens or something…. which is really dumb since most people who visit the website, probably do so with a desktop computer and a mouse. People browsing on tablets or phones would just use the app.

  2. I agree with the pervious comment. The update is beyond terrible, but I’ve had my account for years and refuse giving it up. I’ve tried Spotify multiple, multiple (multiple!) times, and each time I conclude that it just ins’t for me.

    1. Coming from a retired DJ and App Engineer stand point, Pandora did not have to change their process or look and feel, perhaps a little less blue, but… Think I will wait to see what else comes in the air, Spotify seems aït… it’s probable that the technology just isn’t invented yet for me to say, Hey now!

      I should build it, and who knows, perhaps they’ll come;-)

        1. Nice! thanks for reply @RollingMuse, that’s actually pretty cool- an easier way of choosing what I want, right off the bat- Did not setup an account yet, but good of you to share:-) Have a great week!

  3. Kelsey, I agree with you regarding Pandora: it sucks! I also find that lately the Spotify algorithms like Discover Weekly started becoming more like Pandora: generic and boring. The human and social aspect of music is missing for me.

    I have been working on a music discovery app called at http://www.rollingmuse.com
    The main idea:
    Discover music from people with matching tastes

    Initially, I just did this to discover music based on my taste. Now I think it’s ready to be tested by other people. Try it and let me know what you think!

  4. I’ve been using Pandora in “free” mode, and while I can mentally tune out the commercials, it’s the incessant “still listening” timeouts that I find to be a total dick move on their part.

  5. I have Pandora as an app on my TV, i linked my Comcast account with my Pandora account so i can basically do everything through the TV I had the trial premium subscription for about 10 minutes and then promptly shit canned Pandora, the slight fluctuation in volume throughout songs was driving me insane, I am not paying 10.00 a months for garbage

  6. Last.fm used to be my go-to until they f’d up pretty much everything since they rolled out their new website design. Their Spotify integration no longer works. I threw myself into using Pandora, and, it’s just flat out bad at recommending music to you. I don’t know what to do because Spotify itself isn’t that much better (playlists aren’t always reliable for me.)

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