In a way, opening the new Pandora app feels like running into an old friend. For one thing, I haven’t been using Pandora much for the last few years, opting instead to binge on music via Spotify, SoundCloud, and vinyl, dipping into Pandora only rarely. But just like someone from an earlier phase of life, Pandora seems to know me and we pick up right where we apparently left off: listening to Slowdive, the dreamy English shoegaze band from the 1990s. I didn’t ask Pandora to take me down this road, but it suits my mood just fine on this chilly March afternoon.
Of course, Pandora has always been able to dive into a personalized radio station like this. But now the app has a new trick: Its brand-new on-demand music subscription tier, built to rival Spotify and Apple Music, is layered seamlessly on top of its famous people-and-data-powered playlisting engine. Pandora Premium is here. So far it sounds pretty good, but I can’t help but wonder whether or not it’s too late.