For most of us, listening to music is something we simply cannot live without. You remember the days of the portable cassette player and then moving to a new generation of portable CD players. Just in the last few years we have gone from carrying around CD players to carrying around iPods, iPhones, and a variety of other media players that will allow us to listen to our collection of albums and in most cases even the radio. But is AM/FM radio all that great anyway with all of those ads and off air time? Plus most of these stations play the same songs over and over again and it gets to the point that you cannot even drive to work without hearing the same song two or three times.
Thus enter the world of Internet radio. Now, through services like iTunes and Pandora, you can listen to radio stations from all over the world. iTunes offers stations from every corner of the planet while Pandora pulls tracks from an ever growing collection of songs. Pandora, coined the music genome project, can not only provide you with a list of stations to fit your specific genre, but based on a rating and skip system can tell you what you like and suggest tracks that you will also enjoy. And if a song appears that you do not like, simply clicking the thumbs down option (next to the album cover) and Pandora will not play that track anymore, nor songs like it. Pandora is truly a smart way to listen to the radio. (Funny how they consider themselves Internet radio when in reality it is not radio at all but rather a collection of predetermined tracks.)
Pandora is also convenient. With the website allowing you access anywhere that you have a browser as well as iPhone and Blackberry application options you can carry your Pandora account with you wherever you go. But Pandora is not the perfect solution to your music listening needs. There are advertisements every few songs that do nothing but annoy. There are even ads on the side of the window that take up half the screen when all you want to do is skip to the next tune. But be careful as you are only allowed six skips a day. So be cautious if you are tired of hearing Lady Gaga as you can only hope around a limited number of times.
There are some other issues like not being able to rate songs outside of your genre even. When you create your account you can select a genre from a predetermined list or even input an artist that you like the sound of. So, when I started, I put in Armin van Buuren. He is a high-energy techno DJ and I love listening to dance, trance, and house music. So, once I entered that Pandora made the House station “my” station. If I, for example, want to venture out and listen to some Top 40 music and want to like a song I am not able to since House is considered to be my default station. But, all of those things aside Pandora truly does put services like iTunes Radio and Slacker Radio to shame. The selection is just unbeatable.
But what if I want to have unlimited skips? What if I want to listen to more than forty hours a month? What if I want to turn on Pandora while having a dinner party and not be overwhelmed with advertisements? You are in luck as Pandora offers a paid subscription service. The rate is $36 a year (yeah, that is a value in my option) and you are welcomed with a handful of incredible options. I wanted to take an opportunity to share some of those with you here. Below is a list of some the more interesting and personally beneficial options when you actually pay for your Pandora service. This offer comes to you with a slightly different name, more for branding I would assume, and is known as Pandora One. You be the judge but if you are looking to have full control over your radio the only way to do it, through Pandora anyway, is to pony up the dough.
Bringing Pandora to your Desktop
One cool thing that the Pandora subscription offers is a desktop application that allows you to run your Pandora radio station outside of a web browser. If you are anything like me you are using four or five tabs at any given time, so why waste one on Pandora? This handy application allows you the view the album cover, rate the song as a like or dislike, and even skip to the next track and pause if you are wanting to take a break from the music for a little while. This application takes up a lot less space too. If you do not want to see the application just hide the sucker in your task bar and move on with your day.
Making Pandora Your Very Own
With your paid subscription get ready to get creative. With the default Pandora website you have no control over the look of your page. You get the default look and feel and the most excitement that will come from this is the ads that pop up non-stop every few tracks. So if you are dishing out the cash for the subscription you can have pretty much total control over your design. There are skins that you can download that allow you to personalize your media player. This is where Pandora gets personal.
Listing without Limits
With the way Pandora is currently setup, if you are not paying then you are limited to so many hours a month. Forty to be exact. So if you have a full time job and are allowed to listen to music while in the office (like I can) you will use that time in a couple of weeks, tops. Plus, I have Pandora on my iPhone. Because of that my account is linked to my phone and the hours are the same. So if I use the website for twenty hours and my phone for twenty then I have, according to Pandora, used my forty hours. They are linked and this proves to be a big issue when I am in the mood to listen to some radio. The paid subscription, however, has no time limits and you can listen all day every day for the entire month. For the entire year for that matter. Pay for the enjoyment of unlimited listening with Pandora.
Higher Quality Streaming
The audio quality coming from Pandora is pretty solid. You get what I consider almost CD quality sound from the service when you are taking the free route. But, if you decide to pay for your service, expect a much higher quality of sound to pierce your eardrums. With the paid subscription you will begin receiving 192k bits per second audio. To the normal individual that might not prove to be that big of a selling point, but to ears like mine I need to hear what the person producing this track heard. The better the sound quality the more enjoyment I can get out of a song.
The single best feature about the paid subscription to Pandora is that you get no ads. No more commercials every few tracks that fan inhibit your mood. No more huge banners popping out all over the screen. No more being bothered to rent your next DVD from Netflix or to watch the latest and greatest late night TV sow on NBC. Ads are a thing of the past when you pay for your service. This, to most, should be worth the $36. Please remember that this is $36 a year, not a month. You get 365 days of ad free listening power for a small price to pay.
Longer Timeout Periods
If you are using Pandora right now, for free, then you are well aware that you are to interact with the service every handful of tracks before it will ask you if you are still listening. You can be ten minutes into your day and then the music stops. You wonder why, open the tab, and see a message from Pandora asking you if you are still listening. You hit yes, and carry on with your day only to have to do the same thing in another half an hour or so. It gets annoying fast with the free service. But, if you pay for your service, you will not have up to five hours of idle time before you are required to interact with Pandora. So, enjoy your time sitting back with ad free unlimited skips music. It truly will make your listening experience that much better.
These are only a few things that make Pandora One that much better than the free version of the service. If you listen to the radio at work, and you favorite the stations on Pandora, it might be time to seriously consider some investment into their subscription services. The experience will be better just from the features that you will be able to take advantage of. So pull out your credit card, follow the on screen directions to activating your account, and get to dancing as you are on your way to higher quality unlimited skipping ad free music.