Pandora Premium rolls out this week but is it enough to take on Spotify?

(Image credit: Pandora)

Pandora is turning things up to 11 as the personalized digital radio service deploys its newest paid tier: Pandora Premium.

Originally teased in December, Pandora Premium takes on the likes of Spotify Premium and Apple Music with its own spin on paying $9.99/month (about £8, AU$14) for music access.

Pandora Premium combines the make-your-own-radio functionality listeners have used for years - sans ads, of course - with the bonus add-ons Pandora Plus subscribers enjoy (such as unlimited skips and offline listening) in addition to a list of brand-new features.

What's new for Pandora users who bump themselves up to Premium status? Let's see what a subscriber gets for their two fivers a month.

Opening Pandora's Box

For starters, Pandora Premium subscribers can now make their own custom playlists - combining favorite radio stations, their own personal picks, and even every song they've ever given a thumbs-up to over time.

Pandora Premium also helps assemble playlists in a snap with the help of Pandora's long-standing secret weapon: the Music Genome Project

Should you get stumped making your list of study songs, jogging jams, or BBQ bangers, Pandora can fill in the gaps with similar songs based on what you have put in so far. 

Pandora Premium also features a smart search functionality, a revamped interface that changes color to compliment your music, a weekly browse feature highlighting new songs based on your listening preferences, and instant playlists made from stations you award multiple thumbs-up to.

Pandora also plans to expand Premium as time goes on, to include support for more devices and an "AutoPlay" feature that keeps tossing in new tracks so that your playlists never truly end.

Pandora Premium vs Spotify and Apple Music

While Pandora's beefed-up offering is a big step towards keeping up with the giants of music streaming - as well as offers Pandora fans a way to enjoy music without paying two different companies - many of its features feel more like catch-up than pull-ahead.  

For example, Spotify has a similar "Recommended Songs" feature for padding playlists, and even uses it on the fly to keep pre-made lists going long after original tracks play out, akin to Pandora Premium's upcoming AutoPlay ability.

Spotify may not have the Music Genome Project to power its own music suggestion, but it does have a few special tricks of its own, primarily its spot-on Discover Weekly list of recommendations and the newly added Daily Mix service, which concocts multiple themed playlists based on your listening habits every day.

Apple Music also has its own music recommendation and radio features, including its own curated playlists and DJ-hosted stations, making us feel that Pandora Premium's biggest sell is more the service's pedigree and impeccable music suggestion ability than any one particular feature.

Pandora Premium is rolling out over the course of the week starting today, and those interested in getting an invite can sign up on Pandora Premium's main page.

Parker Wilhelm
Parker Wilhelm is a freelance writer for TechRadar. He likes to tinker in Photoshop and talk people's ears off about Persona 4.