|Editor's Review Costs & Features Videos User Reviews|
We have awarded Pandora our prestigious Silver Award in this category, having reviewed 14 US Music Download Websites. Read our review below to find out why...
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Pandora's box, of the Greek myth, contained all the world’s evils. Pandora.com, on the other hand, opens up a world of music pleasure. Far from chaotic, the great thing about Pandora.com is its ability to learn. Yes, it learns what kind of music you like (with a little help from you clicking “like” or “dislike”) by identifying which styles of music, and its constituting parts, you most enjoy. Pandora creates a record, based on 400 attributes, and then presents you with songs you never knew about but will love. This begins with as few as one song in your preferred list. Thereafter it throws musical balls at you, some demonic, most angelic. The more you use Pandora the less chaotic it becomes, but it will consistently surprise you with music that – somehow - clicks your buttons. This makes the experience a personal one, as if you have a friend in the room saying “hey listen to this” and then picking out records they think you’d like.
When you listen to music on Pandora you can learn about the bands, read the lyrics of their songs, view album work and more. It’s quite the educational experience, though perhaps a little much at times. When a song finishes a series of boxes appears and you see your tune slide down the scale as another arrives. You can share your musical tastes with friends through Facebook and take recommendations from them to develop your own appreciation of different artists and genres. It’s a slick operation and if you choose to upgrade your account to Pandora One you can get a few pleasant bonuses, though most of them are the removal of irritations...
Yes, the chaos comes from the irritating elements of Pandora.com. You can’t simply skip through songs you don’t like (there is a limit to the number of skips you can make, even with Pandora One, though you do get more skips for your paid membership), and ads interrupt your listening pleasure. This isn’t uncommon in music streaming sites, but it does mean that sites without ads, such as Last.fm have an edge. Also you cannot repeat or rewind songs, build playlists or have songs on demand without purchasing them. This can be quite limiting to users who know exactly what they want to listen to. You can of course go ahead and download the songs you like from one of the many retailers that Pandora offers, using Pandora as a free sounding board to experience new tunes. There are some other bonuses to upgrading to Pandora One (a very reasonable price really, for just $36 a year, working out at a mere $3.00 per month), namely the ability to remove the adverts, to increase your skip limits, and download apps for using on your desktop and elsewhere.
Pandora.com has a lot to offer: free music that learns to adapt to your tastes. It does though prohibit your music selections and interrupts the experience too regularly. But there are definitely more positives than negatives here. Who can argue with free music, particularly when buying those tracks you’re most interested in has been made so simple? There is a sense of you not really being in control at times, but perhaps there’s also a pleasure in that, when you let curiosity overrule you, you sometimes find something great that you never expected. Go ahead, open the box.
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