Mobile App Success Story: Pandora Music

Many people are aware of the connection between music and human emotions. And this relationship is even more powerful when technology allows people to take their favorite songs everywhere. Pandora Music was built with the purpose to generate strong feelings for users while they are listening to songs specially recommended for them. There are some little secrets you need to discover in order to understand the path followed by Pandora’s creators to reach success.

Brilliant Idea

Have you ever heard about the Music Genome Project? A team of musicologists studied old and new tracks, analyzing 450 attributes and creating a system which can suggest a song for every person according to their tastes. There are 5 sub – genomes: Pop/Rock, Hip-Hop/Electronica, Jazz, World Music, and Classical. This technology which started in 1999 is behind the great experience provided by Pandora Music. The service is available on the web since 2005. 2008 represents the year when Apple launched App Store and Pandora Music app was released for mobile devices. And these two events happened in the same day, on July 10. Neil Mix, one of the developers that built the app remembers how difficult was for them to work with a new platform and the struggles they faced to get it done in time. It is really a great story!

How Pandora Music Did It

It isn’t easy to reach success with an app when there are many big competitors on the market in the same time, but Pandora did it and we are about to discover the most efficient methods for impressing the audience.


You will say: “How hard is it to offer to your users the music they like after they selected a genre or an artist?”. Probably, not that hard. But the tricky part is to continue to amaze them with good music after their tastes have changed or they are looking for something different. Due to the way it was created, Pandora is one of those apps that can predict what users want at a specific moment. We have to remind you that personalization continues to be a must-have for every app this year and you need to be aware of this fact from the moment you start designing it.


Most users keep their phones in the pocket when they listen to the radio. Therefore, it is very challenging to attract companies’ owners who want to promote their products when you can’t promise them that your customers will see their brand. But somehow Pandora manages to convince them that audio ads are a great solution for their campaigns. Amazing success stories are the proof that Pandora is a great channel for reaching users when they are paying attention to their favorite stations. Moreover, the partnership between Foursquare and Pandora combines the offline measurement attribution tool provided by Foursquare with the plethora of ad formats offered by Pandora. And this service works not only for big brands but also for local companies who want to reach loyal customers.

Free App

Now, let’s talk about the business model and how Pandora’s owners monetize the app. As you probably know, Pandora is a free app and it is available for all mobile users from Australia, New Zeeland, and United States. This version allows users to create stations based on their favorite music genres, artists or songs without any costs. Because of that, the app also comes with certain audio, visual and video ads which target users according to their registration information like birth year, zip code and gender. Actually, Pandora has a help file which explains this strategy and one of those reasons is to pay music royalties for every song provided. For those users who complain about the ads, Pandora also offers alternative solutions and these options take us to the following topic.

Premium Features

In order to enjoy the experience provided by Pandora without ads users can opt-in for the paid model and here they have two options. Pandora Plus which costs around $4.99/month and it offers additional features like unlimited stations, unlimited skips and replays, 4 stations for the moments when they don’t have the internet connection and higher quality audio. On the other hand, Pandora Premium was launched in April, last year and it costs $9.99/month. It allows users to search for their favorite songs, albums or playlists on – demand, to download the wanted music for offline listening and all the services available for Pandora Plus. These are solutions for loyal customers who understand developers’ needs and consider that paying a monthly subscription for their favorite music app is the right thing to do. At the same time, users have the chance to watch a 15 – second video ad if they want to access on-demand music even if they didn’t pay for Pandora Premium. While paid features made Pandora #1 in top grossing apps in Q3 2017, ads are still the main revenue source for the company as TechCrunch highlighted in December.


Bonus Tip: Focus On Millennials

The marketing team from Pandora knows very well their target audience: Millennials. Even though this generation is very diverse, millennials have some common characteristics, especially when we talk about mobile devices, their lifestyle and work culture. For this reason, Pandora is a go-to channel for users between 18 and 34. Millennials like to be permanently connected and for this fact Internet of Things represents a good idea whenever business owners want to attract this category of users. Baby boomers and gen X are also groups of users which shouldn’t be ignored but it depends on your app’s style and you need to focus on those customers who really enjoy your services. If you want to know how to market your app to millennials or how to reach them, then go back to our marketing solutions and build your strategy to make your app visible for this type of users.

Final Thoughts

When you communicate with customers it is very important to offer them what they want to hear. That is what Pandora did! After all, this is the core of music apps. Other key points are enumerated above. Take your time and analyze them to see if they fit your strategy.

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