For $10 a month, you can now enjoy the soothing sounds of Michael Bublé or the heartwarming nightmare that is Wham’s Last Christmas and make all your friends lose Whamageddon by playing Pandora Premium on your Amazon Alexa-powered device. The premium, ad-free service is joining Amazon’s entire lineup of devices for the first time, including the Echo, Echo Dot, and new Echo Show.
The upgrade will also work on all third-party Alexa devices that currently support Pandora. The upgrade is a big one for Amazon as users continue to pivot toward playing their favorite songs, albums, and playlists using voice commands. It’s a nifty ability to be able to play carols or catch up on the news even if you’re elbows-deep in turkey or covered in cranberry sauce.
There are other features on Pandora Premium that are designed to enhance everyday moments and make time at home more enjoyable. Listeners can keep Pandora on AutoPlay for continuous jams or set Pandora as their default music streaming service on Alexa if they are heavily invested in playlists or even the upcoming podcast feature. Pandora features its own curated playlists and the company says support for unique personalized soundtracks will be coming soon.
Previously, Echo owners could only stream music from Pandora’s online radio service, which doesn’t allow you to play full albums or use the playlist feature unless you were a Premium subscriber already.
The popular music streaming service joins Amazon Music Unlimited, Spotify, Deezer, and Tidal as the major music streaming services on Amazon’s smart speakers. Where are Apple Music and YouTube Music and Google Play Music you might ask? They’re casualties of the smart speaker war, banished back to their own digital ecosystem, although Pandora Premium recently made its way past the front lines to appear on Google Assistant-powered devices like the Google Home. Maybe there is hope for peace in our time after all.
There’s still no love lost in the competition between streaming services, though. At the end of the second quarter of 2018, Pandora added about 350,000 new subscribers for a total of about 6 million subscribers. It’s big business but still pales in comparison to Spotify’s 80-million-plus paid subscribers. It should be interesting to see how the Amazon Alexa integration moves those numbers next year.
The voice controls are absurdly easy, although we still point them out every time. To start listening, users just have to say things like, “Alexa, play Christmas music,” or “Alexa, play William Shatner and Henry Rollins’ duet on Jingle Bells.” It’s a real thing. Go figure.
Rock n’ rollers who aren’t too sure about Pandora’s groovy new service can sign up for a 60-day free trial of Pandora Premium or Pandora Premium Family today by visiting Pandora.