Pandora today is rolling out a new feature to its Premium tier that will allow subscribers to continue to listen to music, uninterrupted, when their current track, album or playlist ends. Called, simply, AutoPlay, the feature works by shifting users to a personalized radio station based on whatever it is you were listening to before.
Its now available to both iOS and Android users, and can be toggled on while listening to music or managed from the apps Settings.
Pandora says the feature could be particularly useful in certain scenarios like when youre working out at the gym and dont have time to fiddle with your music, or when youre hosting a party but dont want to stop your conversations to play DJ, for example.
But as Variety notes, AutoPlay has another advantage, as well. Because radio streaming has different rights associated with it compared with on-demand listening, Pandora can leverage the new feature to work around the problem with music exclusives that launch on rivals like Apple Music, Tidal or Spotify.
For example, the report said,Taylor Swifts 1989 album can only be listened to on demand on Apple Music, while Pandora users can only play her prior album Red on demand. But if they switch on AutoPlay, when Red ends, its likely that Pandora will start mixing in tracks from 1989 which it is able to play through its radio service.
The news of AutoPlays launch arrives alongside other news related to Pandoras agreement with private equity firmKKR.In May, KKRhad agreed to buy$150 million in Series A preferred Pandora shares in a months time, and be paid a 7.5 percent or 8 percent quarterly dividend, while also taking a board seat. The cash was intended to help Pandora regain its footing in todays music market, which now heavily favors newer, on-demand services.
However, while that investment is cleared to close, Pandora announced today that it and KKR have agreed to an extension of their earlier agreement. The extension will allow Pandora to instead explore interest expressed by a strategic investor who wants to make a substantial minority investment in the company, a briefannouncement from Pandora explains.
Sirius XM had previously been negotiating with Pandora to acquire the company in its entirety, but couldnt get a deal done due to disagreements over price, the reports say. Its unclear for now what Sirius XMs terms for this new investment would be, or if the deal will go through.
But with Pandora missing its June 8 deadline for finding a buyer or taking the funds from KKR, Pandoras stock tanked today, hitting its lowest point in more than a year.The sell-off could make Pandora more of an acquisition target.
While the drama surrounding Pandoras future continues, the company did today release numbers that seem to indicate those testing Pandoras Premium tier are at least enjoying its features.
According to Pandora, nearly 60 percent of trials are from those under the age of 35, and their favorite feature is the personalized My Thumbs Up playlist. As their trials continue, users launch Pandora more often over half listen more than six days per week, and listening hours increase more than 30 percent during their trial.
In addition, 97 percent of Premium users are listening to a playlist Pandora created for them via My Thumbs Up or Linked playlists, and listeners have kept 86 percent of songs from the Add Similar Songs feature on their playlists, Pandora says.
Plus, as Barrons noted, Pandora CEO Tim Westergren said at a music conference Tuesday that Pandora accounts for 40 percent of music listening on Amazon Echo and 50 percent on Sonos speakers.