In recent years, global industry data has illuminated a significant surge in music streaming revenues, multiplying by over 28 times in the past decade. The number of music streaming subscribers has experienced rapid growth, with nearly 616.2 million people tuning in to their favorite artists or exploring new ones through online streaming platforms as of the end of August 2023.
Music streaming services may have become an integral part of your daily life. However, with so many excellent platforms to choose from, you might find it challenging to decide. With over 46 million monthly active users in the United States as of the third quarter of 2023, Pandora is a long-standing music streaming platform with an immense library of albums, artists, playlists, and podcasts. Renowned for pioneering personalized radio stations through the innovative “Music Genome Project,” Pandora offers a unique and personalized approach to music discovery.
On the other hand, Apple Music, with features like Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos and seamless integration with Apple devices and services, is another compelling option, particularly for those deeply immersed in the Apple ecosystem. Apple Music has garnered a user base of 32.6 million users in the U.S. as of February 2023, and an estimated 88 million users worldwide as of June 2022.
If you’re grappling with a decision between Apple Music and Pandora, this article will provide a thorough side-by-side comparison of the two services. Our aim is to offer valuable insights that will assist you in making an informed choice based on your preferences and priorities.
As one of the leading music streaming platforms, Apple Music stands out with an extensive library boasting over 100 million songs and 30,000 playlists. All subscribers enjoy unlimited access to a vast catalog that spans mainstream hits, independent releases, and a wide array of genres – all free from ads. The platform also offers curated playlists, radio stations, and exclusive content.
Apple Music mainly focuses on music streaming. Users need to access podcasts through a separate dedicated application called Apple Podcasts.
Pandora, in contrast, takes a unique approach to music streaming, emphasizing personalized radio stations that create a distinct listening experience based on user preferences. While Pandora does provide on-demand streaming through its Premium plans, its library, consisting of around 50 million songs, is not as expansive as Apple Music’s in terms of sheer track count. Only Premium members have the freedom to search and play what they want, while Free and Plus members have to unlock this feature by viewing ads.
Users can also access podcasts on Pandora.
Apple Music and Pandora adopt distinct strategies in their plans and pricing.
Apple Music primarily offers a single paid subscription tier, which includes individual, family, and student plans. All members across these plans enjoy the same set of features, such as access to the entire Apple Music catalog, offline listening, and curated playlists.
In contrast, Pandora employs a multi-tiered subscription model with three tiers: Free (ad-supported), Plus, and Premium (Individual, Family, Student, and Military). This strategy accommodates diverse user preferences, needs, and budgets, with each tier offering different features.
Pandora’s Free plan is an ad-supported radio service that requires you to unlock on-demand listening and song skips by watching ads. Furthermore, this plan does not offer offline listening.
The Plus Plan enhances the radio service by providing ad-free personalized stations and a quite limited offline listening feature. Users need to watch ads to unlock the ability to skip songs.
The Premium subscription plans offer on-demand music streaming similar to Apple Music. They include features such as the ability to search and play specific tracks, unlimited skips, offline listening, and the creation and sharing of playlists.
For a comprehensive view of Apple Music and Pandora subscription prices, a side-by-side comparison table is presented. Notably, Pandora provides yearly pricing options for all its plans, allowing users to access its services at discounted rates.
|Plans and Prices
|Apple Music *
|$4.99/month or $54.89/year
|$9.99/month or $109.89/year
|$14.99/month or $164.89/year
|$4.99/month or $59.88/year
|$7.99/month or $87.79/year
In terms of pricing, Pandora proves to be slightly more cost-effective than Apple Music in corresponding plans. Besides the similar plans offered by both services, Pandora’s offerings also include a Free tier, a Plus tier, and a Military Plan, providing users with more choices. Furthermore, Pandora’s yearly payment options enable users to enjoy additional savings.
On the contrary, Apple Music’s unified approach reflects its strategy to simplify the music streaming service and provide a straightforward user experience. This simplicity appeals to users who prefer an uncomplicated choice without navigating through various subscription options.
Another point worth noting is that new subscribers to Pandora benefit from a 30-day free trial for the Plus plan and a 60-day free trial for Premium plans. On the other hand, Apple Music provides a one-month free trial for new members. However, for new subscribers who purchase eligible AirPods, HomePod, or Beats, Apple offers a generous six-month free trial of Apple Music.
Positioning audio quality as a standout feature, Apple Music offers lossless audio at no additional cost, making it a compelling option for audiophiles. The platform provides three Wi-Fi audio quality settings, starting from 256 kbps, along with an additional “High Efficiency” setting for mobile data streaming. Hi-Res lossless audio allows users to enjoy songs at up to 24-bit/192 kHz, translating to approximately 145 MB for a three-minute track.
Apple Music’s audio quality settings include:
Additionally, Apple Music introduces Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos, enhancing the listening experience by creating a sense of immersion.
On the other hand, Pandora, with a maximum streaming quality of 192Kbps for Premium members, may not be the optimal choice for users seeking a music-streaming platform that places a strong emphasis on lossless audio.
Pandora’s service centers around recommendations based on the “Music Genome Project,” a method of classifying individual songs by musical traits. Originating as an internet radio service, Pandora generates personalized stations based on individual songs’ musical traits and songs liked by the user. In 2017, Pandora expanded its offerings with Pandora Premium, introducing an on-demand music streaming version more in line with contemporary competitors.
The system’s unique “Thumbs Up” and “Thumbs Down” feature empowers users to fine-tune their stations to align with their preferences. All songs that receive a “Thumbs Up” are conveniently accessible in the “Thumbed Up Tracks” section. It is more like a radio listening experience but enhanced, allowing users to remove disliked songs and prompting Pandora to avoid playing similar songs in the future.
Consequently, users often find Pandora stations more aligned with their tastes and more familiar, as compared to Apple Music, which may frequently introduce more obscure tracks that users are less acquainted with.
Apple Music also provides music recommendations tailored to your preferences. In the “Listen Now” section, you can discover personalized content such as “Made for You” playlists and recommended artists. To enhance Apple Music’s understanding of your preferences, you can use the “Love” or “Dislike” options available in the More menu (the drop-down menu when you click the three dots) for songs, albums, or playlists.
Pandora’s ad-supported users don’t have access to offline listening features. Pandora Plus subscribers, however, can enjoy offline listening for three of their top stations and Thumbprint Radio. These stations are automatically downloaded by Pandora, with updates weekly, ensuring they are always your most-listened-to stations.
Pandora Premium subscribers, on the other hand, have the flexibility to download as many songs, albums, stations, or playlists from Pandora’s library for offline listening, limited only by the storage capacity of their mobile devices. But, the download feature only supports iOS or Android mobile devices and Apple Watches.
In comparison, Apple Music allows users to download up to 100,000 songs to their library. You can associate ten devices (with a maximum of five computers) with your Apple ID for streaming and downloading Apple Music songs.
Both Apple Music and Pandora Premium offer offline listening features. However, Apple Music allows you to download on both mobile and desktop devices, while Pandora only supports downloading on mobile devices. Apple Music also stands out with a larger library and superior audio quality, which is maintained even when downloading tracks to your devices.
Based on its robust song recommendation algorithm, Pandora provides users with Thumbprint Radio. This personalized station curates a playlist of songs you’ve Thumbed-Up across all your stations, along with additional tracks related to those Thumbs. You can simply search for Thumbprint Radio and add it to your collection for listening.
On the other side, Apple Music integrates iCloud services to offer a cross-device sync feature, ensuring consistency in your music library, playlists, and preferences across multiple devices. Moreover, you can add local music to your library on one device and synchronize it with another.
Apple Music Sing, an engaging feature, allows users to sing along with their favorite songs by adjusting the vocals of compatible tracks. This karaoke-like feature adds a dynamic and interactive element to the music-listening experience.
Both services offer broad accessibility, ensuring users can enjoy them across various platforms such as Android and iOS smartphones, tablets, Mac and Windows computers, web browsers, smart speakers, smart TVs, game consoles, in-car audio systems, and more, providing flexibility in usage.
Apple Music extends its reach to 167 countries, making it widely available in the Americas, Europe, Asia, Oceania, and parts of Africa and the Middle East. In contrast, Pandora, due to licensing restrictions, is limited to use within the United States. If your music listening needs extend beyond the U.S., Apple Music becomes the preferred choice between the two.
Apple Music and Pandora are both popular music streaming services, each offering distinctive features that set them apart in several key aspects.
Pandora shines with its robust song recommendation capability. If you seek a musical journey tailored to your tastes and songs from your soul, Pandora’s “thumb up” and “thumb down” system and Thumbprint Radio allow you to discover music that resonates with you. Additionally, Pandora provides a Free tier, functioning more like a radio service but with the advantage of offering tracks aligned with your preferences entirely cost-free. However, Pandora’s audio quality may lag behind the industry trend toward Hi-Res audio.
In contrast, Apple Music distinguishes itself by offering high-definition music for both online and offline listening, making it an attractive choice for those who prioritize superior audio quality. Apple Music’s unified pricing strategy and cross-device sync feature contribute to a straightforward user experience. This simplicity is particularly appealing to users who prefer an uncomplicated choice without navigating through various subscription options. Individuals who prefer the Apple ecosystem may find Apple Music their preferred choice, and its global availability makes it accessible worldwide. But Apple Music lacks a free tier subscription, which may be considered a drawback when compared with Pandora.
Ultimately, the choice between Apple Music and Pandora depends on your specific preferences regarding music discovery, listening habits, audio quality, and integration with devices and ecosystems. Consider a free trial or explore the free versions to experience the platforms before making a decision.
Family: $16.99/month – up to 6 people
|Individual: $9.99/month or $109.89/year
Family: $14.99/month or $164.89/year – up to 6 people
Student: $4.99/month or $59.88/year
Military: $7.99/month or $87.79/year
|Plus: $4.99/month or $54.89/year
|2 months for Premium and 1 month for Plus
|100 million songs
|50 million songs
|128 Kbps (High Efficiency)
256 Kbps (High)
24-bit/48 kHz (Lossless)
24-bit/192 kHz (Hi-Res Lossless)
|Free: 24kbps to 64kbps AAC+
Plus: 64kbps AAC+ to 192kbps
Premium: 48 Kbps (Low)
128 Kbps (Normal)
256 Kbps (High)
|32.6 million in the U.S (February 2023)
88 million worldwide (2022)
|46 million (third quarter, 2023)
|100,000 songs on both mobile and desktop devices
|As much as the free space of the mobile device allows.
|167 countries and regions
|The United States
|– Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos
– Live lyrics and Sing
– Cross-device sync
|– Thumbprint Radio
Although Apple Music and Pandora Premium offer offline listening features, downloaded content can only be accessed through the Apple Music app or the Pandora app. Users will lose access to the offline content if the subscription ends. Furthermore, Downloads cannot be transferred to an external music library. If you are looking to enjoy Apple Music or Pandora offline without limitations, you will need professional music downloaders.
Pazu Apple Music Converter is a safe and effective downloader that can help you download any Apple Music songs, albums, and playlists to MP3, AAC, FLAC, and other popular formats on Mac/Windows without any loss in quality.
Not only does Pazu Apple Music Converter download your favorite songs, but it also preserves the original audio quality, ID3 tags, and metadata, so you won’t lose any important information. Plus, one of the distinguishing features of Pazu Apple Music Converter is the really fast download and convert speed – almost 10 times faster than any other similar software.
Pazu Apple Music Converter is integrated with the Apple Music web player, so you can batch convert any Apple Music playlist or album to the format you choose without iTunes or the Apple Music app.
Pazu Pandora Music Converter is a powerful MP3 downloader to convert music from Pandora in high quality up to 320kbps with ID3 Tags (title, artist, and album). Pazu Pandora Music Converter is the most popular Pandora to MP3 downloader. Pazu Pandora Music Converter is an ideal tool for converting and downloading Pandora songs, albums, playlists, and podcasts to MP3 on Mac and Windows. This MP3 downloader app is the best choice to download MP3 music from Pandora effortlessly in a few clicks. Pazu Pandora Music Converter’s simple functionality makes it easy to use so everyone can search and download high-quality Pandora audio files.
Just log in to your Pandora account in the built-in Pandora web player and browse your Collection or Pandora library to find the song, album, podcast, or playlist you want to download. Additionally, you can type artist, song title, podcasts, and more in the search box, and select the result you want.
Download Apple Music to MP3, M4A, etc.