Prompted by declining users and the addition of podcasts nearly a year ago, Pandora has unveiled a redesigned mobile app that includes several new ways to personalize and discover content. Those include a new feature called For You that the streamer says will be a discovery feed of custom-curated podcast recommendations and music. Pandora says the feed will be based on a user’s unique listening histories, day of the week, and even the time of day. That mix will include podcasts created from SiriusXM talk shows and other on-demand content in its catalog.
The For You feature creates “modules” of personalized recommendations for each user, based on categories like Moods, Decades, and Artists on the Rise. Pandora says 35 different For You modules will roll out in the coming months, with many more to come. Modules appear dynamically in each listener’s feed based on their unique interests, the things they engage with on Pandora the most, and their likes and dislikes based on what they’ve “thumbed-up” or “thumbed-down.”
Listeners will access the “For You” tool though Pandora’s Premium Access feature, which unlocks a free Pandora Premium listening session for users after viewing a short video ad.
In another update, the Pandora Modes feature that allows users to customize the listening experience on their favorite Pandora Stations, will now also be available on the mobile app after debuting as a web feature. It give users more control over the kinds of songs that are played on their Pandora Stations with selectable “modes” like Crowd Faves, Artist Only or Discovery. The company says Pandora Modes lets users “lean in” a bit from the “lean-back” radio-style Pandora experience by influencing what will be played next but letting Pandora pick the specific songs, creating opportunities for discovery.
Pandora says its new mobile app features a streamlined navigation interface and the relocation of its navigation bar to the bottom of the screen, which it says will make it simpler to use. “The new Pandora mobile app connects listeners across all tiers of service to our massive selection of on-demand music and podcasts, personalized content, and unique audio entertainment like never before,” said Chris Phillips, Chief Product Officer & Head of Technology at SiriusXM/Pandora.
Pandora has been working to stem the user exodus in recent months. Monthly Active Users (MAUs) at Pandora were down to 64.9 million in the second quarter, from 71.4 million in the prior year period. Total ad supported listener hours were 3.49 billion in the period, sliced from 3.86 billion in Q2 2018.
SiriusXM CEO Jim Meyer told an investor conference last month when the satellite radio company bought Pandora last year for $3.5 billion the first order of business with the streaming platform was to “stabilize Pandora and stop the bleeding” Now he says the focus is on ways to “energize” Pandora’s existing base of users. He said Pandora’s app needed more features and better ease of use, improved marketing and increased presence in the vehicle to succeed. “It’s a hard problem, but it is a huge focus for me and our management right now,” Meyer said.