Spotify vs Pandora – Which Is Better?

Both Spotify and Pandora are both popular music streaming platforms. Spotify is the leader in this department as it offers seamless use and a larger library of songs. Pandora is a radio service streaming platform but doesn’t offer pick-and-play unless you watch an ad beforehand.

Pandora has been around for a long time and gained attention and appreciation among music enthusiasts. This was because it mimics the format of radio to give you stations to listen to and explore music. It does include a search and play option which was added to it in recent years to keep up with the competitors but you have to watch an ad to do so.

Spotify on the other hand is more focused on streaming music easily. Although there is a radio option in Spotify just like there is a search and play option on Pandora. Spotify is more focused on streaming the music you like and want to hear.

While both services are aimed at people who want to explore and stream music, both Pandora and Spotify work differently at their core.

Comparing Free Plans

Both Spotify and Pandora offer a free trial period of 30 days. After the trial period ends you can continue using the apps for the free versions.

In the case of Pandora, you will be able to create your custom radio stations based on the genres, artists, or songs you like. You will then customize the music that plays on your station.

The downside of the free version of Pandora is that you will have to listen to ads while you listen to music and there is no way of skipping the ads. Apart from that, you will also not have the choice to make your playlist, share it, or listen to songs offline. This only adds up to a limited number of skips you get in a period. The sound quality is also lower than the paid version of this music service.

Spotify also has some similarities with Pandora when it comes to the free version. It comes with limited skips per hour as well. It also lowers the audio quality for free streamers as well as ads that can’t be skipped, but Spotify does let you make your playlist and share them.

Spotify does not allow you to listen to music offline with the free version. Another good thing about Spotify is that the algorithm analyzes your music taste and recommends music. This is a great tool if you want to start exploring new music. The sound quality is lower for the free version just like Pandora’s free version.

Both apps are good for free services but due to some reasons mentioned I would say Spotify wins this one.

Music Catalog Size

Talking about the music catalog and the number of songs on both apps it depends on what kind of music are you looking to listen to.

When it comes to Spotify, the last recorded statistics show that the app has more than 82 million songs for you to choose from and stream from. It should be noted that a lot of these songs are original covers, original songs from small artists, and remixes. This means Spotify accepts music from almost anyone regardless of the music being a direct entry or from a third-party distributor.

Pandora on the other hand has comparatively less content available. But Pandora has a deal with major music labels and does cover all the major music genres. You will find all your favorite artists on your own. The Pandora collection looks more fleshed out because of the large number of music stations found within each genre.

In conclusion, if you are in the market for major and mainstream music then you will find most of that on both Spotify and Pandora. But, if you looking to explore small artists’ remixes and unknown music, you should go with Spotify.

Song Discovery

Spotify is excellent in the category of music discovery. There are features like discover weekly and daily mix playlists. This takes some of your favorite songs and mixes them with other similar songs, resulting in a satisfactory experience.

Spotify is constantly adding features that will help you keep discovering more music. You get personalized recommendations based on your listening history.

Also, when it comes to song discovery, Pandora was made for this very purpose. The radio station-based design of Pandora lets you explore and discover new songs and artists according to your taste. The music genome project of Pandora was focused on this.

It allowed users to look for and explore songs using more than 450 attributes to find and explore songs more easily. In addition, it also helps keep the playlist up to date by automatically adding songs that you like.

Pandora Stations vs Spotify Radio

Pandora was designed to be a radio replacement in an app form. This means when it comes to stations feature, Pandora is a better option to choose. The radio functionality is the core of the app. When you search for an artist or song you like, you will get a station that will have more songs, not just that one song.

This will mean just like a radio station you will get your song in between other songs. You can still play the song you want if you pay for the premium service, but you cannot otherwise.

Spotify on the other hand has made a completely dedicated app called Spotify stations. It’s designed to work as a radio station app. This also means you will have to get a whole new app just to get that feature. But, on the positive side, the main app is not too cluttered and overwhelming.

If you are looking for radio-like functionality, then I would recommend getting the premium version of Pandora.

Offline Listening

Offline listening is a feature available in both apps, but it is not available in the free version of the apps. For you to use this feature you must pay for a subscription to both apps.

Spotify offers 4 premium plans to choose from. Each plan allows unlimited offline listening and other features like no ads and unlimited skips.

In Pandora, however, you have three options to choose from. All options offer online listening with no ads, while also allowing song skips.

Sound Quality

Pandora has a different audio quality for premium users. You can choose from 3 options of high, standard, or low quality to choose from if you are a premium user. But, if you are a free or plus user, you only have one option of turning on higher quality audio in the advanced setting.

The maximum audio quality from Pandora on desktop goes to a maximum of 128kbps. This number changes however if you are using a mobile app and goes up to 192kbps.

Spotify, on the other hand, gives users 4 options to choose from. This choice only goes up to 5 options for a premium user. It has an automatic option that decides the quality according to internet connectivity. If you like more control you can choose from the other 3 options of low, medium, and high to choose the best quality for your use. These 4 choices come with a free version of the app.

The premium version comes with a very high option that lets you play your favorite songs in even higher quality. For the free users, the audio quality goes up to 160 kbps when you listen to your music on high quality. This number goes up to 320kbps when you upgrade to premium and get a very high option to pick.

Streaming with Smart Home Devices

Both Spotify and Pandora work with smart home devices like amazon echo and googles home. They give out great audio quality with all smart devices. They also provide additional support on their website as well as customer care in case you need any help setting up your smart devices.

User Experience

Pandora’s interface organizes and keeps your recently played stations and playlists like a record collection. It looks like a jukebox which can be very pleasing for people who are into that kind of interface. These can be sorted according to your preference which makes them easier to navigate through and use.

On top of all this, Pandora offers voice control if you are using a mobile device. This only gets better if you have a smart home device connected, making the user experience easy and fun.

Spotify also has a very nice and easy-to-navigate dark-themed interface. It’s super sleek and fun to use. It is very different from the retro kind of interface of Pandora but is more focused on the playlist and library-focused interface.

Spotify’s interface is more interactive and stimulating for catering to your musical preferences. You can easily find albums, podcasts, radios, and artists on the same page. This makes it very helpful and easy to use according to your needs and preference.

Both these apps offer similar features when it comes to artist information discovery. Both are easy to use and navigate through.


The Pandora app is very clean with four options at the bottom of the screen, my collection, search and profile to navigate. The home screen which is for you lists out quick options to choose from and get your music as soon as possible. There are also different options for browsing by category or recently played among other things.

Spotify has a very similar app as well with four options in the bottom home, search, your library, and premium. There are three more controls on the top right for notifications, recently played, and settings. These controls are very easy to spot and use according to your needs. The home screen is similar to Pandora with recommendations and options to quickly find songs or podcasts.


In conclusion, both Pandora and Spotify are good apps for music enthusiasts and both perform well. Pandora has more years of experience but still loses in a lot of aspects. This includes the smaller music catalog and versatility among other issues.

Spotify is hands down a much better choice if you want to invest your money and get the most out of it. For all the reasons listed above, I recommend Spotify to anyone, regardless of music taste, content, or in general.

Give both a try before deciding on one since they both offer a free version. It will aid in making your decision with more hands-on experience.

Dhruv Patel

Dhruv Patel

Dhruv Patel is a guitarist, producer, engineer, composer, arranger, and writer. He has been playing and making music for over 8 years. He also has an Engineering background and understands the technical aspects of music gear and audio plugins. He also works as a music engineer on his own projects as well as for other artists.

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