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Did you know that Pandora is the largest ad-supported streaming service in the US?

Yep! And many musicians who use CD Baby are getting paid significant Pandora royalties.

Obviously you want to get your music onto Pandora. Then you’ll want to submit your songs through Pandora’s portal for greater visibility. After that, it’s time to use Pandora’s music marketing tools to build your audience.

This article will lead you through each of those steps so you can make the most of your music on the platform that defined customized streaming.

Why should I get my music on Pandora?

Although Pandora is only available in the United States, it has a huge listenership. The company is a subsidiary of SiriusXM, and is available through its mobile app, the web, and integrations with over 2,000 connected products. So your potential reach as a musician on Pandora is massive. 

Your real opportunity though is reaching the RIGHT listeners. Pandora provides users a uniquely-personalized music experience powered by its proprietary Music Genome Project® technology.

The Music Genome Project is the most comprehensive analyses of music in history. It learns what listeners like and serves up new music according to those preferences. If your music in the mix, it means you could be reaching people who are the most likely to become fans.

Even though listenership is focused in the United States, artists around the world can use Pandora AMP, or Artist Marketing Platform. This Artist Marketing Platform is a powerful suite of tools that allows you to explore streaming data and engage directly with your fans for free.

Through AMP, you can program Pandora Stories. This new format helps you build music experiences augmented with voice tracks. With Stories, you shape your music’s narrative by combining the best of playlists and podcasts in one format.

What’s the difference between Pandora Radio, Plus, and Premium?

Pandora offers several tiers of service, including:

  1. Free Pandora: An ad-supported radio service. Free listeners can create stations based off of your favorite artists, songs, and genres. Pandora takes care of curating the music. Listeners give feedback on what they like and don’t like by rating using “thumbs.” They can also listen to Podcasts and unlock skips and Premium sessions by listening to ads.
  2. Pandora Plus: Allows listeners to access ad-free personalized stations, skip or replay more tracks, listen offline, and hear higher quality audio. Subscription is $4.99/month or $54.89/year.
  3. Pandora Premium: Includes all the benefits of Pandora Plus, but also offers unlimited offline listening and the ability to search and play songs on-demand. With Pandora Premium listeners can create fully customizable playlists, access as much of their music collection offline as their mobile device will allow and have higher quality audio and longer timeouts than Pandora Plus subscribers. Subscription is $9.99/month or $109.89/year.

o   Pandora Premium Family offers all of the features of Premium to up to six unique Pandora accounts, for a monthly or annual fee. Subscription is $14.99 USD monthly or $164.89 annually.

o   Student Premium offers all the benefits of Premium at a discounted rate of $4.99/month or $59.88/year for up to four years. U.S. residents, 18+, enrolled at accredited higher education institutions in the U.S. only. Requires annual eligibility verification.

o   Military Premium offers all the benefits of Premium at a discounted rate of $7.99/month or $87.79/year. Offer open to U.S. residents, 18+, active duty in any branch of the U.S. military, plus retirees, veterans, national guard, reserves, and dependents. Requires eligibility verification.

Every tier includes access to the Pandora’s popular radio feature.

How do I get my music on Pandora?

If you use CD Baby for distribution, we’ll deliver your music to Pandora. But Pandora is still a curated music collection, so they reserve the right to publish only the music that fits the needs of their listenership.

To increase the chances that Pandora approves your music, you’ll want to complete Pandora’s submission process on your release date.

To sign up for an AMP account:

  1. Create a Pandora listener account
  2. Log into AMP using the same credentials as your Pandora listener account

Before you can submit your song, you must distribute it to Pandora through a digital aggregator like CD Baby. Be sure to copy your UPC (which you can view inside your CD Baby dashboard). Your UPC is how Pandora will identify your release.

Then visit their submission portal in Pandora AMP on your release date.

The submission form looks like…

Pandora's form to submit music for review

You’ll also be asked other questions about your release, such as:

  • genre
  • suggested track (if an album)
  • and a description (4000 characters or less)

Remember: Prior to submitting your release to Pandora through their portal, you’ll need to confirm:

  1. CD Baby delivered the music to Pandora (you can see your delivery history inside your CD Baby dashboard)
  2. The release is not a pre-release (meaning the music must be available online; so you’ll want to do this submission process on or after your release date)

Distribute Your Music

How do I make sure my music is being reviewed by Pandora?

This is really another way to talk about the same submission process mentioned above, but it’s worth emphasizing: Even if your music has been delivered to Pandora by a distributor, you’ll still benefit from completing their submission process.

If your new music isn’t appearing on Pandora, submitting your content will prioritize it for review. This puts your music into consideration for addition to Pandora’s general catalog, which goes across Pandora’s on-demand and radio services.

From there you can track the status of your submission, from In Review to Live or Rejected.

For more detailed information on using Pandora’s Indie Submissions website, please see Independent Artist Submissions Resources on the AMP Playbook.

Once approved and analyzed in the Music Genome Project, your music will be available on Pandora’s ad-supported radio service, Pandora Plus and Pandora Premium.

How does Pandora recommend music?

Pandora works a little differently than other streaming platforms.

For those that are new to Pandora, the service is part of the Music Genome Project, which was a massive undertaking to classify millions of tracks based on their musical attributes. Almost all the songs that they play have been analyzed by a musician and classified using over 400 different “genes,” including:

  • genre
  • micro-genre
  • vocal prominence-style
  • instrumentation
  • tempo
  • phrasing
  • and much more

This process takes around 20 minutes per track.

So when the listener creates a station based off a particular song, Pandora isn’t necessarily playing just songs by that particular artist or group. Instead, it’ll play songs that match this musical genetic profile. And when the listeners selects “Thumbs Up” or “Thumbs Down” on a song, it adds to the genome profile of the station they’ve built. This makes that listener’s station unique and personalized.

How do I promote my music on Pandora via AMP?

You’ll definitely want to promote your music with Pandora AMP, a suite of free products and programs that connects artists and fans. AMP is designed to support artists of every size at every point in the campaign cycle. The Insights and Marketing Tools enable an artist to know their fans, market to their fans, and engage their fans.

To get started, log in to your Pandora account. If you are unable to claim your AMP account, you can send an email to Pandora’s support team at amp-support@pandora.com.

Getting access to your AMP account depends on the number of verification requests in Pandora’s queue at the time you submit your artist claim, and whether they need additional documentation to process your request. Generally, the verification process should take no longer than a couple of days; however, they may require additional documentation in addition to already submitted forms, which may add to the processing time.

Once granted access to AMP, artists can take advantage of all the amazing free tools Pandora offers.

Pandora AMP’s music marketing tools include:

Artist Audio Messages:

Allows you to create short messages that play on Pandora when listeners launch your station or before/after any of your songs on any station. These messages are a great way for you to engage your fans with specific content and promotions and provide them with an intimate window into your music. You can also direct fans to merch, a livestream, or other ways they can support the music.

Featured Tracks:

The simplest, easiest way to boost new music on Pandora. When you select a track for Featured Tracks, Pandora introduces it to new listeners on more stations than it would typically reach. As soon as a track is on Featured Tracks, it kicks off a period of accelerated testing and evaluation during which your track will receive a boost in spins across numerous stations where it is a good musical fit.

Pandora Stories:

Available to creators of all types, not just artists! Pandora Stories provide a unique take on classic listening experiences. Creators are able to create Playlists and Mixtapes by searching for and selecting songs from Pandora’s pre-licensed catalog and can further customize the experience by adding and sequencing Voice Tracks recorded by the curator, an artist, or a featured guest. Like a DIY podcast! It gives the creator a platform from which they can share their perspective on cultural moments, promote messages important to them, and influence musical trends. Regardless if you’ve claimed an AMP profile or not, there is a separate sign up form for Pandora Stories.

Check out the AMPPlaybook for more info on using these tools!