Pandora has finally gotten to the point where it feels like it knows you. The streaming radio player unveiled a new feature called Thumbprint Radio on Monday, a station that plays music specifically tailored to each individual listener, based on his or her history of liking or disliking songs played on the service.
“This is a living, breathing station that will continue to change as you listen,” Chris Phillips, Pandora’s chief product officer, wrote in a blog post announcing the feature’s launch. “Each time you thumb up a track on Pandora, your station will update and evolve.”
While Pandora has long boasted that users can personalize the songs they hear on each station, those stations have been anchored to specific artists, genres or decades. Thumbprint, theoretically, will serve up music that is not bound by pre-existing genre, era or aesthetic parameters.
In order to be able to make educated guesses about what its users most want to hear, Thumbprint is available only to users who have added at least three pre-existing stations to their account, and indicated that they like, or dislike, at least four songs on each of their added stations.
Over the past year, Pandora has launched a number of services and features meant to leverage the large amount of information it has acquired about how, when and why its users listen to music on its service. In October, Pandora acquired the independent ticket seller Ticketfly for $450 million with plans to give listeners the chance to buy concert tickets directly from the site; in December, it published its first Artists to Watch list; it also purchased the technology and a number of assets that had once belonged to Rdio, an on-demand streaming music service that filed for bankruptcy this fall, and told investors it intends to launch an on-demand service late next year.
It has made those moves partly to allay investor fears about its slowing subscriber growth, which contributed to a sharp drop in stock price after Pandora revealed its third-quarter earnings.
It has also made the moves to keep pace with what the on-demand streaming services are doing. As streaming music has scaled up, services ranging from Apple Music to Tidal have been aggressively pursuing strategies that make their vast catalogs more navigable. In May, Spotify unveiled Discover Weekly, a personalized playlist of 25 songs delivered to each user every week, and since its launch, its users have streamed more than 1 billion songs from it.