Apple Music vs. Pandora: Which One to Choose in 2024

Grace's user avatar
July 4, 2024

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 713.4 million people tuning in to their favorite artists or exploring new ones through online streaming platforms as of Q3 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 93 million users worldwide as of June 2023.

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.


Apple Music vs Pandora

  1. Music Library
  2. Plans and Prices
  3. Audio Quality
  4. Music Recommendation
  5. Offline Listening
  6. Unique Features
  7. Availability
  8. Which One to Choose
  9. Comprehensive Comparison Table
  10. Extra Tips: Download Pandora and Apple Music for Offline Listening

1. Apple Music vs Pandora: Music Library

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 80 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.

pandora station

2. Apple Music vs Pandora: Plans and Prices

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.

apple music plans

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 PricesApple Music *Pandora
Plus N/A$4.99/month or $54.89/year
Premium Individual$10.99/month $10.99/month or $120.89/year
Premium Family$16.99/month$17.99/month or $197.89/year
Premium Student$5.99/month$5.99/monthly or $71.88/year
Premium MilitaryN/A **$8.99/monthly or $98.89/year
* Apple once offered a Voice plan at $4.99 per month, allowing users to request music playback across all Siri-enabled devices by voice. However, as of November 2023, Apple has discontinued the Apple Music Voice plan.
** While Apple Music does not presently feature a dedicated Military plan, it extends a 10% discount through the Veterans and Military Purchase Program.

In terms of pricing, Pandora used to be slightly more affordable than Apple Music in corresponding plans. However, after a price increase on May 24, 2024, Pandora has lost this edge. Besides the similar core plans offered by both services, Pandora’s offerings also include a Free tier, a Plus tier, and a Military Plan, giving users more options to fit their budget. 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.

3. Apple Music vs Pandora: Audio Quality

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:

  • High Efficiency (mobile data only): HE-AAC up to 128 Kbps
  • High Quality: AAC 256 kbps
  • Lossless: ALAC up to 24-bit/48 kHz
  • Hi-Res Lossless: ALAC up to 24-bit/192 kHz

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. Here are the three different audio quality options for Pandora Premium subscribers:

  • Low: 32 kbps AAC+
  • Standard: 64 kbps AAC+
  • High: 192 kbps mp3

4. Apple Music vs Pandora: Music Recommendation

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.

pandora thumb up and down

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.

apple music preferences

5. Apple Music vs Pandora: Offline Listening

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.

apple music download audio quality

6. Apple Music vs Pandora: Unique Features

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.

thumbprint radio

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.

7. Apple Music vs Pandora: Availability

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.

8. Apple Music vs Pandora: Which One to Choose

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.

9. Comprehensive Comparison Table of Apple Music and Pandora

Apple MusicPandora
Free PlanN/AYes, Ad-supported
PremiumIndividual: $10.99/month
Family: $16.99/month – up to 6 people
Student: $5.99/month
Individual: $10.99/month or $120.89/year
Family: $17.99/month or $197.89/year – up to 6 people
Student: $5.99/monthly or $71.88/year
Military: $8.99/monthly or $98.89/year
Other PlansN/APlus: $4.99/month or $54.89/year
Free Trial1 month2 months for Premium and 1 month for Plus
Music Library100 million songs80 million songs
Audio Quality128 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: 32 Kbps (Low)
64 Kbps (Normal)
192 Kbps (High)
Subscribers32.6 million in the U.S (February 2023)
93 million worldwide (2023)
46 million (Q3 2023)
Offline Listening100,000 songs on both mobile and desktop devicesAs much as the free space of the mobile device allows.
Availability167 countries and regionsThe United States
Other Features– Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos
– Live lyrics and Sing
– Cross-device sync
– Thumbprint Radio
– Podcasts

Extra Tips: Download Pandora and Apple Music for Offline Listening

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.

How to Download Apple Music to MP3?

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.

Key Features of Pazu Apple Music Converter

  • User-friendly interface
  • 10x Fast Music download speed
  • Advanced DRM removal
  • Lossless audio quality
  • Keep original ID3 tags & metadata
  • Download Apple Music songs, albums and playlists
  • Unlimited downloads
  • Adjustable output options

Download Pazu Apple Music Converter on Your Mac or Windows

How to Download Pandora to MP3?

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 Pazu Pandora Music Converter on Your Mac or Windows