How To Make an App Like Pandora and How Much It Will Cost

Updated 17 Oct 2022

13 Min

7258 Views

Share

What can be better than a fantastic music? Only your favorite music that was carefully chosen specially for you and which you can get ecess to 24/7. This is not a dream, this is actually a reality that has been existed for more than 15 years. Yes, it's all about Pandora, the app that revolutionized the idea of a personalized approach towards users. The aim of this article is to shed light on all peculiarities of this incredible mobile application, understand how it works and calculate how much it costs to create an app like Pandora and how to make a music app in general.

What is Pandora app?

The story of success started long ago in 1999 when a Genome Project was established. The purpose of the project was to analyze songs. However, what really shocked me, is that for the analyze they defined 400 different criteria of each song and what is more, they did it manually! Can you imagine, twenty-five professional musicians have been sitting, listening to the songs and analyzing 400 various attributes like rhythm, harmony, lyrics, form and many others to create a unique library that provided the basis needed to create radio station app that's nowadays known as Pandora.

How to build a radio app similar to Pandora

How to make music app like Pandora: The login screen

The aim of the app is to offer users a playlist that they should like. How do they achieve it? The secret is hidden in it's workflow. After users have created an account, they need to enter a genre, song or an artist, that is going to be a core for your new radio. The system searches for the songs that are similar in some of these 400 characteristics and offers them to you.

BUT! If you think that the system uses the same search algorithm that any movie site to offer you a similar movie, you are wrong! To create radio station app with a well-working system of preferences, developers used likes and dislikes (thumb up/thumb down). The more dislikes users put, the better the system understands their preferences according to each of the 400 criteria. The system memorizes what tune you prefer, what beat, melody, orchestration, vamping and voice you are keen on. That's how an app suggests a song that users are very likely to appreciate.

Create radio station app like Pandora

How to create a music app like Pandora: Thumb up and thumb down feature allowing to better identify users' preferences

The other characteristic that stands Pandora out from other services is a fertility of new, undiscovered bands. The app doesn't rate songs as old or modern, popular or not. And this is the way how you get familiar with new, awesome superstars before everyone else.

Radio station app development: How Pandora differs from Spotify

Usually, when we scrutinize an app we also try to compare it with the most famous competitors in the niche. However, this time, it is better to take a look at the closest rival and run a competition trying to detect all pluses and minuses of both services.

How to make a music app like Pandora and what features of it's app differ from Spotify. Explained on a comparison table

Make your own radio station app: Comparing Pandora with it's closest rival Spotify

Search option. There is no such option in Pandora, which means that you can't find a particular song of a particular artist. In Spotify, you can find an artist and listen to his album. In a free version you can listen only shuffle play, yet in premium this option is available.

Replay a song. And again, in Pandora, you have to rely on the system because you simply can't replay and listen again your favorite song. Spotify offers this feature in the premium account.

Number of songs. The Spotify has more than 16 millions songs, while Pandora only one million. The numbers are growing, yet the difference is obvious. So if you want to make a radio app, make sure it contains enough content to rival with other players on the market.

Buy a song. You can easily buy a song in both apps.

Social Integration. The Spotify is integrated with Facebook and offers you lots of social features, like share your playlist, download your friend's playlist, see what your friends listen to live and even hide a song that you are listening right now from anyone. Pandora app used to have only email sharing feature, which means you could only mail a list of songs you enjoy to your friends, now, thank goodness, you can share your musical preferences in Twitter and Facebook.

Offline mode. Only Spotify can boast with this feature, not Pandora.

Platforms. Spotify covers almost all modern devices, including Windows, MacOS, Linux and mobile systems for iOS and Android. As for Pandora, there are apps for iOS, Android, and Windows.

Availability. Well, this question is painful for me, because both services cover little geography. Pandora app can be reachable only in Australia, New Zealand, United States, and the United Kingdom. Spotify covers very few countries in Europe, the USA, New Zealand, Australia and a part of Asia. The issue is connected with license limitations, so if you want to build a radio app then it's necessary to make sure your radio app developer or company has a decent expertise in it.

New discoveries. Spotify doesn't give you any recommendations about what music you should listen, you choose among the albums of already famous artists, so there is a little chance you will hear something fresh. At the same time, Pandora was created to suggest you new, awesome artists, who you may have never heard before. The system knows your preferences and chooses the track according to this data, not to the popularity of one or another superstar. Moreover, Pandora claims that they will never charge musicians to promote their songs and offer them to users even if they don't like this style. 

Earnings. Both apps use the same monetization strategy, they combine a freemium and advertisement method. Yet, they divide the income differently. Pandora relies on ads more, the app gets 80% of income from Advertisements and only 20% from Premium accounts. In such a mode the paid account doesn't give you many privileges, only the absence of ads. And the cost of Premium is rather low in comparison to Spotify, it's only $4,99. While Spotify relies more on Premium account which makes free account less functional. The app gets 90% of income from subscribers and only 10% from the ads. Here, you can get the full functionality for $9,99.

I wouldn't say that an inability to choose a song and create a standard playlist in Pandora is a minus, you have iTunes for that, right? I truly believe that it's a peculiarity, that makes the app so unique. Here, you don't need to spend time looking for the songs that you really like, the app does it for you. And even more, it introduces you new great tracks that you will definitely love. Think over it if you decided to create your own radio app.

How to create your own music app like Pandora?

If you are, just like me, a huge fan of Pandora and think about radio app development, you need to think over the next issues, which may cause difficulties. That's why I recommend you to take a minute and make a plan to solve them. 

How to create radio app like Pandora

How to build a music app of your own and point you need to consider before getting to the technical side

Licence

If you want to learn how to create a radio app like Pandora -- the license is the first thing you should think about. Remember the giants like Spotify and Pandora, even they find it rather expensive to stream music all over the world. So, the first what you need to contemplate about is where your application will be available. Then investigate how much you'll have to pay for the music license and will your app income cover such expenditures. Then reconsider, maybe there is a point to change the region? Anyway, never start development before you have solved a license issue!

Streaming

Another topical question to consider in order to make your own radio app, is where you will stream the music from, what database you will use and where you are going to store this vast amount of data. Instead of buying tonnes of hardware, it is more reasonable to use a cloud to host your server and all data. What is also is needed to be taken into account is the technology you want to use to implement a streaming feature. You can use WEBRTC technology to implement a video conference feature. Or you can stream with RTMP protocol that streams vids to your Facebook friends. The options are numerous. The choice depends on the streaming speed you want to achieve, devices you want your app to be compatible with, the territory your app will work at and many other factors. Anyway, the technology you choose to create a radio app dictates the architecture your software development team will need to build.

Design

The mobile design matters in every project. Yet, you shouldn't miss a fact that music apps have always been a little bit different and it's outlook matters a lot. Without a professional designer or a team such, your app will look out-of-date and primitive. If you need some inspiration check our Dribbble or Behance.

Music player design concept from Cleveroad

How to make a radio app: Pay due attention to the design (Source: Dribbble)

Monetization strategy

The monetization strategy has also be considered to create a mobile radio app. There are lots of options even if your app will be free. If we look back to Pandora and Spotify monetization way, we can find the benefits and drawbacks in each. Pandora's Premium account doesn't have many outstanding features. The functionality is basically the same. At the same time, the free account is crammed with ads and it annoys pretty often. Spotify's doesn't have many ads, and a Premium account has lots of fun features, yet the price for it is high.

Recommendation engine

How to make a radio station app? Get an advanced recommendation algorithm! It's not only the most important issue, actually, but it's also the icing on a cake. It will determine how your app will figure out what song to offer to a listener. There are two variants how your system would do recommendations to users: collaborative filtering algorithm and content-based algorithm. Collaborative filtering algorithm uses rating history of all users. Such an algorithm will offer you the most popular song in one or another genre. Content-based algorithm suggests songs similar to those which listener liked.

As you remember, Pandora Radio app uses 400 criteria for each song, which were determined by people. It's obvious that now we have more technologies to perform the task much faster and without manual work. The easiest and the most effective way to create radio app like Pandora with such a system, is to use neural network libraries, which you can use for free as they are open source.

What are the necessary Pandora app features?

The next step when you develop an app like Pandora radio would be a functionality set which you want to see in your product. Our advice is to start with a Minimum Viable Product. An MVP product is easier to build and it has more chances to sustain on the market. Moreover, it will save your time, money and help persuade investors that your business idea is awesome.

Registration

Considering how to make a music app like Pandora don't forget to include the minimal set of functionality, like registration. You have to decide how your users will log in, via email, phone number or social media.  

Playlists

A user should have an ability to create a playlist (in Pandora app they are called radios). 

Search engine

A search engine is a must too if you want to create a radio app for iOS and Android that cares about user experience. Even if the engine won't find the exact song or band, like in Pandora but it is needed to find a category of songs which the app will offer to a user.

Need to find and hire an experienced iOS engineer for your radio app project? Check this ultimate guide to where and how to hire iOS developers

Social sharing

Social sharing nowadays is a feature that has to be in any app. The feature encourages a person to share their preferences with friends and it works as free advertisement and brings more publicity to your application. 

Likes/dislikes

They are needed to detect songs that a user would appreciate. This is how the system interacts with a user and analyses druthers of a listener. Music streaming feature. 

In-app-purchases

It is an optional feature for in case you want a user to buy songs via the app. 

How to make a music app? [Final checklist]

Follow these steps to determine how to make a music app like Pandora:

  • Step 1. Research the music app market.
  • Step 2. Create a competitive analysis and list your app's rivals.
  • Step 3. Decide on regions where your music app will be distributed.
  • Step 4. Settle music license issues to build a Pandora-like app.
  • Step 5. Pick basic features for app's MVP.
  • Step 6. Find a reliable team to help you build your app.
  • Step 7. Set a budget. Step 8. Start the app development phase.
  • Step 9. Draw up a marketing strategy for every region and launch it before the app's release.
  • Step 10. Publish your music app, gather users' feedback, and never stop improving and adding new functionality.

This simple checklist may serve you as a basis when you decide to create your own radio app.

How much does it cost to make a music app like Pandora?

We've estimated the approximate time and cost of Pandora-like app development. The features included to the document are a fit for MVP of a similar application. The cost is based on an average hourly rate in our region ($50/hour) and includes one application for one of the platforms (Android / iOS).

We DO NOT collect your emails. Just click on the picture below and you'll get to a new window with the PDF document which you could either view or download. No data needed.

Pandora app development cost by features

Discover the time and cost to build an app similar to Pandora

Let's Build It Together

Haven't found all answers or need a custom-made estimate? Contact our managers and get it all for FREE. We've been helping clients around the globe to successfully build and launch their streaming services.

How Much Does It Cost to Develop an App?

Need help with the tech part?

We'll help you develop a Pandora-like platform and launch it to the market.

Frequently Asked Questions

We've estimated the approximate time and cost of Pandora-like app development. The features included to the document are a fit for MVP of a similar application. The cost is based on an average hourly rate in our region ($50/hour) and includes one application for one of the platforms (Android / iOS).

To make an app like Pandora, you need at least 907 hours and $45,350.

  • Playlists
  • Search engine
  • Social sharing
  • Likes/dislikes
  • In-app-purchases

The aim of the app is to offer users a playlist that they should like. How do they achieve it? The secret is hidden in it's workflow. After users have created an account, they need to enter a genre, song or an artist, that is going to be a core for your new radio. The system searches for the songs that are similar in some of these 400 characteristics and offers them to you.

Pandora Radio app uses 400 criteria for each song, which were determined by people. It's obvious that now we have more technologies to perform the task much faster and without manual work. The easiest and most effective way to create a radio app like Pandora with such a system, is to use neural network libraries, which you can use for free as they are open source.

  • Step 1. Research the music app market.
  • Step 2. Create a competitive analysis and list your app's rivals.
  • Step 3. Decide on regions where your music app will be distributed.
  • Step 4. Settle music license issues to build a Pandora-like app.
  • Step 5. Pick basic features for app's MVP.
  • Step 6. Find a reliable team to help you build your app.
  • Step 7. Set a budget. Step 8. Start the app development phase.
  • Step 9. Draw up a marketing strategy for every region and launch it before the app's release.
  • Step 10. Publish your music app, gather users' feedback, and never stop improving and adding new functionality.
Rate this article!
5806 ratings, average: 4.73 out of 5

Give us your impressions about this article

Give us your impressions about this article

Latest articles
BlogClient Guides
How to Create a Neobank

Dec 01, 2022

article preview
Start growing your business with us
By sending this form I confirm that I have read and accept the Privacy Policy