Is Pandora still popular? New research shows its rivals are catching up

Spotify and Pandora have the most listeners in the US – but not for long.

Amazon Music will soon overtake Pandora for US listeners, whilst Spotify is only going to gain more new listeners over the next decade. That’s the predicted trajectory for both users and new subscribers according to new research from eMarketer.

As recently as 2019 Spotify and Pandora were on par in terms of listeners. So why is Spotify so popular, whilst Pandora is on the decline?


Despite its roots in internet radio and song discovery, streaming platforms like Spotify now match and perhaps even outperform Pandora on playlist personalization. And while Pandora still has innovative new features and exclusive partnerships, it is stalling on areas like audio quality.

US digital audio listeners by platform 2018-2025 - Spotify most popular
Image Credit: eMarketer

As you can see above, Pandora is the second most-used audio platform with Amazon Music placing third. The two services are currently running close in the rankings, with Pandora out front at 54.2 million listeners and Amazon Music 49.8 million. But Pandora’s downward trajectory is estimated to continue, and Amazon Music will catch up and overtake it as soon as 2022.

And which streaming platform is more popular: Spotify or Apple Music? Spotify has the most listeners in the US – way out in front, and that’s not going to change in the near future. The research doesn’t divulge whether that’s in terms of paid or freemium listeners.


US digital audio subscribers by platform 2018-2025 - Spotify most popular
Image Credit: eMarketer

In terms of paid subscriptions meanwhile, eMarketer found that Spotify is still the industry leader. Incoming though is YouTube Premium, which is set to overtake Apple Music by 2023. eMarketer combined YouTube Premium and YouTube Music as one platform – as they note, listeners spend a fourth of their time on YouTube streaming music.

So, the only platform stagnating in sign-ups and dropping listeners is Pandora. But that doesn’t mean you should write it off as a service to upload your music. If you’re an independent artist you should release your music on as many platforms as possible for maximum reach, and that includes Pandora.


RouteNote’s music distribution gives you unlimited uploads to streaming services for free. Want to release your music quickly and easily, without signing away the rights to your songs or getting scammed by sneaky extra charges? Find out more and sign up to RouteNote here.

I write about music for RouteNote, sharing fun stuff, news, and tips and tricks for musicians and producers. Also a saxophonist and hater of marmalade.

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