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Pandora Introduces New Free Premium Trial Session

Pandora is giving the uninitiated a free taste of its Premium service.

According to a press release, the company is offering access to music on-demand without a subscription: For the first time, listeners can search and play songs, albums, and playlists by viewing a single 15-second ad to unlock a complimentary session of Premium. This is a new experience for non-Premium customers and presumably is being offered in an effort to boost the company’s Premium subscribers; a rep for the company said it has negotiated a competitive royalty rate with its label partners.

While the rep declined to reveal how long the free session will last, a source says the window of time will be long enough for listeners to sample several forms of content (songs, albums, playlists, browsing).

The company is also offering its more standard services, both the on-demand and autoplay options.

The move is among the first under Pandora’s new president and CEO Roger Lynch, who took over in September. Cofounder Tim Westergren stepped down as CEO late in June, shortly after SiriusXM acquired a 19% stake in the company and three seats on Pandora’s board. The was a digital radio pioneer but has lost ground — and many millions of dollars — in recent years in its attempts to become a full-service streaming company as it lost listeners to services like Spotify and Apple Music.

The company got a boost in the form of a $480 million investment from SiriusXM announced earlier in June and $200 million from the sale of its Ticketfly business to Eventbrite; the latter venture, an attempt to integrate ticket purchases with its streaming service, was an awkward fit that saw the company offloading the acquisition at a big loss after its October 2015 purchase for $335.3 million (not $450 million, as widely reported).

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