Pandora for Business vs. SoundMachine

If you have a business, one of the things on your radar is probably this five letter word: music. You’ve probably asked questions like “What music can I play?” or “How do I make playlists that aren’t repetitive and boring?” or “What streaming platforms can I use to stream music?” To play music in your business, you need properly licensed music so that the artists who created the music can get paid. This means that streaming music from your device and personal listening apps isn’t legal. Luckily, the solution is pretty straightforward. To legally play music in your business, all you need is a subscription to a music-for-business provider. This subscription will give you access to music that is fully licensed for use in businesses, and some providers offer the feature to create stations and mixes to play a variety of music in your location.

Given the popularity of Pandora radio, it will probably come as no surprise that one of the biggest music-for-business providers is Pandora for Business. However, while Pandora may have started out in the business-to-business (B2B) sphere, licensing out a software called Music Genome Project to businesses as a recommendation platform, it shifted focus in 2005 to the consumer market, putting its attention on providing music for individual use. As such, it may no longer be the best option for your business. SoundMachine, however, also provides music for business, but unlike Pandora, its sole focus is music for business. Because of this, it offers many features and elements that Pandora for Business does not.

Pandora for Business Licensing

All music provided by Pandora for Business and SoundMachine is fully licensed and legal to play in stores and businesses. If you use either of these providers to play music, you will not be in violation of any laws.

However, while Pandora for Business and SoundMachine both only play music that has been legally licensed for use in businesses, Pandora for Business’s music catalog is more limited than SoundMachine’s. When music is played, royalties are gathered and paid out to performance rights organizations, who in turn pay their artists. Pandora for Business and SoundMachine cover the rights for artists represented by ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC. However, Pandora for Business does not cover GMR, so songs in their repertoire cannot be played—such as music by Bruno Mars, Bruce Springsteen, or Metallica. SoundMachine, on the other hand, does cover GMR, so you do not have the limitation of being unable to play artists represented by this organization.

Pandora Requires Hardware

On top of paying a monthly fee to access Pandora for Business’s catalog, an additional audio player, costing $99.00, is required to play their music. In contrast, SoundMachine offers more flexibility. No dedicated player is required, and you can easily play music from the web or iOS and Android apps. However, if you want to invest in high-quality hardware, you also can choose from a fine selection of integrated players, including Sonos, Control4, and Bluesound Professional. This is not an option with Pandora, as only their specific music player is compatible with their service.

Making Business Playlists

Both Pandora for Business and SoundMachine allow you to use playlists in your business.

However, Pandora for Business’s playlist creation is based on how it works for the consumer version—meaning it’s very limited. To create your playlist, you “thumbs up” and “thumbs down” songs, which tells the system what type of music to play going forward. Despite this, many users have noted that the AI frequently makes mistakes and inserts songs that are not relevant. Unlike Pandora for Business, SoundMachine offers two fantastic ways of creating playlists. First, you can directly import playlists you have made using services such as Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube Music, and more. This gives you the ultimate control of choosing exactly what music you want to be played in your business. Second, if you don’t want to make your own playlist, you can choose from SoundMachine’s 500+ curated stations that are up and ready for use.

Creating Custom Mixes

Pandora for Business is limited to creating playlists based on their “like and dislike” system while SoundMachine not only lets you create playlists and use premade stations but also has an easy-to-use system that allows you to combine different stations into one custom mix. Once you have your mix, you can have even further control by determining the share of play time given to each individual station.

Scheduling Playlists and Mixes

Both Pandora for Business and SoundMachine allow users to schedule stations or playlists to be played at different hours throughout the day, depending on your location’s needs.

Though both offer this feature, SoundMachine stands out for two important reasons. First, you have more control of mixes, stations, and playlists, which means you, in turn, have more control of what music is played and when. Second of all, SoundMachine offers messaging, which Pandora for Business does not. Messaging is a feature where you can insert custom messages to interrupt the music at ideal times of the day. With it, you can deliver the right music and the right messages together.

Background Music for Multiple Locations

Both SoundMachine and Pandora for Business allow multiple locations to be associated with one account. 

But while Pandora for Business allows multiple locations to be associated to the same account and have access to all the same stations, it does not offer more control than that. It also may require more than one subscription per location if you want to play music in different zones of your location at the same time. SoundMachine, on the other hand, allows full control of all locations from one admin account, including the ability to monitor and manage the specific content different locations have access to. In addition to this, if you use one of the integrated third-party players such as Sonos or Control4, only one subscription is required per location, even if you have multiple zones within that location. 

SoundMachine: Music For Business Made Easy

While Pandora’s familiarity with its users may make it appealing, it is not necessarily the best option for your business’s music needs. SoundMachine offers more customization to fit your needs, a bigger music catalog, better ease of use for the user, and more freedom in how you play your stations in your business. Try it here for free for 30 days.