(Credit: Pandora Music)

Streaming music subscription services have transformed the landscape of the industry, and some market leaders are emerging who may be with us for many years to come, if they can establish a strong enough foundation. If you want to compete against market leaders Spotify (Android, iOS) and Apple Music (Android, iOS) before their leads become insurmountable, you need to be cheaper, add something new and interesting, or offer roughly the same features.

SEE: The Best Music Streaming Apps in 2018 for iOS and Android

In that spirit, music streaming pioneer Pandora (Android, iOS) is upping the ante today with a new playlist called The Drop. It's roughly equivalent to Spotify's Release Radar, a weekly dynamic playlist that attempts to help you discover fresh tunes without being overwhelmed by the service's millions of songs, thousands of artists, and hundreds of genres. Release Radar is based on your past listening habits -- but unlike Discover Weekly, it focuses only on the new stuff.

Pandora says that the feature will be rolling out to its users over the next couple weeks, so don't worry if you don't see it on your phone or tablet yet.

Note that The Drop is currently only for "Premium" Pandora accounts -- that is, paying customers, or people taking the free Premium trial for a spin. Users of the free version of Pandora will not get this option. Release Radar, however, is available for all Spotify users.

On the other hand, The Drop has a few key differences. For one, the list of tracks will not fully reset every Friday. Instead, The Drop will add newer songs into the list as they arrive, arranging everything according to the most recent, and there will be room for up to 100 tracks.

Both Release Radar and The Drop use an automated recommendations system (specifically, machine learning). But in our experience, Pandora has a slight but consistent edge when it comes to picking out tunes that we're likely to enjoy. Your mileage may vary. However, users may still prefer a playlist that doesn't reset every week, and one that's longer than 30 tracks.

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Also, the Pandora app still lacks an equalizer or EQ presets to customize the audio to the capabilities of your listening device, so it may not appeal to audiophiles as much as Spotify or Apple Music. Apple Music also lacks a manually adjustable EQ, but it at least offers a large selection of presets that should satisfy all but the most demanding of listeners.

If you sign up for Pandora on the company's website rather than through the mobile app, you may also get a lower price. This sign-up method also currently gives you a 60-day free trial, instead of the standard 30 days.

If you don't want to fork over $10 a month, there's also Pandora Plus for $5 a month. Plus lacks on-demand listening, individual track downloads, and playlist creation, but it removes ads, gives you unlimited skips and replays, and gives you "higher quality audio" than the ad-supported version.

The takeaways

  • Pandora has announced the addition of a playlist called The Drop, which is roughly equivalent to Spotify's Release Radar.
  • However, The Drop is only available to paying subscribers, or users testing out the Pandora Premium free trial.
  • If you sign up for Pandora on its website rather than through the mobile app, you'll get a 60-day free trial, instead of the usual 30 days.

Also see

Tom McNamara is a Senior Editor for CNET's Download.com. He mainly covers Windows, mobile and desktop security, games, Google, streaming services, and social media. Tom was also an editor at Maximum PC and IGN, and his work has appeared on CNET, PC Gamer, MSN.com, and Salon.com. He's also unreasonably proud that he's kept the same phone for more than two years.