What music service isn’t overhauling itself in advance of Facebook’s big F8 music-sharing announcement on Thursday?
Pandora, the most popular streaming radio destination in the country, just rolled out a soup-to-nuts overhaul of the web version of its service, which now runs on HTML5 instead of Flash, among other changes. According to Pandora CTO Tom Conrad, the company has been working on this redesign for over a year, in an attempt to make it “more responsive, easier to use, and better integrated with the friends and music lovers in your life.”
It’s that last element that really gets our attention in light of tomorrow’s Facebook announcement. Pandora told Evolver.fm earlier this year that it has over 30 million users every month, which means that one out of every ten Americans uses it. As such, the company, now public, has a big lead over the competition.
But when Facebook introduces listening activity into its feeds tomorrow, people will see links not only from Pandora, but from all sorts of other services, such as Myxer Social Radio, which also announced a new version today centered around Facebook and real-time group listening to streaming radio.
Conrad’s blog post does not explicitly say that Pandora will allow people to listen together in real time via Facebook, the way some other services will, but he did mention some nifty new sharing features that will dovetail nicely with Facebook’s impending announcement:
Enhanced listener profiles and a new music feed offer a centralized place to find, like and comment on what friends and like-minded listeners are discovering and enjoying on Pandora. The music feed will roll out slowly over the course of the coming days. In addition to the prominent new ‘share’ button, stations now have their own URLs, making it super easy for listeners to share favorite stations via Twitter, Facebook, or email.
Some of these new sharing features are live. We were able to share a station to Twitter and Facebook in about two seconds, once we’d entered Facebook and Twitter information, and Pandora also lets you share specific tracks as well (although Facebook only includes a 30-second sample of the track — see screenshot to the right).
Of course, as you can see from the screenshot at the top of this post, Pandora has an entirely new look (finally!), which strikes us as appropriately modern. Other tweaks include easier station creation, the ability to rename stations (this is especially helpful if you sculpt them by adding additional artists to the main artist), consolidated playback and rating controls, more options for researching the artists you’re listening to, and a removal of the 40-hour listening limit.
Pandora has already included features that let people track what their friends are listening to, but those features are about to get a lot more, shall we say, “robust.” If you want to tweak your privacy settings on the service, you can find those here.
So far, we like the new Pandora. However, we’ll be interested to see whether it will let people listen to the same thing at the same time, which we anticipate will be a popular feature within the new Facebook.