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Pandora inches closer to Spotify-style subscriptions with label deals

Soon, Pandora will sound a lot more like Spotify and Apple Music. The internet radio pioneer just announced new direct licensing deals with Universal, Sony, and Merlin’s huge network of indie labels. That can only mean one thing: The on-demand subscription service promised by Pandora CEO and cofounder Tim Westergren for the last several months is likely just around the corner. 

Notably absent from that list of record labels is Warner Music Group, one of the “big three” U.S. labels without whom Pandora will be unable to offer a catalog of music worth subscribing to. Negotiations are likely still underway with Warner, which was the last label to sign on with Spotify before its U.S. launch in 2011.

Pandora is believed to be planning multiple tiers to its subscription service, including one that dips below the standard $10 per month to offer something more affordable (undoubtedly with less access and features). In interviews with Fast Company earlier this year, Pandora executives hinted that higher-priced tiers for “super-fans” could also be a possibility.  

However it looks, the new service will come at a time when competition is ramping up weekly between Spotify and Apple Music, SoundCloud is struggling to win over subscribers and Amazon is rumored to launch a lower-priced music subscription tier of its own. JPT