Pandora’s Wrapped equivalent no longer available, to listeners’ dismay

Bruno Cooke December 1, 2022
Pandora’s Wrapped equivalent no longer available, to listeners’ dismay
If anything gets the memories going it's music. From Getty Images Creative.

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It’s 2022, and SiriusXM’s subscription-based music streaming service Pandora has discontinued its year-in-review feature – it’s called Playback, and was similar to Spotify Wrapped.

The news actually arrived before the release of Spotify Wrapped 2022, but doesn’t appear to have traveled much further than the Pandora Community forum. 

Spotify Wrapped is everywhere you look on social media, with users performing some of the best free advertising the streaming giant could wish for.

Meanwhile, Pandora subscribers have been left wanting. What happened?

Life without music isn’t life at all

Pandora confirms that its Playback feature will no longer actively rival Spotify Wrapped from 2022

On October 25, 2022, Pandora Community forum member MusicFanInSC opened a thread about Playback 2022, Pandora’s end-of-year music roundup feature.

“When will the Playback 2022 be available?” they asked. Others echoed the query.

User AdamPandora, a moderator in the forum, answered four days later, with news that has disappointed some Pandora subscribers.

“Pandora’s Playback user year-in-review is no longer available,” the moderator wrote. “Thanks to all of the listeners who have supported the feature.” And that was that.

Pandora listeners react to the discontinuation of streaming service’s Spotify Wrapped equivalent

“Why would they remove this feature?” asked another user, in response to Pandora’s response. Another said they were “sad to see it go.”

“I’ve been looking forward to this all year,” said another. “And it might be the thing that makes me switch to Spotify.” Another said they “deserve a ‘why.'”

Which is a sentiment others have echoed, too. People “look forward to seeing those,” one user wrote, while another forum member asked if there would be a feature “similar to this” or “a way to see the numbers.”

“I definitely love staying with Pandora,” they added, “but having a fun feature like that is always something we look forward to.”

One even went as far as to say they would switch to Spotify’s premium service, lumping themselves with an extra $60 per year subscription fee, “solely to get this feature,” since “it’s that important to me.”

It might be easier on the pocket to try out Free Your Music’s analyzer tool. Read more about it here.

GRV Media/The Focus has reached out to SiriusXM for comment regarding the reason(s) behind the discontinuation of Pandora Playback.

For how long did Pandora run its Playback feature?

When Pandora ran its Playback feature last year, it said it was doing so to “thank you for all the listening you do” on its service.

It incorporated what subscribers listened to, thumbed up, and “some things that you might not have listened to yet that we think you will love.” 

This latter used the company’s “extensive data science” and its Music Genome Project to provide what it claimed were the “best recommendations in the industry.”

It also seems to have rolled out Playback in 2020 and 2019. Pandora Premium only dates back to 2017, although Savage Beast Technologies actually founded the company in 2000. 

Sirius XM Holdings acquired Pandora in February 2019 for $3.5 billion, which may have to do with why its Playback feature originated in 2019.

If anything gets the memories going it’s music

What is the Pandora Media Music Genome Project?

The Music Genome Project is what “powers” Pandora, according to the company’s own website. “The result of all our work is a personalized listening experience filled with both old favorites and new discoveries.”

Pandora’s musicologists study and collect details on every track in Pandora’s music library. They then assign a combination of attributes out of a pool of 450.

Its founder, Tim Westergren, spoke at length about the Project in 2006, in conversation with Tiny Mix Tapes. The issue he sought to eliminate with the industry was that, in his words, “nobody can find any music they like.”

“That is the basic problem that everybody faces. That’s a problem for everyone. […] We have really taken a fundamentally different approach to recommendation.” 

The 400+ defining characteristics the Music Genome Project’s musicologists analyze in each song “cover all of the granular details of melody, harmony, rhythm, form, compositional qualities and lyrics,” Westergren says. He thinks of them as “primary colors” that make up a song.

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Bruno Cooke has been a freelance journalist since 2019, primarily with GRV Media. He was an early contributor to The Focus, and has written for HITC, Groundviews and the Sheffield University newspaper – he earned his MA in Global Journalism there in 2021. He’s the Spoken Word Poetry Editor for The Friday Poem, and self-published his debut novel Reveries in 2019, which his mum called both a “fine read” and “excellent Christmas present”. Bruno has lived in China, Sri Lanka and the Philippines and likes, among other things: bicycle touring, black and white Japanese films, pub quizzes, fermentation and baklava. In 2023, Bruno will set off with his partner on a round-the-world cycle.