Forget “big box” Pandora. Slacker Radio blows it away.

Slacker is the most complete music service on earth. Enjoy millions of songs and hundreds of expertly-programmed stations for free – on demand, online and on mobile.

Marty Koenig‘s insight:

Slacker blows away Pandora. Go ahead. Prove me wrong in the comments section below.

I’ve been listening to radio over the internet since, well, the internet began. Online music has come a long way since the days of downloading indie songs from a dial-up BBS or searching on gopher.  

“Today’s music listeners are consummate curators of their own music experience.”

Forget iTunes and downloading MP3s. I did that for years. No longer need to. I’ve got a 500 gigs of music I’ve bought and listed to over the years that just sits there unnoticed and unused by me these days.

  • Much, much larger music library – like 40M vs Pandora’s 10M and iHeart’s … who knows.
  • Too tight restrictions on number of skips or thumbs up/down per hour.  Pandora has 6 skips per hour per station limit, even on my paid version. 
  • They both play directly on my Home Theatre A/V Receiver very nicely. I think Slacker sounds better.
  • Pandora uses some algorithm to put together their stations based on your choice. Slacker’s stations are actually put together by people.
  • Slacker has stations that music celebs put together. Listen to a station built by John Mayer himself.
  • Via headphones (at least on my high quality Bose ‘phones) Slacker definitely sounds better than Pandora.
  • On my computer with cheapie little speakers and sub, Slacker sounds much better than Pandora.


“Slacker has artists come and play in their own studio. Where’s iHeart and Pandora’s studio? That tells me they care about their listeners enough to pay attention to what I want a station to do.”


  • Slacker has contests.
  • Slacker creates stations like “Cocktail Madness” for fans of Mad Men.
  • Pandora says it’s got a 192 Kbps bit rate, but I’m an audiophile and doesn’t seem to sound any better that Slacker. In fact, Slacker sounds better to me.  
  • Slacker’s new User Experience is well thought out, and makes sense. Easy to find exactly what you want with the fewest clicks.
  • Slacker customer support rocks. They are responsive when you have a question or problem. Their ticketing system is easy to use and works well.
  • Slacker has a station called “Favorites Mashup Station” that plays all my faves and adds a few more suggestions here and there.
  • Pandora has no on-demand. Slacker is pretty much all on-demand – like radio in the year 2013 should be.
  • Mobile app has a high bit rate setting if you need it. I haven’t needed it.
  • One each station, Slacker lets me dial in the fine tune settings by age, related artists, favorites, and popularity. Not even sure what Pandora can do, but it’s probably not that super-fine tuning.
  • On Slacker I can listen to songs, albums and playlists whenever I want.
  • And the BIG ONE: Slacker lets me find an album and play just the album. You can’t do that on Pandora.
  • And a BIGGER ONE: Slacker lets me find an artist I like, and play only songs from that artist. A Single Artist Station. Good luck trying to do that on Pandora.

I have premium paid accounts for Slacker and Pandora. The only reason I bought Pandora was to compare it to Slacker. I’ll drop that after my subscription runs out.

I stopped using iHeart radio, since it kept bothering me to pay for their service without giving me any idea of what I would get for my money. They started to play so many commercials I got sick of their pushiness to make me pay. Plus, its run by Clear Channel – the radio equivalent of “Wal-Mart meets the NYTimes.”


If you are a big box music mentality, then go for Pandora an limit you music listening experience. If you want a service that focuses on the music listener, get Slacker Radio.


© Marty Koenig


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