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Pandora Stories merge music playlists with podcasts

The new format gives artists a way to add context to their creations.
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Nathan Ingraham / Engadget

Pandora has launched a new format called "Stories," which marries music tracks with podcasts in a single playlist. Musicians can take full advantage of the new feature by making a playlist of their songs and injecting voice tracks telling the history behind them, for instance. Artists, authors and other creatives who primarily want to use the format for storytelling can also use Pandora's catalog of fully-licensed songs to add context and to make things more entertaining in general.

The service's Chief Product Officer, Chris Phillips, said in a statement: "Pandora Stories exemplifies our commitment to continually innovate for both our listeners and for artists and creators of all kinds using the power of music and audio storytelling tools."

That Pandora has conjured up the new format that combines music with the spoken word isn't exactly surprising. Music streaming services have been looking for ways to expand their repertoire in an effort to differentiate themselves from competitors. Spotify, for instance, spent hundreds of millions to purchase podcast network Gimlet Media and podcast creation app Anchor. In the right hands, Stories could give rise to content more compelling than a purely musical playlist or a podcast that doesn't include full songs.

Pandora has put some sample Stories together so listeners can decide if it's something they want to look out for or not. They include John Legend's Glorious Journey, which is a perfect example of how a musician can use the format. In it, the songwriter talks about the history behind some of his hits, such as All Of Me. Meawhile, in the The Music of Wes Anderson with Randall Poster, Poster shares his favorite musical moments from Rushmore, Moonrise Kingdom and other Anderson films.

Pandora Stories compilations are available ad-free for Premium subscribers. Listeners who chose to stick to the ad-supported and Plus versions of the platform can access them after watching a 30-second advertisement.

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