Slacker Aims to Take on Pandora With New Redesign

ByABC News
February 13, 2013, 10:51 AM

— -- Digital streaming service Slacker has rolled out a new look to better compete against booming services such as Pandora, Spotify and iHeartRadio. The six-year-old service is tweaking its approach with a slew of new features and hand-picked song matches instead of ones based on an algorithm.

Although Slacker has four million monthly users, it doesn't come close to Pandora's market share (65 million) and it aims to change that. Boasting 10 times as many songs as Pandora, Slacker and its app — now available for iOS, Android, Windows Phones and BlackBerry — have been redesigned to make finding new music much more intuitive for users.

The new, intuitive navigation and modern features are a big improvement from its previous model. Slacker has also breathed new life into its user interface, replacing its stale design and aesthetic with a Facebook-like blue and grey.

Instead of auto-selecting tunes based on an artists entire library, the songs, artists and playlists have all been hand-selected by Slacker staffers. No algorithms or out-of-the-box matching, so the company says.

This aims to make personalization more spot on: If you like old school Bruce Springsteen songs better than his new hits, it fine tunes recommendations based on that.

The new experience also lets you add in news, sports and talk from channels such as ABC and ESPN. This means while your curated radio stations are playing, it will pull in news at the top of the hour just as you would hear while listening to a live station.

Although Slacker is free on any device, users can subscribe to its ad-free service — called Slacker Radio Plus — for $3.99 each month. To create custom playlists and gain access to the full on-demand experience, it will cost $9.99. (The company is offering the premium package for free on Thursday and Friday of this week).

The company told Mashable it is also working on online video ads that take aim at Pandora and Spotify. It will be rolling those out later this week.

Do you think Slacker has a chance to catch up against industry leaders such as Pandora and Spotify? Let us know in the comments.

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