Terms & Conditions: What happens on Pandora does not stay on Pandora

Pandora: Terms and Conditions

What are you really agreeing to when you click that fateful “agree” button? Terms & Conditions cuts out the legal lingo to spell it out in plain English.

Before Spotify, there was Pandora. The 13-year-old Internet streaming radio service remains one of the most popular on the market, thanks to its free listening options, ease of use, and arguably superior station customization engine, the Music Genome Project. Its reach could extend even further with this week’s release of a Windows Phone 8 app that gives users ad-free listening through the end of the year. As with any other online service, users must agree to the rules and stipulations laid out by Pandora in its terms of service. Here are the most important things you need to know.

Terms of Service

Nothing about Pandora is particularly controversial. You create some stations based on your favorite songs or artists, press play, and that’s about it. As such, nothing in Pandora’s terms will come as much of a surprise. But there are a few key points to know.

Under 13? Better get a parent

Few segments of the population get into music with greater fervor than kids and teenagers. But thanks to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), Pandora must bar anyone under the age of 13 from using its service, without parental consent. The company also stipulates that, because some music may include “strong language, depictions of violence, sex, or substance abuse,” parents of kids 13 to 17 should also use “discretion” before allowing their teenager to have an account.

Censored!

Parents who do allow their younger children to have a Pandora account may turn on an “explicit content” filter. The filter applies to all stations on a particular account, and can be turned on or off in the account settings on Pandora.com.

Not-so-private parts

Like most other freemium services, Pandora collects a wide variety of information about you, including personal data (email address, birth year, gender, zip code), which tracks you listen to, the stations you make, and which songs you thumb-up or thumb-down. Most of this information is used to provide you with its unique personalized service. But the data is also shared with advertisers. (As if you didn’t know that already.) And the company also uses surveys and promotional offers to collect even more information about you – so don’t participate in those if you care about how much information about you is available to advertisers and data brokers.

Perhaps the most important thing to understand about privacy on Pandora is that your entire account profile is public, unless you turn it private in the account settings. This means third-party companies can scrape your information – which stations you’ve made, namely – to build out profiles about you. In other words, what happens on Pandora does not stay on Pandora.

Also important: Even if you set your Pandora profile to “private,” anyone who knows the email address you used to register can find the stations you listen to. So no matter what you do, Pandora is never truly private. Maybe that’s a problem for you. Maybe it’s not – but that’s how it is.

Keep it to yourself

Even if you pay the $36 per year for a premium (ad-free, unlimited listening) Pandora account, the terms still mandate that you only use it for personal purposes – in your car, home, etc. If you want to play Pandora Radio at your business, you’ll have to sign up for a business account, which you can do here.

Your password, please

Among the rules Pandora lays out in its terms, the only one that I wager really matters to the average user is this: You may not share your Pandora account password with anyone else. If you do, Pandora may delete your account. (It also reserves the right to delete your account for any reason, without notice.) It’s also against the rules to download songs from Pandora, or recreate them in any way that violates copyright. That, too, could lead to a Pandora-free life.

Mobile

Schubert left Symphony No. 8 unfinished. A smartphone’s A.I. just completed it

We all know computers can be used to make music, but can artificial intelligence be used to not only generate music, but complete one of the most famous unfinished symphonies of all time? Huawei has used its A.I. to find out.
Movies & TV

Battle of the movie ticket sites: How to make sense of the fledgling industry

MoviePass may be the industry leader in subscription-based movie ticket sales, but the company's troubles have opened the door for competitors AMC Stubs A-List, Sinemia, and Cinemark Movie Club. Here's how the services compare.
Home Theater

Make the most out of your new Apple TV with these must-have apps

If you're looking to turn your fourth-generation Apple TV or Apple TV 4K into an all-in-one entertainment powerhouse, we can help you get started with this list of the best Apple TV apps you can download.
Smart Home

OK Google, what else can you do? The best tips and tricks for Google Home

The Home functions in a similar fashion to its main competitor, the Amazon Echo, but has the added benefit of select Google services. Here are few tips to help you make the most of the newfangled device.
Home Theater

The best movies on Netflix in December, from 'Buster Scruggs’ to 'Roma'

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, witty humor, or anything else.
Music

Apple Music vs. Spotify: Which service is the streaming king?

Apple Music is giving Spotify a run for its money, but which service is best for you? In our Apple Music vs. Spotify showdown, we compare and contrast all we know about the two streaming music services.
Music

Spotify could terminate accounts of listeners using ad blockers

Bad news for those who block annoying ads on Spotify -- the company has updated its Terms of Service to explicitly ban ad blockers. Consequences for users found circumventing the rules include suspending or terminating your account.
Home Theater

Apple's new AirPods could arrive within months, pack health sensor tech

Apple may release new AirPods in the first half of 2019. A wireless charging case, health sensors, water resistance, and better Siri integration are some of the improvements rumored to be part of the new package.
Music

Donald Glover is (somehow) first rapper to win a Grammy for Song Of The Year

Donald Glover (AKA Childish Gambino) has become the first hip-hop artist to win Song Of The Year, an award that had illuded countless other popular rap artists for decades.
Home Theater

How to master your equalizer settings for the perfect sound

You may know what an EQ is, but do you know how to adjust equalizer settings for the best possible sound? We go through the basics of the modern EQ and lay out some guidelines for how to achieve tip-top sound from your system.
Music

The 25 best love songs on Spotify for your wooing pleasure

Valentine's Day comes but once a year, but love is forever. If you're hoping to impress your significant other -- or if you're trying to procure one -- we put together a list of the best love songs for your wooing pleasure.
Cars

Rock out in the carpool lane with Singing Machine’s Carpool Karaoke microphone

Carpool Karaoke fans can count down the days till summer. That's when Singing Machine's Carpool Karaoke microphone will be available. Connect the Carpool Karaoke Mic to your car radio to make your next road trip a mobile karaoke party.
Gaming

After Twitch ban for using homophobic language, musician Deadmau5 apologizes

Electronic musician Deadmau5 has been suspended from Twitch after using homophobic language during a PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds match. The musician later said he wouldn't be returning.
Computing

Switch your WMA files for MP3s with our quick conversion tips

The WMA codec may be great when it comes to multi-channel surround sound, but unfortunately, it falters in terms of compatibility. Check out our guide on how to convert WMA files to MP3 via web-based or desktop methods.