Pandora is the third most popular music streaming services in the United States, and it was one of the first to curate random playlists based on users’ own specific tastes in music. Now that it’s mobile, you can take your favorite music with you anywhere. So what does all of that music streaming mean for your data plan? Read on to find out all about Pandora subscription data use.

Pandora can stream music at several different sound qualities and bitrates

Pandora Quality Settings Pandora Data Usage Change Pandora Streaming Settings Reduce Pandora Data Usage

Pandora Playback Quality Settings

Like Spotify and music streaming competitors, Pandora can stream music at several different sound qualities with different bit rates, which measure the amount of data processed over a given time (in this case, kilobits per second [Kbps]).

Currently, in the free version, Pandora allows users to choose from standard and higher quality. The standard setting streams at 64Kbps or 480Kb per minute and about 23MB an hour. The higher quality option runs at 128Kbps or 1.2MB/minute and 58MB/hour. However, if you subscribe to Pandora’s Premium and Plus packages, an even higher audio quality option streams at 192Kbps, as well as a lower 32Kbps for those who don’t want to use as much data.

How Many Gigabytes of Data Does a Pandora Subscription Use?

If you plan on listening to The Beatles for eight hours a day on Pandora’s highest quality (without using WiFi), you would use .7GB/day, versus the standard setting reaching a much more palatable .5GB/day. Using Pandora’s standard 64Kbps, you’ll hit .23GB, which would be a pretty good cushion for a month if you’re a casual 3-5 hour/day listener. Even at 8 full hours, you could go almost a full work week without hitting 1GB.

Pandora Data Use Compared by Playback Quality

Sound Quality (Bitrate) Per Minute Per Hour
Low – Premium only (32Kbps) 240KB 14.4MB
Standard (64Kbps) 480KB 28.8MB
High (128Kbps) 1.2MB 57.6MB
Higher – Premium only (192Kbps) 1.44MB 86.4MB


How Do You Change Pandora’s Default Streaming Setting?

To change Pandora’s standard streaming setting, first, click the three-line menu button on the upper-left hand corner, tap the gear icon next to “Settings,” tap “Advanced,” and click the check box next to “Higher quality audio.” For paid members, other settings are available within this menu.

Let’s Talk Editor’s Pick: Best Plan for Music Streaming

If you’re a heavy music streamer on-the-go, we recommend upgrading your cell phone plan to an unlimited one featuring decent coverage, unlimited data, and entertainment streaming packages. Sprint’s Unlimited Plus plan features all of this and more.

Reduce Data Use on Pandora

If you’re worried about going over your data limit on your cell phone plan, follow these tips to limit Pandora data use.

Let’s Talk Tip: To reduce data use on your Pandora subscription, simply stick to WiFi as much as possible. It’s the cheapest option when streaming higher quality audio.

Stick to WiFi

When you’re stuck with a lousy data plan (you should probably get one that offers at least 5GB/month for streaming), there are a few easy options to keep the room bumping. If capable, we recommend keeping yourself tied to WiFi as much as possible. It’s the cheapest option when playing Pandora at higher bitrates. For the best quality, be sure to upgrade to Pandora’s premium plans.

Listen to Lesser Quality Audio

If you’re in the sticky situation of streaming music daily without WiFi, and you don’t want to pay your carrier for more data, we recommend choosing the standard 64Kbps playback quality or even upgrading to Pandora’s premium plans to stream at 32Kbps.

Get an Unlimited Data Plan

When it comes to daily Pandora data use, or any audio or video streaming, more data is always the quickest fix. Besides the bonus of unlimited data, many of these plans come with extras like free subscriptions to streaming content, international calling, and hotspot use. Prices and features vary between cellular carriers, so be sure to pick the right one for you using Let’s Talk’s cell phone plan comparison tool.