On Thursday Slacker Radio announced that it added 6 million listeners since the service relaunched with a new design in February. That’s when Slacker upped the ante with unlimited free listening to its streaming, curated stations on PCs and mobile devices, in addition to an interface overhaul. These stations include news and sports from ABC and ESPN, respectively, along with a music library that the company says has more than 13 millions songs. The free mobile listening seems to have paid off with a three-fold increase in iOS listeners since the February relaunch.
Slacker’s CEO Jim Cady tells VentureBeat that his company’s listenership gain is correlated with Pandora’s decision in February to limit free listening to 40 hours a month. He says that Slacker is able to maintain the unlimited free accounts due to growth in paid subscriptions and agreements with automakers like Chrysler and GM to let drivers access the service in their dashboard via their smartphones.
Slacker is a distant number three streaming music service, with 35 million registered users, behind Pandora’s 200 million and Clear Channel’s iHeartRadio at 170 million users. Slacker’s ad free streaming is available for $3.99 a month, the same rate as Pandora’s. For $9.99 a month Slacker also offers an on-demand music service like Spotify.
To me, Slacker sort of sits in the middle between Pandora and iHeartRadio as a service, providing a better music service with fewer ads than most of iHeartRadio, while also providing some news and sports, which are not found on Pandora. It’s nice that a free account user won’t run out of streaming hours, though I’ve only run into that barrier on Pandora once or twice, ever. I need to spend more time with Slacker, especially on my mobile devices.