It’s not just Apple flexing its promotional muscles to secure pre-release album streams. Personal radio service Pandora has a new station called Pandora Premieres, which will be updated weekly with upcoming albums.

Listeners will be able to “choose to hear any track on the featured album, in any order and as many times as they’d like” until it’s removed from the station. T-Mobile is on board to sponsor the station until the end of 2013.

It’s one step further into the on-demand music space for Pandora, which will see it jockeying with iTunes, Spotify, Pitchfork, NPR Radio and a host of other outlets for pre-release access to new albums.

John Fogerty and Laura Marling are first to get the treatment, although the latter’s inclusion shows that Pandora Premieres won’t all be exclusive (her album is also getting a pre-release stream on The Guardian, via SoundCloud).

“Never has so targeted a program been delivered on such a massive scale,” said Pandora founder Tim Westergren in a statement. Which is true, in a sense, but those rival services are all ramping up their own pre-release programmes too.

In 2013, artists and labels have more choices than ever when deciding on pre-release promotions, while fans are coming to expect the chance to (legally) stream new albums the week before they come out.

What’s up in the air is how many big albums Pandora will be able to secure. Non-exclusivity and sheer scale – 70.1m active listeners in April 2013 – count in its favour.

But historical distrust from some labels and increasingly heated criticism from parts of the artist and songwriter community of Pandora’s campaign to lower its royalty rates may be stumbling blocks. Indeed, only this week MusicFirst Coalition’s Ted Kalo was describing Pandora’s recent outreach to artists as maybe being “the worst music industry scam I’ve ever seen”.

Not the best sense of perspective, then, but populating its Premieres channel may require Pandora to redouble its efforts to win over the doubters and haters.

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