A note to our listeners

This week we will begin communicating directly with a small number of our listeners as we introduce a 40-hour-per-month limit on free mobile listening.

Most of you reading this will never hit the limit. In fact, it will affect less than 4% of our total monthly active listeners. For perspective, the average listener spends approximately 20 hours listening to Pandora across all devices in any given month.

That said, limiting listening is a very unusual thing to do, and very contrary to our mission so we wanted to share a quick explanation. Pandora’s per-track royalty rates have increased more than 25% over the last 3 years, including 9% in 2013 alone and are scheduled to increase an additional 16% over the next two years. After a close look at our overall listening, a 40-hour-per-month mobile listening limit allows us to manage these escalating costs with minimal listener disruption.

For listeners who do hit the limit, we have a variety of options available to keep the music you love flowing. Listen for free for as many hours as desired on desktop and laptop computers; pay $0.99 for unlimited listening for the remainder of that month, or subscribe to Pandora One for unlimited listening and no advertising.

In short, this is an effort to balance the reality of increasing royalty costs with our desire to maximize access to free listening on Pandora. We will be sure to alert any of our listeners that start getting close to the 40 hour limit. As always, your feedback is welcome.

Thanks for listening,
Tim (Founder)

Tim Westergren

Founder http://www.pandora.com/profile/tim

788 thoughts on “A note to our listeners

  1. Won’t this decrease your advertising revenue by the same percentage that it decreases your royalty costs? Or do you expect that enough of those 4% will pay the $.99 (or switch to Pandora One) that your revenues will increase (or decrease less than your costs)?

  2. As a Pandora-holic, I can almost guarantee that I am not only in the top 4% of users, but also in the top 2%. I rely on the music genome to make each work-day, work-out and wind-down the best they can be. I am already a subscriber to Pandora One, and I would be more than happy to pay more to ensure that I am covering my fair-share. I have been enjoying Pandora for many years, and while I am happy that there will be competition, there is only one true genome for me!

  3. I personally don’t believe you should place limits on where your company vision is headed. I understand profitability, however, at the same time as we are shifting to a mobile nation. Limiting will push a few to competitors, and this could cause a split to spark a new company to innovate and take charge.

    • I have already done this. I am now also using I Heart Radio which unlike Pandora also lets me listen to broadcast radio stations as well.

      • Thanks for the suggestion of I Heart Radio. I will be checking it out immediately. Also couldn’t agree more about this just opening doors for competition. Pandora was leading the way to a new way to listen to radio. With these limits and forced subscriptions they are completely ruining the whole that whole idea.

  4. Like Rob A., I’m willing to pay more for the already amazing service that is Pandora One. Of all the services out there none compare in content and user experience. This might be a good time to take a page form the old SaaS models, and tier the service pricing. Of course, be sensible, and always do what is right by the “customer”. I’m sure you will choose what is best for your loyal customers, paying and gawkers ;) alike.

  5. Yo Tim,
    Great work, Pandora is awesome. I do not like the cursor that guides you through the radio stations on the left side of the screen. There is a lag or slowness to the way it drags down the screen. I can’t imagine I’m alone in this complaint. Otherwise the product is solid. Take care.

  6. I don’t see how this is really fair for those who can’t pay for the raido, isn’t that why you call it a free raido station?
    I don’t i’m just throwing my 2 cents in because i just hit the limit today and i didn’t even get a warning before i hit it. Wouldn’t make sense to just contiune using advertesments insteaded of limit users who can’t pay but listen to your music for you to get money?

  7. Well apparently I’m one of the “less than 4%” of listeners on pandora as I just received this BOGUS “5hrs Remaining to listen on my mobile device” !!! I AM ENRAGED AS I DO NOT OWN A DESKTOP, LAPTOP, TABLET, or ANY OTHER DEVICE CAPABLE OF PLAYING PANDORA BESIDES MY iPHONE 4S, which happens to be THE ONLY option to continue listening “for free”, or I can “upgrade to pandora one” for a monthly fee, or I’m able to pay $0.99 to continue listening on my phone for rest of the month….. FIRST OF ALL, I’ve been a member of Pandora since its first release on App Store, so for over 3yrs now, AND NOW IM GETTING HIT UP FOR CASH…. Doesn’t seem right to me!? I only own a motorcycle for transportation and therefore do not have a radio so I have to use Pandora to be able to hear music while I ride, I use it at home because I can’t afford a stereo and now I’m being told I HAVE TO PAY TO LISTEN!? EFF YOU PANDORA EXECUTIVES!? WHAT’S THE EFFIN DIFFERENCE BETWEEN LISTENING ON MY OHONE AND LISTENING ON MY COMPUTER? IM STILL LOGGED INTO SAME ACCOUNT!?

  8. Considering it said I reached my limit even though I’ve been phone less for a while now I don’t really understand how that works, but oh well. I switched to aol radio anyway. :)

  9. So I just found out I am one of the top 4% of users and seeing as how I’ve been using Pandora since its first introduction, and that my iPhone 4S is the ONLY device I own that can stream Pandora, I only own a motorcycle for transportation (so no radio but I have Bluetooth speakers in helmet) , and music just flat out keeps me in a good mode throughout the day…. So I pretty much rely on Pandora yet feel its COMPLETELY unfair that they are ONLY CHARGING THE TOP 4%. If they charged everyone $0.05-$0.10 instead of just the 4% paying $0.99, that would solve all their issues….. I don’t have a single issue with paying, its not the amount that matters, its the principle that they are being PREJUDICE towards who HAS TO PAY…. So hopefully they can revisit this topic and figure something out that treats EVERYONE EQUALLY!!

    • i only listen about 10-20 hours a month, why should i pay the same as you if you want to use it for multiple hours a day? they’re only charging the higher users because the other users don’t use it enough to cause the higher royalties to be an issue… it’s just like cell phone plans, if i text 20 times a month and you text 2,000, why should we both pay the same price?

  10. So, if it’s still unlimited for computer use, does that imply the royalty costs are different listening on cell phones? Your advertising revenue should ostensibly cover the time one listens to the music, ie, shouldn’t the ratio be the same? This sounds like a way to quash unlimited data plans from cell providers, personally, because the logic makes no sense. Pandora is an awesome app, but with a 40 hour limit, I’ll be forced to exercise my free market rights.

  11. Pandora’s nice, but really better than its competitors (Spotify) enough to justify paying. I’ve used Pandora since its launch, but I’m out.

  12. I use it 40 plus hours a week during work… this will be the end of my Pandora use. Instead of waiting around to get cut off I’ll just switch over to I Heart Radio. Good run.

  13. Why wouldn’t you just increase advertizing to us 4%ers? I like Pandora but hopefully for them I wont find another service that does get by on advertizing before the end of the month. This is like a radio station or TV station saying you know we don’t want you watching our adds for the rest of the month…Dumb… so obviously I heart radio or slacker here I come.

  14. Not impressed. If you ads don’t generate enough revenue and you can’t entice folks to sign up for Pandora One, figure out another alternative. The end users is why you exist. Don’t tax us for your in ability to raise revenue accordingly.

  15. Honestly, I’ve been a pretty avid listener of Pandora for years. It’s like listening to the radio. The only plus is that you get to skip a song or two that you absolutely hate. I use my phone at work for the whole office to listen to, or when I don’t want to share, I listen in my cubicle and jam out. Therefore, I do listen to ALOT more music that you’re average person. I can say that I am personally disgusted that you have done this. IF there is only 4% of people who listen to fourty hours per month of music using YOUR product, YOUR app, then why change it? It makes no sense. Sincerly, A loyal person to you, now will find my musical need else where such as iHeartRadio

  16. Sad. In an age where we are breaking away from desktops and laptops, I too will be out. From work, to school lunch, to office, commuting, to dinner and to bedtime, pandora has always been there on my phone. Even my school gives us ipads as our main computer. I realize that you are thinking, then pay a bit. But there are too many alternatives that are offered for free. I’ll just have to find one that works best for me…as it won’t be pandora. Great run!

  17. I have been listening to Pandora for a while now. I mostly listen to it at work on my phone so I easily hit the 40 hours a month. However I already pay quite a high price for data, so I’m more likely have to look into a different radio program.

  18. It looks like the odds are stacked against Pandora..I wonder how many people sat around a table and came up with this idea. Pandora’s popularity rating has dropped substantially in less than a month. I wonder how much this is going to cost Pandora in the long run? I wonder if all those people sitting around the table took this into consideration?

  19. seriously? If its only 4% of users (which I’m one of them) Why is it this big of a deal? There must be more than 4%. I rather switch than to see I only have 5 hours left of listening. I’ve loved pandora since the begging and this is totally stupid. Technically, this isn’t really free until you reach your crappy 40 hours per month limit. I’ll switch to iheartradio because this simply isn’t fair.

  20. Been using Pandora for two years now..loved it..,I use way over the 40 hour limit on my phone and I have a data plan that limits my use so I use it on wifi as well as on the network.. I would totally subscribe because the fee is honestly not that much for how much I enjoy the music and the app but the thing that makes me say fu Pandora is that even if I subscribe I have a skip limit but wow AD free listening no way if I pay the fee I should be able to skip 60 times a day and have no problem before this listening limit I used 90 + hours a month so now I reached my limit for this month so BYE PANDORA hello I hear radio!

  21. I’m perfectly fine with the whole limiting the amount of hours for all users, because I understand the reasoning behind it. I just wish that you had some way to show how much I’m using so I can keep track of my hours so I don’t use all of my hours in the first half of the month because I am defiantly up there in the 4% bracket.

  22. I don’t understand why you limit your advertising by limiting time that users can listen.

    I am so frustrated with several service providers like pandora or hulu that do not allow or limit content to mobile devices. Many people, myself included, do not have a computer personally. I am not allowed to steam any content on my work computers so now I guess I will have to look for another provider.

  23. I switch to Slacker Radio and its way better way more variety in the songs, had Pandora never introduced 40 hour limit I wouldn’t have ever known I would still be listening to ads on their site…….. great business chops Tim

  24. 40 hours a month means a little over an hour a day. I would easily go over that so I won’t be using Pandora anymore.

  25. Agree with all those who do not understand discriminating based on how users listen, rather than how much. More saliently: Tim, from googling this issue, I see Pandora has been advocating for legislation to enable Internet radio stations to pay the same royalties as satellite or analog stations, enabling you to keep costs controlled. Why didn’t your message to users highlight this? Then your most active listeners could have become advocates for your legislative agenda, rather than for your competitors.

  26. Hello there I would just like to let you know how pissed I am at this 40 hour limlet bullshit !!:(;( I lissin to more than that in a damn month so please take it off !!;) I don’t wanna pay for music !

  27. How awesome is this, as one of the “4%” ( Seems a little more than 4) I reached my 40hr limit in 4 days! What do you know! I was here from DAY 1 and now you decide to just say ” Hey, we realise you love us, and use us a lot, but even though more users listen on a computer, we will still charge you mobile listeners because, well, we dont know! ” … Tell me if thats inaccurate or not.

  28. this is bs! i commute everyday and have not reached my 40 hours for the month yet, but apparently it says i have. i am disappointed with pandora and will no longer be using this app. RIDICULOUS AND APPALLING

  29. I haven’t hit the limit and I probably won’t but I don’t like this. I have supported Pandora from the beginning and was there to sign the petitions to control your royalties. People can listen unlimited on computers but not their phone? It seems you are pandering to the mobile data providers. If someone listens at work 40hrs/wk somehow $1 covers the royalties for the remaining 120hrs? I find it very hard to believe that the flood of ads isn’t enough to cover those cost, especially when computer users have no restrictions. You used to fight for the listeners of music but now it seems instead of rallying your 200+ million subscribers you’re selling out. Don’t forget where you came from and what you used to stand for.

  30. Slacker radio doesn’t seem to have issues paying for their royalties. I noticed it had a lot less ads as well. I never would have found that out if you had not made the decision to charge people for free radio. Thanks!

  31. There you have it America…we have become a bunch of self-absorbed, cry-babies, whining about our free milk supply being controlled.

    Look, if you can afford a smartphone, table, or a computer,a decent pair of earbuds, and pay a monthly charge to your ISP or carrier, then you can damn-well afford $12/Yr. or $36/Yr. Or, won’t your mama give you that extra money?

    Oh, wait, I forgot… some of you are streaming Pandora on your employer’s WiFi or LAN/Internet while you are designing rockets or nuclear power plants.Guess you’ll really be pissed when your employer figures that one out and blocks your access.

    The free puddin’ is over…’cause you didn’t eat your meat!

  32. I listen to Pandora 40 hours a WEEK at work every week of the year! Yes, I listen for free and patiently watch and interact with the ads to enjoy “4 hours” uninterrupted only to have it ask me to do it again in an hour. Many times it does not even give me the 4 hour opportunity or after completing the task with the advertiser it won’t let me go back to Pandora for another 20 minutes or more so I give up and get 1 more hour. I realize that the ads pay for me to listen free and I appreciate, respect and accept that. So why don’t I receive the 4 uninterrupted hours I deserve? I saw several comments regarding Slacker radio, a site I have not heard of, but will certainly give it a try!

  33. JS i listen to pandora all the time even when im trying to sleep at night i fall asleep to the soothing sounds of music even if the music isent soft lol.but placeing limits on the ppl who do go over 40 hours is kinda selfish.im not saying its a bad idea because money is money and even you and everyone else needs it and i understand this may change later in the future to unlimited forever.but im just saying for those 4% or even 2% who do go over the 40 hour limit(i already have) i think there should be a rule and im not saying this is a bad suggestion but could help you gain more hours.but look for those 4 to 2%s who do go over the 40 hour limit and see that you can make it unlimited because before after every other few songs i heard a commercial and every commercial brings you more money right? well i heard atleast about 10 to 20 a day and god knows how many i heard when i was asleep with the pandora radio on my mobil Iphone 4 when i was sleeping so you should just make the 4%s unlimited again for good

  34. I have pandora one, but my kids and husband do not! They are all switching because its only 12 days into the month and have already been cut off!!!! If you start charging your most loyal customers you won’t have many left! I am not paying for every member in my house to have pandora! The more your rates increase the more you will want to charge!!!!!!!!

  35. Can you please create an option to add more than 100 stations? You could even charge more for it. Could call it something like Pandora One Plus, or Pandora Platinum or something like that. Would be another way to generate extra revenue. I quickly maxed out the 100 stations i’m alotted and would have like to have had more. I suspect there are many others out there besides me. Would be money in Pandora’s wallet to support this awesome company/venture. Could you give me 3-5 years of free Pandora for my idea?

  36. I really like Pandora, and I don’t see $1 busting anyone’s budget. I really doubt that anyone who can’t pay a buck would be much of a customer for something being advertised.

    • It was supposed to be free and funded by advertisements. I think it Is more the principle and betrayal by a brand lots of people grew to love.

  37. I also listen at work 40+ hours on my iPhone, unfortunately our security settings on the computers won’t allow us to access the site. So now I have to find another radio because the second week of April I have exceeded the limit …very disappointed

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