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

582 thoughts on “A note to our listeners

  1. I am sort of unsatisfied by this change I use pandora for at least six hours a day. It helps me get through my day and I hit my limit but that’s not the bad part I went to pay for the rest of the month and it wouldn’t let me. Also I don’t have a computer. This may help the company but it’s going to cripple some of your listeners who listen religiously and may not be able to pay for pandora one or the rest of the month.

    • I agree this pandora limit thing. it’s a bit rediculis I heard about this and I don’t have the money for a monthly subscription to pandora one or the fee if I go over. I don’t have a credit card. I am a big listener to pandora morning day and night for me that racks up the hours. “Not cool”

      • You don’t have enough money to pay $0.99 on months you go over the limit? At most that is less than $12 a year. Let me guess. You have enough money to buy a cup of coffee every day, have a smartphone, have Internet access, etc but you don’t have enough money to pay an insignificantly small price for a service you enjoy because you feel it should be your god given right to unlimited music. You sir, are what is wrong with this world.

    • I’ve already deleted my pandora app on my phone. This is ridiculous and total non sense. I won’t be using pandora at all after this!

  2. First of all $4 dollars a month . Who’s going to pay that much . Over $50 a year. What! Your ads should cover for all the free listeners . Now your cutting people off and giving a bad name for yourselves. Good job! I switched from slacker radio bc I thought your station was better, Wrong! Slacker here I come bye bye pandora. Deleting all my accounts and telling everyone else to advise the same . Sell outs!

  3. Can’t believe you are starting to charge for the service… I will no longer be using pandora… U lost a loyal client cause u want to be greedy and start charging for service… Hope it all works for your company

    • A “client” pays for a service. Granted, I don’t pay either, but i’m also not considering myself a customer when I don’t pay or want to pay as in your case…

    • Pandora has to pay for every track they play. They have a whole lot of listeners. Ads don’t generate a whole lot of money. This adds up.

  4. I’m curious as to how you calculate the 40 hours. I rarely use Pandora because I work in a call center for a healthcare company and am not allowed to listen to music on the job. I’ve probably listened to a combined 5 hours, maybe a little more since April 1st, but I got a notice saying I only have 5 hours left. I choose Pandora over Spotify because the selection is better, but I’d much rather pay for their premium service and be able to choose the songs I want to listen to. We had a good run, Pandora. If your listening calculations were correct, I’d continue listening.

  5. I listen to Pandora most days at work. Halfway though the month and I just received notice that I have 5 hrs left of pandora radio for the month of April. Found this page to see what was going on. I’ve used pandora for awhile now and have always enjoyed the free radio, even with the ads (some were funny so always gave me a laugh). Based on the principle of the idea of free radio, I have switch to IHeartRadio. Will not listen to Pandora on home computer even though free out of principle.

  6. This limit only applies to 4% of the user base; then why have that limit at all since the main (96%) portion of the cost is from the other part of the user base… Doesn’t make sense to charge that small percentile of listeners. Don’t the ads support the cost of the system?

  7. This 40 hour limit will surely make you lose many customers…im talking on behalf of the millions of teenagers worldwide who look at music as a way to relieve stress n get thru the day…many of which these teenagers may not even own a credit card to be able to pay for this…sorry to say this but Pandora, you fucked yourself out of millions of listeners.

  8. You guys a screwing up. Free listening with ads give you revenue. Tell the truth about what’s really going on. You have such a large audience your servers can’t handle it and your cutting off the free listeners by limiting them. No different then the phone companies slowing data.
    Nice job on the smoke screen. I hope your business flops like a fish on land.

  9. I really don’t see why this was a must for pandora you have single handily lost a huge percentage of your listeners and this is your fault. Hopefully you will make the money you want so much out of this.

    -connor

  10. pandora knows a majority of pandora users use the service on the go .thats why he charging phone users to gain a profit for the company ,if he was truly worried about the rise in royalty cost he would charge everybody…

  11. Why can’t you make it $1 a month for unlimited PC, laptop and mobile across the board! I think more listeners would tune in. it is like anything alse on a capitalist world!! Introduce it as a free program and charge them later when it becomes big!

  12. I don’t get why people are freaking out over this, there’s a much better solution and it’s Spotify! All the (old) functionality of Pandora, plus you can play any song for free!

  13. I understand the cost associated but I really doubt these fees are going to cover your costs. People that listen for “free” already put up with the ads – restricting them in any way is absurd. Switching to other free services, taking my entire family with me.

  14. I would not classify this as the smartest business move you could have made Tim. Ask the fine folks at Netflix how their DVD rental business declined when they admitted to throttling the shipments for their most active customers.

    The 4%-ers, like my 14 year old daughter, also hear and see 200-300% more of your advertisers’ ads in the process of hearing 200-300% more music. Less listening equals less ad exposures. I’m not a music industry executive, but I do understand internet advertising; less impressions = less revenue.

  15. I’ve listened to Pandora for years & when all my friends tried to get me to leave & switch to other music apps & such I stayed because I liked Pandora. I liked that I could get all genres of music. I’ve now gotten this notice which made go looking for info as to why. I’ve not come close I know, but you say I have. This is wrong!!! You have ads which I gladly listened to as an understanding that I was receiving a free service, but it’s not REALLY free if I’m being limited when I’m gladly listening to your ads. I guess I’ll being looking elsewhere now too. Sad because I liked it.

  16. This is ridiculous if only 4% of listeners go over 40 hours a month then why charge the small amount of people that go over put in one more ad every 50 song that should cover us right. Also I seriously doubt that I go over 40 hours in 14 days I don’t even listen to it that much anymore. When summer comes (I’m in school still) this will suck since I will have all day where by the 5th day of the month I’ll be worried about going over my limit. Pandora I say sue the people charging the ridiculous per track royalties. Iheartradio seems to be doing fine, figure out what there doing because every year they have plenty of money to blow on their concerts in Vegas. Change the limit to 80 hours or something or you will lose all of your costumer base, as you can see from all the other comments. I’ve been listening to pandora since 2007 and loved it the limit is a buzz kill I’m even thinking about switching to iheartradio.

    • Their customer base STARTED out on computers, and thats where the main customer base still remains. Putting a 40 hour limit per month on mobile devices will not drain Pandora’s customers.

      I would say that streaming free music since the beginning of their existence, and still doing so would be pretty damned costly, and because people use ad block programs the ads do not cover the entire cost. If you’re still in school ask your parents for a dollar, or use a computer. Or invest in an MP3 player (though that will cost much more than a dollar a month to provide music for).

      If it really gets your panties into a bunch, just switch, as you were saying you might do.

  17. Any type of Music anytime , anywhere. at the tip of your fingers and no commercials ! So worth the $4 a month, would not even mind if it is more . I am tired of people always looking for free stuff . Stop whining and support the music !

      • its not free the have commercials that pay for revenue,people are just saying why charge us 4.00 a month if we have to listen to commercials …pandora is just getting greedy and looking for more money “its not about the people anymore ,its about The money”

      • Not to mention that people pay for cable…which has commercials….well there is TiVo but you can’t skip them all.

  18. Firstly, Its only $4 a month. One less stop at Dunkin Donuts a month and you have it covered. If you use it everyday then its a worth expense. Ive never hit a limit but i have Pandora One because A. its cheap B. No Ads and C. Its the best variety music player ever. I drive over 2 hours everyday and if i didnt have pandora on my phone i wouldnt get threw it. I dont have the time to go find music to add to my ipod so for me $4 is not bad, if its too much then sorry but dont listen for 40 hours a month.

  19. Well I see that you guys are losing listeners. Well I will be one of them I was just informed I have 5 hours left wtf?! When did this happen I refuse to pay $1 for the remainder of the month smh Pandora will be shutting down soon or later Spotify her I come…

  20. Just to comment on the flip-side of things, I’ve been a loyal Pandora One subscriber from the beginning. Pandora offers an awesome service. You whiner free-loaders should probably just pony-up and pay, it’s only 36 bucks a year…

  21. I have listened “religiously” using your service for years and have built great stations. Now you’re telling me I can’t enjoy them like I have for so long…. as much as I love your service, I’ll be looking into others. Possible goodbye to Pandora…

  22. I use pandora to help with homework and doing my chores I thought it was amazing till I got the 5 hour limit thing.I’m in the middle of the month and not able to pay for the contine for the rest if the month. I’m still in school forget about summer.

  23. This limit is ridiculous. You guys are pretty much just penalizing your most loyal customers by setting this limit. I already “went over the limit like 3 day’s ago so it didn’t even last me half the month

  24. There should be an option to at least see how many hours we’ve been listening so that we know instead of having to wait for the “5 hours left” notification. I don’t mind the change tho… Some ppl need to find a hobby that are so angry about this lol jk don’t kill me!!

  25. As I consider all the things in my day that I enjoy, Pandora might be one of the cheapest, even if it goes from free to $4 per month. I listen a lot more than I watch TV, and my cable bill is over $200 a month. I’m sure they calculated a loss of some customers, but I’m also sure that 10 years from now any decent internet radio station will have a monthly subscrition fee. That, Mr. Anderson, is the sound of inevitability…

  26. I honestly don’t see a problem with pandora needing to make a bit more money to support the constant free supply of music they’ve been dishing out (and continue to dish out on all computers). What saddens me is that I only have the option of using the mobile version on my tablet even though it basically counts as a computer and have thus hit my listening limit. Really the change is slightly disappointing, but they are a company and providing free music is costly, even with ads (adblock plus, anyone?) it still probably needs extra support.

    For all those who say “but I only listened to it for maybe 5 hours!” Make sure the mobile app is COMPLETELY closed, always use the “quit” function in the app. Just because you pressed home or back doesn’t mean pandora closed, it might still be playing and sucking up hours in the background.

  27. This is so basic. I am a college student & I listen to Pandora on my way to class, Coming from class, While taking a Shower & Just walking around on campus. This limit thing has really made me upset & I hope this thing just disappears!

  28. I’ve liked Pandora for years but you just had to go ahead and ruin a good thing. Goodbye Pandora, its iheartradio’s time shine.

  29. This is one of the worst lines of BS I’ve ever heard Tim. If you are truly having issues with royalties because of too much listening from 4% of your overall customers then what is the percent of those that are on unpaid mobile? Even if that number were 4% how does that truly affect the cost of your royalties to the point that they are increasing too fast? Couldn’t I listen online unlimited? So tell me Tim, how does the same amount of listening on line not translate into the same dollar amount for royalties? Not only that how is 99 cents going to make it to where you can pay the additional royalties if this is such a large problem? Because if it were truly as large of an issue as you make it out to be 99 cents for unlimited monthly listening is not going to pay them, even if every user that goes over there limit were to pay the 99 cents. Which I assure you I will not. Along that same line there is also the fact that your primary source of income is Advertising, and to pay for your royalties that should be done through that advertising, correct? Obviously you understand the need to make your listening free otherwise you will end up like other internet radio providers, ie. in the toilet. So it still doesn’t make sense that with as much as I am now hearing advertisements on my mobile pandora radio that you aren’t making a good deal of money that can more that cover the royalties I as a listener incur by going over 40 hours per month, and collect a considerable profit after all the overhead is covered. I suggest if you want this listener to continue to use your service, and not see other providers, that you remove this mobile limitation. I assure you that if you do not I will no longer support, or listen to Pandora.

    Thank you.

  30. I don’t even know what to do, no Pandora. Wow really guys come on. I listen to Pandora like all day during the day for my daycare and night for me and to chill, whenever. I’m very disappointed and to see u count my tablet as a phone and not PC sucks. I think this decision is bogus and you TIM WESTERGREN you found a way to make Pandora and get customers and build up a social media but u don’t find out how to compete in this business. Wack Just Wack.. hope it works

  31. So, this 40 hour thing. Not cool… I listen to pandora to fall asleep. But seeing that there is a 40 hour limit, I have deleted pandora and installed the “iheartradio” app. Free unlimited listening. But seeing as pandora did this, I’m going to stick with iheartradio.

  32. I had no idea any if this was happening until the other day while I was working out. I got the notice I was getting close to the 40hr limit. I find that hard to believe since the month wasn’t even half over. Plus,I typically only listen to Pandora while I workout. Considering my workouts have been very limited,if not nonexsistant due to a 3 wk+ injury,I know I didn’t come close to those 40 hrs(which I’m now over). Hopefully this is just a mess up and part of the transition or I’ll be saying bye bye to Pandora just like a lot of people.

  33. Seriously they need to change it again and take that off. That is unfair and stupid they will lose pandora listeners and your ratings will be decreased! Believe it. I reached my limit and now this is bs. I thought pandora was good and i told people about it but i guess i have to tell them no. Ratings from me is 0. Nobody has time for that mess. Free and fun thats all we want but we cant even get that. This needs to be changed comin from a listener from a long time! I hate this and definintly uninstalling it on me and my friends phones! This is just messed up!!!!! This is the stupidest decision that has ever been made! Just a diagrace!

  34. I’m glad I found this page so that I can speak my mind about what I think about this. I’m also a college student and music is a huge part of my life. I listen to Pandora on the way to school, home from school, running errands, taking a shower, getting ready to go out. During the Summer, I go out and jog for an hour 5 days week and I like to listen to Pandora while I jog. So much of the awesome and great music that I have been listening to on Pandora is now being cut off from me. I received an e-mail this morning saying that I’m almost at the 40 hour limit… After reading the e-mail, I sat there asking myself isn’t Pandora free radio with their advertisments and all ?”. I am still going to try and use Pandora, as mad as this 40 hour limit thing makes me. I guess I will just use my mp3 player more often now. I can make the 40 hour limit thing work I guess, but I am pretty disappointed. I liked having unlimited free online radio, especially being a college student because college is expensive as it is…

  35. To those complaining, realize that they did this as a business decision. In order to offset costs of running their business. Claiming that you “lose respect” for them because of imposing a limit on a few people is showing a lack of economic understanding. Try to understand that they need to do this to keep the business going, because if not, they wouldn’t be able to add more music, patch bugs, and keep the lights on. Think about what they’re doing before you flip out over a few music-free hours. It may not be the best thing in the world, but it’s no cause to get upset.

  36. I see that this is not the first time you’ve had the 40 hours a month limit. You guys did the same thing back in 2010 and then took the 40 hour cap away.

  37. I’m fed up with this 40 hour limmit. Pandora may say that it affects a very small percentage of people but I don’t believe that to be true. Most of my friends that have reached the limmit and a few have gotten a limmit notification early in a month after listening to no more than 6 hours. I’m going to miss pandora but I think I’m going to spotify beause they care about their listeners more.. So long Pandora, have fun restricting listeners on your “free” radio!

  38. If its free and all you do is enjoy it, get past your feelings. In the real world everything has an operating cost. If you can’t afford the ride, go make your own. We all have to make choices about what we will pay for and what we won’t. Tell the record labels to back off and treat internet radio like RF stations with the same rate limit RF stations enjoy for playing songs. Bitching at Pandora and telling them it sux and you “just want the whole thing to go away” only shows how little is understood and a bit more about one’s emotional maturity.

  39. Apparently, I hit the ‘limit’ on my tablet AND cell phone. The month is barely half-over and now so is my Pandora time. My total commute is three hours a day and we sometimes use Pandora at work. I suppose resorting back to the ipod is a good idea. It is very frustrating to know something that used to be so available to the public, is no longer of ease to access. You say 4% like that portion is irrelevant to your business. I disagree with the reasoning and will no longer use Pandora.

  40. Why not just slightly modify the ad structure to cover the rising costs? Isn’t the point of a free radio service to have the ads cover the costs? If the costs change, change the ad structure to happen a little more often. If the structure is the same across all users it would seem that all users cost the same on a per hour basis, and this change makes the most active listeners try to cover the rising costs on everyone (the extra fee). Why not just adjust the ad structure on everyone to combat the rising royalty fees?

  41. third month in a row i’ve hit my limit. i’d rather just pay the four dollars for pandora one, but i have to pay that every single month, which is pointless. can there be a one time fee for all months? i dont care if it has ads.

  42. come on pandora. please dont limit people listening to music, the stations are already flustered with ads, and im okay with that, but 40 hours? theres 744 hours in a month (31 day month). it will make people switch to other internet radios too, so more money will be lost then gained. plus pandora is ad free and limit free for windows phones until 2014, please dont complain about it being to expensive for users to listen for more then 40 hours and then be hypocritical, i am about to reach my limit and its 19 days into the month, please atleast extend the limit to 80 hours or somthing (preferably take it away all together).

  43. Deleted Pandora from my phone. I used to love this service. I used it over all others. Not only are you now limiting people to 40 hours, but the ads that pop have increased 10 fold, and your app plays 80% of the songs I ALREADY have on my phone from iTunes. I used Pandora to discover new music, not be bombarded with irrelavant ads and listen to music I already bought and paid for. You idiots have gone and screwed up a really good service.

  44. I will no longer listen to Pandora. It is ridiculous that I now have to pay to listen to music that was once free. The way your company is calculating the hours is not correct either. Half way through the month I hit 40 hours when I only listen for an 1-2 a day. Greed always ruins a company!

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