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. This really blows I’ve been listening to pandora for years my work hours go by so fast listening to the music I love. With this new 40 hour limit I’m out of time in a week or so…..not a cool move fu (#@ers…. :(

    • Hey freeloader, I pay for the commercial free membership, why? Because someone worked hard to make that song and others work hard to bring it to you… that is why I pay, to give royalty. Also, it is against the law to play broadcast music in a public building or a business w/o paying a royalty fee in one way or another.

      • Stooge, he never said he was rebroadcasting it over a P/A. So, you’re the headphone police, nobody can use a speaker. Most of us hear listen that way…at work. Nobody said music is free, but most are paid by other means, preferable to most everyone but you. There are many other no cost options and like many here that’s where I will be going. It doesn’t make me a free loader any more than listening to FM instead of paying for XM… People are right to be peeved, get over yourself.

      • Radio has a lot more commercials per song than pandora. And a radio station generally has much lower fixed costs and a much smaller audience than Pandora. MC=MR. The economies of scale between the two is pretty much incompatible.

        Is that really y’all’s argument?


    • So they’re “fu (#@ers” for looking for a way to be able to afford continuing to give you free entertainment?

      You’re a real gem, Carlos. lol

    • Yes, because you should get everything for FREE! I am quite sure you can afford to pay their small fee. You have well defined Narcissism! Maybe you should work for free, then you would have a leg to stand on!

  2. I actually understand pandora’s side. This company is a business not a charity. Everyone is always wanting free hand outs. Quit complaining and contribute to a company you obviously enjoy. Maybe I don’t mind because I haven’t reached the limit but really, I’d understand.

    • i just hit my limit pandora. it has been a nice 3 years with you.. i even paid for ad free listening for a year. I have tried other free music aps and liked them but stayed with pandora because i was already established with pandora. farwell pandora, I was looking into paying for another year but this move made me change my mind.

      • So Alex, youbwont pay $12/year to listen to pandora on your phone, but you will pay 3x that amount to listen to pandora one? That does not make any sense.

  3. I do not know where they go their statistics from. I already hit my limit in the first month after this stupid limitation was set. I am definitely going to try some other apps. Spotify sounds like a good option. They say ” We offer free radio, because radio should always be free” Specially if you are being hit with ads anyway

  4. I reached my limit in a week. I was getting all pumped up for a workout then suddenly this screen appears. GREAT. I’m not wasting a buck to continue. You can always be substituted Pandora.

    • Really? It would cost you $1.00 to listen for the next 3 weeks unlimited. ($12 a year.) Skip one freakin’ coffee or one beer or one bottled water a month in exchange for something else you obviously enjoy – good quality streaming music to your phone. Seriously . . . What a cheap ass.

  5. Why don’t you just put stack up more ads for free listeners to fight back budget. You make more with ads, which is good for the increased royalty cost, and the public gets free, unlimited, and good quality radio. This would really help people that don’t have money to pay for this.

    • If they did do that, then we might as well listen to the radio.they’ll get longer ads and more frequent too. People will start complaining of too many ads. I am in the 4% but I’m not complaining. I can always download music i like to my ipod and listen to it for the remainder of the month.

      • “then we might as well listen to the radio.”
        pandora is a personalized recommendation system, its not radio. It works like a radio because of the way it use to recommend stuff to people, but its not a radio.

  6. I understand where they are coming from but as a college student, I listen to the classical music station while studying everyday and I would reach my limit within a week’s time. It’s unfortunate to lose that study aid.

      • Jason – calm the eff down. Everyone isn’t a cheap ass simply because they don’t agree with you. You seem like a Nazi hating everyone who doesn’t agree with you on this post. Calm down and take a breath and realize you pissing and moaning about everyone not wanting to pay for Pandora won’t change anything regarding their use of the service.

        Or go blow yourself – you could probably afford to get laid as well.

    • I agree with you. I am a college student and I listen to classical music when I’m studying also, which is practically every day.

  7. So basically, I’m broke and Pandora already has a ton of ads. It’s ridiculous how many there are, but I can understand it. The “you only have 5 hours left” message came out of the blue though. I suggest you allow users to see how many hours they have been using up.
    I see where you’re coming from, but this is going to look like a money grab. I don’t think it’s as bad as what Netflix did, but you’re going to lose a lot of listeners. Even if this limit doesn’t affect them, I can see people leaving because this new change makes the company look greedy, uncaring of what the customers want. For those that stay, there’s going to be less usage of the app in general-customers will view less of your apps. Hope your new source of revenue makes up for it.
    Because I only use Pandora on mt phone and I’ve hit the limit, I’m going to look for a subsitute. It’s been nice Pandora, but I’m off for greener pastures and bluer skies and what not.

  8. I want to start off by saying I am a big fan of Pandora radio. I wanted to become a paid member but was waiting for some issues to become resolved first. I still constantly get LONG pauses between songs, some songs get cut off half way through. The ads play flawlessly. I thought maybe it was my connection, but it happens on wifi also. I just received and email that I’m close to my limit after only listening to it while mowing my lawn yesterday. Maybe I didn’t fully close it out like another poster had stated but I was unaware of the limits. To me, charging customers without seeing any improvements is not worth it. I will be moving on.

  9. My parents used to tell me Ive reached my limit
    My bank now tells me Ive reached my limit
    My phone company tells me Ive reached my limit
    Now a music station is telling me Ive reached my limit – pffffttt
    All Im waiting on now is for someone to tell me Ive reached my limit in living. :P.

  10. I’m with everyone else on this one. Who’s up for some boycotting!!??
    You, Pandora, have lost a loyal listener. Time to use my other, or should I say ONLY , FREE internet radio app. Sure I might not get as large of a selection but hey, AT LEAST THERE’S NO LIMITS….

  11. I just reached my limit. I totally understand why you guys did this. I do sometimes fall asleep or put my Pandora on mute and forget about it. Buttt,,,, I don’t really listen to Pandora THAT much that I would really get the 40 HOUR limit. I just want to know how you calculate the 40 hours. I still listen to it on the internet. At least you guys didn’t restrict that… :)

  12. Only 4%? Then why has everyone I know already hit their limit? I apparently know all 4%?
    I was happy with you Pandora, until this week. Not only did I hit my limit, which now means I don’t get to hear your stupid ads anymore, but the last thing I heard before I ran out of time was a commercial in Spanish. I don’t listen to music in Spanish, so why would I want a commercial in Spanish? It just pissed me off, and then I hit my limit which didn’t help any. Time to find a new.music source. I’m done with you, and thanks to social media, all of my “friends” will hear my disgust too.

    • I completely agree with you. I’ve been using Pandora more than ever to expand my musical library. On sunday i used pandora for about 3 hours. Then for another 2 hours on monday. I haven’t used pandora AT ALL before that. That doesn’t make sense. At all. They seriously need to change how they calculate how long someone listens to their radio. For now, I will continue on for May.

  13. Bottom line we listen to Pandora because it worked for us… but with the new move limiting the listener’s to 40 hours… is a bad move that will back fire.. only 4% of listener’s ever reach the 40 hour mark .,..just sounds so untruthful … All my friends are complaining to me about the same thing… There are other competitors that care about the listener’s and are not out to make more money.. So what that your per track loyalty rates have increased sounds like you need a better negotiator…Bad move on your Part… !!! .

  14. As I am part of this said “4%” population that does listen to Pandora religiously during my work hours (12 hour shifts each day), this change is ridiculous. My company is not in favor of streaming live music on our networks. Listening to Pandora on my mobile has been the solution for years to a long and tedious shift at work. Thank you for the wonderful years Pandora however; as a working mom I cannot afford any extra monthly expenses-regardless of how minimal it may seem to others. I will resort iHeart radio.

  15. I reached the limit and tried to pay a buck to listen for the rest of the month. When i try to upgrade google play defaults to the wrong google account ( i have two). i’ve tried everything to upgrade my google account with money for google play purchases but nothing works. Haven’t encountered this problem with any of my other apps. Wish you guys could straighten it out.

  16. Are people really so spoiled that they are complaining about spending at most $12 a YEAR on a service they say they love? You now have three options: listen up to 40 hours a month with ads on your mobile or unlimited hours on your PC for free, pay one dollar PER MONTH for unlimited with ads on both mobile and PC or $3.99 for unlimited on all devices with no ads and higher bit rates. People that are saying they can’t afford ONE DOLLAR per month have bigger things to worry about than online streaming music. Maybe instead of sitting around listening to music all day you should go out and get a job? It is also complete BS because you obviously can afford a smartphone and a data plan (neither are necessities in life) so you certainly have spare money to waste.

    Maybe it is time for you to grow up, stop mooching off of society and stop expecting “big, bad companies” to do everything you want for free.

    • I see where your coming from, however, A LOT of Pandora listeners are teenagers(like me) who don’t have credit cards to pay up the second our music hits it limit. It wouldn’t be nearly as bad if the limit really was forty hours, I started listening to music on April second when I got the notice, and I had run out of free music within the next three days. This isn’t the same Pandora that it once was, the endless expanse of free music that attracted most if not all of its fans is gone, and now Pandora has to pay the price.

      Besides, if they aren’t smart enough to stop record labels from charging extortionate royalty fees, then maybe they deserve to go under. :/

      Whatever, that’s just my fifteen year-old thoughts, yolo, swag, and whatever other teenaged idiosyncrasies you wish to attach…

  17. You’re all a bunch of whiny, spoiled immature children. Get a grip; not everything in life is free, and how is it fair to them to get NO income from most of you at all and still have to pay higher royalties? It is ONE DOLLAR a month. If you cannot afford that, you cannot afford to be listening to music on your phone. If you’re really so concerned about what to listen to, put some of your own music on your phone and listen to that instead. It’s not that complicated.

    • Agreed. I find it very interesting that folks here have not even mentioned who really is getting screwed here with services like Pandora, Spotify and others. The artists and musicians. The royalty rates for services like Pandora and Spotify are no where near that of terrestrial radio…because as tech start-ups, they originally argued that they made no money. They pleaded to get license deals that were very cheap so they can test the market and see where it all is going. Well….we know where it is going. It is replacing radio. And…the internet streaming services are making money and it is time to get those royalties up to being on par with the well established rates of the radio stations around the world. This is why their royalties are going up from the record labels and they will continue to do so at every contract as long as they are paying pennies on the dollar per play compared to traditional radio. So many artists today distribute their tunes via Pandora and Spotify and do not have multi-million dollar record deals. BMI and ASCAP collect copyright creators performance royalties on their behalf. And there is current legislation going through congress to make double sure copyright content creators will be protected and treated the same as terrestrial radio and television. It is time for folks to see where this money is going. Not to Pandora alone…but to the artists you love to listen to. And be happy that they are finally getting paid a little bit more of their due. Maybe then they can then create more wonderful music for folks to be a fan of as well as pay for their mortgages/rents, families, food, gas, utility bills, etc…

      Music is NOT free. It doesn’t just ooze out of the free tree. Thousands upon thousands go into creating the song many here complain they can’t listen to for free any more. Folks are not entitled to have free access to content that is not free. This is a good step in the right direction.

    • @m, Have you ever listened to the radio???? it is not free you have to listen to commercials…. can you imagine the radio telling you to listen to another station or pay for your content? how about TV same thing… its not that complicated go to you advertisers and get more money with all of those ears….

  18. Well. If I have to pay to get more than 40 hours of ad laced music then there are much better options than Pandora. You have lost a user that actually listened to the ads. 4% my ass.

  19. Good! You’re a company first. I’d much rather pay a little to keep the music flowing than have it disappear. $30/year is 4 hours max at minimum wage… All you have to is work four hours for unlimited music for a year!

  20. New listening limit blows! Yeah it’s free radio but because its free, we choose to deal with the constant ads, the annoying popups and commercials. Add more of that shit if you’re trying to bridge the money gap, but don’t charge your customers for something you claim is free.

  21. JK on April 24 at 10:54 AM.
    What a bunch of whiners. Most of the comments I have read are made by people who think Pandora owes them something and have no idea what it costs to operate a business. Is Pandora providing music because you, the audience, are entitled or because everything on the airways is supposed to be free? No! they are a business, and to remain in business they have to receive more than they payout or they will be out of business and you will not even enjoy 40 hours of great music free. Be realistic, give up a frosted mug of beer a month, pay the $3.99 / month and stop your whining.
    Pandora, you’re doing a great job; keep up the excellent music selections.

  22. Not buy this bs sheeple!!! It costs the same in loyalties to stream the songs to your computer as it does your phone. This is nothing more then a greed move. Drug dealers started it and corporations now live by it. Free gets people in the door, found out what they like and then charge’em once they’re hooked!! Good bye Pandora. My cds still download to a playlist for free!!!!

  23. You know I don’t mind the limit thing and the fact that I have to pay a dollar for the rest of the month then ehh. Ill support that but the only thing I would ask for would be a data/hour tracker to let you know how many hours you have left or something…well thank you for the many great car rides pandora!!

  24. My 40 hours is all used in a week as well. I work in an office in cubicle city and 5 days a week @ 8hrs a day = NO MUSIC!

  25. I don’t understand where you are getting your statistics from. 4% is so unreal to me. And out of the houndred of thousands of people who do use pandora your losing 4% of people basically. Which may not seem like a lot but that is still over hundreds. I have been using pandora for years. Now I’m just about to call a quits. Even though pandora is made amazingly. I enjoy the music selections and the very comparable songs on each of my stations I just don’t see the point anymore. I can not enjoy my music. I know times are hard. But honestly I’m no business major but cutting 4% of people and possibly thinking they will pay to listen to more is far fetch. Maybe you’ll get people to actually pay or use their desktop computer. (Once again far fetch) Students use 40 hours in a week for studying with pandora music and so do teachers and people walking around town playing pandora on their iPhones. 4% of people reach that 40 hour limit but they are the most faithful of users. The ones that tell people about pandora and spread the word. And now the faithful ones are cut off expect bad times ahead because trust me when someone says an app sucks people believe it. I’m moving in pandora. See ya. It’s been real.

  26. Well I hit my limit the first month I now installed I heart radio and I’m loving the discover music button pandora it’s been real but I had no clue of this happening until the lady said I am reaching my limit one question though when you came up with forty hours is that including you 30 to 45 sec commercials and that lady who says she is cutting me off at 40 hours???????????

  27. How about a constructive suggestion. Since this ONLY affects the mobile apps, why not find a way on the mobile app to provide a statistic on how much time in the month has been used? Then I can gauge whether I have bad practices (leaving it on but muted, etc). I could also determine if it’s worth my effort to pay the $1 or full membership to Pandora One.

  28. The limit of “40 hours” has made your product useless. You are about to find out free market system does to the weak and stupid.

  29. Whoever says this is a good idea obviously has money
    from the side of a broke high school kid this is unfair. Pandora is my most used app and now im going to move on because i cant afford to pay for music advertised as free.

  30. I had to roll my eyes going for the ‘tired of this track’ again and again. Pandora, XM and the like only proves the saying “The more things change, the more they stay the same”. After the commercialization of FM back in the day, the problem of repeating artists, songs, etc. plagues this format as well. Your music genome has a serious defect. FIX IT!!!!!!!!!!!!

  31. I’ve been listening to Pandora for years. I used to constantly reach the monthly limit half way through the month. I finally became a subscriber last year and I’ve continued the subscription this year. It’s worth every penny. In fact I would love to know how long I’ve listened to Pandora in the past year. Probably well over 1 thousand hours. Well worth the 36 dollars if you think about how much say a video game costs.

  32. I can very much understand their reasons for doing this. But if you don’t have 1 dollar for a whole month of unlimited listening… then there’s nothing I can do for you I’m afraid.

  33. It costs money to run a business. Why does everybody who has reached their limit believe Pandora owes them more? You haven’t paid anything. It’s a free app. If you do happen to reach your limit, then pay the 99 cents! It’s not expensive at all. You spend at least $6 on a pack of cigarettes, $14 on a 24 pack of beer, and you’ve bought a smartphone and pay at least $50 a month on your bill and complain about a 99 cent fee? iTunes charges like 99 cents for ONE song. You people are so ignorant to how much Pandora is spending just so you can listen to free music. You can also listen unlimited on desktops/laptops. Also, Pandora does not have a lot of adds like everybody is exaggerating it to be. I hardly ever get adds. I get maybe 1 or 2 listening for 5 hours. It really pisses me off that everybody thinks that this should be free. I’m a loyal listener and always will be.

  34. This is so stupid because the 3.99 a month thing is a little excessive to me and I have already hit the 40 hour mark…..I have been listening to pandora for a couple of years now……

  35. I recently found out about this, I was a bit disappointed, but I’m a bit relieved to see that I can pay 99 cents and continue for the rest of the month unlimited. I understand that they do have to pay for their music, ads only cover so much. It also helps that Pandora is not the only internet radio that I use. I also use Jango and Iheart.

  36. With all of the PAID political ads telling us what Obama can and will do for us……(wait for it)…….Why don’t you ask him for a bailout? You started a FREE service that was ad driven and then want to change it to drive people to your paid service, not cool. I listen to Pandora a lot, and plan to continue. However, I will NOT pay for a “free” service! Thanks and get this bad move corrected!

  37. i remember when pandora was just a free gnome project with no commercials at all. this is really ridiculous that it has to come down to this, that was why we listened to pandora because it was one of the few free things in life that we all enjoy. i will try every effort to move everyone i know to different app or another internet radio provider. hopefully everyone will leave pandora and it will become a thing of the past. let see how all these companies are going to keep paying for ad time if no one is listening. btw 40 hr a month … yea right i guess everyone i know is in that 4% including me…

  38. Quit complaining. I think its a good idea they did this. If they hadn’t, then they would’ve shut down completely. I like Pandora more than I like all the othe radios. Every company undergoes one of those ‘losing money’ times. At least Pandora has goven us a cheaper option. Most companies wouldn’t even go down to 0.99¢ until the next month. And for those people who are about 4%. If you really do want to continue listening, then buy the unlimited. You only pay once and you keep it for life. And no ads. Its a win-win situation for both sides. Its not like you have to pay for it every month or year. I’ve hit the limit loads of times. But i dont need to keep listening. I can wait until the next month.
    40 hours is a long time. I understand if you’d be crying if they ser the limit to 20 hours. Bit they didnt. You can easily listen to misic for an hour a day and still be under the limit.
    Anyway, thanks Pandora. You’re an awesome radio station and always will be…hopefully. :D

  39. My daughter and I were loyal listeners until the limit. Now it’s become much more convenient to find our favorite online streaming stations or other (unnamed) alternatives out there instead of listening to Pandora. Haven’t logged on in two weeks. The business person in me is curious whether this will hurt Pandora’s advertisers or not. Either way, best of luck to you.

  40. lame. i finished up my hours for the month.. & i think your percentages are off im sure i can burn 40 hours in a week or less.. it seems everybody is just nickeling & diming. these business’s seriously think everybody is made of money these days. can’t get anything for free without a catch.. sorry pandora but i won’t be using you anymore.

  41. I can see both sides to this argument, and both have very fair and valid points. I personally don’t mind the ads. One quick audio ad every 10 minutes or so- I can deal with that. It’s better than the 2-3 minutes of ads local radio stations play every couple of songs. And I also tend to reach my cap pretty quick- within the first couple weeks, but I wouldn’t mind paying $1 to continue listening for the remaining two weeks- hell, if it helps me to retain my sanity at work and be more productive, then that $1 is worth evey shiny penny.

    I also would like to say that I think having a data tracker would be great. It would be nice to see how much of my 40 hours I have used up at any given time.

  42. This is an unsustainable business model. If royalties continue to rise and you cannot make up those costs with ads – subscriber fees are going to inevitably increase. Subscribers will then dump the service which will further drive up costs to those remaining. I love Pandora – and I don’t want to see this happen. You need to diversify your product line to stay alive.

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