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)


  1. Frustrated
    March 31, 2013 at 8:42pm
    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.
  2. kc
    March 31, 2013 at 10:05pm
    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
  3. Floyd
    March 31, 2013 at 11:12pm
    Iheartradio here I come... Deleted the pandora app of my phone
  4. Dubhradh
    April 01, 2013 at 5:53pm
    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.
  5. poorPR
    April 02, 2013 at 3:25pm
    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.
  6. Matthew Cook
    April 02, 2013 at 10:42pm
    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 !
    1. kc
      April 08, 2013 at 9:04am
      Try slacker radio, its better you won't come back after the limit resets and will be missing your AD
  7. Pissed off pandora user
    April 03, 2013 at 2:02am
    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.
  8. chloe
    April 09, 2013 at 7:13am
    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
  9. Kevin
    April 09, 2013 at 9:42am
    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.
    1. Private
      May 18, 2013 at 8:25pm
  10. Anthony
    April 09, 2013 at 3:01pm
    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!

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