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. Lab
    April 15, 2013 at 9:38pm
    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.
  2. Connor
    April 15, 2013 at 10:26pm
    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
  3. nick
    April 16, 2013 at 12:30pm
    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...
  4. Baldo
    April 16, 2013 at 12:46pm
    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!
    1. Joe
      June 10, 2016 at 8:08pm
      Sounds alot! like direct tv!!!
  5. Dominic Bashford
    April 16, 2013 at 2:45pm
    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!
  6. Pandora-Free
    April 16, 2013 at 3:25pm
    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.
  7. Steve
    April 16, 2013 at 6:30pm
    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.
  8. Cassandra
    April 16, 2013 at 7:25pm
    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.
  9. Brant
    April 16, 2013 at 8:38pm
    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.
    1. Mightybuu
      April 18, 2013 at 9:59am
      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.
  10. 5hourLimitedStruggler
    April 16, 2013 at 9:10pm
    I only have 5 hours left. D: not cool Pandora not cool.

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