Pandora One Subscription Changes

Over the next couple of months, we will be implementing some changes to our Pandora One subscription plan so that loyal listeners can continue to enjoy a premium, ad-free Pandora experience.

Screen Shot 2014-03-18 at 1.37.00 PMWe’ve been fortunate to be able to offer Pandora One at an affordable price since its debut in 2009 at $36 per year and later with the introduction of a monthly subscription for only $3.99 per month. Over this same period, the costs of delivering this service have grown considerably. For example, the royalty rates Pandora pays to performers via SoundExchange for subscription listening have increased 53% in the last five years and will increase another 9% in 2015.

In order to continue to provide an ad-free listening option, we are implementing some changes to the way we price Pandora One, including a modest price increase for new Pandora One subscriptions:

  • Existing Pandora One monthly subscribers that remain active will not experience a price increase at this time and will continue to pay $3.99 per month.
  • For new subscribers, the subscription price will change to $4.99 per month starting in May.
  • Existing annual subscribers that remain active will migrate to a discounted loyalty price of $3.99 per month at their next renewal period.
  • We are ending the annual subscription option.

Beginning this week, annual subscribers approaching their renewal date will be notified as the update is applied to their subscription. Monthly pricing for new subscribers will take effect in May, allowing time for new subscribers to take advantage of discounted loyalty pricing if they subscribe before then.

Our listeners are our top priority and, while this affects only a small percentage of our listeners (3.3 million subscribers of more than 250 million registered users total), we hope that you understand why we have taken these steps. Our goal is to continue to be your go-to internet radio destination and enable you to hear the music you love wherever and whenever you want.

Pandora

The Pandora Team http://www.pandora.com/

836 thoughts on “Pandora One Subscription Changes

  1. Good service but I too will be leaving, I agree with the other customers. Taking away a yearly fee is a very bad business decision.

    • Without regard to how many paying subscribers there are compared to how many are accepting the Pandora with ads, $36.00 or $48.00 per month is an extremely small amount to pay for this service.

      In my opinion and based on being a long-time subscriber to this service, this is the best music service available. I listen to Pandora at home, on the road, and at work. This service allows me to discover a wealth of new songs of the style I enjoy, which would have never happened without Pandora.

      Let me ask you this: Is discovering new artists who compose and play the music you like, which expands the range of songs you can enjoy worth the cost of what, maybe 3 CDs per year? Actually, the cost of the CDs I purchase from being introduced to new artists on Pandora is far more than the annual fee.

      Thank you Pandora for providing the best music service out there. I appreciate the service and the many individuals who work hard on your Music Genome Project. They are doing a great job and many of us out here appreciate their diligence and dedication.

      MJM

      • Really, the issue almost every one of us is having is the lack of yearly subscription not the cost. Although, after researching, it appears $60+ per year is a bit high given the quantity and quality/bit rate of content. That being said, many of us (myself included) would still pay the $60+ if there were a yearly onetime fee subscription option.

      • I pay for Rdio and Pandora. I loved Pandora for finding new artists as you mentioned. But Rdio has greatly improved that feature. And what makes Rdio even better is I can then add that artist, album, or song to my collection and/or a playlist so I can listen to their other music directly – whereas Pandora would be random tracks occasionally by the same artist. Now that Rdio is unblocked at my work, I think I’ll save the $4.21 (after tax) each month. I didn’t mind the annual fee, but like others a month fee doesn’t cut it. Add on what Apple will be rolling out this fall in iOS and Beats music merged with iTunes, iTunes Radio and Pandora might have a larger exodus of subscribers.

        Brian

      • My thoughts are you should let your customers choose:
        A monthly fee of $4.99 or a discount for a annual subscription fee of $50. Like any other business when customers what a deal or discount for service the company offer a lower fee if they are go for annual subscription instead of the monthly one. I know i would prefer the annual one just to get that $10 discount.

  2. I went back to reread Pandora’s justification of this pricing action and annual subscription elimination. I was shocked to reread that part of the justification was that, it was only a small percentage of listeners that would be affected. I read that the number might be only some of the 3 million paying customers, out of 300 million total listeners, or well under 1 percent of listeners. Well the 99% (your non-paying users) are not all that happy either, from reading their reviews.

    So you have turned many of your longtime, avid supporters into militant, angry, disrespected former evangelists. (I know I helped many friends sign up because they didn’t know how or even whom to sign up with.) I remember when Tim Westergren was making road trips To Boston and Washington DC, and all over the country to get a buzz going.

    Has anyone in your marketing department done any test marketing or estimates of the effect of what you have done? Alienating even some of the annual subscribers is almost sure to cause more than just mild annoyance from a group that felt they were helping you get this business off the ground. I see that reflected in the comments that have added the number of years that they were subscribers and are now leaving.

    I too have been here since the early days with annual subscriptions for most all of the time. I have about 6 months left and I plan to stick around long enough to see if anyone left in Pandora management shows any awareness of the faux pas that has been committed and any respect for the former evangelists, but I will definitely be looking for a replacement also. Any tips from departing subscribers would be appreciated.

    I too, would not be opposed to price increases, (in fact I was beginning to wonder who was asleep at the switch in your financial department) since you never changed your annual subscription price since the beginning of Pandora One in 2009). Anyone with marketing experience or just consumer awareness has seen that most companies have avoided this double-barreled faux pas by grandfathering the evangelists in ways, that keep them happy. From what I have seen in the few responses, that doesn’t many times mean just $$, but rather other forms of respect. You could have tested this and probably found out that most expect price increases, but you have now turned more than a few into angry militants who don’t like pages and pages of small charges to review.

    Pandora doesn’t know how to spell “RESPECT” Just like OBAMA (they need to check with Aretha Franklin who can spell it out for both of them since they appear to be developing a degree of tone-deafness)

    My guess is that the only advantage of no annual subscription is that you can raise the monthly fee and see its effect quicker, while at the same time increasing revenues for the credit card companies and Paypal. Any justifications centered around eliminating the cost basis of the person(s) who handles annual subscription renewals now, should be looked at again.

    • John,

      A lot of words. I will make this brief so the reader can get through it in less than a day.
      1. $48.00 annually is less than the cost of 3 CDs. I am not purchasing quite as many CDs now because of this service. Pandora is actually saving me money. Big Win!

      2. Some people have complained that the paying subscribers are a tiny minority of the actual listeners. For the paying subscriber, it means that Pandora will work even harder to make our listening experience better. Another Big Win!

      Nuff said, don’t you think?

      MJM

  3. Just found out about the price increase when I tried to renew my annual subscription thru the link in the email from pandora.Not happy with no annual pricing.Not willing to pay 4.99 a month and was not offered the 3.99 a month price to continue my subscription.Poor customer service on Pandora to send a renewal email after the account expired so you have to pay the “new subscriber” price.

    • This just happened to me too. An email back from support did not extend the 3.99 offer either. I’ve been a yearly subscriber since 2011. I can take a rate hike but why no yearly option?

    • Same story here! $3.99 not available since my subscription expired (even though it was already set to auto renew!

    • The same thing happened to me. I have been paying the annual subscription rate for years, and despite what they state above, I was not offered the 3.99/ mo. rate. I liked being able to pay one price and not have to worry about it again for a whole year. I despise monthly subscriptions, and I will NOT be paying $60 a year for this service.

  4. What is Pandora’s rationale for eliminating the annual payment option? A 20% rate increase in one year and a mandatory monthly payment structure? I don’t think so. Besides, there are numerous other options for Internet music. I will forego my Pandora One membership this year.

  5. After 3.5 months and over 600 comments, I think we can determine the following:
    – A vast majority of comments are not in opposition to a rate hike, in concept. Most reasonable people understand that costs rise.

    – A vast majority of comments are complaining about the *combination* of the loss of the yearly payment option and the rate hike (33% in one year). Those are two negative impacts at once.

    – The silence from Pandora signals the fact that they don’t care about what people think. They’ve made their decision, and they’re obviously sticking by it. Even Netflix reversed course after they realized their blunder, but Pandora must be making more money on ads than they are losing money on Yearly Pandora One subs leaving.

    Bottom line is, Pandora was a great idea. It hit the market at the right time with the right product and it became successful as a result. Back when Tim was rallying customers for its very life, we helped by spreading the word and writing our legislators. Now, Pandora is more ubiquitous than I ever thought they could be (especially back in the “Save Pandora” days).

    “All good things must come to an end,” the saying goes. Even organizations that start out believing that they’re going to be different from the establishment end up becoming the establishment sooner or later when keeping shareholders happy and preparing for a buyout become paramount concerns and the siren song of continuous growth beckons, and they follow, even if it means running aground in the process.

    The ever-changing nature of the Internet is such that another idea will come along that will be the next big thing. Competing services will continue to battle each other for the same core group of paying customers, while the “next big thing” finds a niche and manages to deliver the right product at the right time.

    The time of innovation and grassroots “we’re in this together” mentality at Pandora has passed. I am glad to have been part of it as a Pandora listener and supporter. I understand why, and that it was inevitable, but that doesn’t make me any less nostalgic for what Pandora once was.

    • Well said. I, too, jumped on the Pandora bandwagon to “save” it. After reading all the blogs, and yours especially, I see where I was wrong. I, too, will not support the new payment structure. Sorry, Pandora. You duped me.

  6. I have been a One subscriber for about 2 and a half years and was not given the option to continue my annual subscription OR keep the discounted price. Very bad customer service Pandora. I’d rather go back to basic radio than pay for what I can get for free.

  7. Yes very sad to hear, that the yearly is over! i guess changes will keep coming good or bad. it sure is annoying to get little charges each month etc, taxes or what have you. Seems similiar to netFlix..always out for self not the customers..

  8. This will be the death of Pandora subscribers. BAD BUSINESS<< MILK here I come.. with my portable speaker systems I will just use my Samsung phone for continual and free music….

  9. I like the music but the people who run the company are idiots. The monthly costs for the company is higher than having the one time yearly renewal., Maybe they are swallowing the big banks “words”.. I will buy when I want to buy but do not always except I will renew. Remember there is always something better out there. All of the C-Level people will be blamed but will get another cushy job to screw up but everyone else at Pandora will be on the unemployment line because of poor executive decisions,.

  10. I am a stockholder and I disagree vehemently with the change from annual fee.
    If you want customers to be happy, give them what they request. it may be time to abandon Pandora if Tim doesn’t pay attention quickly.

  11. You all made a bad decision to get rid of the annual subscription. We all understand the price increases. Put them in the annual pricing. What is so hard about that?

  12. Oh Pandora. I just received the email today about my renewal for the annual subscription. So I opened it and read that there is no annual subscription fee anymore. And that in order to receive the so called “Loyalty” discount of $3.99 a month I have to have automatic renewals check before my day comes up.

    At $50+ a year there are so many better internet radio providers that I will not be renewing. Matter of fact I will be dumping anything I had purchased to work with Pandora. Wireless speakers, Car stereos, etc. I am going to make a smarter move and go with another provider for my music needs. A provider that has better players, better selection, that are just better all around.

    If you would keep your regulars and would have just bumped them a couple of dollars and make new subscriptions $4.99 a month I would have considered staying a paying customer.

    I know that music royalties are not cheap. But to out right not give any options and telling me what I am going to pay to stay. I will take my money elsewhere.

  13. Terrible, terrible idea. Raising the price of the yearly subscription would be a better alternative to doing away with it altogether. I was a former yearly subscriber who wanted to sign up again, but found this sad news instead. Now I must subject myself to the same monotonous commercials played over and over again.

  14. I have been an annual Pandora One subscriber for years and not only that I cannot renew my annual subscription, it is at $4.99 not $3.99.

    Unfortunately, There are other options out there with better song searches and you can find any international genre, artist, song you can imagine but not with Pandora.
    With this price increase, I might as well go to Spotify or Mog.

    It’s been great Pandora but now I’m out.

    Thank you

  15. Not sure anyone at Pandora is bothering to read this, but I went to sign up for my first year ever today, and have decided not to. It isn’t the price that bothers me (though a 30 percent increase is sizable), but rather that I do not want to go month-to-month. The reason for this is because you have to remember to cancel the subscription at the end of the month, and if you forget, you have to wait another month. I would rather buy it in a one year chunk, then have to opt in at the end of the year if I want to renew.

    So now, instead of getting any money from me, you continue to have me pressing F5 every time an ad loads while I am working at my desk. So enjoy that.

  16. I agree. The lack of a yearly subscription is a mistake. Why would you pass up the opportunity to lock down 12 months of subscription fees? It makes no sense. Foolish.

  17. Wow. Reading what people is saying. Theres no Pandora natively in my country still I am an early subscriber… As a conclusion:
    1. You are still cheaper than other great options.
    2. Why remove the anual fee? You could have done a 3.99 x 12 and have everybody happy.
    3. Pandora is great and its seen as the on demand music pioneer, dont throw it away.

  18. I agree with several of the comments above. I have had Pandora One for several years but am being forced to evaluate different sources of musical entertainment at this time.

  19. Bye bye. There is too much competition to allow you to act like this. You can check out Sirius and XM to see how ripping off your paying customers and not keeping up with customer demands to see your future.
    Will be funny when I am on Amazon or some other newer service and I start getting the “come back to us” emails in a few years.

  20. I don’t think “Our listeners are our top priority” makes too much sense. They just introduced a change that is inconvenient to many listeners. Bend over, guys!

  21. I find the movement from an annual fee to monthly fees a real pain in the @&#! The added paperwork and tracking my visa statement is barely worth the effort. I’m thinking it may be time to consider other options to Pandora. What a shame, since up ’til now I’ve quite appreciated the Pandora experience.

  22. This is really a DUMB move to do away with a yearly subscription, even if you did raise the price! I have no interest in dealing with another monthly credit card charge. If you rethink this and offer a yearly, I’d consider erupting. Otherwise, it’s time for iTunes radio.

  23. Sorry Pandora, I’m a busy man…Did you pole your 3.3 million customers, or at least those of us who have been loyal customers for over a year?? I DON’T want to have to pay monthly! The annual fee is the only reason I decided to pay for your service. The elimination of an annual payment will be the elimination of me. Very frustrating! I like your product and use it all the time. I just had it playing all patriotic songs as we watched the 4th of July fireworks! In todays world though, convenience is a key to picking a vendor. Having to pay monthly is NOT convenient.
    I’m disappointed.

  24. I don’t really care about the price increase…but I won’t renew monthly…should be $4.99/month or $49/year. I don’t want another charge coming out every month. When I have $49 bucks I’ll renew…if that option exists. No monthly charges for me.

  25. Add one more to the list of long time subscribers alienated by this choice. I hate monthly fees with a passion and will avoid them at pretty much all costs. I have been a yearly subscriber for over 5 years. It has been and still is a great service, however, I will not be renewing. A price increase would have been acceptable. No yearly fee is not.

  26. I am done as well. Loyal annual subscription customer for years and was given no option to participate in the $3.99 monthly rate that was mentioned. Not willing to sign up for an open ended monthly subscription. I really enjoyed the service, but will look elsewhere.

    Good Luck and Good Bye to Pandora

  27. I log on to the gift part of your site and was shocked at the new price, so i didnt gift anybody, nor when my subscription is up, after being with you for 4 years, i am sad to say i too, will be leaving. I think a small increase would have done, but like everything and everybody else, greed has taken over.

  28. The yearly cost for Pandora made the one time expense easy to be absorbed into the family budget, but as a monthly recurring expense it gets lumped in there with gas and electric and trash services. “Oh oh” time to cut back on some monthly expenses, guess who’s the first to go? So effective the end of our subscription on 7/31/14, Pandora will join the ranks of our XM/Sirius subscription. Too many other choices out there.

  29. Count me out as well…will seek out an alternative streaming service. By not offering an annual subscription or multi-year subscription, it is the same as saying there will be ongoing price increases going forward should you opt in for monthly billing. Seriously Pandora – This is a no-brainer! ~ OUT

  30. It’s a bit disingenuous to blame artist royalties for the price increase. The Circuit Court just ruled in Pandora’s favor that publishing royalties will remain 1.87% of revenue, as has always been the case. Unlike AM/FM radio, Pandora does pay a performance royalty – but some quick math on that puts it also at about 1.9% of revenues. It does increase annually in the agreement with SoundExchange, but a 9% annual increase on just 2% of income equates to less than 2% annual increase in cost of goods sold. This does not, by itself, justify a 66% price increase for annual subscribers (only 33% if you buy now!) and a 25% increase for monthly subscribers.
    I’m sorry to point this out, but your PR and accounting departments need to meet and get the story straight. I’d have been fine with the increase, but am offended you think someone wouldn’t do the math.

  31. I agree with just about all the comments the proceed me and just wanted to add my voice to the chorus.

    I use Pandora while programming and as such cannot abide interruptions in my content (i.e. advertisements). An interruption in my music means an interruption in my thought process (which any programmer will tell you means many hours of lost productivity over time).

    I was happy to pay the yearly fee Pandora was charging and have no problem paying more (within reason) for uninterrupted content; however, I refuse to incur monthly charges for this service. Given I cannot abide interruptions in my content and my refusal to incur a monthly charge for this service, I will have to abandon Pandora as a solution.

    As a long time user of your product I am very disappointed with the removal of the annual subscription and I will be trying other products over the next couple of months to find a replacement. If Pandora brings back a yearly subscription before I settle on a replacement I may still come back… however, now that I have begun investigating other solutions I find that Pandora is actually inferior in many ways (all of the other service have more content and most have a higher bit rate). Perhaps the silver lining in this is that I may be happier without Pandora.

  32. Interesting. I don’t recall ever receiving an email with this information. I was shocked to get an email indicating the charge to Paypal. If Pandora DID send an email, they probably should have sent it more than once.

    That said…I too don’t understand why the annual renewal was pulled. Since I can stream my own music and usually have my iPod when I travel, I can’t really justify the cost of Pandora.

  33. I never received an email about the switch to monthly charges and was shocked to see my account debited…even though the agreement says annual fee. I never agreed to recurring charges and certainly not monthly recurring charges.

    I cancelled my account with pandora and will not return.

  34. Pandora One Solicitation
    You guys must be deaf as well as blind. I am not signing up for a monthly withdrawal from my checking account or any other for that matter. I will pay you a one-time annual fee but I am almost certain it will not be $60.00. I am inclined to wait and see if hell starts freezing over first.

    I have a Spotify account now. It works well.

  35. Well darn. I’ve been with Pandora for a few years now and saw a notice on my Android that my subscription had expired. No big deal. I went to sign on to update my account and have discovered that I have jumped from being a loyal customer to one perhaps not-so-loyal because I missed the “deadline” yesterday. I have never subscribed to a service that seemed to care so little about keeping its customer base. I do not mind a rate hike, but I do mind not having the option to pay for the service one year at a time. That was one of the reasons I have been a loyal customer.

    I’ll go ahead and pay for one more month at the DISloyal rate of $4.99/month while I search for a service that might actually want to KEEP my loyalty.

  36. I was going to get a subscription to Pandora One, I planned to pay the annual price. But when I went to upgrade I only saw one option. Upon internet research I’m pretty disappointed in the lack of options. So I will not subscribe to Pandora One.

  37. Hmmmm. Why should I pay Pandora $4/mo for a catalog of 1 million songs when I can get 32 million for $5/mo (Rdio) or 24 million songs for $25/yr (iTunes Radio)?

  38. Me too. I don’t mind the fee increase as much as doing away with the annual subscription, even at the full price. I just can’t stand getting charged a few bucks every month on by credit card. I cannot understand why I can buy a 6 month gift subscription for someone else, but I can’t pay my own every 6 months. I am aware that I could buy a 6 month gift subscription for myself and apply it to my account, but I don’t want to have to do that. I guess it is a principal thing now. So goodbye Pandora One.

  39. I was gonna sign up but apparently they wanna scare new customers with the new monthly subscription prices…nevermind

  40. wow, went to renew my girlfriends year for her birthday and saw this. We’ve both been subscribers for a few years now. We would have been o.k. with a modest price increase with yearly subscription option. I am not thrilled about being billed monthly and will be exploring other options. I came across the MILK music streamer some time ago and will probably be taking advantage of it’s ad free, non payment service for as long as they offer it. IF Pandora offers YEARLY subscription plans again, I will definitely reconsider re-subscribing both our accounts.

  41. I’m out. I’d pay for an annual subscription, but I do not do automatic, recurring charges. Period. I have enough to keep track of in my life as it is, and I don’t need to add complications to leisure tasks such as listening to music! I don’t need the hassle of renewing manually every month, and as mentioned I refuse to give ANYONE the ability to automatically take my money every month. I have several services I subscribe to in the sub-$60/yr realm, and with each, I pay them once a year – manually. Pandora no longer fits my criteria since they do not offer a yearly sub. At this point, even if they did change their minds, I’m not comfortable they will be around for a whole year after driving away their paid user base (and it seems free customers as well since the ad-intrusions are on the rise as well?).

    One thing I’ve always found amusing about Pandora is that they claim to pay royalties on sings played, yet it is painfully obvious that many songs are not even legit copies to start with…like when in the middle of the song you hear a default sound from some instant messenger client (because the person ripping the song received an IM while they were recording it).

    I remember something recently that was being pitched to me that included online music…I think it may have been Amazon Prime membership of something like that. I remember declining to sign up because I already had a streaming music solution on Pandora. Even though I would benefit from the other perks of their “Prime” deal making it worth the money, I didn’t like the idea of paying for/getting something I was already paying for elsewhere…looks like I’m going to revisit that deal and check out my alternatives…which at this point can really just be listening to what I already have in playlists, streaming local radio stations free for news/talk/sports, and not paying a dime.

    I’m leaving on principle – Mainly due to no payment option besides manual monthly hassle or free access to mu funds automatically every month. I am also insulted that I was never given any $3.99/mo offer like Pandora claims existing annual members could get when their subscription runs out. Even if I could jump through hoops to get that rate, it’s still a monthly hassle to renew manually (and auto-renew is just plain a bad idea for anyone…it should be up to me what bills to pay or not pay. If I had all my monthly expenses auto-deducted and had an accident that left me in a coma or as an in-patient for a length of time or something, the funds would still be leaving my estate…yet no income would be there to prevent depletion of whatever accounts were billed – then the bounce, overlimit, overdraft, late fees, and penalties take over. Allowing anyone to automatically take money from you until you cancel is a poor fiscal idea. What if you are unable to cancel? What if the card on file hits the limit while you’re incapacitated? Now the $4.99 charge becomes $4.99+overlimit/overdawn fees ($35 on average maybe?)…multiplied by however many entities you gave access to auto-deplete your accounts. Auto-renewals/auto-payments of anything are a bad idea. Manual monthly payments are cumbersome, and I limit those to areas I have to – utilities. Everything else I pay once a year. Streaming music is not a utility bill. It is entertainment. I’m not going to willingly endure 12 times the hassle of annual payments for mere entertainment.

  42. I am not opposed to a rate hike (inflation and stupid charges from music executives and all that), but I do NOT like the monthly charges as opposed to the annual subscription charges. I was one of your annual subscribers, and it was very nice for me to pay a “one-off” fee and not have to worry about adding yet another monthly bill to my ever-growing list of monthly charges (Adobe Creative Cloud comes to mind as does many other “subscription-based business models)…

    You can count on me to never sub again unless you re-add a yearly option.

    Thanks for your time.

    Isaac

  43. I won’t belabor the point here… many users above have already described the central issue. I, like them, do not take to monthly subscription charges (regardless of the discount). You should look at the myriad of other industries that offer annual based subscriptions AT A DISCOUNT versus monthly or quarterly subscriptions at a higher rate. It’s a simple matter of the time value of money (money given today in total can be invested and generate interest… blah blah blah). Hey, you guys are smart people, so I’m sure you have your reasons for not giving an annual subscription, but you’re doing so at your peril given the number of other options out there and available for music consumption. I’ll use my last month of music to find another service that offers what I’m looking for, so thanks for the motivation to move away from a service that I’ve found a bit too repetitive in terms of music played once stations are established!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s